At last week’s IDN Summit in Phoenix, I had the opportunity to interact with many sales leaders and healthcare executives. A common theme that emerged during these conversations was the disconnect between the needs of healthcare providers and suppliers including pharma and medical device manufacturers.

Before we can jump to solutions we have to understand where the disconnect is coming from.  Health system executives are frustrated that suppliers aren’t bringing value because they continue to “sell” product features and benefits and don’t understand that they must present their products in terms of the overall value they will bring to the organization. Sales leaders continue to be hindered by sales representatives that lack the business acumen required to engage new decision-makers or may themselves have similar knowledge or skill gaps.

This is where training and development leaders can help to change the dialogue and enable sales teams to better connect with their customers. As a company founded with the mission to improve the interaction between healthcare providers and suppliers, we’ve long been aware of the need for sales teams to understand the larger healthcare ecosystem including key drivers like the move away from fee-for-service to value-based payment models and the role that training should play to provide this knowledge. Over and over, we heard healthcare executives express their frustration with suppliers that don’t have the business acumen to engage differently and don’t understand the strategic drivers of their health system. Learning leaders need to bridge the gap, provide education, and change the conversation.

If the traditional sales approach is no longer effective, as learning leaders we must redefine the types of training we provide and refocus our efforts to better prepare today’s sales teams to provide customers with the value they seek. Learning leaders already face a daunting challenge of ensuring that clinical, compliance and product training is up to date in times where the healthcare market seems to change daily. So how can learning leaders move beyond clinical and compliance training to help their organizations remain credible and competitive?

Here are the four key steps to connect sales and your customers:

  1. Proactively engage with your sales leaders to better understand the types of training that will help meet the short and long-term goals of the organization.
  2. Engage with diverse stakeholders, like marketing, health economics, and other areas of your business that will help you gain a more strategic view of the organization’s needs.
  3. Determine what types of resources you have (people, content, budget) and what you may need to develop or outsource.
  4. Recognize that increasing the business acumen of your sales teams is no longer optional and develop a role-based training plan or find a partner that can assist you with developing this curriculum.

By preparing our sales teams to better meet the needs of clinicians, hospitals, and health systems, we are ultimately helping to ensure better patient care and that’s an outcome we can all embrace.

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