Looking for a job that offers flexibility while earning an impressive income? Then you might want to consider a career as a medical device sales rep!
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 in medical sales 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 to get there. Consider the following checklist to make sure you’ve optimized your career to its fullest potential.
What Is Medical Device Sales Rep?
A medical device sales rep serves as a go-between for medical device companies and hospitals. They inform health care professionals of their options for medical devices and help them implement the right ones for their patients. Reps are the liaison between manufacturers and wholesalers and hospital leadership and staff.
Medical devices are constantly upgrading, and new devices are hitting the market all of the time. From joint implants and pacemakers to diagnostic equipment to durable medical devices, such as breathing machines, technology continues to improve. However, many health care professionals have no way to know about all of them available or even how best to use them. Sales reps fill this vital gap by both informing doctors and hospitals and providing critical training to implement these new devices.
Medical device sales entail fairly in-depth work to ensure hospitals, staff, and patients are all served properly. It requires navigating the hospital infrastructure to meet with doctors, surgeons, and administrators to land long-term contracts and keep customers happy.
Some of the duties of a typical sales rep include:
- Providing product demonstrations and education
- Cold calls and visits to doctors’ offices and hospital
- Answering staff concerns about product
- Forming relationships with hospital administration and staff
- Replenishing orders on current accounts
- Collecting, analyzing, and reporting sales data
- Identifying upselling and cross-selling opportunities on current accounts
A job in medical sales compensates well because it requires a certain amount of medical or engineering expertise while also providing customer service support that your clients need. It is a tough balance but can be extremely rewarding for those who master it.
The Day in the Life of a Typical Sales Rep
Now that we’ve discussed what a medical sales rep entails, what does this look like on a day-to-day basis? We’ve broken down the typical day of a sales rep to give you a sense of what it takes to sell medical devices.
For starters, most reps recommend starting the day as early as possible. The medical world typically begins early, so a salesperson that also rises early will be able to reach doctors and nurses before they head into surgery for the rest of the day. Depending on your region, you may also have to drive an hour or two to get to visit a hospital first thing in the morning.
Beyond an early morning, a typical day might look something like this:
Come up with a plan for your day. Create a route for the hospitals you need to visit and determine how long it will take. Make sure you have pamphlets and information your clients may need.
Begin meetings for the day. Bring donuts for a product in-service with operating room staff. Give staff information on a new product rolling out today, which they agree to test for one month. Meeting with OP manager to discuss product ordering and other product offerings.
Appointment with CFO at Medical Center to discuss vendor agreement with them. They are looking to save money and need to reduce operating expenses by 15%. Called the office early about better pricing and discussed the proposal you were able to come up with. Will meet up with him again later.
Meet with Neonatal Unit Manager to discuss new product. Although she is not happy with product, she agrees to try. Make a note to follow up next month.
Short in-service with nursing staff to review product. Discuss challenges and agree to trial. If they like the product, they will recommend it to the hospital.
Lunch with rep for a local distributor. Discuss the target accounts for a new product.
Back to the office. Make customer phone calls and create appointments with those who need it. Sent faxes and follow-up letters.
Meet with Purchasing at hospital for implementing new product. They need two weeks’ worth of product for initial stocking order.
Meeting with lab director. She is unhappy with product changes and wants to send it back. Make plans to talk with staff about their reservations, and plan to try solving their issues in the next week.
Back home for the day. Spend time on weekly report, updating customer database, and any presentations for the next day. Typically requires another couple of hours worth of work.
While the rewards are great in medical sales, the schedule can be demanding. It requires keeping everyone happy at nearly every level in your hospitals.
While it can be easy to lose the day tackling emergencies, a thoughtful schedule will help you
Step-By-Step Guide on How to Become a Medical Device Sales Rep
Think that medical device sales might be right for you? Here’s a guide on how to become a medical sales rep with no experience:
Step 1: 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 view 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 2: 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 can 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 3: 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 ensure the devices and products they need to care for their patients are within reach. So prioritizing these relationships should be your 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 share your values, and ask them for help. It’s a busy job, but if they offer any help to you in 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 4: 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 to stay organized, efficient, and successful. Selecting the right CRM can save you boatloads of time that is better spent developing leads and closing sales.
Although there are many 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
Step 5: Evaluate your Work/Life Balance to Ensure Your Work Accommodates What You Need to Thrive
Notice the long hours in the sample day of a sales rep?
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 additional 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 above, reps that traveled at least 50 percent of the time had total compensation of over $30k more than the average.
Top Tips for How to Be Successful in Medical Sales
With a demanding schedule and fierce competition, a solid game plan is critical for becoming a successful medical sales rep. Here are some ways that you can make the most of your position to become a top-performing sales rep:
Tip 1: Never Stop Learning
Working in the medical field means that you will need to become a lifelong learner. If you want to become successful in sales, you need to dedicate yourself to learning about sales strategies and innovations in the medical world related to your devices.
Some top courses to take include:
While learning about your product is essential, you also need to know how to sell your product to hospitals. Shifts in the buying environment require sales reps to learn how to sell medical devices. Brooksfield Group offers a course on how to cultivate consultative selling skills.
David Bagga Company
Want to land your perfect medical sales job with no experience? David Bagga Company can help. Their course guides you through creating the perfect resume, killing your interview, and getting the right medical device sales job for you. Plus, you’ll learn how to become competitive in the industry and what it takes to be successful in medical sales.
Medical Sales Academy
Most sales reps do not have the years it takes to become a master in their field. Instead, they need practical advice and solutions to become a top seller in a short amount of time. Medical Sales Academy provides a course, forum, training, and content to help you do that. It identifies the changes in the medical field and enables you to develop a solid game plan for success.
Tip 2: Become an Early Riser
Medical device sales can be demanding. Juggling numerous departments' needs in multiple hospitals can often mean reps are pulled from one emergency to the next. However, success in medical sales requires intention and planning to reach new customers and expand current accounts.
To get ahold of your day, early rising is crucial. It allows you to get ahead of your day and make a plan for productivity and success. It also gives you a minute to eat a healthy breakfast and start your day on a healthy foot.
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?
Tip 3: Establish a 30/60/90 Day Plan
You need a solid plan for success in sales. Figuring out what prospects you need to reach out to, what relationships your need to build, where you could expand your education, and how you can best support your current accounts are just a few ways where a plan is critical.
A 30/60/90 day plan is a great way to keep long-term goals in mind while managing the day-to-day. This is especially helpful for newer sales reps. The first few months on the job can be overwhelming between establishing relationships, educating yourself on your products, and learning your territory. A plan can help you not only navigate these first few days but be successful in your short-term and long-term goals.
Tip 4: Be Persistent
Successful sales reps aren’t afraid of the word “no.” They know not to take it personally and that it is rarely a permanent thing. This is especially true in medical device sales.
Hospitals have fluctuating budgets, staff and leadership changes, and expanding needs. What decision-makers may have determined was not a priority at one point may become a great asset in the future.
Persistence is critical to becoming successful in medical device sales. Keep open the lines of communication and make sure to periodically contact prospects that don’t currently seem interested in what you have to sell. It may become indispensable to them down the road.
Tip 5: Get to Know Yourself
Authenticity is a critical component in becoming a successful sales rep. However, it takes understanding exactly who you are and how you can use your strengths to your advantage. Consider taking a Meyers-Briggs personality test or another well-regarded personality test to help you discover your personality type if you don’t already know.
Sales has typically been regarded as an extrovert’s job, but that is not necessarily the case. Introverts can be successful in sales too and bring their own strengths to the table. For example, they are better at nurturing relationships that extroverts might not have the time or energy to maintain.
Use your natural strengths to help you become successful in sales. Use psychology to identify where you shine best and emphasize these qualities to create better connections with customers.
Tip 6: Perfect Your Soft Skills
Becoming a sales rep requires a fair amount of soft skills even to land a job. However, to succeed in sales, you need to become a master in your soft skills. The more you practice and become more natural in your soft skills, the more connections and sales you will make.
Some soft skills to practice include:
- Effective communication
- Emotional Intelligence
- Growth Mindset
- Work Ethic
- Team Player
- Active Listening
While some people are born with a certain talent for soft skills, anyone can improve theirs’ with intention and practice. No matter what level of soft skills you have, take some time to develop yours.
Tip 7: Mind Your Reputation
Sales reps that have a reputation for keeping their word will perform better than those who do not. This is especially true when it comes to medical device sales. Hospitals and doctors’ offices depend on your skills and follow-through to get the supplies they need to help their patients and even potentially save their lives. A sales rep that cannot be trusted is not just annoying but can be outright deadly.
Hospitals talk both among departments and with other hospitals and doctors’ groups. A bad reputation will not only hurt you with your current clients but potentially hurt you with prospects as well.
If you make a promise, you must follow through on it. Maintain your current accounts and be responsive to their needs. The success of your client, and your reputation, depend on it.
Become a Top Performing Rep in Medical Device Sales
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.