Drive your pitch to the heart of the problem

As we take our first tentative steps out of the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a fantastic array of project and proposal ideas coming out of the Pharma, Med Tech and Devices sector.

Some of these are brilliant ideas and suggestions. But devising and presenting these ideas, instead of working out precisely how they are going to work and what they are going to achieve, can be difficult.

In his best-selling book, Building a StoryBrand, author Donald Miller provides a framework for solving this issue. He urges businesses to get to grips with their client’s problem, to work out what outcome they are after to allow you to hone in on what solution you can offer. And this approach works if you are a rep selling tech to the NHS or a farmer selling potatoes to a supermarket – it’s all the same thing.

The question you should ALWAYS ask – What can I do for you?

How you open your approach to communication is critical. Get it wrong, and people will switch off immediately. So what does good practise look like? Here’s an example.

‘We’re aware of a group of patients whose treatment has been substandard. This has led to a host of unnecessary referrals, people getting stuck in secondary care, poor outcomes and illnesses that progress more rapidly than they would if they were getting optimal treatment. Waiting times for diagnostics for these people could be tortuously long – but easily shifted into primary care if the NHS worked with (your company).’

By framing the problem upfront, we’ve agitated it in the decision maker’s mind, so they’re forced to confront it and deal with it. And that’s where you step in to close the deal.

Simply propose the solution to their problems. What is your project, and how will it help them? Who is going to be responsible? What outcomes are you envisaging as a result of your project? And how are you going to measure and evaluate to either demonstrate the desired outcome or make adjustments if things aren’t going to plan?

By doing this, you’ve captivated them – you’ve shown that you understand their problem and empathise with it. It makes them far more likely to take you seriously because you have proved that you get the challenges they face.

The patients are now better off, of course, because you’ve proposed, for example, a shift in the workload that has taken pressure off the front line – the issue right at the heart of the NHS. Where the burden previously fell on the already harried consultant or the GP, it might now be shared between the nurse or the pharmacist or the physician associate.

Alleviation of pressure on the workforce is the outcome, and if you have a plan to deliver it, you’re in the driving seat when it comes to your proposal.

It’s the patient that benefits

If reducing the workload is the goal, you will inevitably reduce referrals, cut down on admissions and slash the number of GP appointments – all of which leads to better outcomes for patients.

Currently, people pitch project ideas to me that I can’t immediately see the benefit of because they don’t frame the problem upfront. And, of course, the number one thing that we have to achieve in any project is an improved patient outcome. So try tying that into a crystal clear story and message the customer can understand. It could be the difference between getting an appointment and not even getting through the door.

The clearer you are in spelling out the problem, solution, outcome, the more likely you are to succeed.

Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn if you’d like to discuss any of the points raised in this article.

Scott McKenzie helps pharmaceutical, medical technology and device firms increase revenue by getting their products and services in front of the right NHS decision makers. If you want to get your products fully embedded into treatment pathways we can help you. We’ve doubled revenue for our clients and can share these processes with you too. Download your free guide: Click here

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