I’ve conducted many deal reviews where a seller enthusiastically recounts a recent meeting with a large health system.

Typically, the meeting was with a C-Level executive, such as the CEO or Chief Medical Officer. The seller touts the demo, how much the executive loves our solution and, most importantly, how fast the deal is going close. Forecasts are updated, expectations rise and fingers are crossed.

Sounds exciting, right?

Fast forward to the next deal review. The seller explains, with much less enthusiasm, that the deal has stalled due to problems with the health system’s IT team.

So, what happened?

The CIO gave us the Heisman.

An accomplished sales leader once told me that while all sellers long to fast track deals, you can never completely skip steps in the sales process. I truly believe this when it comes to selling healthcare technology, and know that the one shortcut you never take is a road that goes around the CIO.

Healthcare CIOs and their teams have an incredibly difficult job. They control large budgets, oversee mission critical systems, and manage IT expectations across a population of users who are sometimes under-informed. And if this isn’t enough, the CIO is also accountable for keeping the health system safe from cyber-attacks lurking from every corner of the globe.

If you are thinking that the CIO is not your buyer, as your organization’s solution is about “strategic vision” and most aligned with the CEO or Chief Medical Officer, think again. In healthcare technology, the CIO is always your buyer, because not only is this the person who is ultimately going to be responsible for making your technology successful, he or she is also the person that the CEO/CMO that you have whipped into a frenzy over your product will defer to  when it comes to making large software purchase decisions.

Here are three things to consider when building a sales strategy to gain CIO support:

1. Think like a CIO

There is nothing wrong with selling technology that plays to a health system’s larger strategic aspirations, just remember that it’s the CIO’s job to execute that vision.

The CIO’s needs and questions will be very different from other members of the C-Suite, so be prepared to get granular with the details and truly explain how your solution works, integrates, and complements their EMR and other systems.

This is not the time for marketing speak. Bring your best technical team members to your meetings and do your homework. At this stage of the sales process, you need to establish credibility. You will be judged less on whether you have all the answers, and more in how thoughtful you are in addressing their questions and concerns honestly and with specificity.

2. Present a ROI Model that helps the CIO get budget

When a seller is able to deliver an ROI model that is based on a customer with similar demographics, systems and needs as their prospect, this is the Holy Grail. However, for most healthcare technology companies, presenting a model that fits the prospect’s exact needs is not an easy task, especially if you are selling a new solution in a new market and ROI data from your customers is not readily available.

In these situations, you must get creative.  If you don’t have customer ROI data at the ready, then create a model that enables the prospect to build their own business case for their organization.  Think non-traditionally as how to achieve this, as some of your best internal resources for the project may come from your finance and human resources teams.  Put a team together whose goal is to deliver a hands-on model that can be used in the field to drive urgency and justification for the purchase of your products.

3. Think about implementation during the sales process

If your goal is a long-term relationship with a provider, winning the deal is just the first step. However, how you set up the relationship for long term success during the sales process has the biggest influence on how successful your relationship will be.

One way to ensure a mutually beneficial relationship is to address the product implementation up front.  When you start to negotiate the contract, introduce your services team. No provider or vendor ever intends for a deployment to be a challenge, but our industry has witnessed countless IT project failures that were doomed by misaligned expectations and timelines.

Therefore, before the deal is signed start working towards a seamless “sales to services” handover, which will give the provider time to adjust and plan.

Any great, long term relationship between healthcare and technology providers starts with the CIO. Thinking like a CIO will not only make your organization better, it will also ensure you never get the Heisman.

If you have feedback, questions or best practices you would like to share, we would love to hear from you. Share your experience in the comments below, or contact us to learn more.


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