Fourteen years ago, I made the shift from MedTech sales to marketing. I did it for one reason: CRM. I didn’t just see the CRM handwriting on the wall. I experienced it. My last employer, Cerner, had rolled out enterprise-wide CRM and had required 100% sales force compliance. Overnight, our jobs became largely administrative. We spent more time inputting data than we spent with customers.

Now, every MedTech sales organization has a CRM system, but unlike what I experienced, nearly all sit idle. Why? Because they don’t provide enough value for sales forces to use, let alone champion, them. Post-COVID, this must change. To succeed, MedTech companies have to embrace CRM. For three reasons.

Many MedTech senior leaders are in denial. They think COVID will blow over, trade shows will rebound, and reps will regain face-to-face access to customers.

Our interviews with sales reps tell a different story:

  • “Our sales leadership has their heads in the sand”
  • “Stress levels are at their boiling point for us as we try to hit quota without access to customers”
  • “We won’t ever regain the access we once had”
  • “Trade shows won’t bounce back”
  • “I can’t see us having a destination national sales meeting for a while”

But even before COVID, customer behavior was changing. Rep access was being curtailed and trade show attendance was down. Both were increasingly seen as inefficient — or even wasteful — uses of time and money. Customers were moving online instead — bad news for MedTech commercial models built on personal selling and trade shows.

To adapt, sales reps need to engage customers digitally. They need to manage sales activities by becoming territory marketing managers or digital sales reps. They have to generate leads virtually and nurture them in ways that bring added value to customers:

  • Value props that reflect post-COVID customer needs
  • Best practices and protocols that drive better outcomes
  • Case studies that demonstrate clinical transformation
  • Product examples that reduce the total cost of care
  • Promoting pain points that motivate customers to change

CRM systems make the digital sales rep model possible. Connecting to a marketing automation system like Pardot, Eloqua, Hubspot, or Marketo gives reps a 360-degree view of all online and in-person customer engagements. CRM lets them personalize and send marketing-provided content to the right target at the right stage of the sales process. Finally, CRM allows reps to coordinate digital sales activities to a broader geography of customers than they could without it.

MedTech companies are predominantly led by their sales forces, with marketing deployed downstream in a tactical, sales-support role. With customers switching to digital channels and reps using CRM to engage them, the roles should flip. Marketing should lead the sales force — and the company as a whole — forward. It can and should:

  • Create customer personas
  • Develop value props that reflect post-COVID customer needs
  • Map the customer buying journey
  • Create engaging content and messaging for each target at each stage of the journey
  • Map the sales process for reps to execute
  • Generate leads with campaigns (SEO/SEM, programmatic advertising, email, content marketing)
  • Create digital experiences that bring your value prop to life
  • Measure and optimize customer engagement
  • Enable marketing attribution

When MedTech marketing moves upstream and powers digital engagement, its impact on sales can be quantified (marketing attribution). And when it significantly improves sales, it can warrant increased funding and take on even greater responsibility.

As noted, customers were already moving online. COVID just accelerated the move. By adopting CRM and integrating it with marketing automation, companies can create market-leading digital experiences that generate curiosity, engage customers, drive demand, shape the narrative, and grow sales. Reps told us:

  • “Our managers don’t get it. This is how our customers want to engage with us (virtually and online).”
  • “Because the calls are short and virtual, we have to gain traction by bringing immediate value”
  • “Customers who would not normally see me now will virtually”
  • “I can engage more customers per day remotely than I could in person”
  • “I think we can actually sell more this way than before.”

Marketing organizations that suddenly lead sales don’t happen overnight. It takes strategy, planning, and execution. Sales must see the value in using CRM and no longer equate it with burdensome bureaucracy. Marketing must see and seize its opportunity to lead organizations. This isn’t rocket science. It’s good strategic omnichannel marketing.

If you aren’t sure where to start, VIVO can help. As a MedTech marketing agency, we have the experience and the expertise to help build a digital marketing strategy and redefine the role of your reps. Our multidisciplinary team can guide you every step of the way. Reach out and let’s make shift happen together!

Start typing and press Enter to search