Sales In the Managed Care Industry

| | Technology & Integration, Utilization Review

Kats Sales Graphic Sept 2016
”Sales people are . . . .” I’ve used this prompt when interviewing salespeople to get a sense of their initial thoughts about sales. It’s a very telling prompt and provides direct insight into one’s sales psyche. One “sales person” responded with the words: dishonest, conniving and unreliable. Wow! How’s that to describe your chosen profession? I’ve had others respond, “helpful, articulate, outgoing, inquisitive and professional.” The latter was a successful sales professional. What are your thoughts on sales people in the managed care industry? In managed care, multiple avenues related to the sales process are considered “tried and true.” I’m sure you’ve heard them:
  • It’s all about relationships – you have to have a relationship with the vendor/buyer in order to be considered
  • It’s all about the money – we only purchase based on price (but we will switch vendors based on service)
  • It’s a long, involved sales cycle
Just like the descriptor of salespeople (above), it’s all about perspective. When considering making changes in service or software platforms and being presented with multiple options, it seems the sales decision should be based on:
  • Knowledge of the industry and the prospect
  • Features/functions of the software or service
  • Key decision points
    • Customization of workflow
    • Regulatory compliance
    • Letter generation
    • Rules to include guideline rules/custom rules/claim rules
    • Integration with ancillary vendors
  • Solving problems (gaining efficiencies, minimizing regulatory issues, eliminating unnecessary costs)
  • Return on Investment/savings on managed care functions and on overall claims cost
  • Security (access, data, etc.)
  • IT interfaces (web service, claim feeds, etc.)
As an example, presentations should include knowledge of the prospect: their culture, what is important to them, etc. Years ago, a company I was associated with was presenting to a large prospect. We knew that their culture was centered around their people, their high level of customer service and a “fun” environment. Yet, they were also known for keeping their costs low and providing a quality, timely service. As a result, we began our presentation with a slide listing the millions (yes, millions) of dollars that we could save them as a result of engaging in a business relationship with us. Just imagine walking into a sales presentation where the opening slide is on the screen with a large image of millions of dollars… Something like:
            Additionally, we opted to dress in attire that would fit their culture . . . everybody in the room was in khakis and matching polo shirts. Both decisions (the slide and the attire) were risky… what if they didn’t think we were professional enough, what if they were offended, what if… As the prospects entered the conference room and saw the number, it caught the attention of each participant and they all reacted similarly (“Wow!”). They were relaxed and enjoyed the fact that we had embraced their culture, knew their pain points and wanted to work in partnership with them to save the money that shown on our initial slide. Needless to say, there was a lot more work involved then those two items, but those two things eased us into the presentation and opened the dialogue as to how our services could benefit the prospect. We acquired the business and were successful in bringing huge savings to their company. Of course there is always a possibility of wanting to stay with the current vendor, which is commonly based on the following factors:
  • Change is painful, and the price/features do not outweigh the pain
  • Internal resources are limited to implement all the features that make it worthwhile
  • It’s not a corporate priority (based on business model, arm of business, etc.)
What can vendors/service providers do differently in the sales process to truly meet the needs of insurance carriers/TPAs? We look forward to hearing your thoughts and appreciate your input! Email us at:

Karen Atkins

Karen Atkins, Chief Operating Officer with UniMed Direct, is leading the conversation, and the industry, on how to make the utilization review process more efficient for all stakeholders: physicians, insurance companies and, most importantly, patients.