The Importance of Buying Center Analysis as a Marketing Tool

Twelve industry leaders provided their insights for PM360’s May Think Tank titled, The ACA’s Impact on the Medical Device Industry. Comments addressed healthcare provider consolidation, new payment innovations and the impact of the Medical Device Excise tax on employment and product development. Participants provided the following challenges for marketing in this new world:

  • Target new (additional) administrative buyers in the purchase process.
  • Adapt to a value-based healthcare system by demonstrating that products improve patient outcomes and/or reduce costs.

Medical device marketers must also wrestle with broader changes in the B2B buying process, including the need to complete the majority of the purchase process before a customer talks to a supplier, and to address both business value and personal needs of stakeholders during the purchase process.

Performing a comprehensive buying center analysis is an important first step to help marketers understand which messages and tactics best convey the value of their products. A buying center is a group of individuals (or stakeholders) that collaborate to make a decision on the purchase of a product. Three steps to analyzing a buying center include:

1. List all stakeholders involved in the purchase process.

2. For each stakeholder, understand professional objectives, personal benefits and sources of information.

3. Map the stakeholders to a buying cycle and determine their role in that cycle.

Note that the purchase process for medical devices includes clinical and administrative stakeholders, and professional objectives refer to those business or clinical metrics for which that stakeholder is responsible. For example, a COO would be responsible for operating margin, while a Chief Medical Offer might be tasked with reducing 30-day readmissions.

Each stakeholder also has one or more personal benefits that he or she would like to accomplish with a purchase. A nursing manager might want to reduce administrative tasks to afford staff more time to spend with patients. In order to reach these stakeholders with the business and personal value of a product, marketers need to understand which mediums (websites, trade shows, magazines, etc.) stakeholders use to learn about new ideas.

There are numerous roles that a stakeholder can play in a purchase process, but the two most important are decision-maker and influencer, defined as:

  • A decision-maker is an individual or group who approve the purchase of a specific product.
  • Influencers shape purchase criteria through specific enterprise or departmental perspectives.

For each step in the buying cycle process, it is important to understand which stakeholders are active and which conditions must be met to move the process to the next step. Marketers need to consider tools and information that will help sales address those customer criteria to successfully move the process along.

As the ACA re-shapes the way healthcare providers purchase and deploy innovative technologies, medical device marketers must lead the organization’s understanding of these changes, and the stakeholders involved in that process. Buying center analysis is a useful tool for communicating these changes to sales and product management—and to help prioritize the marketing spend needed to best position products for success.

  • Joe Camaratta

    Joe Camaratta is President of MedTech Playbook. Joe helps companies innovate and commercialize successful products and services through analysis of healthcare trends and their implications on the purchasing and adoption of technology by healthcare providers.

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