Sunday, December 16, 2007
This project has prompted me to think about my experience with Linvatec.
If you read between the lines on the previous post, Sonny Crockett saw a great opportunity to have an impact in his territory. He was excited about the products (the quality and breadth of the offering), the chance to sell in the O.R. to surgeons, the potential earnings, and I think through the interview process, he also meet a manager that he was interested in working for. These reasons might summarize why he decided to take a position with Linvatec's distributor.
He's stayed because the earnings, current and future, are real and substantial. He is fully convinced after winning some deals and feedback from his customers that our products are outstanding. The competition is exciting. His success is supported and appreciated as an important contribution to his team and the company. He might add to these reasons, but I don't think he's disagree with any of them as I've stated them here.
My reasons for joining Linvatec over 10 years ago were similar. The products are exciting and meaningful. Linvatec is also a solid, stable company. Part of that is due to responsible management. Part of that is due to the products. Linvatec offers a portfolio of essential surgical tools, not some fly-by-night niche products. I also saw the potential for having an impact. Actually, a better way to describe it might be an invitation to have an impact.
Here are some reasons I've continued my relationship with Linvatec:
1. risk taking
4. access to senior mgmt
5. growth opportunities
6. flexible career path
8. positive feedback
9. everyone matters
I will return to these ideas in future posts to expand upon them.
Friday, December 14, 2007
It has been an amazing first year for Sonny Crockett (not his real name obviously). He started on Labor Day 2006. Over the past year, I've interviewed him about his progress as sales representative for Linvatec's products in a downtrodden territory.
The territory he took over was every salesperson's nightmare: inconsistent representation had allowed the competition to dominate the market. Despite these challenges, he has exceeded expectations in every way. He has doubled the business in his territory since last year.
Below, I'll talk to him about both the challenges and successes he's had this year on his path to success.
If you want to read prior interviews, search my blog (above) for "sonny".
Thursday, December 6, 2007
She received this great thank you letter from a student who was obviously paying close attention.
In case you find it difficult to read, here's a translation:
I though your presintation for the Great American Teachin was really cool because Iv'e never seen the inside of my kneecap before. Also you said you have enigenners there to make all the insterments for opperating on a person that has been in a car accinedent or something that could get a person hurt really bad, well when I grow up I may want to be an enigneer because I love drawing, and making useful inventions out of legos. I hope that one day one of my inventions will be used for one of the operations of the place you work at.
What we find remarkable is the level of detail he captured in his drawings, from her short representation and a video about our company and products. Look at the hubs on those shaver blades! Pretty amazing.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
The Linvatec portion of the site includes details on our three main product lines, Arthroscopy, Endoscopy and Powered Instruments, plus Fracture Fixation. In some cases we hire reps who are responsible for the entire line, but we have also begun hiring reps with a specialty focus on just one of the main lines.
We are beginning to explore ways we might enhance the Employment portion of the website. Right now, it is little more than a list of benefits and jobs. My hope is that we will be able to include much more in-depth information about what it's like to work for Linvatec, including profiles and videos of some of our employees and sales reps.
If there is information that you would like to see added to our employment page, please let me know by commenting below!
Thursday, November 8, 2007
Since joining Linked In a couple of years ago, I've seen it grow exponentially. Through Linked In, you can create a free profile which indicates your availability for possible career opportunities, expertise requests and references. You can also "get recommendations" from colleagues for your past performance.
If you are already a member, or decide to join Linked In, I would love to connect. Please "add me to your network." You'll have to indicate the nature of our connection. I suggest choosing "other" . You then be prompted to enter my e-mail address, which is... LMcCallister@Linvatec.com
You can find my profile at
Wednesday, November 7, 2007
I should preface my answer by explaining that most medical device companies focus heavily on product knowledge during the training process. For many reasons, including the fact that the medical device industry is regulated by the FDA, it's crucial for reps to thoroughly understand their products when making suggestions in the operating room.
Since training resources are focused on product knowledge, most medical device companies do not train reps intensively on the fundamentals of the sales process. Reps are expected to come with that knowledge and experience already under their belts.
Here's the list of essential sales skills one needs to succeed.
1. Prospecting- cold calling, getting past the gatekeeper, knowing what questions to ask, finding the decision maker
2. Profiling or Blueprinting Accounts- a systematic way of taking the relevant information gathered (such as competitor products used, budget cycle, details about business or practice) and organizing it into a useful format, and then putting this information to use when targeting and following-up with accounts
3. Pipeline- developing one, tracking deals in process, projecting when and how many deals might close
4. Needs assessment- probing, uncovering pain and buying motivation
5. Closing- different types of closing techniques, handling objections
6. Presentation Skills- developing a targeted, polished presentation
Please feel free to add to the list.
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Although every employer would love to achieve perfection in their hiring process, most employers admit that they've made a few "bad hires". For my part, the most tempting candidates are those who have the potential, passion and personality that would seem to indicate they are destined for success. Such a candidate can be a great fit for a sales associate opening, where they will have an opportunity to learn from and be mentored by a seasoned pro.
But sometimes, the kindest thing I can do in such instances is encourage such candidates to pay their dues by getting the right kind of experience and to stay in touch with me as their career develops.
Because the hiring process is so complex, as much art as science, it is essential for candidates to be proactive during the interview process if they are to make the best career choices for themselves. A recent article I read in the employment section offered an insightful perspective on this matter.
"'It may sound basic, but, unfortunately, applicants frequently place all their emphasis on getting the actual job offer and fail to recognize the importance of truly objective self-assessment of the skills he or she actually has to offer,' said attorney Kim L. Ritter. Her practice emphasis is in employment litigation with Minor & Brown in Denver. 'In some cases, after being hired, this can translate to a core competency mismatch and result in being fired for inadequate performance.
'Job-seekers should be accurate in their own self-assessments, even if the hiring official mistakenly overlooks critical skills necessary to be effective on the job,' she said. ' Do some research before and during an interview, and relate your skills to the actual requirement. Also, be honest in your self-assessment. Be objective and know what you can or can't offer.'"
While confidence is an essential part of being a sales person, humility, honesty and integrity are just as important. Overconfidence can be costly. Consider paying your dues a wise investment in your career.
Next Up: Essential Skills Checklist
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
1. Don't bother to move all your stuff- just sell it. It's not like it's going to fit in your new place just right anyway. And by the time you've packed it, lugged it, hoisted it, shoved it, lifted it and unpacked it again, you'll hate it anyway.
2. Don't fret about your kids. They absolutely adapt better than adults. Worry about yourself. I think I've aged a year for every mile we moved, which would make me about 2,000 years old.
Despite these hard lessons, I am delighted to be in Colorado. What a beautiful state it is. Third sunniest state in the union, as my sister has told me many times. Now that we are settling into a more normal routine, I hope to begin writing again on a more consistent basis.
I am continuing my work for Linvatec, and there's been quite a bit of it lately. We are actively recruiting for a direct sales force in Florida, for both direct sales reps and management positions due to some recent changes. Local, qualified candidates welcome!
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
Last year I helped hire one such candidate. He competed for the University of Northern Colorado in track and field and was an NCAA All-American in the decathlon. In addition to his athletic achievements, he was a four-time NCAA Academic All American and completed both and undergraduate and master's degree in kinesiology. Today I'll chat with him about how his background as a competitive athlete has proven relevant to his success as a medical device rep.
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Manpower Survey On Hiring
I guess that explains my occasional urge to bang my head against the wall. It's not just in the US; apparently it's tough to find good reps anywhere in the world. According to the survey, employers find the positions difficult to fill due to "lack of available talent".
What I see as a recruiter is that too many people think that the fact that they "enjoy meeting new people" is enough to make them a good sales rep. I've written before how short-sighted I think this point of view is. I have to weed out a lot of totally unqualified candidates who have zero relevant experience.
Think of it this way, if you were applying to another position at Linvatec, say a mechanical engineer, would you even consider saying to the recruiter or hiring manager, "I know I have don't have any experience, formal training or degree in mechanical engineering, but I know I can do this job if you just give me a chance!" Sounds crazy, right? But that's the way people too often seem to think about sales jobs.
Maybe it's the dearth of professional designations that contributes to the idea that anyone can be a sales person. The fact is, sales is a profession.
I am encouraged by the fact more schools are starting to offer certificates and degrees in Professional Selling. I've interviewed candidates from Baylor in Texas, Weber State in Utah, William Patterson in New Jersey. These programs and others seem to offer a solid curriculum that teaches students about the steps of the sales process and offers them a chance to develop their skills through presentations, mock sales and competitions.
Considering the results of the Manpower survey, I think anyone who pursues such a degree will find themselves well positioned to succeed and in high demand upon graduation.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
The new reps were in the "what-in-the-hell-have-I-gotten-myself-into" phase of their career with us that I've mentioned before, feeling just a little overwhelmed. I think it was reassuring for them to hear that even the Rookie of the Year felt like he was spinning his wheels when he first started. He had a lot of great ideas that he shared with the group about how he gained traction in his territory. Here are ten which contributed to his successful start.
1. 6:30 am to 4:00 pm you must be in the O.R. everyday with your customers. Get up and out, be ready to step into the O.R. at the start of the day and don't leave until the day is done. An "office day" is prime time lost. Nothing matters as much as being with your customers. If it's a beautiful Friday afternoon and you want to go play golf, you better take a couple of doctors along with you.
2. Get to know everyone on a first name basis. The nurses, the scrub techs, the guy who mops the floor, not just the docs.
3. Set up a regular, weekly call schedule which includes seeing your major accounts every single week. "If they aren't buying from you, it's because you aren't calling on them," he said. He makes it sounds pretty simple, doesn't he? Be consistent- apparently it works.
4. Make the most of your time. Stuck in the O.R. during a four hour case? Time to fire up your PDA and pack it with info on that account. For his 100 or so accounts, he has dozens of names and phone numbers, docs, biomeds, nurses, pricing and many other details for each account in his PDA. He bought a printer for his car so he can print out quotes on the spot or while he's driving.
5. Profile your targets. He has a profile for every doctor in his territory which includes background information such as where they went to school, organizations they belong to, how many kids they have, which products they are currently using, frequency of different types of procedures, etc., including pictures. These profiles are constantly evolving, more information being added all the time. When he pulls up to the account, he can review his binder for useful information.
6. Take care of your accounts. He has a check list that he uses to review equipment. If he finds anything wrong, he lets the biomeds know. A little preventative maintenance goes a long way to keep things running smoothly I'm sure, and it's another reason for him to show his face and prove to his accounts that he's looking out for their best interests.
7. Immediate follow-through. For examples, if a doctor agrees that s/he's interested in meeting with him to try out a new product on saw bones, as soon as he leaves the doctor's side, he'll put in a call to schedule a time with his office. In this and other scenarios, he made a point of saying "My next call..." to emphasize the importance of prompt follow-up.
8. Leverage your relationships with key surgeons. He has partnered with an influential doctor in his area to put on labs for other surgeons who want to learn new techniques. It's a great way for the Rookie to introduce himself and Linvatec's products to an interested audience. An added benefit is that he's helping his key surgeon grow his own business, which only serves to make their relationship stronger.
9. Develop strong relationships with everyone else in the company. Distributor, product managers, customer service- you need everyone on your team. Don't be afraid to ask. One hallmark of a successful rep seems to be that they ask more questions and make more calls to marketing and their distributors, which may be the direct result of activity level. They are constantly learning and fully engage the resources available to them in a positive way. If he wants samples, he makes his case, offers a reason why it will be beneficial or how it's going to help him gain more business. He asks rather than demands.
10. Treat it like your own business. The Rookie has a sales coach. He's hired an intern who helps him with his profiles. He invests time, money and effort to continuing growing and improving. It's obvious he enjoys what he does, but he also takes it very seriously. He takes total ownership.
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
In his day, he's seen companies hire according to two basic models. Companies look for "achievers" who know how to sell and have a strong track record of accomplishment to show for their efforts. Folks from this background need to be inquisitive and must have a willingness to learn, constantly, about medical products and procedures.
The other model, one which I think is falling by the wayside, is to hire surgical techs who already a strong knowledge of surgical procedures and teach them to sell. I say it's falling by the wayside because it has been observed that surgical techs may be successful managing an existing account base but aren't necessarily driven to grow the business. While there certainly are exceptions out there, it may be because someone from this background may not as competitive as a career salesperson.
So, to recap, essential qualities according to one of our "frontline" reps, are...
1.Willingness to learn, continually, constantly, about your own products and everyone else's. He says his customer's call asking his advice about products that have nothing to do with Linvatec's product line. He uses his time in the OR to learn a little bit about everything, anethesiology, bracing, patient outcomes, and the surgeons appreciate his inquisitiveness.
2. Competitiveness, a desire to win. Pretty self-explanatory, so I won't elaborate any further.
3. Ability to Develop Relationships The ability to make connections frequently, easily, sincerely is pretty much essential. Without it, the other two don't matter too much in this business.
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
It seems like every time I checked up on this rep over the past year, he had just closed another video deal. He is delightfully humble, saying that our products are so good they "speak for themselves". Well, I think there's a lot more to it than that, especially when someone has to sign off on a purchase order worth nearly $200k. To win those kinds of capital sales, you not only have to have good products, but you also need a rep who knows how to conduct a successful evaluation, handle objections and win the confidence of the OR staff.
This rep is well recognized by his accounts for his conscientiousness. The distributor he works for tells me that all his accounts rave about him. "It's not just one account," his distributor says. "It's all of them." So, since I can't reveal his name lest his phone start ringing off the hook with job offers, that's just what I'll call him here...
con'sci'en'tious adj. 1. Guided by or in accordance with the dictates of conscience; principled. 2. Thorough and assiduous.
Mr. Conscientious tells me that when he started in his territory, he began to make the rounds to meet his accounts and listened politely "hat in hand" to their concerns. Not all were happy with the amount of attention and service which they had previously experienced.I think new reps in any territory, in any industry can expect to encounter similar sentiments... hence the need for additional representation and expansion.
Mr. Conscientious, who says he's never has a bad day yet, took these concerns in stride and set about to remedy them by going "overboard" on service. He was polite, nice, and did exactly what his accounts asked and needed, even if it was a small thing that made him little or no money. Sometimes he would just drop by to ask if they needed any help and got to know his accounts by showing up regularly. (If you've read my earlier article called "A Doctor's Perspective", you'll notice a lot of overlap.)
Mr. Conscientious is himself from a clinical, rather than sales background, so he knew from his own experience that hard-nosed sales people who show up only when they can make a buck wear out their welcome pretty fast.
"There's a fine line between being a butt kisser and being a professional," he says. "I'm friendly and professional, but not oozing, fake or contrived. I try to be a nice guy and I'm concerned with good service."
He strives to take care of things before he's asked. One of the ways he does this is by checking the boards where the surgeries are scheduled so that he can anticipate the accounts' needs. By the sound of the feedback, they've noticed and appreciate his efforts to make their lives easier.
"My goal is to be prepared in advance, never to be behind the eight-ball," he says. He's friendly, prompt and doesn't b.s. anybody.
He's noticed that although reps may be in fierce competition trying to win deals, the hospital staff has their own struggles and day-to-day battles they are fighting. He believes that a rep who helps them solve their problems, rather than focusing solely on personal gain, can earn their loyalty and their business as a result.
After his first year, he's thrilled with the growth in his territory and is looking for ways to improve his skills and expand his business. He loves the daily challenges of being a medical device rep for Linvatec and the constant learning that is required for him to be his best. I think we can only expect his success to continue.
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
To read the press release about this product, plus the new 24k arthroscopy pump and our new hip arthroscopy set, follow this link...
2007 AAOS Product Launches
Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I wanted to suggest a book that I think you (and your entire organization/ salesforce ) will enjoy. It is the easiest sales read that I have found, and the best part is that it is written in "simple" terminology by a very successful former device sales rep/manager from Johnson & Johnson. The book is called "The Greatest Sales Book Ever Written" by Dean Gould (modest title huh....but I think he might be right).
I located an entire copy on-line through Google. I have some other recommendations from our distributors which I hope to share very soon!
Wednesday, January 31, 2007
Here's their overall thesis...
We believe orthopedics will emerge as the single most promising source of future investor returns in healthcare, given the confluence of demographics, technology and global expansion. While other healthcare categories such as cardiovascular devices, cancer or biotech may have been more lucrative in the past, what the American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) calls the "Decade of Orthopedics" provides the best opportunity for future investor profits in healthcare.
A number of elements will create this opportunity for the next ten years:
- Increased life expectancies, which is a powerful demand driver that uniquely favors orthopedic devices.
- Technological innovation, which will change the entire complexion of the industry.
- Attractive industry economics and profitability.
- Combined, these elements will cause the industry to grow more than three fold from $20 billion per year to $65 billion in the coming decade resulting in as much as $75 billion of potential investor profits.
This combination of factors supports sustained, attractive industry valuations.
Well said! Of course, it paints a pretty picture not just for investors, but orthopedic manufacturers and anyone lucky enough to sell such products. You can read more and subscribe to their newsletter at www.healthpointcapital.com
Friday, January 26, 2007
Monday, January 22, 2007
The employment section of the Tampa Tribune had a good article yesterday entitled, "Choose Your Career Wisely". The article makes some solid points about why a job that is rewarding on a personal level is so critical for a achieving a sense of satisfaction in life.
Here's one part I like...
"People ask themselves the wrong questions," agrees Hodowanes, a career strategy advisor in Tampa... "They ask 'what kind of money can I make, does the career have visibility, what is the career path?' These are all the wrong questions. The first question a person needs to ask him or herself is 'what can I get passionate about,' because what you can get passionate about is also something you have an ability to do."
As I wrote in my last post, some people are rather superficial about their reasons for wanting to get into medical device sales. Everyone I talk to seems to have a "friend" who is successful in medical device sales. Sometimes it's good, because such people sometimes have a more realistic perspective of the challenges and potential of medical device sales, but sometimes there's more job-envy happening than serious introspection and commitment.
Do what you love and the money will come... it takes someone with a lot of hunger and self-confidence to lay aside questions of immediate income and focus on the long-term, but I guarantee you, that describes our most successful reps. They know they can "make it happen" because they know deep down that this is exactly what they want to do.
Read the entire article at http://careerseeker.tbo.com/careerseeker/MGBL1N6D9XE.html
And do what you love!
Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Over the next few weeks I will be asking our distributors what their favorite books on sales are. I hope this will be an interesting topic for both newbies and industry veterans. As a group, our distributors got to where they are because they were (and still are) extremely successful as sales people, so their recommendations should make for some interesting reading. I plan to read a few of the books myself.
So often when I ask people why they enjoy sales, they say something about how they like meeting new people, or that they like the variety and independence of being out of an office and visiting customers. That's nice for them and all, but it's rather shallow. If you like people, there are lots of jobs you can have... teacher, waiter, lawyer, nurse. It doesn't really answer the question why sales, in particular.
Sales is a profession and the best sales people commit to constantly improving their craft. Just like healthcare professionals earn continuing education credits, so salespeople should be constantly learning, improving, sharpening and updating their skills.
My recommendation is to check out Selling Power. They offer free newsletters by e-mail on a variety of topics, which alway contains really interesting and useful information. www.sellingpower.com
The first recommendation from one of our distributors is Execution, The Discipline of Getting Things Done by Larry Bossidy, Ram Charan and Charles Buck. Great title, isn't it? From the description on Amazon.com, it does not appear to be a book strictly on sales, rather achieving goals, which is very very important.
Results, not efforts, determine the worth of a salesperson. It's a salesperson's lot in life to be measured by the numbers they produce, as another one of our distributors says. You're only as good as your last month, laughs another. And off they go, after the next deal, the next sale, the next quota. Kind of exciting, isn't it?
If you have your own recommendations to share, please feel free to add to the list!
Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Like today, he helped me activate my Jobster links, over there to the left, wink wink.
- Join Our Talent Network... means you can fill out a very short profile and will be notified when positions open up in your area. You choose the frequency.
- Link to Our Current Openings... well, pretty self-explanatory, that one.
It's easy to get addicted to on-line networking. I read somewhere... is it networking or not working? (Which is one of the reasons I do this mostly in the evenings.) It's pretty easy to confuse the two. It's easy to start feeling like a character in a Bruce Sterling story, sucked up in some sort of virtual world.
In any case, we are in the process of rolling out Jobster, which is sort of a second (or maybe third or fourth) generation job "portal". I don't know what else to call it. Think Monster and CareerBuilder with a heavy emphasis on networking and on-line profiles. I've created a profile, anyone can. If you do, or have a blog or have a myspace or facebook page, let me know. Send me an e-mail, I'd love to check it out.
Thursday, January 11, 2007
This year I plan to have lots of fun with this blog. I already have a lot of topics in mind, for both wannabees and alreadyares. Topics for young and old, new and experienced will include:
more interviews with the ultimate tag team and other newbies
resume do's and dont's
interviews with successful, seasoned reps, maybe a few distributors / hiring managers
1099 independent contractor, intro and advanced topics
healthcare savings accounts
our new HD endoscopy camera
lesser known routes to medical device sales
"ask the recruiter"
transition and career planning
If there are any topics you would like to see addressed here, please let me know by commenting below. For some reason, I've been getting e-mails from folks who've been reading and enjoying, but no one wants to be the first to comment. I am hoping some brave reader with lead the way!
My subscription button is active. Be sure to subscribe so you won't miss any of the fun!