In this age of increased competitor activity, innovative technology, and a savvier customer, teamwork between marketing and sales is becoming an essential element for shared success. Fragmentation is counter intuitive and frankly does not work.
Companies that implement a unified approach to member acquisition show marked improvements in generating higher revenue, retaining more members, and achieving higher conversion rates. Many organizations also find that alignment between sales and marketing creates greater brand awareness because the brand message and value proposition – not just benefits and features – are carried from strategy (marketing) to execution (sales).
I had the honor of moderating the “Integrate Sales and Marketing Systems to Unify Communication to Members” panel at the 11th Annual Medicare Marketing & Sales Innovation Summit, where Thomas Sass of BCBS of Western New York, Anne Booth of BCBS of Louisiana, and Gillie Nevel of Aetna shared their thoughts and experiences on marketing and sales collaboration when taking health products to market.
The panelists shared their perspectives on the value of collaboration across sales and marketing. They discussed how each of their organization’s fostered a culture of collaboration and information sharing, and some obstacles they encountered when embarking on a more unified work environment. Training tactics were also discussed and the role data plays in success was an underlying theme.
After participating in the discussion, a few key elements of success stood out to me.
Create a culture of collaboration
First, collaboration can’t be forced. Creating a true partnership between sales and marketing has to be organic if you hope to optimize your member acquisition efforts. Teamwork must be present at the outset, before ever embarking on any marketing or sales activity. Goals must be aligned and based on client needs, and the team must work together to determine how success will be measured. Clarifying who will play what roles in creating success must also be addressed. It was clear during the session that our panelists embrace this as the first step in creating a culture of collaboration and information sharing.
Employ modern tools
My next observation was the critical role modern tools play in building truly unified marketing and sales teams. Communication tools that allow for feedback from the field function to improve marketing messages and aid in campaign optimization. Data collection tools help in garnering top down support while also driving better campaign execution.
Don’t take a short-cut on training
Training also seemed a key element for success. It was noted that training should be provided at the onset, but should also be reinforced throughout the process. Success was attributed to putting programs in place that included knowledge testing which minimized time to competence for new sales resources. The common theme was about getting onboards up-to-speed as quickly as possible, and collaboration between marketing and sales during all phases of training was critical.
I very much enjoyed hearing industry perspectives on creating success in the health care member acquisition. Be it data or analytics, galvanizing resources for a common purpose, or just keeping the member in mind, the insights shared by the panelists were valuable for any organization needing to improve collaboration between marketing and sales.
I also appreciated that it reinforced our approach at GuideWell Connect. We have subscribed to unified member acquisition methodologies since our inception. As we developed our integrated consumer engagement solutions, we focused heavily on creating an organic, interconnected platform from the ground up, so our clients wouldn’t have to force connections. Contact us if you want to learn more about how we enable the greatest sales effectiveness for our health plan clients.
About the author
Raj Vavilala is the Chief Marketing Officer of GuideWell Connect, a leader in integrated consumer engagement solutions for health insurance companies and providers. Raj is accountable for delivering marketing program performance to GuideWell Connect’s clients. He has more than 17 years of experience in the insurance industry, specifically in direct to consumer marketing and sales. Prior to his current role, Raj was the Vice President of Marketing for New York Life’s direct to consumer Annuity program. He holds a Master of Business Administration degree in Marketing and a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance.