#16: Why Sales Development Is Important In HIT with Tyler Marklein

We all know health IT is a different animal…and that’s especially true when it comes to sales. Since this calls for industry-specific knowledge, I wanted to get an expert in this market to share his thoughts on the topic.

And to do that, Tyler Marklein graciously agreed to let us in on his tips for sales success. Join me as I pick Tyler’s brain for the best strategies to make HIT sales skyrocket.

Experience in HIT and sales

As a graduate ten years ago, Tyler simply wanted to find a job and make a living. He got more than he asked for though. When he landed his first job at UW health, he immediately started gaining industry-specific knowledge that would serve him well in the future.

He quickly learned how to implement software, write proposals, and move projects forward. Although he started on the ground floor in health tech, those five years were an invaluable asset in his future of sales.

Five years later, he was ready to start a new venture so he joined Health Bench (a new health startup). It was here that he got his first sales experience. Ironically, as he got his feet wet in sales, he didn’t even know that what he was doing is called sales development.

Tyler Marklein

What is sales development and why does it matter?

According to Tyler, the whole goal of sales development is to create a predictable stream of opportunities in your pipeline. Not only does it help your company speak to the right people, but it also helps your messaging cut through the noise of other enterprises.

In order to do this, Tyler says it’s vital that you learn everything you can about your buyer’s problem. That’s a theme I think you’ll be able to trace through his whole strategy - be an expert at knowing and solving the challenges facing your target audience.

How does it differ from other terminology?

Tyler noted that sales development merges sales and marketing, enabling both to do their jobs better. If you’ve kept up with the podcast, you’ve heard a lot about smarketing, and Tyler says that these two terms (sales development and smarketing) are one and the same.

However, there are some other sales terms that get thrown around that are different from sales development - sales enablement being one of these. Enablement focuses on doing just that...enabling.

They focus on providing content and tools that makes it easy for sales development to do its job. For instance, enablement departments gather stories and testimonials that developers can use in their messaging.

Being respectfully persistent for better buyer interaction

When Tyler started out in sales, he wishes he would’ve known that typical sales connotations aren’t good tactics for influencing buyers. When he finally realized this, it emboldened him in his mission - educating buyers so they know how to get what they need when they need it.

Sales done in this way doesn’t force products on people. Instead, it is respectfully persistent. Your goal is to be relevant and timely and be there when they need you.

As you accept what stage of the buying process potential clients are in, you can give them better honed information and build relationships.

Sales development done less effectively

In the toolbelt of sales departments, sales development is super popular. For buyers, that means that they’re getting contacted by 10-15 companies sending the SAME message. In short, if you’re going to cut through the noise, you have your work cut out for you.

More than ever before, you must know your buyer’s problem inside and out. But to know potential client’s challenges, you first need to know what your target audience is.

As you develop a specific picture of the client you’re trying to reach, you gain the advantage of specialized, expert messaging that can meet buyers right where they’re at.

3 steps to cut through the noise

Tyler mentioned three relatively simple steps that can make all the difference in the sales process.

Be consistent

First of all, be consistent. This is where many development strategies go wrong. They send one or two emails, maybe make a phone call, and then call it quits.

This is a disservice to your potential client though. How can they recognize the true value you’re offering them with only one or two outreach efforts from you. For you to truly help them overcome their problem, you need to be consistent.

Be personal

Automated emails are a great thing. But if they take away the personal element of your messaging, you need to readjust your strategy.

Don’t just give them facts, stats, or aimless stories. Buyers need to know why you care about their problem and how those facts and stories relate to their problem. Many sales strategies miss this key element, and, thereby, miss out on helping many future clients.

Be knowledgeable

Be knowledgeable about their problems, that is. This will set you apart from your competition. Consider every facet of the challenges facing buyers every day.

For instance, do you really understand their pressure points? Do you know what kinds of meetings they sit in and what kinds of topics are discussed?

If you know this information, you’re that much closer to helping them solve the things clients really care about.

A framework for sales development

Tyler has a pretty good system for reaching target audiences with the right messaging. Here are the steps he recommends:

  1. Understand what problems your product solves.

  2. Analyze your current customers - why they bought, what objections they overcame, and the result of their investment.

  3. Using the previous information, create a series of personalized emails.

  4. Evaluate your conversion rates

As you can see, this whole framework is very data driven. You need to gather data about the real solution that your product solves. Don’t broad brush this and hope to solve every problem for everyone. You can’t realistically do this in business or in life.

Your messaging needs to be backed by customer data. And it needs to be driven by data about what you as a company need in order to thrive. For instance, how many accounts do you need to have? From there, how many emails do you need to send.

In short, trust your data. Let it tell you what is working and what isn’t. Then craft your sales development in response.

How does HIT differ from other industries in sales development

There is crossover between other industries and health tech sales development. However, HIT is challenging because of the steeper language curve. Not only do you need to master all the acronyms and terms, but you also need to know the key players.

Since health tech is such a close knit industry, you don’t have as many chances to be bad at it. It’s less forgiving. So you need to focus on quality over quantity.

In addition, rarely will you find a large sales team in HIT. This influences your sample size in knowing what’s working in the market, and what’s not.

What you can do to jumpstart your sales development today

Tyler reiterated that the number one thing you could start today is to be consistent. Persistence with early stage founders can’t be overrated. Statistics corroborate this. It takes anywhere from 7-15 connects before a sale is made.

For many companies, all they need is a simple tool (like SalesLoft or HubSpot) that can simplify your email campaign. Then start simple. Build 3-5 messages geared towards your avatar. The more precise and personal you can make this messaging, the better.

In crafting these messages, you need to include enough valuable resources while also asking for something at the end of the email. For Tyler’s team at Elevation Demand, the goal is normally a meeting with potential clients.

Once they land a meeting, they hand it off to the founder or CEO. But they still remain integrally involved. From the outside, Tyler and his team look like employees of the company they do sales development for - even participating and learning from the meetings they land.

Must-read book

Spin Selling, for Tyler, is a must-read for anyone pursuing sales development. You’ll understand the sales process and how that connects with customers’ needs.

Another solid book for sales is Predictable Revenue by Aaron Ross. Short and simple, this book helps sales developers learn how to create a constant stream of revenue using principles that really work.

Want to connect with Tyler? Find him here:

LinkedIn - Tyler Marklein


Email him at tyler.elevationdemand.com

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