Selling to Hospitals, Session 1 (CLE), Part 1: Intro to Hospitals
How to Sell to Hospitals
Selling to hospitals is important, especially if you’re in the medical sales fields. Hospitals are major employers, community fixtures, and consumers of a variety of goods and services. In many areas, they are among the top buyers for large equipment, as well as other kinds of soft goods as well. In order to sell to hospitals, it’s important to become a qualified vendor, evaluate the hospital’s needs, and sell to hospital administration. Selling to hospitals can be a consistent and excellent source of income for salespersons looking to improve their bottom line.
Learning About Hospital Regulations
Learn about hospital regulations and standards.For a vendor, the products and services offered need to be good enough to fit the hospital's mandatory standards for purchase. Read up on medical regulations in your state or area and make sure that your wares comply.
- Standards for hospitals are usually determined regionally or by state. Different states may have different regulations, so it’s important to know the standards for the state you’re selling in.
- Your goods or services also need to be of high quality and recognized by medical organizations, especially if you are selling medical equipment. For the most part, these medical organizations will be affiliated with the federal government or licensed by it.
Read about national medical regulation agencies.For example, in the United States, the Joint Committee for Accreditation of Hospital Organizations (JCAHO) plays a big part in how hospitals run their business and, potentially, from whom they will buy. They often give accreditation to hospitals and verify hospital purchasing choices meet their standards.
- You can find manuals on the standards for different units, wards, and types of hospitals on their website. These manuals may help you when determining the correct standards for medical equipment or other goods and services.
- Additionally, JCAHO offers best practices for hospitals on their website. While these may not illustrate standards for goods and services, it can tell you a lot about the potential needs of different hospitals.
Obtain vendor qualifications.It is recommended to be able to prove compliance with regulations or other quality control for goods and services. This can take the form of certification for applicable items as well as less formal qualifications.
- You will likely have to fill out a qualification form available at each individual hospital or on their website. These forms take a variety of shapes, but will likely detail the regulations your goods and services meet as well as any potential conflicts of interest.
- Additionally vendor qualification forms may include a statement of hospital-specific standards vendors are expected to meet. This may include product regulations as well as product standards required from vendors.
Evaluating the Hospital’s Needs
Evaluate hospital needs.Before ramping up a sales initiative toward a hospital or similar facility, it's often possible to do an evaluation of just what the client may need. This can be done with any kind of observational information, even just based on a walkthrough of the facility or talking to staff on an informal basis.
- In your walkthrough, you may also notice out-of-date or older equipment. If you are selling equipment, then it may be useful to focus on updating the hospital’s technology to be the most cutting-edge possible.
- Depending on the region, you may have to set up a formal appointment to talk to hospital staff. It’s important to not violate any regulations, especially before you try to sell to a hospital.
Find out the hospital’s specialty.Hospitals have a variety of different specialties that they may be known for. While some hospitals are focused towards treating certain clientele, such as children, others are focused on particular diseases, such as cancer or heart disease.
- Children’s hospitals usually focus exclusively on treating children. Since many of these hospitals may be funded by donations, their needs will be different from hospitals that are not based on donations for funding.
- Hospitals may focus on particular diseases; at the very least, they may be known for the treatment of those diseases. When selling to these hospitals, it may be important to know that these specific diseases are important to the hospital’s goal and reputation.
Research the population of the hospital.Depending on where the hospital is located, they may treat different populations that have different ailments. You should know whether the hospital is rural, suburban, or urban, as well as the demographics of those treated at your hospital.
- Rural and urban hospitals may suffer from outdated equipment and scant resources. If you can offer these hospitals ways to save money, this may be a good place for you to sell your goods and services.
- University hospitals are often research-oriented. While the amount of money in the hospital often depends upon the university that the hospital is affiliated with, the populations the hospitals serve may differ depending on the university and its location.
- The ethnic, financial, and cultural makeup of those treated at the hospital may also dictate their needs. In lower income areas, hospitals may treat very different conditions than in more well-off areas.
Learn about the background of the hospital administration.The hospital administration may dictate the direction of the hospital. It’s important to look at their credentials and academic background so you know what types of things are important to them.
- Hospital administrators are usually medical doctors, though they may have experience in the private sector. If they are a medical doctor, it’s good to know their specialty, since this may be a focus for their administration.
- If the hospital administrator is from the private sector, then it’s important to know what other companies they have worked at. It may tell you their financial values, as well as what they find important about hospital administration.
Selling to Hospital Administration
Talk to the right people.You’ll need to know how to reach staff at all levels of the hospital operation. This will help you to connect and fill needs for that facility.
- Calling the hospital administrator directly may not be the best idea. Once you’re on the approved vendors list, you’ll want to set up an appointment to talk to the administration in a more formal manner.
- You may also want to talk to prominent doctors in the hospital, especially if it’s a hospital with a specific medical focus. In particular, find the head of different departments to ask them about their needs within the hospital.
Reach out to senior administration.Senior hospital administrators will have a lot to say about purchasing. You should listen to them about their needs before starting your own sales pitch.
- If you get an appointment with administration, listen to what they have to say about their needs first. By listening actively, you’ll show that you’re interested in working together in a mutually beneficial way.
- Before pitching your own products, state back to them what you understand as their needs. This will make it clear you’re on the same page before you try to sell your own goods and services.
Understand sales to hospital administrators.The best practices in selling to hospital administrators will vary, depending on the type, location, and administrative structure of the hospital. However, some general sales practices may always be useful when selling to hospitals.
- Try to avoid speaking from a set “script” when selling to hospitals. Hospital administrators want to be heard and a script makes it seems like you were not listening.
- It’s not always important that you make an immediate sale with a hospital administrator. Sometimes, it’s good to build a long-term relationship with them so they will talk to you when making future purchasing decisions.
Give out your contact information.Hospital administrators should know how to contact you in the future. Additionally, it may be a good idea to talk to prominent doctors and heads of departments so they know how to get ahold of you when making future purchasing decisions.
- Administrators may be more comfortable talking in person, on the phone or via e-mail. It’s important that they can get ahold of you when they need something; otherwise, they may go to another vendor.
- It’s also a good idea to make yourself visible to the administrator and senior staff. If they purchase something from you, keep up to date with the status to guarantee they are satisfied. This will help to guarantee more sales in the future.
Video: How to Sell to Hospitals (Like a Boss): Kevin MacDonald, Kit Check // Startup Elements
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