B2B Health Sales: Cracking Cold Markets

B2B Health Sales: Cracking Cold Markets

One of the biggest challenges we see with our health care clients engaged in B2B sales opportunities is breaking into new markets or categories: for example, entering a new territory or launching products and services in new business categories.

There are several common reasons why breaking into new markets and categories is challenging, like:

  • No (or limited) brand recognition
  • Lack of (or limited) street credibility—the coveted “like and trust” factor
  • Lack of (or limited) real-world experience to know which trade shows and associations to participate in
  • “Cold” leads and prospects that take time to “warm up” for sales opportunities

We also know the challenge of cracking new categories and markets when physician referrals are important to growing the business. Having worked with physicians for over 40 years, we know building strong referral relationships with physicians is key to many health care business strategies.

We developed our Powering the Pipeline platform to give our clients the marketing strategy, technology, and the infrastructure to effectively “warm up” B2B sales and referral opportunities.

In this post, I’ll share several best practices that we leverage to help our clients to:

  • Enter new markets and categories successfully
  • Grow share of the market  
  • Build strong referral patterns with providers  

Virtual “Street Teams”

To promote an upcoming concert or the launch of a new album, the music industry employs people to canvas cities with posters promoting the event—aka, “Street Teams.”

We do something similar for clients who seek to enter new markets or categories. At Hailey Sault, we disperse digital marketing campaigns that canvas the sites and media platforms where our clients’ audiences spend the most time, both personally and professionally. This virtual street team strategy enables our clients to have a profound presence during key periods of entering new markets, product and service releases and other times when our clients want to be top-of-mind with prospects. We also supplement our clients’ organic search strategies with paid search efforts, helping to rank higher for keyword terms that prospective clients are using to find solutions.

Thanks to digital media’s ability to micro-target audiences and Hailey Sault’s proprietary strategies, we magnify our clients’ footprint and sphere of reach, helping them overshadow often bigger, more established competitor brands.

Sales Insights Tracking

Though much has changed in business since the rise of digital marketing during the past decade, one thing hasn’t changed: business is still done person to person. Our Powering the Pipeline platform helps our clients to connect with key prospects so that sales teams can do what they do best: engage prospects in meaningful conversations that lead to meaningful business relationships.

That’s why our marketing platform is designed to give sales teams real-time information on how key prospects are engaging with our clients’ content and digital marketing efforts. When we integrate with our clients’ CRM platforms, we are able to provide our clients with lead scores that indicate overall engagement and interest with the products and offers. This real-time information is helpful to sales teams who want to know when a prospect is highly engaged with marketing efforts. These insights also allow us to identify what new sales and marketing tools to create that provide the sales teams with more tools to use in nurturing sales opportunities.

Messaging for the 5.4

According to the game-changing book on modern B2B sales, The Challenger Customer, there are 5.4 stakeholders involved in every B2B buying decision. That’s why sales teams today need materials and resources to appeal to the 4.4 OTHER stakeholders beyond the original point of contact. Having developed sales and communications resources for physician referral marketing and communications for two decades, we see evidence that physicians also have key stakeholders involved in deciding referral patterns along with purchasing business products and services.

As part of our Powering the Pipeline platform, we develop sales and marketing materials that appeal to all decision makers involved in the buying decision. Though sales teams would always prefer to be in the boardroom when stakeholders meet, they can’t always be there. So the sales and marketing tools must be advocates for the organization and its offerings. And to get to a yes, the tools must appeal to the unique perspectives, biases and wants of all stakeholders.

Final Thoughts

Our approach to marketing B2B health brands is no different than our approach to marketing B2C health brands like leading hospitals and health systems—with one exception.

In the B2C sale, we help our clients tell their story in unique and engaging ways by identifying the key audience personas, drivers of brand distinction and hand-selected media channels that our audiences spend time and engage with. The audience engages with our campaigns and engages the brand directly. In the case of our work with hospitals, this often means scheduling an appointment with a physician.

But the B2B marketing strategies we create help to guide our clients’ prospective clients to a different call-to-action: an invitation to a sales opportunity. We see our work with our Powering the Pipeline platform as a strategy for warming up prospects to become aware and engaged with our clients’ products and services. We then share the data and insights with sales teams so they can do what they do so well: ask for a conversation and close the sale.

Uber Vs. Lyft: Which Health Brand Are You?

Uber Vs. Lyft: Which Health Brand Are You?

Keeping your health brand relevant and engaging with the changing interests and expectations of today’s health audiences is a continuous process for us at Hailey Sault. 33% of all patients are looking to switch providers at any given moment, which should create urgency among hospitals and health systems to have their finger on the pulse of what patients want and need.

A strategy we often use to help our clients keep their brands innovative and exciting is to look outside the health care industry for inspiration.

For example: Uber and Lyft, the two biggest ride-sharing services.

You might not think of ridesharing brands as being relevant to healthcare, but consider this:

  • Uber and Lyft rely on independent drivers to serve customers, not unlike hospitals who have traditionally relied on independent physicians to care for patients.
  • Both ridesharing companies and health care leverage technology as differentiators, but are first and foremost service industries built on human interaction.
  • Uber owns the largest share of market and in recent years has become the verb for ridesharing (“Let’s Uber”), putting the brand in commodity territory—generic, ubiquitous—as is the fate of so many health systems that don’t differentiate.

Recently, both Lyft and Uber have made headlines.

Uber has been criticized for being brash, outspoken, using bullying tactics to get its way in cities it operates, and having a work culture that many say systematizes sexism.

On the other hand, Lyft has been recognized for its advancements in supporting charities, such as the “Round Up to Donate” campaign, which allows riders to round up their fare to the nearest dollar and donate the difference to charity. Lyft also partnered with Blue Cross Blue Shield to provide no cost rides to members for medical appointments.

At the time of this writing, Uber has the lion’s share of market share, tracking at almost 75%. Lyft is a distant second.

And that’s where the parallels to health care brands get interesting.

What if your brand is the Uber of your market?

What if your brand is the biggest, most well known? What if you seem to have infinite market share?

Is it time to coast, to rest on your laurels? Is it time to play it safe?

Maybe. Maybe not.

Your brand might be the biggest, most dominant, most used.

But is your brand the most beloved?

As I’ve shared previously, health brands today face one of two outcomes: irrelevance or sacred trust.

Which future is your brand working on?

On the flip side: do you work for a health brand that’s a distant second or third in the market? Are you constantly chasing a larger, more well-known rival brand?

Maybe you should pull a Lyft strategy.

Early on, Lyft recognized its core brand strategy was to have an exceptional experience for both drivers and passengers. (Lyft has a 75% driver satisfaction rate—much, much higher than Uber.)

The logical reason for this focus: happy drivers equal happy passengers. Happy passengers equal positive word of mouth and more rides.

The same is true of health brands. Focusing on your physicians and clinical team engagement can impact the quality of the patient experience, driving positive word of mouth and loyalty.

Here’s another smart Lyft strategy to apply.

In January of this year, some New York City taxi drivers stopped driving to protest President Trump’s original travel ban. Uber raised its fares to respond to market demand, which frustrated the market. Lyft’s 180 degree response to the travel ban proposal? A $1million pledge to the American Civil Liberties Union.

In the age of population health strategies to keep people well and out of the hospital, look for thoughtful ways to support your local community’s wellness initiatives. For example, sponsor health and wellness-based events outside of your hospital. Become known as the brand that cares for the community, in and out of the hospital exam room.

Lyft seems to be the tortoise in the ridesharing race, which serves to reinforce Uber’s position as the brash, loud and domineering hare.

Maybe your competitor can outspend you.

But can your brand be the one that people most prefer…even love?

I think that’s a race worth winning.

Let me know in the comments below your thoughts.  

What goes into estimating your health care marketing campaign?

What goes into estimating your health care marketing campaign?

What goes into estimating your healthcare marketing campaign?

You may wonder how we determine what it will take to plan your campaign’s concept and strategy. Or, how we come up with the numbers for writing, designing, shooting photography or video. How about what it will cost to integrate the elements of your campaign into your website with a dedicated landing page and optimization.