The foundation of many medical device sales positions, especially those that involve surgery, is a strong knowledge of anatomy. People who have studied anatomy and physiology, biomechanics and the like in college often have a significant advantage in developing their product knowledge over those who have not.
I recently discovered that iTunes U offers valuable courses that could offer those who missed out on such coursework a great way to catch up. There is an entire section devoted to Health and Medicine that offers *free* podcasts on great topics. In the anatomy and physiology section, there are more than 40 courses available. Who doesn’t love free almost as much as knowledge?
Below are a few highlights:
1. Anatomy & Physiology VidCast, from Dr. Allan Forsman at East Tennessee State University
83 podcasts covering every part of the body
2. Clinical Anatomy, Standford University
14 podcasts, the equivalent of an entire course in anatomy
3. An iPhone application called Mike’s Anatomy is also available from the University of Colorado. It offers “course content for human anatomy lab.”
In this mobile age, being able to access valuable content on-the-go is a smart way to make use of your time to learn new skills. These courses and app would also provide a great way for those who need to brush up on their knowledge. Developing a strong knowledge of anatomy and physiology is a great avenue for developing credibility with both hiring managers and surgeons.
Thanks to Timothy Johnson for bringing iTunes U to my attention on #jobuntchat.
“Knowing is not enough: we must apply. Willing is not enough: we must do.” ~ Goethe
I’ve been reading “Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else” by Geoff Colvin. It’s a terrific read, engaging and chock full of great ideas for sales people.
One of the central ideas of the book is that people who are great at what they do are not born with innate talent. Colvin suggests that great performers work very hard to develop their skills and abilities in a particular way, through “deliberate practice.” This type of improvement effort is specific, uncomfortable, tiring and requires a lot of repetition. In order to improve, an expert teacher is often required to design learning exercises to work on discrete skills and provide immediate feedback.
Colvin uses examples from the worlds of music and sports to illustrate his point: namely, Mozart and Tiger Woods. His examples are hopeful and daunting at the same time.
What I like most about the book is how Colvin translates the research on performance into practical strategies for achieving great performance in any field. Here are a few ideas that might apply to sales.
1. Find a great sales coach, mentor or manager. Both Mozart’s and Tiger Wood’s fathers were expert pedagogues who knew how to focus their sons’ efforts for maximum learning. Sales people would also benefit from seeking input from the best in their field, rather than trying to figure out everything on their own.
Many top performing reps I’ve spoken to often make identifying the best reps one of their first steps at a new job. They find out what works for the best reps and try to replicate it.
2. Focus on one area for improvement at a time. Rather than setting broad goals, focusing on one area for improvement leads to greater results. For example, instead of trying to get more referrals, sales people could work on refining the way they phrase their referral requests and tracking the results of different ways of asking. Tracking the results is a form of feedback, which Colvin indicates is crucial to the learning process.
3. Pre-call planning and post-call analysis. Top performers continually measure their own performance against specific criteria. They see their performance as something within their control and continuously try to improve it. One of the best ways sales reps can do this is to evaluate each and every sales call, either by themselves or with the help of a manager. Most reps know that pre-call planning and post-call analysis are a good idea, but few seem to implement it regularly. Reps should ask themselves if they achieved the goals they set forth in their pre-call planning- why or why not?
4. Continual reading and learning in your field. Spin Selling, Strategic Selling, Solution Selling- Colvin would probably say it’s all good. What really matters is learning continuously to fill one’s mental repository with a wealth of knowledge. Let’s face it, selling in the real world is rarely textbook, but having many different strategies and tactics to draw upon from a variety of methodologies provides a sales rep with many options to drawn upon in different circumstances.
5. Plan well your work and work your plan. Colvin points out that top performers work strategically with a desired outcome in mind. Although sales reps probably do not need to plan for the next century in their territory, there should be some key annual goals that are reflected in their daily activities. Essentially, is hard to be a top performer by simply working hard; you must work smart.
These are only a few ideas that could be applied to improving sales performance. There are many deeper lessons to be had in this excellent book. Because sales performance is measured in quantifiable terms, it is a field well-suited to the application of Colvin’s ideas. What more concrete proof of measurable improvement is there than exceeding quota and increased revenue?
“Hard work outperforms talent when talent doesn’t work.” ~ author unknown, as seen on a t-shirt
Key to being a successful medical device sales representative is staying current with the latest trends in medicine. If you are able to hold a knowledgeable conversation with a surgeon on current topics, you’ll begin to establish mutual respect and a stronger relationship. Staying current on the latest trends is definitely a best practice among top sales representatives.
Here are a few great sources of information to help you stay up-to-date on topics in orthopedics and medicine.
@iorthopedics Stay current on the newest studies in orthopedics
@FOREonline Foundation for Orthopaedic Research and Education, industry insights and current research
@OrthoHyperglide CME resource for orthopedic surgeons
@mnt_bones Articles from research centers, universities and journals.
@kevinmd Internist and USA Today contributor Kevin Pho, who provides “commentary on breaking medical news”
Blogs and Websites:
orthostreams.com/ Trends and start-ups by industry veteran Tiger Buford
www.OrthoSupersite.com Publisher of Orthopedics and Orthopedics Today, indications and information by sub-specialty
ryortho.com/index.php Comprehensive news across multiple specialties.
www.beckersorthopedicandspine.com/ Current issues and trends in the business of orthopedic medicine, including lists of top surgeons, healthcare leaders and facilities. Sister sites and publications for ASCs and Hospitals.
www.MassDevice.com Broad business coverage of news across the medical device industry
A friendly blogger at FutureMedica contacted me with some free on-line courses that may be useful for readers of the Upside.
I briefly looked at some of these courses. Some were more course outlines, but I think there could be useful information to be had here for the enterprising sales person looking for to increase their knowledge of anatomy and medical terminology.
I realized today it has been about 3 years since I started this blog. My first post was in November 2006.
While I am not one of the prolific most bloggers, I try to make my posts useful and interesting. I hope that there has been some beneficial information shared here, for both those looking to break into medical device sales, as well as industry veterans. Thank you to those of you who have taken time to comment and contribute your perspectives.
Here are some of my favorite posts (if I may say so)…
1. How to Get Experience When You Don’t Have Any 3/17/08
2. Becoming A Sales Associate – Fast Track Opportunity for Growth 10/23/08
3. A Day in the Life of an Electrosurgery Rep 7/15/09
1. Ten Truths from Rookie of the Year 4/26/07
2. Pocket Guide to the O.R. 3/12/08
3. 212 Club 8/08/08
1. Sonny Crockett’s Great Year 12/14/07
2. Athletes in Medical Device Sales 5/30/07
If you have a favorite, or something you’d like me to consider writing about, let me know!
In the orthopedic world, many reps are 1099 independent contractors. This means the sales reps are responsible for their own benefits and expenses. As independent business people, they must file their own quarterly taxes. Some choose to incorporate. These are added responsibilities, but there are also some potential advantages if one is a savvy business person.
Recently, we discovered a company which touts itself as a “Portable Employer of Record”. They essential handle billing for independent contractors and consultants. As an “employee” of this organization, you have access to an array of benefits. Of course, there is some cost for this service- which is about 5% of the billed amount. Still, there might be some advantages.
If you are familiar with this or other similar companies, I would be interested in learning more. Please comment or drop me an e-mail.