In a given day, how many canned sales emails do you receive? How many of those are either immediately re-routed, unopened, or moved to your trash folder? With the rise of services like GrowthHackers and Upwork, no e-mail account is safe from hungry business development reps trying to cast a wide enough net to hit their monthly numbers.
While our goal is to one day have 100% of our leads come inbound, we currently are responsible for some of those sales e-mails that mysteriously find their way into your inbox. In our defense, though, if you’re hearing from me or someone on my team, it’s because we know your software is a valuable product to health systems. We also know that your value increases if your product can interoperate with the health system’s EHR, and that Redox is the best product for highly-scalable integration.
The most important thing to us is that you’re simply aware of our integration model and why it’s worth serious consideration. Sales are obviously important to the success of our business, but everyone on our “sales” team is foremost an educator and a solutions architect, a point highlighted by the fact that no one on our business development team has previous sales experience*. In our business, intimate knowledge of electronic health record systems and how health system IT teams operate is more important than being the number one sales rep in your region for the past 5-years. Each customer’s needs are so unique that in order to properly sell Redox, you need to be able to craft customized solutions based on knowledge that can only be acquired on the front lines of health IT.
Where I Got My Stripes
Before joining Redox, I spent the better part of a decade as an implementor of clinical products at the country’s largest EHR vendor. Taking on the role of Director of Business Development at Redox was, in many ways, quite scary for me. I’d always been told (and kind of felt) that I had the personality to do well in a sales environment, but I didn’t have any direct experience. When considering possible sales opportunities in the past, I was always too terrified that the job would require me to be pounding the pavement or cold calling from a huge list of uninterested recipients with a bunch of dudes who just want to be the next Wolf of Wall Street.
What I quickly realized—and what ultimately led me to come out of EHR retirement to join the Redox ranks—was the fact that THIS business development role was not really about anything other than helping awesome healthcare technology solutions take their game to the next level. I’m never selling anything to someone who won’t drastically benefit from our services, so there’s no feeling of shilling a gimmick or looking to play anyone. It’s a fun position to be, where I can challenge myself while routinely hearing, “you guys are exactly what we’ve been looking for.” I get to be on the front lines of healthcare’s interoperability problem, and my job, more than sales, is to be a solutions medic. I get to share everything I learned in the past with the next generation of technology solutions that are going to dramatically change the way we provide and receive care. It’s a pretty sweet gig if I’m being honest.
Why Traditional Sales Would Never Work for Us
Redox lives in this weird grey area between SaaS and consulting. Our cloud-based integration engine is our SaaS, and the product is fundamentally different from any other integration provider on the market. This difference requires a lot of education. While everyone else is adding to the mess of point-to-point connections, we’re steadily growing an interoperable network of digital health applications with health systems while realizing incredible efficiency gains (for all parties) at scale. If you’ve never worked closely with a health system’s IT team, you wouldn’t understand the complexity of the connections they maintain and why adding another downstream system to support one-off is such a bad idea.
The second half of our solution is our partner-like guidance and support which falls closer to the consulting side of the spectrum. We don’t give you a tool and leave it up to your team to figure out how to use and maintain it. From the first phone call where we learn more about your product and provide you with an initial plan for how we would meet your data sharing needs, to when we are implementing a configuration change to keep your connection live at a health system that just upgraded their instance of whatever EHR they use, we’re supporting your team every step of the way. This requires a broad blend of skills that could never fit under a single “sales” umbrella. There’s no canned presentation to work off of here, our industry is still too nuanced.
So… What Should We Call Ourselves?
When I started writing this op-ed, I was kicking around wording to refer to myself as “problem solver in sales guy clothing.” Kind of lame, I know. The point that I’m trying to get across as candidly as possible is that I rarely ask my prospective clients qualifying questions about their business right off the bat. I’m generally storming out of the gate asking questions about the solution. What does it do? Sweet buzzwords! But seriously, what does it do? Where is it now vs. where you want it to be in a year or two? What EHR data do you need? Have you tried to tackle integration before? All of the questions I ask target the fundamental problem in healthcare you are trying to solve. If I can understand your problem, and it has ANYTHING to do with needing to get EHR data, then the wheels immediately start turning on how I’d get your software synced up to Redox, how we’d pitch that integration to the hospital, and how we can grow from one site to one-hundred sites as quickly as possible.
So, while I guess I wear sales guy’s clothes these days, I think my role is better categorized by its hybrid nature: one-part educator on the industry, one-part solutions architect, one-part sales, and a dash of legal counsel. All of Redox’s Growth Monsters (what we call sales internally) are experienced EHR implementers from their past careers and do a remarkable job of wearing all of these different hats (or capes if we’re sticking with the title theme). I think it is one of the reasons this team is so special and why I feel comfortable these days as a “sales guy”. Deep down, I know how few people have the skill-set to guide our customers in the right direction, and I’m happy to be helping spread a truly worthwhile solution to the healthcare community.
If you ever want to chat healthcare integration, golf, or Villanova basketball, get in touch at email@example.com
*Not 100% true. Our VP of Sales and Strategic Partnerships, Rebecca DenHollander, spent some time working in sales at Epic, but she was an implementer first.