By Taylor Davis, Advisor, HIT Peak Advisors

May 2023 – I am a child of the 80’s and early 90’s. I was promised a flying car.

Well, not exactly promised but it was strongly implied. They were on the back of cereal boxes, in the Jetsons and in Back to the Future. It felt inevitable that if society stayed intact until I was 40, I would have a flying car.

Here we are in 2023 and flying cars are still 5-10 years out, probably more. Why? The need really is not that great. They have to compete against wheeled cars, which frankly work pretty darn well. What do we have that we did not expect? The internet. Smart phones. The need for those was beyond enormous, as I see today when my kids ask with complete wonder: “So, you really used paper maps when you drove places as a teenager?”

Necessity is the mother of invention, as Thomas Edison famously coined.

I’ve worked with hundreds of healthcare IT executive leadership teams over the past 16 years. I have been in a lot of boardrooms. At the same time, I was conducting thousands (about 3-7 a week) of interviews with healthcare executives, nearly always discussing their needs and future buying plans.

What did I see? Again and again when vendors had something that worked well enough, when necessity stopped breathing down their necks, they removed their focus on iterating their differentiation in the market. They stopped inventing in their go-to-market strategy, or at least slowed.

An example. I am at HIMSS last year meeting with the senior executive of a nurse staffing company (there are several—try not to guess who). Our team shared compelling data indicating that staffing was the greatest challenge that healthcare executives were seeing (and still are today). We then talked about several concrete changes, albeit significant, that this firm could undertake to see incredible improvement in healthcare, that would also benefit them. This executive’s response: “What we have right now is working great and selling well. I don’t see us changing it.”

I have heard this often from vendor executives. Current sales is a powerful sedative, but what if good is the enemy of great? Firms that reach incredible heights of sales never accept ‘good’ as ‘good enough’. One CEO I met with that had record-breaking market momentum said: “Really I don’t like our product that much. I mean I like parts of it, but it could still be so much better!” Who says that? He did, and that mantra is why they were incredibly successful.

Based on these observations, I recently teamed up with a couple of industry colleagues to help HIT companies as much as we can with their differentiation and go-to-market strategies.

What are the ‘traps’ that HIT vendors fall into, where they stop improving their differentiation and sales? Here are three to consider:

  1. Too focused on the tactic, not on the outcome. Too often firms market themselves as ‘Offering analytics’ or ‘Automating a workflow’ instead of ‘decreasing mortality and liability by 40%’ or ‘increasing staff efficiency by 25%.’ It is not that they don’t do these things, but they don’t go the extra mile to quantify these benefits, and so they can’t speak to them in their positioning. What they do is only the tactic for the outcomes.
  2. Stop communicating the roadmap. Many HIT firms feel that the roadmap is something that you share only if you don’t have a good product today. Repeatedly, firms that have seen breakthrough sales in healthcare did so with average, functional products. When provider organizations invest in your solution, they are investing in you. Help them know where you are going as a partner.
  3. Stop using clients to drive leads. Your best leads come from your clients, but few vendors have a comprehensive strategy for creating customer-led leads. I am not talking about pestering your clients to give you referrals. I am talking about immersing your customers in your mission so that they give you referrals naturally. Firms that tap into this path see dramatically decreased sales costs combined with more satisfied customers that are retained for life.

Do you have a dedicated strategy to turn your clients into raving and referring fans?

Do all of your leaders, account managers and sales team consistently communicate the roadmap in addition to functionality?

Are you carefully monitoring customer outcomes, recording them, and reporting on them?

If not, you might be like we all were in the 90’s with our automobiles. You might be settling for ‘good enough’ when you could be experiencing ‘truly great.’

Because those flying cars were really going to be great!


About the Author

Taylor Davis is a respected industry leader, market trends expert and the former president of KLAS Research. As founder of the KLAS Arch Collaborative and KLAS Consulting services, Taylor has worked with hundreds of industry executive leadership teams helping them to improve their delivery, and thousands of provider teams making HIT selections. Taylor is the creator of the KLAS Fingerprint, a highly predictive model for HIT sales and retention. This important model, maintained by KLAS Research, identifies key guiding  trends and customer purchasing behaviors in healthcare.

Recently Taylor has joined with Dr. John Lee, former CMIO, and Bruce Haupt, former CEO of ClearBalance, to form HIT Peak Advisors, a strategic advisory focused on helping vendors improve their differentiation and positioning. Currently Taylor is working with dozens of HIT leadership teams in review their current go-to-market opportunities.

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