Introducing Your Product
For this 4th and final part of the Healthcare Hacks series it is time to tackle one of the most important elements of the selling process – introducing your product/service. You have finally carried your startup all the way through the doors of the necessary decision makers but now it is time for it to stand up on its own two feet and make a lasting impression. There is only once chance to make a first impression and if this is done wrong you and your business will most likely find yourselves on the way out of the room.
So, what exactly should you do to make the most of it?
Once again, there are different approaches to making an introduction depending on the provider type. Small clinics and doctor’s offices for example typically have lower barriers to product/service introductions; pretty much anyone can secure an introductory meeting. This does not necessarily mean though that introducing them to your product/service will be easier than at a larger institution. Remember that smaller, independent practices have established workflows and are resistant to change. You therefore must make sure that you value proposition is clearly stated in your introductory meeting and that you structure your language to show that your product/service can align with their existing processes.
Larger providers, especially academic medical centers, are much more accustomed to new product presentations and sales pitches. In order for you to distinguish yourself, consider this advice from a senior manager at a leading academic medical center:
“Engage in a factual conversation about revenue. Be direct, no bullshit. Even if a startup has a successful meeting, the delay from a contract being signed to payment is quite a long time. It can feel like a famine for these new companies. We are not so worried about the small company. We will pay them when we pay them.
A lot of companies are pitching that they can do XYZ. But just saying you will do XYZ doesn’t get us excited. We hear it all the time. You need to prove it to us and you need to show us a very specific ROI. You need to choose a specific department and say ‘I’m going to hit department X at location Y to provide $XX savings.”
Furthermore, be prepared to go into detail if you are asked to do so during your introductory meeting. If your venture targets Medicare spending, you should be able to address any questions regarding Medicare reimbursement and the implications of future legislation. Failing to do so signals a lack of preparation and inability to provide a solution to your potential customer. Hospitals especially like presentations tailored around their specific circumstances and operations. Much of their data is public, so use this to tell them exactly what you can do for them. This is how you will be able to differentiate yourself from other ventures.
Regardless of the provider you are meeting with, it is a good idea to leave behind something clear and concise, such as a 1-page summary, to be distributed to internal stakeholders. This will allow you to establish some sort of relationship with those who you did not directly meet. In terms of pitfalls, never go for the hard sell upfront or focus too much on how much money you have raised. It is great to know that you will be able to fund yourselves for a while, but fundraising does not equal traction, which means there is no guarantee that you will survive a long sales cycle. Sales in healthcare can be especially slow and you will have to work on continued relationship-building and respectful follow-ups. With a solid introduction under your feet though the process can be much less arduous.