Sales Pipeline Radio, Episode 201: Selling into Healthcare During a Pandemic. Q & A with Nurse Lindsay Leeder @VeraWholeHealth


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This week’s episode is entitled How a Nurse Practitioner Turned Sales Rep is Selling into Health Care Right Nowand our guest is Lindsay Leeder, Clinical Consultant, Nurse Practitioner at Vera Whole Health

This was an amazing episode, we covered selling in today’s environment as well as why 20 seconds of washing your hands is important, where we usually “miss” regardless, why vaccines and treatments take so long to develop and more!  Lindsay says.

“Selling is very similar to providing direct patient care because we have to understand what are the symptoms, what are the ailments, what are the pains that people or populations are going through, and then what resources do we have to address those pains and then does it make sense? And then out of that, what is a management plan that’s going to work, that’s going to stick.”

Listen in or read the full transcript below:

Paul:  Welcome back. Time to grab your boards. Swim out into the sea. It’s a little choppy out there today, but we’re going to find a way to build a sales pipeline anyway here, with the man who can do it in good weather or bad. Matt Heinz. Well, is he there? Did we lose him? Network poor connection here, right? Let’s hang on one second here and let’s see if we can reconnect with them. Hang on one second here now. All right, I think we got them with us here. As I said, the one man who can navigate through any storm, Matt Heinz, welcome back.

Matt:  Well, I’ll tell you what, the coronavirus is now in the computer .

Paul:  I was going to say, interesting observation. I think that we’re noticing little chops and stuff here and there. I wonder if the internet isn’t being overwhelmed a little bit by this sudden influx of isolation and home workers here.

Matt:  I’m shocked that honestly, for the little amount of constraints that I’ve seen or felt across the internet. I spend half my day on Zoom calls now and our kids are doing their online learning,

Paul:  All of which take more bandwidth, more data, whatever, and I don’t know that the Zoom infrastructure and the internet that delivers you to Zoom, all of that was ready for the huge tick in traffic. But it seems to be holding.

Matt:  Well, so far so good. I’ve been pretty impressed. We’re a Zoom customer, we also use On24 and a few other platforms. Our church uses live stream from Vimeo and I’ve been very impressed with what we’ve seen so far. Less impressive though, Paul, Heinz homeschool. We’re going on week 3 now of Heinz homeschool. My kids declared me the principal because my wife is a teacher so she’s off. And her joke was, “Well, after the first couple of days, we already were in trouble. Two kids had been suspended and one teacher had been fired for drinking on the job.” So, Heinz homeschool having a little trouble, but we will get there. I hope everyone who’s listening today is home healthy, safe. Most of us in the Sales Pipeline Radio world, whether you’re a listener or whether you’re a guest, we are fortunate that we can largely do a lot of what we have to do from our office, from an airplane seat, from our home office. So, I’m very thankful for all of that and thankful for those of you that are joining us live today on the Funnel Media Radio Network, if we are helping to provide a little break in the midst of your work from home work day. Thank you very much for joining us, for everyone listening to the podcast and listening to the replay. Thank you very much for joining us as well. Yes, Paul.

Paul:  I looked at today’s topic and I smiled. I thought only Matt would find a ray of sunshine. Everybody else, your last show was, well, maybe it’s time to not push so hard in sales. Maybe this is just a time to lower the goals and hang in there until everybody recovers. But there is one area where they must be selling like crazy in health care. If you’ve got the right item, come on in. They need stuff so bad, so fast here. And I thought what a great topic, how you can sell into health care right now.

Matt:  Well, that’s the key of what you just said is the right item, right? I think that there’s a lot of salespeople, a lot of companies still trying to hit their number right now. And increasingly, as we delve deeper into social distancing and people try to predict what the new normal is, you hear more and more cities and counties and states go into shelter in place. It’s shutting down everything but essential services, and this is a really interesting topic to me. If you think about essential services, what are the things that we can’t live without? Grocery stores are open, pharmacies are open.

Paul:  Radio stations are open. Here we go. Yeah, right.

Matt:  The media is open, right? As a critical communication tool. So, if you’re in B2B, if you’re a business selling to a business, the same thing applies. What is your essential service to your customer? Are you an essential business and why? If your prospects have… What they can focus on right now, how do you define what you’re doing accurately with integrity as something your prospects cannot live, cannot survive without. So, our guest today, I’m very excited. I’ve been trying to get our guest today on for a very long time. We’ve missed each other in trying to record. Finally we found a day that we could record live and we’re excited to have with us today Lindsay Leader, she is a clinical consultant and a nurse practitioner working for Vera Whole Health in Seattle.

I wish we had a lot more time today, but you’ve got this juxtaposition between a healthcare startup that is still trying to sell and grow. You’ve got someone who is at that organization who has responsibility for sales numbers and for growth goals, but also is a nurse practitioner who has experience doing the things the first responders from 9/11 equivalent now are the people on the front line in the medical community trying to save lives and trying to stay on top of everything. Lindsay, thanks so much for joining us today on Sales Pipeline Radio.

I’m so fortunate to have you on today and I know you and I, we’ve tried to connect and tried to record a version of this podcast for a while and thank you for making it live today. And in the world we’re living through in real time today, to have someone that is at a healthcare related company, that has a sales responsibility but also is a nurse practitioner. To bring those experiences together is really unique. And my first question to you of course is how are you doing? Is your family healthy and safe? I’m assuming you’re hunkered down working from home as well?

Lindsay:  Yes. I apologize if any kids interrupt our conversation. Yeah, no, thank you for the question. We’re doing well. We are all healthy and well and it’s a very unusual time, but feeling really grateful to be surrounded by great community and hoping that we can get through this as quickly as possible.

Matt:  Absolutely. And you missed my preamble about Heinz homeschool here not really going pretty well.

Lindsay:  I know.

Matt:  You may hear kids on either side. It’s very possible, and we’re recording today from my basement bunker, which is fortified by an occasionally unlocked door. So, who knows what’s going to happen? I want to also get your perspective on this as a nurse practitioner. From what you’re seeing, obviously here in Seattle, the case zero and the growth here has proceeded a little bit what we’ve seen around the country. What’s your perspective just as a medical professional, a nurse practitioner, from what you’re seeing and how we’re getting through this.

Lindsay:  It’s a great question. When it first started, I looked at it as, “Okay, this is a rapidly spreading virus. We’ve seen similar things like this in the past here with H1N1 but not to this scale.” And then we look at larger epidemics like this throughout the world. And what’s so unique about this, right, is that it’s affecting the entire globe. And obviously the transmission rate is quite rapid and it has seemed to affect vulnerable populations to an extreme degree, which we see commonly with other viruses. But this is just so rapid and the rate of contagion and spread is quite rapid. So, I think our response has been, it’s had to shift with how rapidly we have been gaining information about the spread. I think there’s a lot of people that have been infected or exposed that we don’t know about yet, right?

We don’t have tests yet to test antibodies for past exposure, things like that. So, there’s still a lot we don’t know. I think our teams on the front lines are doing an exceptional job adapting and working with the constantly changing recommendations that we’re receiving from the CDC, the World Health Organization, and then at a county level, at a state level. And so, it’s really about putting all of our skills at work right now where we’re having to be critical thinkers. We’re having to use every resource available to us at our fingertips and really also triaging based on the supplies we have. Both people supply as well as protective equipment and test kits. I know that nationwide there’s a shortage of testing kits themselves. So, really then looking ahead, what does it mean when we may or may not be able to confirm diagnosis?

How do we treat based on symptoms? How do we ensure that people who are in the most need are getting the care faster? And then how do we educate the population about what to expect, what we know and how we often will just overcome this illness on our own without any intervention or testing or screening. And then really when to know when to be seen. If we do experience symptoms, when do we know, “Okay, I really need to be in to be evaluated, when can I stay home?” So that we can utilize the healthcare system most effectively. And I think companies across the country or across the world are really adapting the way that we deliver care in terms of providing more telehealth offering ,so that we can really reduce the burden on the ERs and urgent cares and really get people medical consult wherever they are so that we can do the best we can in this time. So, I could go on and on about that. But hopefully that provides just an overview of how I’ve felt we’ve faced it and adapted and all of those things.

Matt:  That’s really great and I appreciate you going into that level of detail. I think we’re all reading the news and watching updates and it’s not often we get to hear from someone like yourself who knows the medicine. Who’s in the field. And the other thing I’d love to talk about, there’s been a lot talked about in terms of the science of social distancing and why that’s so important for flattening the curve. And the flattening the curve is not eliminating the virus, it is spreading out cases so that we don’t overwhelm the healthcare system. The other question I hear a lot and I haven’t seen a really good answer to this yet, and I’m assuming you may have something for us is, they say, “Well, people are already working on a vaccine, but that’s going to take 12 to 18 months.” Well, a vaccine versus a treatment versus a therapy. They’re like, “Can’t we come up with something that can mitigate the impact?” Of course it’s not that simple and not that fast. Do you have any insight that you can give folks in terms of what those three things are, what they mean and why they take time and how they could actually have an impact at some point?

Lindsay:  That’s another great question. I think the thing that we need to remember when we talk about management strategies is that most often the virus itself is infecting people. People are getting sicker and then the disease progresses faster from other complicating factors. So, whether there’s preexisting conditions that someone has, maybe it’s asthma, maybe it’s COPD, maybe it’s chronic conditions that compromise lung capacity or compromise immunity. Those are the kinds of things that we also need to be managing right now. So, when we look at what is a treatment and how can it be effective, we have to look across all populations, right? For pediatric to elderly to people with immunocompromised systems. And so, really looking at what is the virus? Does it mutate? How can we effectively treat it and viruses themselves, we have all the time, and we often don’t have a lot of antiviral treatments.

They’re not like antibiotics. And I think a lot of people get those two things confused because we don’t know the difference. And so, those things are things that they’re still trying to figure out. So, I think that where they are with, is there an existing medication out there that could be used? If so, what does that look like? And then who can take it, who can’t take it and where will it have the greatest impact? The vaccine is really interesting because again, does this mutate? Is it something like the flu that every year there could be a different strain or is it something like measles where there’s an effective vaccine for the lifetime and if you get it in the series that’s recommended? And it takes time because we have to actually test it out to make sure it’s effective and then you have to be exposed again to make sure that it was or was not effective.

So, that can take a lot of time. So, right now, we’ve all heard it a million times that prevention is really the front line of defense. So, that means being responsible personally where you’re washing your hands regularly. Really avoiding touching your face, touching your mouth, touching your eyes. Trying to make sure you’re staying away from others when you’re sick of course. But then right now that social distancing is really important because we have to understand that even though we may not have symptoms, we may be still carrying and spreading viruses. Whether it’s COVID or not, right now we really need to be conscious of not spreading illness anywhere else, and so that can really reduce the burden overall on the health care system.

Matt:  Absolutely. And my last medical question for you, and I promise we’ll talk a little about selling in this environment as well.

I’m taking advantage of this opportunity, man. This is awesome. The other thing that everyone says is not just wash your hands but wash your hands for 20 minutes and now there’s a social media thing where basically, you wash your hands for 20 seconds listening to your favorite song and then you tag three people and everyone demonstrates how to wash your hands for 20 seconds. I feel like it’s a major win if I can get my kids to use soap and wash their hands for five seconds. And so, to quadruple that is a feat, and I think most people probably, in 20 seconds, if you’re sitting there with the soap, especially if you’re not home, if you’re in a restaurant or a bar or someone like that, that’s a really long time. Why is that important, right? And also the follow-up is, are there parts that we should be more aware of that we rarely get brushing the teeth then and most of us get into habits of brushing teeth and we brush the same sections of teeth really well and may miss if we’re not careful and thoughtful, why 20 seconds? Is there a particular part of the hand we should really pay attention to?

Lindsay:  Yeah, I think overall this whole thing is really an invitation for us all to slow down and be conscious of our actions at a very deep level. And so, things like washing our hands, the real benefit to the length of time is that you’re actually scrubbing every part of your hands. The soap only does so much. It’s really about scrubbing, so that you can not only kill any virus or bacteria that’s on your hand, but you’re really eliminating it through the scrubbing process. And we look at our hands and we think, okay, that’s just a simple surface, we’ll get it off. But it’s really in those areas like the fingernails and the fingers and the little crevices in between the fingers where bacteria and viruses like to live and reside. And so, it’s those places.

If you think about someone getting ready for surgery and a surgeon scrubbing, they will scrub for minutes. Two minutes, it makes 20 seconds seem like nothing. And really getting into every… So that their patients are safe. And so, right now I think we can all think of ourselves as mini medical providers right now. And that, the way that we can take care of ourselves, we can take care of others, because we are only going to get over this if we all contribute to that. So, it’s like looking at our habits that we already have in place and inviting ourselves to, “I know this is uncomfortable. I know it’s hard. I know it’s different, but how can I do this? And then that’s going to contribute to the health of the whole population around me.” So, I often say this in a patient room and I think it’s relevant here is how can we talk to ourselves like we would talk to our best friend or someone we love, right? We would never say the things to others that we sometimes say to yourself. And you can take that to all different contexts, but really if I was standing across from someone that maybe was more fragile with their immunity, I would do everything I could. And if something like washing my hands for 30 seconds mattered then I’d do it.

Now, for kids, yeah. We just sing a lot of songs together and make it fun and try to scrub with them. But yeah, I know that’s hard.

Matt:  Awesome. Well, thank you for indulging me and my medical questions. I guarantee you a lot of our listeners also appreciate a little from sales conversations from someone who knows what they’re talking about. So, thank you for that. We do have to take a quick break and pay some bills. We’ll be right back. I do have some selling in this environment questions for our guest today. We’ll get right back on Sales Pipeline Radio.


Matt:  Now, I think we might have to get into sales a little bit, but I could go on for a while and obviously, our guest today, Lindsay Leader, who’s a clinical consultant with Vera Whole Health but also a nurse practitioner has just got such a unique perspective on this situation.

Paul:  Somebody tweeted in and wanted to know what is Vera Whole Health and what does she do as a nurse practitioner there?

Matt:  Well, that is a phenomenal transitional question Paul. I know we only have about a little less than 10 minutes left, but can you just talk, Lindsay, about what Vera Whole Health is, what it does and why does it have a nurse practitioner on staff?

Lindsay:  Great question and I’ll try to be brief because I know we’re short on time. So, Vera Whole Health, we provide advanced primary care centers for large groups. So, we partner with large employers, public entities, trust or payers to provide advanced primary care for their population. And what that means is we actually build a clinic staffed with our very comprehensive care teams comprised of providers like nurse practitioners and physicians, as well as whole health coaches and allied staff to provide patient care. And it’s comprehensive primary care, which means evaluating individuals across the lifespan, really being that front line of defense to talk about prevention, chronic care, acute care, and we also provide some occupational health services if it’s relevant. We really work with the populations to understand who they are, understand their barriers, understand our goals, so that we can take the care as well outside the four walls of the care center and really provide a population health management for the groups.

Our approach is really about getting back to the basics of comprehensive care, meaning bio-psycho-social care. So, not just a reaction to what physical symptoms you’re having, but really looking at patients through a one-on-one lens and saying, “What are the goals that you have? What are the barriers are facing? What are your concerns?” And really developing meaningful action plans for them and then doing the same with the population. So, we use informatics to drive that targeted outreach and engagement and then we work together really collaboratively so that we can have a holistic plan of care. It’s really about providing care that’s meaningful for populations so that they can better care for themselves. The work they’re doing, really about stripping down costs in our healthcare system. We all know that a lot of the costs are due to reactions and preventable conditions that were not addressed until they became a very catastrophic thing. So, really stripping down costs when it comes to specialty care, urgent care, ER utilization, medications and imaging. And then really reducing the complexity both for the patient, so they have a one-stop medical home dedicated to them, but also for those administering benefits, those trying to bring better healthcare solutions to their population.

So, as a nurse practitioner and clinical consultant, I float in the clinics and so I do provide patient care, but I also really work as a clinical consultant with our sales team to help develop clinical solutions that are relevant for populations. If I could, I would provide Vera for the entire population in the world and hopefully we could get that someday, but it’s really about looking at when does this solution make sense for the group? How can we modify things so that it really is relevant because the only way solutions work is if they’re meaningful and relevant to the population, right? There’s not a shortage of solutions out there floating around, but it has to be a match, right? So that people can really buy into their own health and that groups can buy into a solution that makes sense to them financially but also culturally. It’s really about making sure it’s a cultural fit. So, I love it because it brings together both my clinical skills and mindset as well as education and solution development.

Matt:  Your role I think of is, if you’re selling enterprise software, you have your sales rep or your account exec and you oftentimes will have a sales engineer. I think of you as the medical version of a sales engineer to really help customize and bring the real science and skill into the sale. Now, the last time I saw you in person was about maybe six weeks ago or so, we did an all hands sales meeting and workshop in the office and that was a little bit of a different selling environment than we’re facing today. And I’d love to get just your perspective. Paul’s right, healthcare is obviously a hot topic right now, but unless you’re selling masks and ventilators, it can be tough. How have conditions changed in the sales world right now and what are some of the things that have maybe changed in the approach you’re taking and that Vera’s taking, to not just continue to try to help people, but also to sell with empathy?

Lindsay:  Right. I think the landscape has changed tremendously in the last six weeks and right now, I think it’s really about what are people going through and how can a partnership help people get to a place where they want to be. So, I always talk about how selling is very similar to providing direct patient care because we have to understand what are the symptoms, what are the ailments, what are the pains that people or populations are going through, and then what resources do we have to address those pains and then does it make sense? And then out of that, what is a management plan that’s going to work, that’s going to stick. And so, for selling in this stage, right, it’s about would this solution make sense right now to have a dedicated partner that’s really focusing on what the current state of healthcare is right now, what the current state of this pandemic is and that’s dedicated to your population to really morph and change and really create a patient experience that’s going to be relevant to them right now.

We all know that there are a lot of strains on the market right now. There’s a lot of strains companies are facing. So, I think our role right now is to just be a very empathetic partner and empathetic resource, even for those who are not our clients. To be available, provide education and be a resource. I think it’s also a unique time for groups to speak out. We’re facing this right now, this virus, this pandemic in the current healthcare system the way it is and it’s really hard right now to navigate and I’ve had groups even reach out to be like, “What would it look like if we had had a partner like this and how would that change?” Because we can be an agnostic care navigator for the group and helping them obviously providing patient care and providing education, but also helping direct groups where they need to go when they need to go there. If we could become a state like other states are where all the testing happens one place, what does that mean for those who need to be tested who are our clients? But also, how can we help reduce the burden for those people by maybe providing care remotely for other conditions. And some we’ve done are really helping in that way. So, yeah, I hope that answers your question.

Matt:  No, it does, and unfortunately we are just running up on time here. I know, Paul, we’ve got a bunch of really great guests coming up in the next few weeks, but we might have to do a part two of this because it’s such an important conversation right now. Look, I think this is a pretty terrible time right now for the world, let alone the U.S., let alone for our businesses. I think when we get out of this, there will be plenty of lessons learned and I’m hopeful that we’ll be able to work together as a global community to address broader macro and micro healthcare issues. And I would encourage anyone who’s interested to check out Vera Whole Health, they really are doing some amazing work. And Paul, got a last word here?

Paul:  Last word. I know she’s a nurse practitioner so maybe I’m going to confuse the issue, but today, to me, she was a doctor of common sense.

Matt:  Doctor of common sense. Well, honestly I appreciate everything Lindsay was able to share with us today. We covered a little bit of sales and I think appropriately a lot more. Just a little perspective and some best practices and recommendations from someone who’s there and knows it and can filter through the noise and give us the signals. Anyway, a little different episode of Sales Pipeline Radio today, but I appreciate everyone for joining us. We will be back next week talking about sales, talking about coronavirus. I will happily, maybe painfully, give an update on Heinz homeschool. All coming up, but for now on behalf of my great producer Paul, this is Matt Heinz. Thanks for joining us on another episode of Sales Pipeline Radio.

Paul:  You’ve been listening to Sales Pipeline Radio. As we navigate the waves, washing in on the shores these days here, and bringing the latest and greatest information on how to get your sales pipeline up and running, even in tough times.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Matt Heinz
Prolific author and nationally recognized, award-winning blogger, Matt Heinz is President and Founder of Heinz Marketing with 20 years of marketing, business development and sales experience from a variety of organizations and industries. He is a dynamic speaker, memorable not only for his keen insight and humor, but his actionable and motivating takeaways.Matt’s career focuses on consistently delivering measurable results with greater sales, revenue growth, product success and customer loyalty.


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