I recently helped organize and presented at ZS’s Medtech Connect event, an annual one-day gathering of medical technology experts, commercial operations leaders and ZS medtech leaders. Many of the conversations among industry peers centered on sales planning, sales compensation and analytics—common commercial operations concerns for the dozens of medtech companies that I’ve encountered in my work. Of all of the tips and trends discussed in California that day, these three stood out:
- Selling to hospital systems requires a strategic but flexible approach. In response to continued IDN consolidation, medtech companies are becoming more programmatic and agile in the way that they target these key accounts and communicate their value proposition. At the event, participants agreed on the need for a more localized and flexible IDN targeting and deployment strategy to optimize operating expenses and maximize their upside. In other words, they’re getting smarter and it’s paying off. We discussed how technology can enable companies to continually monitor the health of their sales force deployment while also incorporating changes across all commercial operations processes in a continual manner. Another related discussion centered on creating an appropriate compensation plan for the key account manager role based on a balance of lagging indicators, such as historical sales, and leading indicators like IDN potential.
- Technology is narrowing the chasm between sales compensation’s effectiveness and efficiency. The need for differentiated sales roles is driving a need for differentiated sales comp plans, and technology is poised to fill the gap. Medtech experts at the event pointed to the increasing customization and personalization of comp plans to address the specific needs of each role—to the point that some organizations are toying with the idea of implementing “pick your own plan” programs, letting individual reps weigh in on the structure of their sales compensation plans. While this compensation solution might boost motivation and sales, the efficiency of commercial operations may suffer at the hands of increased complexity and management demands. That’s where technology steps in. Advances in incentive compensation management software and analytics ease the burden of sales compensation administration and enable commercial operations to add more value.
- Analytics need to be treated as a key value driver. Event participants unanimously agreed that investing in analytics enables medtech companies to address the industry’s key trends and pivot to a more customer-centric approach. While we know that analytics establish a strong backbone for data-driven decision-making, the greatest impact can be seen with contextual, personalized and actionable insights delivered through a rich user experience to the field personnel. Participants noted that each company charts its own path along the analytics journey while juggling various business priorities and technology needs, but we all can agree that new data sources and greater computing power have enabled advanced analytics to drive better sales and marketing strategies and, ultimately, improve health outcomes.
Of all the lessons that emerged from listening to and speaking with my industry peers, the one that resonates with me the most is the medtech industry’s hunger to leverage data, analytics and technology to make an impact on its customers. It’s quite refreshing that industry representatives are willing to have a dialogue, share ideas and collaborate with each other to embark on this journey together.
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