Healthcare Executives

Non-traditional Investments to Meet Evolving Provider Needs

Born from necessity during the pandemic, healthcare providers changed the nature and mix of their interactions with both patients and those organizations supporting their patient care efforts. Shifting provider priorities and expectations directly dictate investments and actions necessary to thrive as a supplier of devices, services and/or technologies within the healthcare ecosystem. In recent research, nearly 80% of physicians reported a permanent change in their third-party vendor interaction preference.

Along with investments in technology and enhancing digital content and capabilities, the most effective and efficient healthcare commercial models have moved away from the single-seller or “lone-wolf” model and embraced a model focused on alternative roles. Healthcare companies are now surrounding their primary seller with key account managers, inside sales, customer success reps and junior reps to help drive productivity. Since 2014, the average percentage of alternative roles in the healthcare commercial model has more than doubled, moving from 14% to 29% of the total headcount. While not solely a cost-containment strategy, the proliferation of different roles continues to grow as organizations deal with a tight labor market and the continued escalation of traditional rep compensation costs. The total target compensation of a generalist/field rep has increased from $155K in 2014 to $183K in 2021 and we only expect this trend to accelerate.
Alternative Role Headcount Chart

In 2020, Alexander Group observed expense to revenue ratios for healthcare companies fall to historic lows. As an example, the average expense to revenue ratio for medical device companies declined from nearly 20% in 2010 to a low of 11% in 2020. This low expense to revenue ratio is likely not sustainable long-term and should stabilize around 13% as T&E associated with travel, meetings and conferences return. This pressure on expense to revenue in the face of supply chain cost increases, the need for technology investments, and rising labor costs brings an associated increase in rep productivity expectations. In 2014, the average revenue per sales resource was $2.40 million and by 2020 it had increased by 33% to $3.20 million.

Failure to adjust to these ongoing and lasting changes will lead to commercial obsolescence, under-served customers and market share degradation. Making the necessary changes to your commercial organization means shifting your investment profile, increasing rep productivity expectations and augmenting traditional selling motions with the necessary tools, capabilities and auxiliary roles.

Enable and re-deploy your traditional field resources

First and foremost, organizations should work to elevate and enable their traditional field resources. This group represents a significant investment (~80% of total sales compensation expense) as well as a potential source of significant competitive differentiation. While incremental headcount increases may not make sense, this group represents a foundational element of most healthcare commercial models. Leading organizations are making the effort to understand potential productivity gains in a “more virtual” selling environment and making the effort to realign these resources based on a more comprehensive understanding of customer attributes.

Add auxiliary and non-traditional sales roles

Second, organizations are supplementing the traditional rep field force with non-traditional auxiliary roles including inside/hybrid sales roles. Given that recent Alexander Group research suggests only 42% of physicians prefer in-person interactions with existing suppliers, inside sales is no longer optional. While there are countless ways to deploy inside sellers, individual ownership, where the inside sales team covers a specific set of accounts based on revenue, is the most common form. However, they can also be used for lead generation and own a specific set of products or to drive post-sale utilization and engagement. A healthcare sales organization needs to consider the growth stage, clinical intensity, primary site of care and level of GPO contracting when selecting and deploying an inside sales model. A properly deployed inside sales team can be a driver of efficient revenue growth.

Actively evaluate and manage the (shifting) buyer journey

Third, it is becoming more critical than ever to actively evaluate, and maintain, a comprehensive understanding of buyer needs and preferences (often referred to as the buyer journey). Executing regular customer research and updating buyer personas provides the basis for calibrating your commercial GTM tactics to best meet specific customer needs. Particularly with the increased prevalence and preference for digitally connected products, the buyers, and associated selling motions and messages, differ significantly from those of traditional medical devices. Frequently, such tactics demand a high level of coordination and planning between the sales and marketing organizations.

Create and execute a digital strategy

Finally, the fourth lever is proper planning and execution of a digital strategy with a focus on customer engagement and seller enablement. The term “digital” can have many different definitions. For our purposes here, we are primarily referring to digital tools and technologies used to improve customer engagement and seller enablement. Customer engagement includes elements such as digital marketing, customer service portals and e-commerce platforms. While seller enablement is focused on lead generation automation, behavioral targeting and account intelligence. These tools remain underinvested within the healthcare sales community, but the most progressive organizations are beginning to invest in this area. Begin now to create and execute a multi-year investment plan and roadmap to achieve your digital strategy.

Want to Learn More?

Contact a Heathcare lead.

Alexander Group works closely with healthcare revenue leaders to identify critical actions for profitable growth.

Experience shows that these leaders can miss untapped potential unless they have a clear GTM strategy, backed by aligned sales motions and appropriate compensation. We’re ready to help you build a solid GTM model.

More Resources

Healthcare Overview: There’s A New Healthcare Buyer Journey

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About Alexander Group

Alexander Group understands your revenue growth challenges. Since 1985, we’ve served more than 3,000 companies across the globe. This experience gives us not only a highly sophisticated set of best practices to grow revenue—we also have a rich repository of unique industry data that informs all our recommendations. Aligning product, marketing, operations and finance efforts behind a successful sales organization takes insight and hard work. We help the world’s leading organizations build the right revenue vision, transform their organizations and deliver results.

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