Penrod Blog

Med Dev Guide: Distributor Management

Like any other competitive business, medical device manufacturers must create compelling products and use resourcefulness and strategic planning to get them to buyers. Over time, the distribution networks for medical devices in the healthcare industry have gotten more concentrated. As providers, hospitals, medical device resellers, and other players consolidate, they have spawned more extensive and more sophisticated inventory management services.

Many device manufacturers have had a challenge finding a distributor management system that perfectly integrates into their current inventory, sales, and marketing platforms.

This is why utilizing the CRM for distributor management is gaining traction. The same platforms that medical device companies use to evaluate and manage opportunities, cases, leads, and accounts also offer numerous features to manage distributors. Elements of these systems include contract management, pricing rules, enablement, shipping, marketing, support, and distributor experience management.

Aside from catering to patients, medical device companies are responsible for managing their device distributors. Here are the most important ways a CRM platform can help your company harness the full power of medical device distributors.

Single Dashboard Contract Management

The medical device sales process is complicated, and without the proper platform, almost always never efficient. As the distributor progresses through the pipeline, challenges, bottlenecks, obstacles, and risks present themselves. Most difficulties in the journey – from lead to sale – can be resolved by standardizing digital process in a single platform.

Before a company can become a distributor, it must go through the contracts phase. Contracts serve the necessary function of finalizing deals in a way that protects all companies involved. Fortunately, contract management features allow full visibility into contracts in the sales pipeline on a single platform.

It would be challenging to close deals with distributors and protect the company, patients, and providers without a contract. However, while they are essential in the quote-to-sale process, they each may have unique roadblocks to the sales pipeline. Contract management in a CRM platform supports robust contract redlining and tracing to ensure that contracting is done in one platform and all change history is centralized.

Seamless Price Rules and Discount Planning

The healthcare industry is considered a ‘niche market’ for medical device manufacturers, distributors, resellers, and agents. Because of this, medical device companies can find it challenging to price their products and services. When the prices are set too high, distributors may criticize it, citing low margins. Conversely, when the prices are set too low, the company risks missing out on a high-value market with stable revenue.

With the right CRM software, pricing does not need to be a guessing game for a medical device company. There are numerous tools with dozens of pricing models, strategies, and templates that the company can use to set the right prices that attract the best distributors. The ideal platform needs to be able to offer distributors account-level pricing and contextual discounts.

Whether your company uses subscription-based or perpetual licensing models for devices, it needs a robust platform that offers high transparency into discounting thresholds and burndowns for distributors. The CRM platform should be an all-in-one platform where teams can generate prediction and burndown charts to visualize distributor performance.

Cloud-Based Distributor Portal

A distributor portal is an online platform on which the company can communicate with, update, and manage distributors. It is also a central point on which distributors can field questions to get answers, pay their invoices, and get help from sales and marketing. A portal with integrated online payment functions is also a faster, secure, and more straightforward way for distributors to pay without consequent follow-ups, confirmations, and manual data entry.

A forward-looking medical device company that uses distributors needs a distributor portal to streamline its sales and marketing processes. A self-service option essentially off-loads tedious administrative work from the company to the distributor’s agents. This makes it the responsibility of distributor staff to ensure the accuracy of data and support documents when submitting reports, invoices, and updates.

The top benefit of a distributor portal is that it automates the process of updating data and providing support to distributors. With a simple update, the medical device company can view real-time order status and shipping status and update distributors right on the CRM platform without worrying about customer service representative.

Marketing and Enablement

Not too long ago, customer relationship management and sales enablement were unique features of two completely different platforms. As the world of marketing evolved, emerging technologies made it possible for sales teams to innovate newer and more efficient ways to engage prospects in the sales pipeline before they are customers. This system uses the same data CRM uses to provide access to data, educational content, and even marketing materials, making selling and up-selling easier and less expensive.

Modern CRMs like Salesforce Health Cloud feature both customer management and sales enablement tools to streamline the marketing and sales processes. This combination automates various tedious manual data entry processes that used to take hours, allowing staff to focus on connecting with prospects and handling customer matters. Medical device companies no longer need to choose whether to invest in sales enablement software or customer relationship management software because the latter has the capabilities of both platforms.

CRM software and portals with self-service options grant distributors the option to access the latest company marketing materials, wherever they are, instantly. Sales enablement features provide them with everything they need to sell more effectively. For instance, distributors and their reps can gain access to product information guides, customer service, warranty support, and monitor and improve device selling processes. The company’s marketing automation engages distributors and makes outreach more efficient for reps.

Omnichannel Call Center

There is always room for improvement when a medical device company uses distributors to sell its products. Many companies use several touchpoints to connect with the company, and every channel is an opportunity to offer them a seamless and effective interaction. Simply put, an omnichannel service CRM platform gives distributors convenient ways solve issues faster.

CRM platforms can be configured to enrich data about distributors and leads. However, it is up to the team to leverage the information in a way that optimizes service for each distributor. Using an omnichannel approach to distributor management leaves fewer gaps when transitioning open cases between internal teams and communication platforms.

The most significant tactic to improve distributor experience is to understand how they prefer to be served. Therefore, a CRM platform with distributor information, including demographics and expectations, must also include their communication history and preferences. Efficient communication with distributors reduces the number of verbal engagements on the phone, eliminating redundant information.

Centralized Shipping and Tracking

The rise of online commerce has led to a fast evolution of the shipping industry. In the past, device manufacturers would have to invest in transporting their products from warehouses or drop-off points to distributors. However, things are much simpler today as third-party companies can fulfill deliveries less expensively and more efficiently.

CRM platforms have evolved to incorporate shipping logistics between device manufacturers and distributors. Both the company and distributors can track package deliveries in the CRM or with third-party applications. The automation helps both parties spend less time following up with shipping and fulfillment information.

Key Account Coordination

Key account programs demand constant evaluation and engagement to avoid consuming too many revenue-generating resources. To a medical device company, a key account is one of the most valuable distributors. They represent a disproportionate percentage of its revenue and referrals.

Key accounts are chosen based on revenue and distributor income to costs ratio. The CRM platform provides shared access to data and tools that enhance collaboration between sales, marketing, and service to discover the best distributor relationships.

Key account management features are essential to growing activity at key accounts. It brings transparency and real-time data analysis and visualization. This makes it practical to make data-driven decisions in real-time, and helps optimize engagement and growth with each account.

When selecting a CRM platform, be sure to ensure that it provides heightened visibility into account management. This is critical to determining the most effective ways to interact with each key account.

Performance and Order Insights

CRM platforms provide analytics that drive growth and put greater emphasis on profitable outcomes. Managing the company becomes much easier when the platform narrows the gap between technology and people.


To attract and retain the most effective, profitable distributors, a medical device company must cater to them. Considering how competitive the market is, this is not easy to achieve. However, with the right CRM platform, leveraging distributer relationships is more accessible than ever.

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