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While we are still dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, the good news is that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Even better, most experts believe the second half of 2021 could see a surge from pent up demand be a boomtown as healthcare systems increase elective surgeries and related services that increase revenue. The key is to remain agile and reimagine your commercial model in a way that reflects the changing nature of healthcare.

Meeting the Customers Where They Are

Alexander Group’s research indicates that third-party vendor visits are at 30-40% of pre-COVID-19 volume with expectations that visits will only return to 70% during the second half of 2021. Leaders believe that the lasting impact of COVID-19 on access cannot be underestimated.

Over 50% of research participants expect decreased access for medical vendors and nearly half expect increased reliance on virtual vendor support for the long term. Screeners are here to stay for the foreseeable future, limiting access as they drive down foot-traffic inside healthcare systems.

Traditional commercial models that were based on in-person visits are creating new models that not only serve but stay close to their customers. Virtual interaction has quickly augmented or replaced onsite visits, but are healthcare organizations happy with this new model?

Zoom calls have become common, but satisfaction levels with virtual interactions stand only at 61% for sales and 51% for training. The gap is even larger for the OR, who are often not equipped with video but would prefer onsite visits for sales and training.

One participant at Alexander Group’s 2020 Executive Forum noted a benefit from virtual calls. Stating that they have direct, one-on-one interactions with customers and decision-makers, developing a more personal connection while avoiding large committee meetings.

However, because of overall low satisfaction levels with virtual engagement, we find that omnichannels that allow reps to interact with customers on their channel of choice will be a future requirement. Healthcare companies are tasked to remain agile as they adapt their commercial models to include a mix of traditional sales expertise, onsite visits where appropriate and a foundation of virtual engagement to stay connected.

Betting on Virtual

While most companies expect conservative investment in headcount, 47% intend to invest in inside sales and 29% in sales operations, both using virtual tools as part of their job. The role of junior rep may be disappearing as doctors prefer expertise, limiting the need for an inexperienced resource.

Virtual selling is now a necessary skill. It is apparent that if you have yet to invest in these competencies channels, you are behind the curve. Virtual engagement, for the foreseeable future, is the primary way to stay in touch and sell to customers.

Because of these factors, healthcare organizations are planning to increase their customer-facing investment in marketing (56%), sales (52%) and service (42%) in 2021. Digital investments are a primary focus, with investments in digital marketing and inside sales leading the way.

2020 challenged healthcare companies to move quickly and adapt as needed to an uncertain business environment. 2021 will continue to challenge leaders to balance customer needs while investing in new internal capabilities.

What Are Your Growth Plans For 2021?

Staying agile requires staying on top of market trends. Alexander Group’s healthcare research keeps a pulse on leading companies as they grow revenue in challenging times. Join one of our upcoming virtual roundtables to hear the latest insights.

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