Sales process survey an Rx for Siemens Medical Solutions

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Challenge: Siemens Medical Solutions is an $8 billion company that sells everything from diagnostic imaging and laboratory equipment to information systems.

In 2003, a CEO-led inquiry into market leadership prompted a study of two of the company’s larger businesses: MRI and CT scanners. In Siemens’ case, these medical imaging devices are sold to large and midsize hospitals, small hospitals and other, nonhospital customers.

“We began to ask the question: ‘How do we grow those businesses?’ ” said Joe Camaratta, VP-global solutions. “We thought we needed to grow in the small hospital and nonhospital segment.”

Siemens turned to MarketBridge, a Bethesda, Md.-based sales and marketing firm, to survey these sectors. But this early work quickly revealed that while Siemens understood its own win-loss statistics, it had much less understanding of the hospital procurement process, the sales pipeline itself.

As Camaratta said, “We’d done customer satisfaction surveys, but this was the first time for a survey around the sales process.”

Solution: Over the course of three weeks, MarketBridge conducted 200 telephone surveys, about half with current Siemens customers. Interviews were conducted across all segments Siemens markets to, and involved both hospital administrators and physicians.

“About 40% of these were folks who had made a purchase in the last 12 months or were within 12 months of a purchase,” said Scott Gillum, senior VP at MarketBridge.

Left-over trade show promotions were used as the incentive, with Starbucks gift cards performing extraordinarily well. (Incentives were important given the length of the survey, at 75 questions.)

Data from the survey were telling. The survey revealed the awareness for the CT line was lagging. Had the company put more CT salespeople on the street, as planned, “it would have been very frustrating,” said Camaratta.

“This drove us to think entirely differently about the growth of the CT product line,” he added. Specifically, it now uses its Siebel CRM system in a closed-loop process whereby marketing drives awareness and leads, qualifies these prospects and only then delivers them to the field sales force.

Another take-way from the survey, which measured response to both traditional and emerging media, was that “one of our competitors had a significantly better position online than we did,” Camaratta said.

This prompted Siemens to alter its marketing mix and reliance on traditional media. Comparing last year with 2003, its use of print magazines (medical journals) has fallen 20%, direct mail has declined 8% and in-person events have dropped 13%. By contrast, its use of sponsored Web sites has grown 15%, electronic newsletters and electronic brochures are up 16% and online events have increased 10%.

Results: The integrated marketing and sales strategy resulted in incremental revenue gains of more than$100 million in 18 months, a dramatic increase in unaided awareness (from 17% to 79%), and a similarly large jump in the consideration metric (from 16% to 62%).

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