There are a million and one articles out there about how marketers can “get past the gatekeepers” to sell products and services to company decision makers. And while it can be effective, it feels a bit shady, right? If what you have to offer is so good, wouldn’t you want the gatekeeper on your side, helping convince key decision makers it’s something they actually need?
Gatekeepers play an important role in communication and purchasing decisions. Outside of keeping annoying sales people away, they take on important roles as quality control, budget manager and, in some cases, decision maker.
Here are some of the important industry gatekeepers you should know and how you can build alliances with them.
Google shares that 71 percent of hospital purchasing decisions are triggered by wanting to update outdated technology. Another 42 percent are based upon user requests (physicians, nurses, support staff, etc.), but the challenge for hospital administrators is finding a solution that increases quality of care while keeping the cost low.
Due to their busy schedules, hospital administrators are diligent when it comes to how they allocate their time. This makes it important to be as prepared as possible when speaking with them.
According to Google, hospital administrators research online to narrow down the number of vendors they consider speaking with and arm themselves with the right questions when they do.
During the research phase, video plays a significant role in decision-making for healthcare and medical professionals. This visual element helps provide a clearer picture of how devices and procedures work and is important for understanding real life application. Shorter videos tend to perform better, with the focus being on the product, service or procedure and how it can be used.
For example, see the video on Gebauer’s Pain Ease product page, and how it can be used by doctors to assist with minor surgical and needle procedures. These videos often help administrators determine whether they would like to move forward with a solution, or can be handy down the road to demonstrate technique for training purposes.
According to Google’s research, video also inspires researchers to act, with 79 percent continuing on to the manufacturer’s website and 63 percent sharing the information with others.
During the evaluation phase, administrators typically have a good foundational knowledge of a product or service, and only reach out to sales reps to confirm their findings or ask specific questions regarding how it works. In fact, 75 percent look for clinical data and 82 percent look to product reviews and comparisons for deeper insight.
For this reason, to make a real connection with a hospital administrator, you should:
It has been found that during the decision making process, 77 percent of purchases are made with a direct sales contact with a vendor, meaning a personal relationship is paramount (once the administrator is ready). Plan carefully to establish this connection early by highlighting what is most important to hospital administrators. Show your solution meets their criteria and provides value.
Winning over purchasing managers can be tough, especially when they are known for being price-driven. But understanding how their job works helps clarify why they have such a specific agenda.
Purchasing managers often act as the middleman between higher-ups and end users. This means they’re responsible for making sure your solution meets the needs of the end user, while staying within the parameters set by the higher-ups (budget, integration, onboarding, etc.) This is a tough job and, in some cases, the purchasing manager may not even be an end user. For this reason, it is important your communication is clear and easy to understand, as they may have to translate what you say to several other decision makers.
Your initial conversation should focus on fully understanding their need. If you get into the nitty gritty details too early, they will tune you out.
Price is often a large factor for purchasing managers. Having updated pricing information can sometimes make or break the decision to move forward with a partnership. Some companies prefer not to share pricing information online, but a price range, comparison chart around cost, and easy access to a request for quote can help ease some frustration. Reliability, technicality and delivery period are other factors that may be considered in the final cost of purchasing your product/service. If your price is higher, consider how could these affect the perceived value of doing business with you.
To build successful relationships with purchasing managers, you’ll want to focus on these key points:
For purchasing managers, what’s important is knowing you understand their business and demonstrating you’re in it to help them, not just sell your product. Your relationship will depend on your ability to effectively incorporate your product or service into their business.
IT managers may be the most unique of these gatekeepers in that they are highly technical and think much like engineers do, focusing on the details. This makes them more likely to be put off by salespeople and “being sold” on a product. They know more information can always be found online with the simple click of a button, and they appreciate people who are well informed and detail-oriented.
With that mindset, it makes engineers and IT managers less inclined to fill out forms to receive information, so it’s important you are able to share at least some of your content openly and honestly to develop an initial connection with them. Ungated content like blogs and videos can play a vital role in building your relationship.
Research is important to IT managers. Without a strong foundational knowledge of a new product or service and how it will affect the status quo, convincing them to purchase will be difficult. They appreciate new technologies and exciting tools, but ultimately, job security and career growth are ultimately most important to them. Because of this, you may have more success selling your solution to the IT manager’s boss. If the push comes from above, it’s more likely you’ll have a real conversation about your solution and what it can do for them, rather than an already turned out call.
Connecting with an IT person requires highly visual and “how things work” content. Expertise in what you’re selling is essential to earning their trust. This is also where case studies, testimonials and other credible firsthand accounts come into play. Take this iCONN Systems page, for example. It’s straightforward, but leads to a detailed case study with further information. Without some way to back up claims about your product or service, you’ll have a slim chance at capturing attention.
To win over IT managers, follow these simple rules:
Rather than trying to bypass gatekeepers in different industries, learn to speak their language and earn their trust. The more value you can show to different stakeholders, the better chance you’ll have at building long-lasting partnerships.
Keep going --> Learn the ins-and-outs of developing a Digital Marketing Strategy that can help you build valuable partnerships with the these important gatekeepers.