Medical sales can be incredibly lucrative. According to a recent study by MedReps, the leading industry website for medical sales professionals, the average total compensation is around $156k.
It also can be a great way to support your goals. An ironman contestant recently profiled by Outside magazine credits his flexible schedule as a part of his success.
But if you’re a medical sales rep that’s not feeling these kinds of benefits or excitement, there are plenty of ways to fine-tune your strategy in order to get there. Consider the following checklist to make sure you’ve optimized your career to its fullest potential.
Step one: Pick a Specialization
Nail the basics, pick a specialization, and make sure you’re passionate about your product.
Chances are, you’ve already done much of this, but it’s always worth examining the foundation upon which you've built your career to see if there are any cracks.
Getting a bachelor's degree, completing a training program, and then becoming certified or licensed are all considered standard in order to become a top medical sales rep. How does your pedigree stand up?
If you’ve got all yours, it’s helpful to revisit the kind of medical sales you’re in and make sure it’s where you want to be. The most popular categories are:
- Surgical Devices
- Capital/Durable Medical Equipment
- Health IT and Software
Each kind of product has its own challenges and moral dilemmas. Emerging technologies or pharmaceuticals are no strangers to controversy and it should be a part of thinking through what is the right fit for you. Spending time selecting what you can authentically advocate for will do a lot for your bottom line. If your heart isn’t in it, you’re not going to make it to the top.
The same goes for your employer. Knowing the history, connotations, and reputations of your employer can help you craft persuasive answers prospective clients may ask you. But if you can’t come up with any answers that feel right to you, it may be time to rethink your place of work.
Step two: Consider additional training
Become an expert in your specialization.
If you didn’t get your undergrad in medicine or science, you might be missing out on crucial context that could be costing you bigger deals.
Remember, more and more surgeons and medical personnel are viewing their sales reps as their partners in understanding and obtaining the highest quality products for their patients. Gain their trust by being fluent in the language of your specialty.
"You say sales rep," says Marley Duff, an operating room manager at TriStar Centennial's joint replacement unit as reported by NPR. "I look at them more being somebody that’s expertly trained in their field to provide support for the implants that they happen to sell."
One way to become “expertly trained” is to look into virtual reality training methods. Although nothing beats the real thing, experiencing a virtual operating environment can help you practice more often and pick up on any nuances or needs that your client may not be telling you.
It’s also incredibly important to keep up with trends in your industry. Setting up Google Alerts to serve keyworded content hits into your inbox can help you get ahead of breaking news or industry opportunities before they hit the mainstream. Make sure to include not only your product, but emerging tech trends like wearable devices, artificial intelligence, and 3D printing.
And did you know there are quite a few podcasts out there that specifically talk about the medical sales rep industry?
Step three: Look for opportunities to see your products in action.
It's not unusual for medical device sales reps to get training in the operating room. There’s nothing like experiencing your product in action to really understand it and what else your client needs when using it.
If you are able to regularly visit an operating room or are invited to work in a medical environment, be respectful and prioritize ways to build trust. For instance, be aware of the requirements in maintaining a sterile environment and plan ahead to ask regarding how you can be as prepared as possible.
Step four: Cultivate your relationships and your network.
Many surgeons are interested in building good relationships with their medical sales reps because they rely on them to make sure the devices and products they need to care for their patients are within reach. So prioritizing these relationships should be your first priority. And doing so will help you score referrals.
But this isn't just about lead gen -- cultivate your networking skills and look around for a mentor! Find successful medical sales reps that you admire and that share your values, and ask them for help. It’s a busy job, but if they offer any help to you in terms of keeping you on track or having a monthly coffee date, take it! Their advice and experience will be priceless.
If you don’t have time to develop a professional relationship, a digital version of a mentor can come through industry influencers. Many successful medical reps have Youtube channels and offer great advice for beginners and pros alike.
If you're brave, becoming an influencer is also a great move to get more clients and industry cred. But if you have no free time to truly dedicate yourself to building an audience, managing a community of fans, and providing quality content in a consistent way, it’s better to spend your time developing your leads.
Step five: Invest in a CRM
Find a CRM that matches your specific needs as a medical rep.
Medical sales reps have to keep track of a ton of very intricate notes, must work around the complicated schedules of medical professionals, and must physically travel to clients.
A dynamic, intuitive, and easy CRM is profoundly important in order to stay organized, efficient, and successful. Selecting the right CRM can save you boatloads of time that is better spent on developing leads and closing sales.
Although there are a ton of sales CRMs out there, not many understand the specific challenges that come when physical travel is a part of your daily routine. And in the tech-savvy world of medicine, you’ll want something that works on mobile devices
Source: Map My Customers
Step six: Evaluate your work/life balance
Make sure your work accommodates what you need to thrive.
The medical industry is 24/7, and medical sales reps should expect extra hours as part of the job. And a lot of it can be unexpected -- travel delays, unexpectedly sterilizing instruments, or providing extra training for your new client can mean really, really long weeks, months, and years.
It is worth it. This extra time will help you be a top medical sales rep. According to that MedReps study referenced at the beginning, reps that traveled at least 50 percent of the time had a total compensation of over $30k more than the average.
But how are you planning to deal with a strenuous work and travel schedule? In order to succeed, it is vital to make your self-care routine incredibly accessible and catered to your own specific needs.
Successful reps overwhelmingly recommend to get a full night’s sleep, eat breakfast, and get up early to start planning your day. It sounds basic, but do you do those things consistently?
According to one survey of over 1400 medical sales reps, the things they value most about their job are autonomy, flexibility, and the ability to make an impact. The money came in sixth.
So becoming a “top” medical sales rep depends on what you value most. But the best practices highlighted in this article will be sure to help you succeed in whichever way you define your success.
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