Hospitals and healthcare providers across the country are in the process of upgrading or implementing healthcare software systems due to mandates under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and other legislation. MedReps.com recently sat down with health IT expert Jack Williams to talk about the industry, job prospects for salespeople, and what candidates can do to stand out in their search for healthcare software sales jobs.
MR: Over the next two years, many provisions of the ACA will be kicking in, specifically the implementation of electronic medical records (EMRs). How is this impacting the health IT sector?
JW: There’s an ongoing growth in implementations of EMR systems. There’s a little bit of a myth around this though. The press has people believing there is this sort of “one-time” purchase and implementation of systems going on, when in fact the systems require ongoing maintenance, support, and upgrades.
MR: Is it fair to assume this boom in health IT will also create healthcare software sales jobs?
JW: The growth in EMR systems alone has many software providers adding sales staff. However it’s not a guarantee. Take Epic for example. For a billion-dollar company, they have virtually no sales team. They focus on implementation and support and let their name speak for them on sales. Buyers come to them.
MR: What do sales professionals need to know about health IT if they want to break into the field?
JW: There’s a lot of homework to do. One is to understand the major players in the EMR space. People looking for health IT software sales jobs can do that with the EMR market segmentation report that HIMSS puts out annually. It shows who does what. Then they have to do a lot of research on various products to understand how they’re different and why.
MR: What type of experience will companies be looking for in a healthcare software salesperson?
JW: Again, they have to know the product and its uses. For example, to understand EMR systems in hospitals, the single most important thing to know is that the EMR system is customized to the hospital’s defined or desired workflow and processes. There is a great deal of customization – which the job ads for Health IT refer to mostly as “build” experience.
MR: As far as qualifications go, what sets an applicant apart from other candidates when it comes to healthcare software sales?
JW: Knowing the product, knowing where it’s genuinely better or different rather than what a marketing person says. For example, if small hospitals routinely choose Meditech’s system, a savvy salesperson would do enough research to know why.
MR: What are the main attributes healthcare software companies are looking for in a candidate?
JW: People who want to know how things work. People who are honest enough with themselves to know not every hospital is a buyer. For example if a hospital has dropped all its dollars into Epic, they are not going to buy a competing product. Supporting products are a different story, but EMR systems are typically one per hospital – although many have 2 in place: the one they can’t get rid of yet, and the one they are moving to.
MR: How does selling healthcare software differ from other business to business sales jobs?
JW: It’s more incumbent in Health IT to know the buyer. Other sales jobs may be able to have a best of breed product with the belief it sells to all buyers. EMR systems are a lot different in that they are heavily tailored to facilities based on size, specialty, and other traits. The seller has to know what the buyer wants and what the buyer’s doing now, not just try to talk them into a purchase. Plus hospitals move painfully slow on
purchasing so the sales person better be committed and patient.
MR: What, then, does a salesperson need to include on his or her resume in order to catch the eye of hiring managers?
JW: First of all, they need to be honest and talk about their success rate in tangible terms. If a salesperson writes on their resume that they exceeded their goal by 104 percent, what does that really mean in terms of numbers? They need to include specifics about what kind of profits they brought into a company, billable hours and how many systems or products they sold.
MR: If you had just one piece of advice for a healthcare software sales applicant, what would it be?
JW: Do your homework on a prospective client before you call. Know all there is to know about them and speak from an informed position. Then don’t try to sell anything. Talk to them reasonably and let the conversation take its course. You can sell more without the full-court press, to use a basketball analogy.