Monday, March 29, 2010

The Perfect Ride-Along

Today I spoke with a candidate who went on a ride-along last week as part of the interview process. From the way he described it to me, I think it may have been the perfect ride-along. He got to see a good rep in action and four surgeries in one day of the same product.

Here are a few things he shared with me about his experience:

1. Although product was the same for all four cases (actually it was our new SRS system, so more than a single item), every surgery was different. In fact, he said the anatomy of each patient's shoulder appeared different, probably in part due to the individual variations of the injuries, but also because no one's anatomy is "textbook".

2. Because of these differences, each surgical procedure was unique. Each case called for some variation in the technique and instruments used for the repairs.

3. The rep played a crucial role in having different instruments and solutions ready for the surgeon and his team. The candidate commented that the rep "seemed part of the (surgical) team".

The reason I think it may have been a perfect ride-along, is because his observations highlight the learning curve inherent in becoming a successful surgical implant rep. He saw just how much surgical technique can vary from case to case, and how important it is for a rep to be on their game. Developing this level of skill as a sales rep takes study, dedication and what I like to call "time in the saddle". Being able to problem-solve in the operating room, while remaining confident and calm, is the hallmark of a seasoned rep who is an asset to his or her customers.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

New Careers Website

ConMed Linvatec has launched a new careers website. Sales positions are highlighted through a series of videos of sales representatives sharing their personal perspectives on working for the company.

Another great part of the website is the page on Community Action. There is a long tradition of the company and employees giving back to the community.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

More On 30-60-90 plans From Peggy McKee

Peggy writes a terrific blog call the Medical Sales Recruiter at

She has written quite a few posts on 30-60-90 day plans. She too thinks doing your homework to create a detailed 30-60-90 plan is a good idea. If you want to good laugh, watch her video: "This is not your daddy's job search."

Friday, March 12, 2010

30-60-90 day plans, as a Work In Progress

Many of the managers I work with like to see 30-60-90 day plans. It gives them a sense of how you would go about developing yourself and your territory. Such a plan also conveys your professionalism and seriousness.

Many of the plans that candidates create are too vague and superficial. (Guess what- we know you will go to training if selected.) Such basic items should be included but they do not a meaty, serious, substantial 30-60-90 day plan make.

In the better plans I have seen, candidates dig in and do some real world research. For example:

1. Names of major hospitals in the territory
2. Key contacts at these hospitals- there is usually good information to be found on the hospital's websites
3. Profile a few key doctors- again the hospital website might be a good starting point, and then google up some additional information
4. Incorporate key products into your plan- how will you increase market share? who is the competition?
5. What is your gameplan for developing your territory- as in specific actionable items by week or month

I know, I know. You don't really know the products or the company or the territory just yet... but why not give it your best shot? If this is truly the job you want, why wait to start learning and investing in your own success?

Think of it as a Work In Progress. As you move through the interview process, you will learn more about the job. Refine your plan as you go along. Ask the hiring manager some pertinent questions to develop it further. If it seems appropriate, you might even ask a rep or manager to review it and give you feedback. By your final interview, you will have a roadmap for when you start in your new territory... hit the ground running, and become Rookie of the Year- right?

Developing and refining a 30-60-90 day plan is a great way to demonstrate your serious, professional commitment to success.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Help for Haiti

This past Tuesday, my sister left on a medical mission to Haiti. She is the one who is an ER nurse.

She arrived at the St. Damien's Hospital for Children and pitched her tent on the roof of the guest house. She has described difficult conditions and the valiant efforts to bring some order to the chaos. She has assisted a surgical team, started IV's and helped out in the adult clinic. Yesterday, she helped bury the bodies of 40 children and adults with Father Rick from St. Damien's.

As a result of the earthquake, there were many traumatic injuries resulting in broken bones and amputations. Father Rick describes the situation in a letter to Operation USA.

"After weeks of frenetic activity, we are returning to a state of equilibrium. Our hospital had become a trauma MASH unit, as had all other medical centers in Port au Prince that are still standing. We were able to offer about 30 surgeries a day at four sites (two in our hospital, one on our hospital grounds in a tent, and one at the St. Camillus Hospital, which we staffed for the emergency.) Many of these, sadly, were amputations – sometimes two for the same adult or child. 

To give an idea of the size of the problem, it is likely there are about 20,000 people now who have been amputated or who have orthopedic hardware screwed through their skin to the bone. Port au Prince has about 20 Haitian orthopedic surgeons, and visiting teams to Haiti will soon leave. All 20,000 need to be followed closely for removal of hardware, control of infection, reevaluation of the amputation, and of course for artificial limbs and rehabilitation. Obviously 20 surgeons will not be able to handle this load. We have worked closely with the St. Camillus Hospital so as to return our St. Damien Hospital to a pediatric center and to have a growing center for adults at St. Camillus. We hope together to be able to keep good tabs on the patients we have operated on, and hope to be able to provide well for them in the future. 


I watched a few videos about St. Damien's. The level of poverty and hardship, even before the earthquake, was stunning. It is evident that Haiti's recovery from the earthquake will be difficult and require a lot of continued outside assistance.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

National Sales Meeting or Pneumonia?

I apparently chose pneumonia.

I thought it was the flu. When I could not get out of bed long enough to pack my bags for my trip to Orlando for Linvatec's National Sales Meeting, I had to cancel my flight.

Two days later, despite lots of Gatorade and Tylenol, I spent most of Saturday knotted in a fetal position on my couch, feverish and sweating. My sister, who is a nurse in the emergency department of Denver's level one trauma hospital, checked in on me throughout the day while she was working. I texted details of my symptoms to her and she consulted with her colleagues.

Finally, she called and said, "You've done everything you can for yourself. I don't think it's unreasonable for you to go to the emergency room." I didn't want to, but I had to admit I wasn't getting any better after 3 days. Probably worse.

When I arrived at the local hospital, the nurse in triage asked me a series of questions and took my pulse. It was the same hospital that Raquel and I had visited last summer, in fact. As I drooped in my chair, the nurse called back to the ER. I heard her tell someone I was tachycardic and she deemed me a "yellow".

Tacychardia was one of the new medical terms I picked up while at the hospital. It meant my heart was racing; in my case, at about 130 beats per minute.

In short order, she escorted me down the hall and coaxed me toward a wheelchair. "It's no trouble, really," she said. Pride was rather useless at that point, so I sank into the chair. She whisked me back to a room in the ER, where a doctor and nurse teamed up to evaluate my condition.

Some questions, tests and an x-ray or two later, they told me I had pneumonia. I was also told that my white blood count was through the roof.

The doctor showed me a cloudy mass in my right lung on the x-ray. "That should not be there," she said. "You are not exactly circling the drain, but my nurse tells me he thinks you are looking rather puny. I don't contradict my staff. I think we should at least keep you overnight for observation."

The staff doctor who came to visit me next was more stern. "You have raging pneumonia in your right lung. Expect to be here for several days."

I was just relieved to know the cause of my suffering.

After the doctors left, I laid there, quiet and exhausted, as the nurse began to rehydrate me through an IV and dose me with antibiotics. I was fortunate to have several great nurses looking over me that night.

By the next morning, I was not completely well, of course. However, I was amazed at how much better I felt than the night before. I had arrived at the hospital sick, miserable and rather frightened. Twelve hours later, I was relatively comfortable and on the mend. The turnaround was pretty miraculous.

I am truly grateful, for my return to health and for the great care I received while I was at the hospital. The staff throughout my stay was terrific in every way.

I sometimes interview people who are motivated to get into healthcare sales, because they or one of their loved ones have received great care through a trying illness or injury. My own appreciation for the great things that our healthcare providers do has grown immensely as a result of my own experience.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Celebrating Success

Last night, I had the pleasure and honor of attending the Electrosurgery awards banquet. It was fantastic for me to meet in person many of people I've spoken to over the phone numerous times, both recruits and managers.

I sat next to one of the President's Club winners, who will be enjoying a trip to Palm Springs. You've heard the expression about selling ice to Eskimos? Well, I am pretty sure she can do that, and would drive through a blizzard to make the sale.

Another table-mate insisted on closing a sale between labor contractions. Her exasperated ob-gyn was heard to say, "For heaven's sake, you are having a baby- put the phone down!" She made President's Club too, despite being out on maternity leave for 2 months.

Being successful in 2009 required a lot of grit and determination from salespeople everywhere, and Electrosurgery was no exception. The theme of digging deep to come up with that little something extra- one more call, one more prospect, one more sale- kept resurfacing throughout the night.

The top three reps each shared what they felt had contributed to their success.

3- Don't be discouraged by where your territory is today. Any territory has the potential to be great, based on hardwork and determination. Learn from the best. Seek out top performers in your company- ask them how they do it and implement it in your own territory.

2- Build strong relationships with your surgeons and they will come through for you.

1- Stick to your plan and to the process, every day, day in and day out. Stay positive and focused.

The margin between the top three reps in the company was extremely small. Between #1 and #2: only .05%! Among the three top reps, they had some tremendous wins this past year, but also many small, ordinary ones along the way. Their success resulted from unwavering commitment, discipline and tenacity. No rocket science, no black magic- just a whole lot of hard work. Their advice was humble, simple... and in the end, it means their success is repeatable and attainable by everyone who was in the room.

Here's to a great year in 2010! Make it great.