Embody, Inc. is a high growth, venture-backed medical device company focused on soft tissue healing. In 2020, they launched TAPESTRY, a biointegrative implant for tendon healing, followed by TAPESTRY® RC, one of the first arthroscopic implant systems for rotator cuff repair. Given their growing footprint in a crowded specialty, they needed to stand out to distributors and surgeons, and prove commercial success quickly.
Building a Commercial Strategy from Scratch
Embody’s products have broad applicability throughout the musculoskeletal system – from rotator cuff to Achilles repair. Given the large market size and numerous competitors, Embody needed to figure out how to get immediate traction with surgeons and scale effectively.
Embody decided to take a hybrid approach to their sales strategy, hiring both a direct sales force and partnering with distributors focused on orthopedic care. Their sales team would have deep relationships with surgeons in a narrow segment of orthopedics. Their distributors, meanwhile, enabled them to access specific geographic markets.
They faced a challenge: how could they streamline this model and to help both sales structures focus on the best opportunities?
Launching the MedTech Commercial Flywheel
Leadership at Embody had experience working with datasets and tools, but there was never a single source they could rely on. “It was up to us at the company to take those multiple data sources and do the analytics ourselves to figure out, just even directionally, who, what, and where we should be focusing efforts,” said Rob Brown, Chief Commercial Officer at Embody.
Embody was seeking an easier, more accurate way to understand this complex market and identify opportunities. “I noticed our new sales reps were wasting a good deal of time, especially in unfamiliar geographies, trying to ascertain which targets they should be focusing on,” said John Rizzo, Senior Vice President of Sales at Embody. When evaluating AcuityMD, the team at Embody noticed how intuitive it was. “We had access to powerful data in a very simple user-friendly tool, without needing to do the usual data analytics,” said Brown. Embody sales leadership and reps could view high volume surgeons by procedure type, diagnoses, and territories, and simply click on a surgeon to add them to their target list. Once identified, reps could view pertinent details about each surgeon – where they did their residency, any papers they published, and competitor relationships – to create a personalized sales approach. Most importantly, AcuityMD identified relationships between surgeons, known as peer networks, across established Embody surgeons, that would allow Embody to further expand their pipeline and build valuable relationships. “We never had access to this information before. It was astounding. I know of nothing else like it today,” remarks Brown.
The timeliness of the data was also key. Whereas most procedure level data lags 12 to 24 months or more, AcuityMD provides Embody with data from multiple sources updated every quarter. According to Brown, “In terms of the data, AcuityMD is as good as it gets.”
Accurately Sizing the Market
Before AcuityMD, leaders spent hours compiling multiple, discordant data sources and other publicly available information to size the market. But because these data pulls were fragmented, they required a fair amount of modeling just to provide directional guidance.
With the launch of TAPESTRY, the Embody team needed to find a more efficient way to penetrate the market. Using AcuityMD, they built a “bottoms-up” approach to sizing their market, starting at the surgeon level instead of segmenting the total addressable market (TAM). Using AcuityMD, they were able to see the number of surgeons performing applicable procedures and factor in specialty as well as territory to ultimately arrive at the number of surgeons they needed to reach. They used this number to then track relative to their growth targets.
The new process "helps the sales rep and the company build those relationships with the surgeons because they're starting at a point of understanding and knowledge," said Brown.
Empowering the Direct Sales Team: Hitting Quota in 12 Months
With AcuityMD’s easy-to-use interface and data-driven insights, Embody onboarded their reps 6 to 8 weeks faster than the typical process. Within 90 days, another trend started to emerge: reps using AcuityMD outperformed others in converting new surgeons. “We had high hopes for all of our salespeople, but when the newer folks became the top performing reps, we were amazed,” said Brown. “This made a huge impact; our direct sales reps were hitting their quotas within their first year.”
With AcuityMD, reps were able to rely on procedure volume instead of word-of-mouth reputation. By filtering procedure volume by surgery type, the sales team quickly identified optimal surgeons and focused their efforts on where they could make the most impact. They could also see surgeons’ relationships with competitors and avoid those with conflicts – information “you don't get very easily,” Brown pointed out.
After building their initial list of target surgeons, Embody's sales team dug into AcuityMD's peer network tool, which highlights surgeon's relationships with each other through their residencies and co-published articles. They used this to quickly identify relationships between their target surgeons and other potential users to grow their pipeline. “Surgeons are most influenced by their peers, those that they know and trust,” notes Brown. “That’s a hugely valuable aspect of the tool.”
"AcuityMD significantly streamlined our selling process and saved countless hours of valuable selling time,” said Rizzo.
Collaborating with Distributors
As a startup, one of the primary challenges Embody faced was getting in front of the right people within an institution. Embody partnered with distributors who knew key surgeons in specific territories where their products could be used.
But the partnership wasn't just one-way. Embody also helped distributors cultivate new relationships with surgeons outside their purview using insights from AcuityMD. Embody was able to leverage insights in AcuityMD to help their distributor cultivate new relationships with surgeons outside their purview. “That becomes a great tool for us because it's not a one-way street with our distributors. We're bringing value to them, in building their business,” said Brown.
Building a Sustainable Business Ahead of Acquisition
With AcuityMD, Embody was able to identify over 500 physicians who could use TAPESTRY, generating over $3M in new sales. Overall, the commercial team leveraged AcuityMD to build commercial traction, collaborate with their distributors, and set their sales team up for success. This success didn’t go unnoticed; in February 2023, Embody was acquired by Zimmer Biomet.
Brown stressed, however, that for companies to be successful, they should focus on building a company for sustainability and implement a solid commercial strategy using technologies like AcuityMD. “We invested in infrastructure because we were building a company for long-term sustainability and scale. You then have clarity on business opportunities because you’ve put the right framework in place.” According to biologics account manager Erik Conrad, “Whatever Embody paid for AcuityMD is worth it.”
Power User: Erik Conrad
Erik Conrad, biologics account manager at Embody, Inc., has a large territory with lots of potential opportunities. He uses AcuityMD to determine where to prioritize his time. “I used to have a laundry list of spreadsheets. AcuityMD streamlines my workflow and lets me quickly prioritize or deprioritize my team’s opportunities.” Erik closed $30K in new business shortly after Embody launched AcuityMD and uncovered a $1.5M opportunity with two high-volume targets. He estimates AcuityMD saves him several hours a week in manual research and data entry. "Our time is money, and this is saving me so much time."