Healthcare consulting isn’t like being a doctor, for which the economy has established a market-rate. You have to haggle your fees and you have to demonstrate your value – selling yourself is part of the job.
Even though I’ve learned a ton about marketing and sales through this blog, I don’t like having to constantly sell myself. It’s not kissing ass, but it’s having to fight for your dollar which can be exhausting. In this post I want to talk a little about selling yourself to your current client without it seeming tedious or being a drag.
For those of you who have found your first set of healthcare consulting clients, you will need to constantly sell yourself so that more work comes your way.
Selling yourself to your client
Let’s say you found a consulting gig through docjobs.com or through indeed.com, or you found your own client from cold-calling. Maybe you worked with this client a few months and they paid you an hourly or per-project income but you want more work from them. How do you convince them of your value?
If your client uses a message board such as slack.com then you want to constantly be posting updates on there. You can use your own LinkedIn profile instead, but I find that more tedious. The advantage to an internal messaging platform like Slack is that you can easier target certain individuals in the company.
Even better, start your own blog and start posting interesting articles and summarize your takeaways. Curate this site and link it on Slack or subscribe your team to it. If you want a solid future career in healthcare consulting, having such a site is critical.
Constant communication and speed
I mentioned in the past that it’s important for you to find a mentor or someone who will pull for you. In my case it was the CEO at one company and the lead engineer at another client company – I got along really well with each and I maintained constant communication.
Not only should you be very accessible but you should get the work done in half the expected time. This is especially important for healthcare startups which need any competitive edge they can get.
Educating your client
I spent nearly 3 hours yesterday educating the CFO of one of my clients on certain topics which I knew he was deficient in. Don’t get me wrong, the man is brilliant, but not when it comes to certain clinical topics, without which he can’t be credible to his clients.
I tried approaching him directly and told him several times that I would love to go over some topics with him to broaden his knowledge, but we never seemed to be able to connect. I wasn’t sure if this was going to be of value to him so I wasn’t adequately aggressive about it.
I made 2 mistakes: 1) I wasn’t concrete and so he wasn’t able to recognize any value in the topics I wanted to discuss with him, 2) I didn’t make any effort in selling him on the idea.
The reason your client will benefit from education is that they want a competitive edge. They go to meetings, conferences, solicit new clients, and try to sound knowledgeable and smart. If you are good at what you do as a clinician, you can provide a lot of insight for a healthcare startup.
Remember, if they succeed, you succeed. If they start feeling like their business is doing better, they are more likely to throw more work your way.
1. Point out knowledge gaps
Imagine you are an ophthalmologist consulting in the AI space of retinal scans. You believe that your client is on the right track but they aren’t really in the know when it comes to how an ophtho practice runs and how such images are reviewed and proper diagnoses made.
Start posting any relevant topic you can get your hands on. To help you, you can subscribe to news feeds which publish new studies on particular topics. Or you can fish them out from specific journals, one by one. A great tool for this is Google Scholar. You will be the stellar king-dingaling for having the right resources at your fingertips.
So, you start posting research articles about how many ophthalmologists miss certain diseases on photo retinal scans due to improper dilation or inadequate photo quality. You get the idea.
Post such topics enough and you’ll tease out your client’s potential knowledge gaps and you’ll be the go-to expert for the team to educate themselves on the topic.
However, commonly, you’ll have no idea what the team doesn’t know – it’s not like you’re talking to them 24/7. Therefore, start posting anything and everything that seems relevant on the message board or on your own blog.
Then start feeling the team out. Many of my postings were initially ignored because I had no clue. Every once in a while, some of my articles would get some likes and traction by the team. I used that to fine tune my postings and soon started being a lot more efficient and every article I posted would elicit some questioning or likes.
- What questions keep coming up?
- What topics generate the most discussion during team meetings?
- What conversations will come up when the team starts talking to potential clients?
2. Give presentations
Nobody wants to talk to me when I have a bunch of scattered thoughts. But if I tell them team that during the next team meeting I want to give a 4-minute presentation, nobody will object.
I’ve done this multiple times now and have left plenty of room for Q&A. Using Google Meet I share my screen with the team and give a short presentation on a relevant topic. My goal is to share more information than I think is necessary – this sparks my client’s interest; they become curious as to what else I might know.
- What’s the attention span of the team?
- What follow-up questions will they likely ask you?
- Will they benefit more from clinical knowledge or practical information?
3. Source more information
You’re not always consulted because of the knowledge you already possess but also how effectively and efficiently you can source information. When I first started in the chronic disease prediction model, I had a ton of knowledge gaps but I have been able to find this information through research and by talking to specialist friends.
Imagine you are on a weekly team alignment meeting and a discussion breaks out about how a certain disease is diagnosed in order for it to be billed to an insurance company. You just identified a knowledge gap – capitalize on this and create a quick document and post it to Slack.
Maybe nobody will review it or maybe it will come up in the future and you can just refer to it. The other day, someone on the team asked me to create a document to explain the pathophysiology of a particular disease – guess what, I had already created the document and had shared it with them a while back but at the time it wasn’t relevant. All I needed to do was to ping that person to that topic and I was a star!
- Who do you know in the space of interest?
- Whom can you connect with online to have as your resource?
- How can you use your professional degree to open some doors?
One of the toughest things for healthcare startups is to know where they exactly fit in an economic model. All of them come across as knowing exactly what needs to be done and where they belong – this is just the chest puffing shit that companies have to do in order to remain competitive.
The reality is that many are unsure because they don’t know what they don’t know and aren’t sure how much traction their services might gain. Should they shift gears? Should they market a new idea? Should they go after different clients?
As a healthcare consultant your job is both vague and it’s broad. Try to set time aside with the decision makes and the creative leaders who pave the path for the company and discuss a topic – any topic. During this session try to brainstorm with them – wargaming, as it’s called.
Something of value always results when you do this. Most of the time when I do this, I’m humbled, I realize how little I know. But many times, my ideas and words spark a new line of thinking and the business might change directions.
- Have you guys thought about connecting with company X?
- Could we add this other service to the company product?
- Why can’t we connect with this free organization for more input?