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Medical Device Sales – Understanding Your Buyer

Business in the UK is conducted with the NHS in hospitals and Community Trusts in the main: although there are an increasing number of private clinics and community based groups now with their own procurement budgets.

The NHS has evolved quite a bit over the past few decades, meaning regulations have increased but it is the move from individual Consultants having their own buying power to procurement departments/teams taking over this role that has perhaps had the most profound impact.

It has been an interesting journey for Medical Device Sales Reps.  The funding available for medical devices has decreased in many areas whilst the demand for treatment has increased.  So a change in the rationale of what is bought has taken place.

Where individual Consultants may have focussed on the latest features and functionality of a device, delighting in the newest and best products to meet patient needs, procurement departments have different motivating drivers, e.g., to finance & procure the most cost effective solutions.

For Sales Reps, understanding who the decision makers are and what drives their purchase is always key.  But it is also essential that Reps, sitting between the medical and pharmaceutical giants on one side and the purchasers on the other can explain why different products are the best choice in different scenarios and help customers make the most informed decisions to meet patient needs.

As a result, the best Medical Device Sales Reps learned to become solution providers and valuable members of the wider multi-disciplinary team.  They realised the old models of selling and branding had to be adapted to the new market realities and that partnership working with wider stakeholders along with product education and integrated sales training could all play a part in contributing to this dynamic public market.

Now, contrast this with the Asia/Pacific Rim countries and what it means to sell medical devices over in Singapore, Thailand or China.  If working in this part of the world is of interest to you, not only will you have to understand the language and cultural aspects of working with purchasers there, but also the main drivers behind their decisions.

Looking at China in particular, there are better cash revenues to be had than in the UK for medical devices and a much wider pool of purchasers procuring medical devices.  This can be accounted for (to a large extent) through the growing middle classes.  This pool of people places a much greater demand on treatments that can improve longevity & the quality of their life and are happy to invest their wealth in these.

This approach to medical devices is also witnessed at Governmental level with significant investment & funding being made available for new medical devices.   Asian / Pacific countries are altogether more receptive to the new technologies & products being launched and seem to hold price as less of a driver in their decision making process at present.

Some of the major players in the industry are now focussing products specifically in these markets and with the global industry estimated to hit $228 billion by 2015, the Asian market (although relatively new) is now expected to account for almost a quarter of this – makes for interesting reading if this is an area of the globe that you would like to travel to and spend time working / exploring.

Back in the UK, our hospitals and communities need access to the latest products just as much as the APAC countries.  As a Sales Representative or Marketer, some of the best solutions welcomed by the NHS involve partnering up different hospitals to maximise their buying power.  The successful outcome of such a solution does not rely on the functionality of the device itself, it comes down to how well you as the medical sales rep or Marketer understand the buyers, their challenges, the environment they work within and the culture of the bigger healthcare environment.

To discuss or find out more about the CHASE offering, please call Nick Johnson on 0131 553 6644 or email