How To Lead Medical and Healthcare Sales Teams During Uncertain Times

Updated on July 21, 2022
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Supply chain challenges haven’t subsided. And for healthcare and medical sales professionals that means longer pipelines with less frequent commission checks. C-suite executive teams may be able to wait it out but it isn’t as easy for the sales team. Even if new medical device prototypes are getting made and tested, most production and distribution timelines are stalled with uncertain completion dates. The same holds true for established healthcare offerings with delays in building products and shortages of skilled workers to support services. Yet companies need to keep selling and signing deals to be ready when the supply chain is working at full capacity again. So, how are medical device and healthcare sales professionals expected to stay enthused and motivated?

According to one of the world’s leading performance strategists, Kathleen Black, Founder & CEO of Kathleen Blacking Coaching & Consulting, Inc., it requires having a leadership team who understand the challenges and what it takes to keep things going. For over 12 years, Black has been guiding iconic brands across all industries, including medical and healthcare businesses, through her unique approach of empowered leadership and expert mindset-training to add billions of additional sales volume annually to their bottom lines.  Below are highlights from our conversation.

How can managers and sales teams plan without accurate forecasting?

They can’t, but they can still motivate and incentivize. Right now, the supply chain is nothing short of chaotic from sourcing to production to distribution which is lessening the value of forecast analytics. It’s hard to sell something you don’t have now, and aren’t sure when you will. Leaders need to shift from rewarding in the final phase of the sale and instead create wins across every phase. For example, if your medical and healthcare sales teams have an established multi-step process from prospecting to close, design an incentive program that recognizes every few steps along the way rather than holding back until the deals are completed. 

With higher costs, customers are spending less which is reducing commissions. What can be done?

We know when the price of our core items increases it does become harder to upsell accessories and warranties, which are important deals by sales professionals to generate more revenue. Even if we are able to source supplies without delay and production is timely, costs are likely much higher than previous orders and could even be soaring well beyond customer allocated budgets. As a result, sales teams can expect reductions in their upsell programs. Without these extra commissions occurring when customers purchase enhanced features, additional accessories, or warranty service plans, sales professionals are looking at lower revenues. The way to support sales teams is by reinforcing training reminding them the key is to communicate the value of these purchases and when appropriate they should be able to clearly show the savings in the long-term through thought-out visible calculations.

How do sales teams stay enthused when customers are frustrated, and commissions are less frequent?

This is a wrinkle that is part of the “new normal” as we navigate the chaotic supply chain. Many customers feel so exasperated they are seeking remedies that aren’t practical for organizations like “put my order at the top” or “loan me your demo until mine is ready” and other requests that can’t be met. Sales professionals need to remember that listening will go a long way in building and reinforcing customer trust. It’s important to communicate status updates often. While your sales reps are calming customers, leaders need to do the same for them. Adjust existing pay-out structures to reflect the current state of business. If sales teams were historically paid after the install or delivery, change that so they get a percentage of the sale in each phase from contract to production to shipment to delivery. Business can’t go on as usual when something so unusual is going on which is why giving the big payout at the end is no longer sustainable. Every leader in medical device and healthcare product and service sales must recognize we are in a new reality and we must adjust sales programs accordingly to keep morale and performance high. The time is now!

Kathleen Black is founder & CEO of Kathleen Black Coaching & Consulting, Inc., a two-time bestselling author, global motivational speaker, and one of the world’s leading performance strategists guiding iconic brands and professionals, across all industries including medical and healthcare, through her unique approach of empowered leadership and expert mindset-training to add billions of additional sales volume annually to their bottom lines. She can be reached at [email protected].

The Editorial Team at Healthcare Business Today is made up of skilled healthcare writers and experts, led by our managing editor, Daniel Casciato, who has over 25 years of experience in healthcare writing. Since 1998, we have produced compelling and informative content for numerous publications, establishing ourselves as a trusted resource for health and wellness information. We offer readers access to fresh health, medicine, science, and technology developments and the latest in patient news, emphasizing how these developments affect our lives.