Consultative Online Selling for the Medical Device Market

Medical Device in Surgery

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Can healthcare products be sold online, and if so, what are the challenges? To answer this question, it is essential to understand three challenges in the typical sales funnel for medical devices:

  1. Addressing technical questions
  2. Nurturing customers through risk aversion
  3. Inspiring innovation to modernize treatment

Address the Technical Questions

Healthcare products are complex. Products that provide valuable clinical outcomes are often highly technical and require significant research and support for prospective customers to feel confident enough to make a purchase. In addition, buyers have precise and nuanced questions that typically require tailored and knowledgeable answers via the consultative process. When buyers cannot get prompt answers to their questions on a product, they will not accrue the confidence necessary to purchase, and potential sales fall through. 

Nurture Customers to Build Trust

An added layer of challenge for medical device buyers is the pressure to make the right decision when acquiring an expensive tool. When a device underperforms, patients and medical professionals can experience substantial consequences. Therefore, resources tasked with purchasing medical devices experience considerable pressure to choose the right product for the job; failure to do so can result in high stakes impacts on patients and the bottom line.

Inspire Innovation

Medicine is a constantly evolving and improving field. While there is safety in maintaining methods that have proven effective in the past, healthcare providers must continuously balance new cutting-edge processes and tools with existing best practices to achieve the best patient results. For doctors and hospitals, innovation includes the challenge of overcoming status-quo inertia to thoughtfully evaluate and integrate new options. An effective presentation on a medical device must establish the value and credibility of that device, especially when the product replaces antiquated competition with a new approach.

Build a Superior Online Experience

To overcome the inherent challenges of medical device sales, an online platform must replicate the support levels customers experience with consultative sales. Therefore, the focus of a site must emphasize the customer experience and build trust through credibility. The two key methods to do this are tailoring the messaging and streamlining the customer experience. 

The first principle medical device sites must prioritize is that buyers should be able to easily find answers to their questions. For example, an FAQ or a comprehensive spec document isn’t appealing for most consumers. Likewise, sifting through reams of information to find an answer is not an enjoyable experience for customers. Instead, a site should tailor messaging and simplify information access for customers, patients, and researchers by providing a smart search tool and other supportive features. Many sites employ chatbots to direct prospects to tailored content and foster a more engaging experience. Customer experience improves dramatically when sites are able to efficiently tailor messaging. The harder a customer must work to find answers to their specific needs, the worse their experience becomes and the less likely they are to reach the confidence necessary for making a purchase. Building a user-friendly customer experience, particularly during the research phase, is vital to building the confidence necessary for sales. 

Establish and Maintain Credibility

In a complex and competitive market such as the medical device space, identifying who to trust is a complex task, and the challenge grows as the consequences of being wrong increase. Vendors must take a creative approach to build credibility with customers, as credibility is most easily fostered by person-to-person interaction and relationship building. One important and effective approach is to seek and provide endorsements from key opinion leaders, societies and associations, and other trusted sources such as physicians and health organizations. If site owners do not put in the work to build a foundation of credible support, how can customers be expected to trust claims surrounding the efficacy and worth of the device? It is difficult to overstate the principle that social proof is a critical component of verifying the value of medical devices. Sites must replicate the trust-building aspects of the consultative process by providing reliable references from subject matter experts in the product domain. 

Selling is, by nature, a relational activity. Customers need more than a bullet point list of claims regarding a product. They must trust the ability of a device to safely and effectively meet their needs, and trust requires understanding. To build this trust in online sales, site owners must recognize the problem space and adopt the methods that prioritize customers and streamline their experience from start to finish. 

Trying to build great customer experiences, build online credibility, and use technology to foster innovation? Are you working on bridging the gap between old-school person-to-person selling techniques and the power of great ecommerce? Talk to us. We’re always happy to listen, empathize, and share. 

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