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Germany is the biggest market for medical devices in Europe

Healthcare & Life Science – Expert Article January 2017

“Germany is the biggest market for medical devices in Europe!“ This is quite true so everyone wants to have a piece of the “big cake”. Mainly the US companies and their German subsidiaries are the major player in this big market. To become higher Market Share, get high margin and to create increasing value is the major goal of each company doing business here. The sales people of such “market players” do have a really tough job to reach the goals every year as the company demands for more…Assuming that the offered products have basic requirements of the user and at least could improve the health of the patients, what else is needed to be successful?

Sales people are the company’s ambassador for professionalism. The sales person of today in front of the customer is a specialist who has to be able to manage his territory. This is quite more important than in the past when there was only one call point and decision maker. To call the administration was a “no go” because they did what the decision maker decided. This changed completely over the last 10 years. Sales expert`s competences are much wider, the engagement has to be extraordinary and the business acumen is a must. This is the reason while it is so important for sales oriented companies to treat their team in a professional way and to demand more specified activities than competitors.


Many marketing departments analyzed the decision-making cascade in a hospital. What makes a customer`s preferred reason to use a product? Here is the ranking:

  1. Clinical data.
  2. Colleagues opinion.
  3. What kind of training do I get when using the product?
  4. Personal experiences.
  5. Easy to use, quality?
  6. Technology of the product up to date or innovative.
  7. Outcome for the patient.
  8. Experiences with the provider / company.
  9. Price.

Very surprising that the user mentions the price at the end but the GPO (General purchasing organization) is asking for the price very often first. What does this mean for the company trying to get a bigger piece of the cake? One part of the selling process is mentioned from 1 – 8.  If I am able to convince my target customer with 1-8, the price discussion is much easier.  If there is no acceptance of all or at least 80 % from number 1-8 of the to do list, companies have a real challenge to convince GPO`s for their pricing. Since several years the GPO became the important part in the decision process of 95% of the German hospitals. Needless to say, that only products will survive with an acceptance from the user and a real benefit for the patients. This is exactly the situation that the sales expert hast to do his / her homework. To be honest, only a few of sales reps understand the importance of this and have different priorities which can also be successful but what about tomorrow?


I need the ok from the user before I start the negotiating process. The other way around is too expensive!

A lot of sales experts do not really know how to reach the call point in the clinic. I am not talking about basics like to have the sales statistic of the clinic, which time is good to reach someone out or even to make an appointment for a talk.

I am talking more about the old known rule: Preparation is 90 % of success! What does it mean in reality? We know the customer but do we know who is really influencing decisions? Do we have a strategy for each decision maker or do we have it just for the clinic? Do we know the “second row” influencer? Do we really know customer needs? Do we have a plan B to our offer? Etc. Etc.

Everyone who is long enough in clinical sales, experienced this at least once when all efforts were done with one person who always needed 2 or 3 offers, was always questioning each argument did not agree on appointments and asked all other competitors to present their products.  At the end this was an “opportunity” with medium potential and low market share with limited chance to grow but 80 % time consuming! How can we avoid such waste of time?


My personal approach is customer SEGMENTATION. The goal has to be:

  • Get detailed knowledge of customers and the contacts.
  • Compare usage rate and market share to get an optimized planning process.
  • Use available time for more effectiveness and develop strategies.
  • Be focused on all contact levels.
  • Follow up and have an alternative available.
  • Finalize before negotiating starts.


First questions we have to answer:

  • Where are the “bread and butter performer”?
  • Do we know the customer that delivers 80 % of our value?
  • Do we know the customer that deliver 80 % of our volume?
  • Are they the same and is this consistent?
  • Where does the rest come from? This is the missing 20%!


Key areas for growth: New business, New customers, Existing customers buying more, Customers changing their product mix.

To avoid any surprise in the future we need to focus also on the missing 20%.

Potential and reachable Market Share should be the parameter to concentrate on. The “bread & butter” customer is loyal, our MS is high, highly profitable, key advocate for a company but has no additional growth potential. Keep it and be reliable to this group.

The customer with low MS and small potential should be not our focus of today.

The one in the middle with medium MS and medium volume potential is very often working with 3 or more suppliers based on trading, needs a lot of attention but creates at the end of the day very low margin.

The group we should pay most of our attention is the user, with large potential but low MS who is strategic not fixed. Here we need strategies to develop this group to a partner.


A partner has large potential in volume and value our MS will increase over time.

Organizing such segmentation oriented on MS and Potential will  get the same picture for all and helps to be concentrated what is really important and urgent convincing users. A good tool is also to do segmentation on different levels for example segmentation of a single department in a hospital just to find out which person is my preferred call point.

What does it mean for the day to day job? When segmentation is in place it is much easier to identify priority costumers for different strategies. Don`t forget to look outside the clinic! In many cases the referral sending patients to the department in the hospital is the gate keeper! A good CRM tool helps to visualize and delivers the necessary numbers.

At the end of the day the tough sales job in a hospital is not done just to have segmentation in place but it is much easier to be focused, helps to save time and customers accept this professional way of treatment a lot. Better outcome for all levels is the final result. Try it and use your own wording and invest some time in the beginning to prepare later on it is a great tool and makes you different to your competitor. That is what a sales expert is looking for.


Article done in cooperation between Elyas Bozan, our Managing Director Germany and Detlef Mangels, one of our Experts in Healthcare

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