ADVERTISING, DISTRIBUTION, & SALES
In medical device companies, adoption of a reimbursement sales model can increase the effectiveness of sales calls by enabling sales reps to respond to issues that would otherwise have to be passed to the company's reimbursement specialists.
To make the model work, however, sales and reimbursement personnel must understand the new shape of their responsibilities in a strategic, multicall sales model. Reimbursement personnel must learn to rely on the ability of sales personnel to provide accurate reimbursement-related information to prospective customers, and sales personnel must know and understand where their ability to discuss reimbursement issues ends.
Internally, even the pay structure related to the reimbursement sales model may be very different from the traditional sales quota approach. Instead, sales compensation may be based on the accomplishment of certain milestones over a period of time. And those milestones may involve close collaboration with the company's field reimbursement personnel.
The benefits of adopting the reimbursement sales model can be significant. In a typical consultative sales exchange, for example, a target physician might dismiss a sales representative whose company did not already have a code for the procedures in which its product was expected to be used. The sales representative passes along this information, telling sales management that potential adopting physicians won't take further calls until the company gets a code for its technology. In turn, sales management conveys this comment to the company's marketing or reimbursement personnel, indicating that the company must have a code before it can sell to the projected customer.
When the sales representative has undergone the basic training involved in implementing a reimbursement sales model, the dialogue with prospective customers is potentially very different. Instead of taking the physician's insistence on having coding information as a dismissal, the sales rep would use the request as an opportunity to explain that manufacturers do not simply 'get codes.' Instead, the rep can explain the role of physicians and specialty societies in driving the coding process, and can discuss the ways that the process can be influenced by communications from individual physicians.
With the above actions, the sales representative can turn the situation around and identify a potential physician champion. The company's field reimbursement personnel may be able to enlist that person to influence the decisions of local carriers and other third-party payers. Along the way, the company's sales process is made more efficient, and corporate integrity is preserved by keeping the discussion of coding issues within legal boundaries.