A new year is dawning, but if you're in medical device sales, it may not feel like that big of a deal. Chances are you’re already well aware of how stable and lucrative a specialty it is. Indeed, as long as people need technology to get better health, you’ll always have a job. And due to the number of innovations and funding in this sector, it’s an industry that experiences steady growth year over year.

However, just because it’s dependable doesn’t mean it’s unchanging. Medical devices are constantly evolving and many external factors play into the development, regulation, and distribution of these products. Because of this, there’s always room for improvement when it comes to your sales strategy.

That’s why we’ve built this ultimate guide for medical device sales teams in 2020. If you’re looking for new trends to modernize your sales management or are simply interested in increasing your commissions, this is for you.


There are so many kinds of medical devices out there and new innovations are happening all the time. As you’re looking to modernize your sales team, it may be time to critically compare what you’re selling with what’s predicted to unfold in 2020.  

Although it might not be possible to exactly match your product with what the market wants, understanding industry trends and preemptively planning how to position your product is key to your stability and growth in medical device sales.

Here are some top medical device trends to consider as you assess your inventory for the new year:


Transparency

Consumers have more power than ever to understand exactly what their products promise and deliver. It’s happening in literally every kind of industry and healthcare is no exception.

With the recent increase of documentary and news coverage on medical devices, more scrutiny will mean an increased need for real, honest claims when it comes to your products. “Amid revelations about data privacy, companies that are transparent and ethical will come out ahead,” says Forbes in its 10 healthcare predictions for 2020.

Think carefully about how your devices hold up to scrutiny and update your materials to align with the truth. Neglecting to do so could not just ruin your earning potential, but your company.


Cloud Technology

The Internet Of Things (IoT) has truly transformed our lives. Everything’s “smart” these days, from our refrigerators to our lightbulbs.

The medical device industry is no different. According to Mass Device: “Medical device companies, including large companies and startups, are finding that digital innovations like cloud technology offer greater data security, help expedite regulatory compliance and approval, and real-time accessibility across departments, offices and regions.”

Understanding exactly how your particular medical device plans to match this expectation is crucial in the coming year. Even if the device itself won’t connect wirelessly to the cloud, various programs that play into its development or management may be doing so. This can reveal a unique selling point to include in your pitches.

However, the risks should also be deeply considered. So-called “smart” medical devices may be forgetful when it comes to cybersecurity. Be keenly aware of any vulnerabilities that may come along with the specific features your products have.


Robotics & 3D Printing

If your medical device doesn’t have a robotic component or can be made by a 3D printer, chances are it might be soon.

Many startups and tech firms are more empowered than ever to disrupt healthcare with 3D printing. There’s a lot of investment chatter when it comes to robotics, which is also a signal for more opportunities going that way.

Research how these trends may affect your medical device and anticipate your answers. Even if your company isn’t directly evolving their products to match these new trends, you may be able to figure out persuasive arguments or factual benefits that can put your clients’ minds at ease before they initiate the conversation.


Enabling Your Medical Device Sales Team For Success

Now that broad trends are out of the way, let’s talk about the practical stuff. Although technologies and products may change, one fact remains: medical device sales reps need to do a lot of training and clerical management.

Fortunately, there are tons of new tools and tips that can modernize your methods and empower your success in the coming year.


Sales Enablement

What do you use to keep your team trained? How often do you do so?

The healthcare industry is continuously innovating, always changing -- so making sure all the right facts, figures, and stats are within reach is a top priority. Seeing as reps are interfacing with some of the most highly educated members of society, even a small slip can completely evaporate trust between them and the medical professional they’re speaking to.

If you don’t update your training materials as quickly as you’d like, we’ve got great news -- there are companies out there that would love to do it for you and there are many to choose from.

As you weigh your options, consider what particular needs medical device sales teams have, like:

  • Mobile optimized: Seeing as your reps are on the road for the majority of their time, it is crucial to make sure whatever tool you select is fully functional on whichever mobile device(s) they use.
  • Easy to update: Understanding new medical concepts, products, and trends is complicated -- the tool you use to share that information shouldn’t be. Think carefully about what kinds of assets you’d like to upload (like videos or PDFs) and what it feels like to manage them in that tool.
  • Formatted in bite-sized installments: It is unreasonable to think that your extremely busy and mobile reps have the time to sit down and view an hour-long video. Consider how the tool can enable you to break down long trainings or perhaps even gamify the learning process.
  • Confidential: Due to the sensitive nature of your work, it’s worth it to directly ask the sales enablement company about how they keep your resources private.

Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash


Scheduling

Medical device sales reps are often at the mercy of someone else’s schedule. Doctors may end their days early, surgeries might run long -- flexibility is a virtue. The gaps between appointments can be great for clerical things, but prioritizing just what to do can require significant mental juggling.

But yes, there’s an app for that! Founded by two former medical sales reps, RelayOne is a brand new app that is completely devoted to the unique scheduling issues in this persnickety industry. It not only helps you navigate preoperative collaboration, but also makes sure the information you share is HIPAA compliant.


Faxing

Yes, it’s 2020. And yet — the healthcare industry is still ruled by faxes. Although it may not be possible to convince all clients to shift away from the death-grip they have on this ancient form of technology, there are some technologies that can help reps save a bit of time and stress.

Again, it’s important to bring up HIPAA here. Not all faxing apps are created with this in mind. So when you do try out some that claim to be confidential, it might be a good idea to reach out to that company first to make sure they understand the particular requirements you need for your medical device.

SRfax is a digital faxing service that specifically caters to the needs of the healthcare industry. It makes sending a fax as simple as sending an email and automatically creates cover pages. A sliding scale price point is based on how many faxes you send per month, up to $9.95 for 500 pages. It’s a small price to pay for the benefit of never hearing that screeching dial tone again.


Inventory Management

Creating a single source of inventory truth -- is it even possible? A common complaint by reps is that verifying inventory statuses is often a huge pain and time drain. Have you asked your team about their experience lately?

If you discover that it is indeed broke, it’s time to fix it. Have you checked out Sortly yet? It sports a clean interface that’s easy to use. Existing barcodes can be used to track devices. It even sends reminders based on triggers that you can control.  

If you use the Salesforce Health Cloud, some recent updates may also help you out with this issue. The “sales agreement” tool was specifically designed with medical devices sales in mind. Staying within the Salesforce universe means the data you collect within inventory management can be directly applied to your sales planning, too.


Modernizing Your CRM To Work For Your Team

Now that you’ve considered modern themes as they relate to your product and your team, it’s time to think about your data.

Salesforce is definitely an industry standard when it comes to a data management tool for medical device sales, but it can be hard to incentivize reps to update it as much as it may need.

Make 2020 the year you put an end to that. There are tons of tools out there that can integrate with Salesforce (or other CRMs!) that can save you time, stress, and resources. Consider these modern ways you can solve for this issue:


Implement Automation

How much does your CRM do for you? If it does zero things automatically for your field reps, you could be missing out on a simple way to get more data without more stress.

Basic features like reminders are helpful, but there is so much more out there. Consider the time saved by automatically recording visits based on your rep’s GPS position. Or what if it could optimize your sales route automatically, without the need for plugging tons of addresses into Google Maps?

Make a list of all the biggest time-wasters that you may be doing on the road and then search for an integration that does it. Things like keeping track of when to follow-up with customers, qualifying new leads based on market information, or updating your various CRM platforms can all be done at the same time — if you have the right tool.


Perform Advanced Territory Management

If your CMS doesn’t feature tools that directly serve the specific physical territory management needs of medical device sales, we’ve got news for you: there are other and much better fish in the sea.

When considering how to plan geographical coverage in sales of medical devices, it’s crucial that your tools help your reps understand their territories by providing demographic data as well as information related to their position in your sales funnel.

From map-based visualizations to features that let you scoop up new leads and assign them quickly to the right territories, there are options out there that can align with the specific needs of outside sales. Employing integrations that prioritize territory management will show reps that their needs are being cared for -- and incentivize them to use them.


Conduct An “Unlearning” Session

If your reps aren’t efficiently using your CRM (or if they aren’t using it at all), it might be time to reverse-engineer the situation. Reps may ignore new technologies because they simply haven’t been made aware of the benefits that it can give them. Or they haven’t been taught how to use it at all.

In an “unlearning” session, clear about what technical tactics are no longer acceptable on your team and create a dialogue that explores why reps may be hesitant to adapt. Chances are they simply do not understand how it benefits them. Or they may be overwhelmed by the idea of learning new tricks and don’t know where to start. Directly address the “old way” of doing things and introduce your new CRM (or new integrations) by comparing what specific actions it is replacing.


Top Tips For Medical Sales Reps in 2020

After providing modern tools that your reps can use by way of new software or improved CRM integrations, a final strategy is reviewing the day-to-day sales strategies they’re employing in their work. Discussing the following ideas with your reps could reveal ways they can optimize their approach in the coming year:


As Robyn Melhuish, communications director of MedReps.com, says: “Do your research. The more you know about the industry, the better.”

Although we’ve already addressed how to stay up-to-date in other parts of this guide, reps can individually do even more to keep themselves accountable. Using an RSS aggregation tool like Feedly can combine the output of trade magazines, industry blogs, and company press releases into a central repository of information. It’s also worth it to set up a few Google Alerts for keywords you’re particularly interested in knowing about, like your specific medical device.

Do you know about all the upcoming medical device sales conferences for this year? With a bit of research, you can determine which may be the most relevant to your team. Be sure to discuss networking strategies or anticipate which conference seminars may yield the most lucrative information ahead of time.


Pitch With The Patient In Mind

Yes, the doctor or particular institution is the one who will be buying your product, but they, in turn, will be explaining the way they use your product to their patients. If you can make their life easier in terms of communicating the benefits of your device to the people they serve, they’ll be sold.

This also touches on the power of empathy in medical sales. When it comes to healthcare, it can be all too easy to focus on “health” and forget about “care.” Considering the ultimate goal of these products and what it could mean to the patient -- an increased quality of life for them to pursue their dreams and spend time with their loved ones -- can not only reveal interesting use case scenarios, but reveal insincere or even unethical approaches that could put your company at risk.


Photo by Luis Melendez on Unsplash


Use your network

Physicians have notoriously tough schedules and operate in extremely stressful environments. You may already be well aware of how limited their time is by just trying to lock down an initial demo. But what this also means is that they often rely on a network of crucial stakeholders to get their jobs done.

Think deeply about how you influence or interact with these folks: from the nurses and medical assistants, to the specialists to which they refer their patients, to their med school alumni group. Figure out authentic and honest ways to improve your relationship with the entire ecosystem surrounding the particular healthcare professional you’re trying to reach. Pairing this with a cadence management tool, which automatically reminds you when and how often to reach out to potential prospects, can yield some impressive results.


Use 2020 Vision To Guide Your Medical Device Sales Team

The start of a new decade is a great time to reassess your strategies and make some bold decisions. With these tips in mind, you’ll be off to a great start. Although they won’t eliminate faxes, these modern tactics can help eliminate quite a few problems to make way for new solutions.