Selling medical devices and biotech products successfully demands sales skills that are more advanced than the skills needed to sell many other products. The buyers and the stake-holders often look for useful support skills from their sales professional or account exec, rather than just good closing skills, no matter how sophisticated those closing skills may be.
Successful sales strategies in this environment, therefore, also require an understanding of the way decisions are made from the prospect’s side of the process. Understanding the buying process, and being able to help the prospect through it often delivers better results, and results that continue to deliver sales.
Buying as a Skill
Successful purchases result in the department or company getting, for example:
- The most appropriate product
- On terms that satisfy both the vendor and client
- As-expected delivery and, where necessary, installation followed by
- The most effective continuing support
This sort of buying is a planned process. The sales professional who works with the prospect to maximize the likelihood of those results being achieved in the most efficient way, will develop a relationship that will be hard to break.
Helping the client account to achieve all that, demands understanding and following the buying process. And, if need be, helping to direct or orchestrate it.
The Buying Process
Buyers (e.g. product ops managers, stake-holder committees, etc) follow a set of steps. Those steps are not always followed in a logical order or without retracing steps. They rarely follow the steps without questioning and testing different things. Many sales people call these “objections” but to the buyer they are essential steps towards a clear understanding, so they know they are proceeding at a safe pace and in the right direction. This is where the really skilled sales professionals come into their own.
The Decision Steps
- Recognizing that there is a fall-off in results, efficiency, time, ROI, etc.
- Deciding to investigate the fall-off.
This recognition and decision may come as a result of the sales professional investigating the situation, and exposing previously unrecognized or accepted problems. This, in turn, may come from the sales pro applying the SPIN selling techniques discussed in a previous article.
- Clarifying and evaluating the problems after the investigation is complete.
- Deciding if they can cope to avoid buying, installing and working with, for example, new equipment.
- Comparing the short and long term results of coping to the cost, time and effort of replacing the old with new.
- Investigating the options for replacement – both product and vendor
- Establishing the purchase criteria.
- Comparing potential solutions to the existing problem and possible future problems.
- Making a decision.
The sales professional should understand enough about how the client will follow this process. When they do, they can support, guide and lead it. They will not only build a close working relationship with the stake-holders, but they will establish themselves and their company as a valued vendor.
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