Why the MD Loves Your Pitch, but the CFO Hates It

In healthcare, decision-making is a team sport.

If you want to get your product into a health system, you are going to need to connect with a lot of different people. There is no single decision-maker who can grant you access. Rather, you  need to develop the art of getting a variety of people on board.

Which brings us back to one of my favorite topics … messaging. Meaning, what do you tell people about your product?

If you are in the healthcare sector, you are going to need to develop a message that is right for all the people in all the roles you will encounter. These can go in a lot of different directions depending on your product, but there are two groups you are likely to have to get on board: doctors and CFOs. Frequently, though, I hear from companies that know how to get the doctors excited – but can’t get the time of day from the CFO.

Here are three reasons the MDs love your pitch but the CFO doesn’t:

You are a doctor or nurse and understand that world best.

A lot of my clients are doctors or nurses who have launched a healthcare business. They have years of experience as a clinician, which gives them great insight into the problem they are trying to solve. But it can be a hindrance to understanding the needs beyond that world.

If this is true in your case, you may find that doctors and nurses get excited when you tell them about your product. Yet, when you talk with the CFO or other Administrators, it falls flat. It’s like they don’t get it. Or, if they do, it doesn’t seem to be as important to them.

The mistake you’re making is assuming that what is important to the doctors is what will be important to the CFO. Your product might be exactly what the CFO is looking for but you haven’t been able to get that across to them.

This is probably because …

You don’t understand the CFO’s needs.

CFOs want to improve people’s health, too, but they come at it very differently than clinicians. They are responsible for the finances of the hospital. It’s nice to talk about providing care to everyone and getting better outcomes – but if the hospital goes belly up, no one gets care. This is a real concern, especially for rural hospitals.

The CFO is going to want to  know about numbers and costs. They will want to know what their expected return on investment will be. They will want to know if your product would make another redundant and what the impact of that change would be.

Of course, if you don’t understand the needs of the CFO, it is probable that …

You aren’t changing your pitch for the CFO’s needs.

It’s great to show the CFO how your product will impact the patient population. But that’s just a starting point. Unlike with doctors, the impact on the patients should be the intro to a discussion of costs and expected returns.

That means you need to go in armed with data. Show them the impact you have. Tie that into costs of providing care, both direct and indirect. Include costs of staff and benefits of preventing readmissions. Let them see, in numbers, what the benefit to those patients means for the hospital.

There is a reason why doctors love your pitch but the C-suite doesn’t.

It all comes down to knowing who you are talking to and understanding what they are looking for. Create different pitches for all the different roles you encounter when selling your product – and be sure to use the right one on the right person.