Looking back on the ’80s—leg warmers, Jazzercise, the Walkman and MTV—one can’t help feeling nostalgic, but also perhaps a little bit embarrassed. We were just getting started with personal computing and the technology revolution, so you could excuse a few of the things we did back then that now look a little silly or excessive. We didn’t know any better. It was a different time.
Fast-forward to 2015, the salespeople at a wound-care company I am working with know this feeling because they are stuck with what I would call an ’80s selling model. They have a portfolio second to none, diligently built with R&D, acquisitions and a touch of loving care. But instead of selling this wonderfully full offering, they are stuck selling the old-fashioned way: doctor by doctor, product by product, day by day. It’s exhausting because they can’t afford to take a day off, leave a territory open or stop for a moment to think. They have to hit the road every day with relentless product messages, carefully planned campaigns and targeted specialties of the month. Today, it’s foam for burns to dermatologists. Then, let’s hit our surgical dressing to orthopedic surgeons for TKR. Etc. Etc.
Stuck on this spinning hamster wheel of product selling, they almost didn’t notice that their customers have changed. They aren’t just clinicians, and now they care about outcomes, hospital-acquired infections, readmissions and pressure ulcers. They have metrics and penalties, incentives and programs. They have accountability and system integration. Perhaps the most helpful legacy of the Affordable Care Act is in these meaningful and productive changes to how providers think.
So now they have a chance to change what they have been doing too. They knew it wasn’t really working, so thankfully they are moving to a better way. We are building a full portfolio solution for managing patients and their wounds, an integrated program that improves performance on patient metrics that are important to a hospital while saving money. The products are great, the program is solid, the offer is compelling. And the most exciting part is that the day-to-day existence of one-at-a-time selling is going to fade away, living only in a nostalgic memory of what we did way back before we knew any better.
How to Know if You’re Stuck in the ’80s:
- Sales go down when a rep goes on vacation.
- Your CRM is populated entirely by records for doctors.
- The marketing organization is made up exclusively of product managers.
- Your literature focuses on clinical features of each product.
- You gave out Walkmans at last year’s sales conference.