by Edward Jones 12th September, 2019
2 min read

Why health sector sales and marketing teams need to understand the policy landscape

Local sales reps are integral to the business of many organisations which supply essential products and services to the NHS, from pharmaceuticals to medical devices and cleaning products.

They are the frontline of business, developing relationships with customers and leading conversations which retain existing and create new business. Naturally, it is essential for sales teams to know about the products they are selling. However, it is just as essential to understand wider policy environment in which the NHS, and their customers, operate.

In a market where the main customer is the public sector, like the UK health market, that means getting to grips with policy.

Why policy matters

In making their pitch, sales teams and key account managers (KAMs) need to align their offer with the priorities of NHS trusts.

These are often set by national policy-making bodies, such as NHS England, NHS Improvement and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) as well as standards set by NICE and regulated by the Care Quality Commission.

There are numerous questions for sales teams to consider when engaging with customers, such as:

  • What are the key pressures on NHS trusts in general and the specific trusts you are trying to sell to?
  • What are the policy priorities being set by DHSC and NHS England?
  • How is transformation in NHS structures affecting the market?
  • Who are the key decisions makers at the Trust? Are they conformers or reformers?

Given the evolving environment and fiscal challenges faced by NHS trusts, sales teams need to be armed with market intelligence and arguments to set out how their offering will help deliver NHS trusts’ priorities in what is a public policy-driven market.

Understanding and responding to the policy environment can ensure sales teams are equipped with appropriate messaging to appeal to managers and gain traction with C-suite decision makers.

What to do

GK’s expert health policy team can help honeyour business-to-government strategy by training sales and marketing teams to understand and navigate the policy environment in which their customers operate.

Health policy training sessions can educate teams on the UK healthcare policy landscape, covering wider context – from NHS finances and commissioning to trust level decision-making – as well as areas the focused areas of relevance to your products or services.

Bespoke training sessions can teach sales teams how to create opportunities to help the NHS deliver national policy priorities.

Building on this, strategic messaging, developed in partnership with marketing teams, can provide reps with the tools to create interest and drive commercial discussions. Tailored customer mapping is then needed to ensure they are communicating with the right people responsible for delivering policy priorities and the clout to drive forward progress.


Sales team can no longer be a separate entity in isolation from policy and communications. In a congested and transforming market for limited resources, an integrated approach is needed.

As the face of your business and the key liaison with your customer base, sales teams need to be armed with the knowledge to be your most powerful communications channel.

Make sure they are equipped.

See more articles by Edward Jones