Become An Authority On Something

Being viewed as an authority will make your career bullet-proof. It will set you apart as you move up the career ladder. Experts and authorities are valued more by their employers and likely to be paid more.

And if selling is part of your job description, it will make it easier for you to connect with prospects. In fact, they will seek you out.

It also gives you independence. If you are hankering to set out on your own, you need to be an authority in something.

Why you should become an authority

Companies are always looking for expertise. Even in the deepest recession. Just being good at what you do is not enough. To be really successful, you have to stand apart as being a go-to resource for a particular topic.

If you are an authority, your friends and your extended business network will refer opportunities to you.

When strangers are searching for experts on LinkedIn, you will come up higher in their search results.

If you really commit to it and publish more widely than on LinkedIn, when people search the topic on Google and YouTube you will come up.

It doesn’t matter what level of experience you have or where you are in your career, you can be an authority on something.

You don’t have to be the next Gary V, but you can become recognized as an expert in something you are passionate about in your field.

It doesn’t matter how narrow your subject matter is. One of the best examples of this is Shannon Roddy. Shannon is an authority in helping merchants sell better on Amazon.

A few years ago, he was a web designer working for someone else. He was given the task of helping a client rank better on Amazon. This turned into a passion, and he has become a recognized expert by focusing on learning as much as possible about the topic. He posts about the topic, writes articles, speaks at events, and creates videos.

He has committed to being a recognized authority on the topic. In the last few years, he turned this passion into a training business, and he is taking off like a rocket.

Find your passion

What is one thing that you are professionally passionate about? Can you identify what you know a bit more about than your peers? What can you teach others? What do you love to learn more about?

Whatever this is, you can become an authority on this. It’s then about becoming even more expert in this, sharing what you know with your network, and above all, earning the right to be considered an authority.

Set yourself a daily challenge to learn something new about this topic and share it.


Start sharing posts and write a monthly article about your (business) passion on LinkedIn if you only do one thing.


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Originally posted on LinkedIn.

What’s Different About Selling To Healthcare Organizations?

Selling To Hospitals – Entering the Twilight Zone

If you are new to Healthcare, selling to healthcare organizations, especially selling to hospitals, can be very intimidating. My first meeting at a large hospital was terrifying.

I arrived, dressed in a suit, briefcase in hand, I walked through busy hospital hallways with clinicians in scrubs running from room to room, patients roaming the halls in smocks, scary-looking equipment being wheeled by.

It certainly wasn’t like meeting with a bank.

The executives spoke a language that was completely alien to me, using acronyms I had never heard. They discussed operational and financial issues that were Greek to me.

It was like entering a parallel universe.


The good news for anyone coming into healthcare is that there are many similarities to other industries you have worked in. Healthcare organizations act like large corporations in most ways.

They are financially driven, they buy technology to solve problems, they have defined processes in the way they buy, they want to lower costs and increase revenues, and they are full of smart people who want to be good at their jobs.

But, there are some important differences that you have to understand. For anyone making the transition to healthcare, you must learn these things.

So, if you can master these issues, you are on your way to being successful.

The Seven Major Differences Selling to Healthcare

1. Healthcare is like a parallel universe with  a different economic model

Healthcare is a multi-trillion-dollar industry with a different economic model. Many healthcare organizations make hundreds of millions or even billions of dollars in revenue but behave like they have no money.

Most of their consumers (also known as patients) don’t pay for most of their services.

In most cases, insurance companies or the government charge fees, and it is the employers and taxpayers who provide the funds.

So why is that important? It means that healthcare organizations have to wait to get reimbursed for the services they have delivered.

These services are based on codes for each procedure. There are hundreds of thousands of these codes, and the pay rate for each differs depending on where you are in the country and many other variables. Forecasting is a headache. They rarely get reimbursed what they expected as the payor negotiates for lower rates.

It takes a long time to receive payment

Imagine trying to run a retail business like this? The cash flow of a healthcare system is a nightmare.

Tip: Learn as much about the money flow in healthcare, especially the changes happening in Washington. You will understand your customers better, and you will also pinpoint new opportunities early.

2. Healthcare organizations have a different purpose

Most healthcare providers are Not-for-Profit. So, while they take in hundreds of millions in revenue, the majority of organizations are not doing this to make a profit.

Their purpose is to cure people and the health of their community. They are commercial organizations. And so, their motivation is not happy shareholders but a higher purpose.

Many organizations are faith-based.

This is important because, when you are selling to healthcare systems, raising revenues and lowering costs is important, but you can’t lose sight that patient care is the most important issue.

3. Sales cycles are incredibly long

When selling to hospitals, everybody will tell you that the sales cycles are very long. I am going to dedicate a future blog post to this. The reality is that there is not much you can do about this, but you have to factor this into your business model.

Therefore, if you have a business that sells into other industries, expect that selling to healthcare will take 50-100% longer and build this into your business plan.

4. The complex sale is even more complex

Why? The sales process typically involves more people and different stakeholders with very different needs and expectations. Understanding the stakeholder map is critical.

These include IT, medical, nursing, informatics, security, finance, purchasing execs, and a few subject matter experts have thrown in for good measure.

Everyone gets involved, and as decisions are most often by consensus, everybody gets a voice.

5. Many people in healthcare have little business experience

Many stakeholders you will meet selling to hospitals, e.g., doctors and nurses, have very little experience working in the business.

They are typically smart people, but you may have to go the extra mile to explain the commercial benefits of what you are selling. For example, my physician business partner had used email for years but had no idea what Outlook was.

6. Healthcare organizations are often more loyal

In my experience, healthcare organizations stay with their vendors longer than in other industries. Why? Firstly, they are not as ruthless as more profit-driven organizations, and there is a lot of risk in switching. This is the positive side of the long sales cycles.

7. Technology lags behind other industries and moves slower

Healthcare organizations are more risk-averse and more financially constrained the businesses in other industries. Consequently, they innovate more slowly, and technology lifecycles are often longer.

There is a lot of legacy technology, even faxes and pagers. You may need to integrate with technologies you don’t see very often in other industries.

In this post, I will explain why the sale cycle takes so long and who is involved in the sales process.


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Originally posted on LinkedIn.

Ransomware – The Stuff of Nightmares

Was just reading about NRC’s ransomware attack. This is the stuff of nightmares. NRC is a business associate with hundreds of healthcare systems and has patient data on 100,000s (maybe millions of patients).

The attack could have started by someone innocently opening a phishing email.

These are getting more convincing every day. I almost fell for one the other day from a LinkedIn connection. I was a mouse click away.

A ransomware attack like this cripples an organization and hurts its clients too.

NTC had to shut down all its systems immediately. They basically switched the business off! More importantly, it is devastating to client trust.

NRC clients immediately complained that the attack impacts their operations because they use NRC data in determining what to pay their physicians.

I ran a secure communications business and we sweated minor outages as our lives depended on it.

Just thinking about a ransomware attack makes me want to throw up. It could have buried us.

The article details the impact of other attacks. Don’t read this late at night.


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What To Watch For in 2020

Was catching up on some digital health reading. I recommend two really good report links in the comments. First is CB Insights Top Trends to Watch in 2020. The other is MobiHealth’s Predictions for 2020.

Here are my five key takeaways:

  1. Apple is doubling down on healthcare. The Apple Watch now detects falls and monitors your heart rate and helps with diabetes management. Arguably, Apple has an advantage when it comes to data privacy.
  2. Watch Amazon. Amazon Care is currently an experiment, but this could expand to include telemedicine and disruption in the pharmacy space. Keep an eye on Haven (JV with JPM & BerkshrHathwy. And Alexa is now HIPAA-compliant.
  3. Google’s FitBit acquisition will give Apple Watch a meaningful rival. Google has 90 deals + 60 portfolio companies in healthcare.
  4. Privacy becomes an even bigger deal. There was a lot of consternation around Google’s Project Nightingale jv with Ascencion in 2019. Consumers do not want anyone screwing with their private health info and HIPAA is being challenged for being inadequate. Note that Epic’s Judy Faulkner is using privacy concerns to stave off pressure to share data from its installed network.
  5. Innovation is coming from Asia. Investment in Asian digital health companies is second only to US and multiples higher than Europe. Expect to see ventures like Tencent’s Trusted Doctor Platform look to the US market for expansion.


Interesting Links

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Why Selling To Healthcare Takes So Long

Last week, I posted about what’s different about selling to healthcare. One of the biggest differences is the sale cycle and one of the biggest questions is why selling to healthcare takes so long. 

In this post, we analyze why selling hospitals takes longer than other industries.

This is based on insights from our mentors and our team’s decades of experience in the healthcare industry.

The 6-Year Healthcare Sales Cycle

One of the longest sales cycles I experienced was six years. I founded a healthtech firm in 2012. In 2014, we had a half-a-dozen customers and a growing pipeline.  We started selling our solution to two major competing healthcare systems in the same state. We ran through 12-month sales cycles with both prospects but were not able to close either deal. We lost touch with both.

Three years later, the two competing systems merged and the new leadership was interested in what we had to offer. The whole process started again. It then took another 20 months from the first meeting to the contract. It was worth the wait as they were an important win and they became our largest customer.

Average Sales Cycles

Here are some examples of average sales cycles for various healthcare software solutions. Selling:

  • $10,000 software to physician’s office – 60-90 days
  • Secure messaging to a hospital -9 months
  • VOIP-based workflow solution to a healthcare system – 18 months
  • New EHR to a healthcare system – 2 years

Why Does The Healthcare Sales Cycle Take So Long

These are multiple times longer than software sales cycles in other industries.

Why is that? It’s the combination of many different factors.

1. Required Purchasing Process

Most organizations have a legal or board-mandated requirement to go through a competitive process. This often involves a Request for Proposal (RFP) and all the steps. 

If you are early on in the process, you can help steer the direction the RFP takes

2. Too many people involved.

There are many stakeholders: IT, clinical, financial, business, security, and purchasing. All have their say, and most healthcare organizations make decisions by committee. Building consensus is critical. In a future post, I will go into this cast of characters in more detail.

3. Proving an ROI is hard.

One of the toughest challenges is having a compelling value proposition with a credible ROI. It’s hard to prove that your solution increases sales or decreases costs when so many variables exist.

Even if you can prove it, often, a buyer won’t believe it because they have been burned before.

This is even worse if the ROI you are trying to prove is related to patient health. Proving positive clinical outcomes is hard, time-consuming, and expensive.

4. It’s all about managing risk.

This is the biggest issue why selling to healthcare takes so long. Any large purchase involves financial risk for the organization and personal risk for the decision-maker. For the organization, the financial risk can be ruinous.

There have been many stories about hospitals blaming the bankruptcy on poor EMR implementation, and many CIOs have been fired for the same reason.

In an industry that is going through so much consolidation, getting a new job is harder, so the personal stakes are very high.

The last risk is unique to healthcare. In most industries, a bad technology decision can hurt the bottom line. In healthcare, a bad technology decision can affect patients. People can die if they make a bad decision wrong.

5. Other priorities.

Often, there are other priorities that delay the process. For example, an upgrade to the EHR. This can delay a decision by months. If your prospect is under threat of being absorbed by another organization, your sale could delay indefinitely.

6. Changing decision-making criteria.

Because the sales cycle takes so long, it increases the chances that new people and new issues will get introduced. This can shift the way the decision is made.

In one situation, a healthcare organization’s CEO and Chief Medical Officer bought into our solution. Then IT got involved, and this initiated a comprehensive selection process. This brought in other stakeholders, including nursing. The nursing department wanted a different solution, and after 9 months, the decision criteria changed by 180 degrees, and we lost the deal.

7. 800 lb. Gorillas.

In every industry, there is an 800-lb gorilla. In healthcare, the two leading EHR companies, Epic and Cerner, can significantly slow the sale down of your solution.

Even if neither Epic nor Cerner offer a competitive solution to yours, they may tell your prospects that “it’s on the roadmap,” and that can kill or delay the sale by months.

Divide and Conquer

There is little that you can do to shorten the sales cycle but there are things you can do to control the sale better. In a future post, I will go into this in more detail. One key thing! If you are a sales executive, you will need to split your sales and marketing team into three – Hunters, Closers and Farmers.

  • Hunters are hard to find and retain, but someone with a network of relationships that can open new doors, pinpoint opportunities and turn them into qualified opportunities is worth their weight in gold.

  • Great Closers are experts in controlling the sale. Often they are the sales execs in charge of the hunters. They know when to take over from the hunters and how to manage the process so that it converts.

  • Farmers are easier to find, and if you have a business with many solutions, they are critical to growing your revenues with new clients. Healthcare clients are often more loyal than nonhealthcare clients, so a well-managed relationship can grow over time.

I am always keen to hear what other people in the industry have experienced. Why do you think selling to healthcare takes so long? Let me know your best and worst stories of selling into healthcare.


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Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash

Originally posted on LinkedIn.

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