Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Resolutions Anyone?

It's that time of year again. Time for New Year's Resolutions. Jeffrey Gitomer wrote about it in his current newsletter. For that matter, so did Oprah in the current issue of her magazine.

Much like any goal, if you want to succeed, the experts say it's best to write down your resolutions. They should also be specific and measurable, with concrete actions that will help you achieve the outcome you are seeking.

So I will be writing down a few of my own this year. No, not here, though making them public would lend a certain impetus.

There is one interesting idea about making a successful resolution, or any successful change, that I recently discussed with a friend of mine. She is a doctor, and often encourages her patients to make lifestyle changes like loosing weight or to stop smoking. "Just try," she says, "Even if you fail, keep trying." It turns out the greatest predictor of success for people who loose weight and keep it off is that they have tried many times. They just keep trying until they get it right.

It's an interesting way to think about failure: that it is actually a part of success. Perhaps the more you fail, the more you learn. Or the more you fail, the more energy you are exerting, and eventually it pays off. Kind of like activity in sales. It is a numbers game, and the more you keep trying, the better your chances of eventually succeeding are.

Monday, December 29, 2008

"Cutting Edge" Newsletter

Steve Porcaro has started a newsletter publishing for medical device sales professionals. Steve runs 14AllCoaching. With his experience in the medical device area, he works with medical sales professionals improve their sales skills and increase revenue. At his website, you can subscribe to his newsletter. He has a great article on building your sales confidence.

Steve also started a Medical Device Sales Professionals group on Linked-In, of which I am a member. I've spoken to Steve and I think he has a great perspective to offer.

Friday, December 5, 2008

A Word of Caution

People sometimes quit their jobs before they've found a new position, to devote themselves fully to their job search. In this economy, one word:


Don't quit your job before you've found a new one. There are far too many people out there without jobs now. The number seems to be growing every day.

Many of the hiring managers I work with, all pretty Type-A, hard-driving sales professionals used to juggling 72 things at a time, can't really wrap their heads around why anyone would need to devote themselves full-time to a job search. One considers it bad "business decision." And unfortunately, it seems likely that anyone who is out of job in this economy could be so for far longer than expected.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Why Copier Sales is a Great Foundation for Your Sales Career

Another letter, from someone I interviewed a few months back. I thought they had great potential, but not enough sales experience yet.

I recommended that he get some experience in copier sales. I've made this recommendation many times before, and not everyone likes to hear it. However, it is an excellent foundation for your sales career. As challenging as the experience may be, it gives you a chance to develop more sales skills better and faster than in any other arena.

If you have watched the 212 video, you'll remember it says,

"The only thing that stands between a person and what they want in life is the will to try it and the faith to believe it possible."

He has taken up the challenge, which demonstrates to me that he is committed to developing himself and ultimately to success.

Ms. McCallister-Grant,
How are you Ms. McCallister-Grant. I spoke to you a couple of times. I just wanted to give you an update on my current job situation. The last I spoke to you, I was leaning toward accepting the job at (Copier Company A). Since then, I have accepted the job. I am currently employed as an Account Representative with (Co. A) in the (X) branch. I am glad that I spoke to you and thank you again for your guidance and advice. I feel strongly that I have accepted the right company (I was also offered a position at (Copier Company B).) They have a great training program. It was just revamped. My start date was (date). Since then I have been through 3 weeks of training. And am currently going through another 2 weeks of the training process. I know when we spoke you told me that it would be a good idea to find a company with a good training program. Here is an outline of what type of training (Co. A) is putting me through:
In branch for 2 weeks observing tenured reps.
2 Weeks training at the (Co. A) facility - This involves some product training but mostly focuses on selling strategies.
2 Weeks of training in facility - This involves implementation of what was learned in the two weeks along with networking.
2 Weeks training back at the (Co. A) facility (I just finished the first week of these two weeks. I am e-mailing you from the hotel room they have provided. I will be here until next Friday.) - More selling techniques with some product training.
The training (Co. A) provides is very thorough and extensive. It is 9-5, Mon-Fri. After I complete these two weeks of training I will return to the office to begin networking and using the skills I have learned from training. In 6 months they will send me back for another week of training and 3 months after that for the final week of the training. In total I will go through 10 weeks of extensive training. The training is a great help and will be very useful in the field. The funny thing is that this training program was just implemented. I have spoken to many account representatives that have gone to training but their program was only one week. I am happy I got in when I did. I am enjoying the sales aspect of the job very much and am excited to get out in the field.
I hope everything is going well for you. I would appreciate any advice or insight you can provide. I highly value your opinion. Thanks again for the help. I hope to hear from you soon.

Note every copier company offers training this extensive, but many do. Training like this, plus the experience of hitting the streets and cold calling daily, are part of what makes copier sales a great opportunity for learning a lot in a short period of time.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Milk's Favorite Cookie

Yesterday I interviewed someone in advertising sales. She shared with me something she'd learned thru her sales training for dealing with objections.


Objection (listen to customer's objection, concern, issue, griping, ranting, raving)
Restate the objection you heard (this shows you're listening)
Empathize with the concern (this shows you care)
Outcome, offer a new outcome or solution to the problem

"That's great," I said. "I bet it could be a useful tactic in many areas of life, not just sales."

"Yeah," she said, "I tell all the guys I work with to try it with their girlfriends. It works!"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

ConMed's 3rd Quarter results

ConMed's third quarter results have continued the positive growth trend. Overall, sales are up 9% compared to the first three quarters of 2007. Sports medicine and power products, part of the Linvatec product offering, are particularly strong.

Link here to read more.

As we well know, there are many companies and industries that aren't fairing so well in this economic downturn. That is part of what makes medical devices sales such a great career path.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Becoming a Sales Associate - Fast Track Opportunity for Growth

In the Northeast in particular, we hire a number of sales associates each year. One of the associates who was hired last year was recently promoted and shared his experience with me:

And yes, I have moved on now to my own territory.

You are absolutely correct in that "X" was an excellent mentor. I would contest it would be impossible for someone else to do better. He prepared me in every facet and made me better with every mistake and every triumph that I had.

So far I am doing pretty well with the new territory. It is definitely a whole different world then just being an associate. As an associate, per my request and desire along with my mentor's desire to train me into becoming not just familiar with product but to be a hunter and to sell, I did have the opportunity to take on some selling opportunity and actually was successful in getting some evals which eventually led to nice deals that we were able to close. However, through most of that process a lot of the basic relationships were my mentors before they were mine and even though I built some very strong relationships there on my own, I suppose you could say I already had a foot in the door from the hard work my mentor had put in that territory over time.

Now, in the new territory it is quite a bit different in that those preexisitng relationships aren't nearly as strong, or sometimes nonexistant altogether. Also, as an associate, the buck doesn't really stop with you. You do all the things necessary as per your Sr. Reps request, or tasks you have taken on etc, you go home and maybe do some studying or learning, however the actual NUMBERS are not really your concern, or directly in your view at all times.

So there is definitely a whole new level of responsibility and awareness of what is going on in the territory that I have certainly begun to realize in my new territory. All in all however I have viewed this merely as a vast amount of potential to grow business in a territory which really has a lot of case volume and nearly the amount of Linvatec business to match. Hard to think I was on the phone with you from my college apartment only about 15-16 months ago.

There was definitely a lot of hard work, although over some of my colleagues I think my background in biomechanics got me faster in the right direction as opposed to those with non medical type backgrounds. And I was also very fortunate to land in the environment with OR Specialites...where my mentor gave me so many invaluable opportunities, as did the distributor owner and even learning from several guys who really get it and have a proven track record of success.

Being a sales associate has been a stellar growth opportunity for this young rep. It really is a fast track to success in our highly competitive industry.

Right now, we have a sales associate opening with our distributor OR Specialties in Hartford. Though we prefer for candidates to have a year of outside B2B sales experience, this could be great opportunity for recent or December grads of UConn's or William Patterson University's professional selling programs. If you are interested in being a part of this great team, please send me your resume at LMcCallister@Linvatec.com

Friday, August 22, 2008

Distributors Explained

I got an e-mail recently from a sales person asking how to become a distributor for Linvatec.

The notion of distributor seems to cause a lot of confusion for people who are from outside the orthopedic realm. That's partly due to the fact that a distributor in different industries can mean very different things.

There are large medical distributors like McKesson, Physician Sales and Service (PSS), and Cardinal Health that carry thousands of products. They can outfit a physician's office with everything from Band-Aids to exam tables. They carry a whole catalogue of products from hundreds of manufacturers. These companies are pretty close to the traditional notion of a distributor that might exist in other industries, like an electrical distributor or a distributor of building materials.

This is not what a typical orthopedic distributor is like.

Orthopedic distributors are typically of two varieties, as far as I can tell:

1. Individual reps with experience and a base of customer contacts in the industry who decide to go into business one their own. They pick up different lines to represent on a 1099 basis; these lines may be from smaller or start-up companies who want to develop a base of business but aren't ready to launch a sales force. These individual distributors or independent contractors may hire on associates to work with them if they get busy enough and typically have a fairly focused territory they are responsible for.

Unfortunately, the distributor is susceptible to loosing the product if it is successful in the market and the company develops direct sales force. If this happens, the distributor goes looking for additional lines to replace the lost revenue, and the cycle starts again.

2. Regional distributors with strong ties to a major manufacturer. The distributor owners run larger organizations with multiple reps over a multi-state area and may warehouse inventory. Sometimes, but not always, the distributor owners may have once worked for the manufacturer itself and have earned the opportunity to become a distributor owner (as in business owner) through stellar performance. Although they may carry smaller, non-competing lines, the major manufacturer's line constitutes the bulk of their business. They typically have multi-year contracts to represent the line, and are expected to meet the performance expectations laid out by the manufacturer.

Linvatec's distributors, and those of many of our major competitors, are of this second variety.

Friday, August 8, 2008

212 Club

Due in part to some training I've been going through, I've been thinking a lot about this question, "What do top performers do differently from average performers?"

I am reminded of small things, small details that I've learned in interviews from people, both this week, but especially a moment in an interview a few years ago with someone who has now become a top performer. We always look for someone who goes the extra "mile", but perhaps it's those small details that are equally telling, equally important.

At Linvatec, instead of President's Club, we have what we call the 212 Club. If you have never seen the 212 movie, you need to watch it...

If this describes you, then you are definitely someone I would like to speak with.

We have so many great big opportunities around the country. If you are interested in learning more about any of them, please feel free to e-mail me at LMcCallister@Linvatec.com to let me know of your interest. I'd be happy to give you a call to chat.

Openings now in:
New York
Little Rock
Central Illinois

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Another Great Surgical Site

One of The Upside's readers suggested checking out this site to see videos of surgeries:

Thanks for the tip!

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Strong Second Quarter Results

Today ConMed announced second quarter results, posting a 13.9% sales growth compared to the second quarter of 2007. It continues to be a great year for the company.

Arthroscopy and Powered Instruments are the two categories which reflect the growth of the Linvatec division. As noted in the press release, "The Company's sports medicine Arthroscopy line grew 18.0% over second quarter 2007 on strong sales of single-use surgical devices and placements of integrated operating room systems."

Although it is not something that I've touched on extensively, the Linvatec sales force has an opportunity to be directly involved in selling and earning commissions from the installation of integrated operating rooms. These can be multi-million dollar sales which result in a tremendous amount of pull-through business in endoscopy systems and other products. Click here to learn more about ConMed Integrated Systems.

Arthroscopy+Endoscopy+Powered Instruments+Integrated Suites= One Giant Opportunity

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Video Sale in the News

I came across this local newspaper article on a facility who recently purchased Linvatec products. The language used to describe the equipment is a little different that I would expect to hear than if it had been written by an industry expert.
All the same, I think it's an interesting story told from the customer's perspective about why the facility decided to make the investment.

Monday, July 21, 2008

2007 Rookie of the Year

The competition for the 2007 Rookie of the Year was stiff. Many of those nominated, including reps I've interviewed here previously, doubled the business in their territory.

For me, it's exciting to think back on my initial interview with these people. They were standouts, even then: in addition to have great sales skills, they also showed desire, drive, and a hunger for an opportunity to prove themselves.

The opportunity is what they focused on, and when they got it, they did not waste a moment. They threw themselves into it wholeheartedly and made the most of it.

Today I will be interviewing the rep who won Rookie of the Year.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Opening in Fort Myers Florida

If you live in sunny Ft. Myers Florida, we have an opening for an experience representative with superior selling skills. You'll have an opportunity to work closely with one of our key surgeons.

You must be a local candidate, and if you are, you know the tremendous grown potential in this area. Our product line has never been stronger.

This is a great opportunity to work directly for ConMed Linvatec. Full benefits- including a company paid pension. If local, qualified and interested- please send your resume to LMcCalllister@Linvatec.com (that's me!) Referrals also appreciated!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

O.R. Experience- The Next Best Thing

In an interview today, a candidate made me aware of a fantastic website called O.R. Live.

The site offers live webcasts of surgeries. Recent webcasts have included a partial knee replacement surgery and an arthroscopic rotator cuff surgery. The webcasts cover a wide range of surgical specialties, not just orthopedics, but also ob-gyn, cardiac, neurosurgery and general surgery, among others. I think this site could be a great resource in many ways.

For those looking to break into the industry, it's the closest many can probably get to first hand experience.

I can imagine those already in the industry may find it a great resource in many ways:
  • to prepare for a case that falls outside of the typical scope of procedures the rep is familiar with
  • to learn more about competitive products- the rotator cuff surgery features Mitek products
  • to watch and learn more about a surgeon who may be a prospective customer. What could be a better conversation starter than... "Doctor, I saw you on O.R. Live yesterday."

On Linvatec's website, we have a great education section that is not to be missed. As I've noted before, it offers numerous videos of surgical techniques using our products.

The chance to observe a surgery live thru a webcast seems like a really unique opportunity. If you have a chance to tune into any future webcasts- I'd love to hear about your experience.

Monday, June 30, 2008


One of the perks of my job, I think, is getting to hear all of the great accents around the country. I've started recruiting for a sales associate position in Baltimore, and I must admit I am totally taken with the Baltimore accent. It's right up there with Boston and Chicago.

It's very subtle. Something to do with the "o" that sounds a little "oy", like "turn oyn the light!" At the end of the day, I try to recall what it precisely is, but it never sounds right when it comes out of my mouth. I suppose as a Midwesterner I have an accent too, but I just can't hear it. Maybe someone will point it out to me.

So if you are a great sales candidate in Baltimore (or know someone who is)- (whether you have the accent or not)- please let me know right away if you are interested in learning more about this great opportunity!

As always, you can reach me at LMcCallister@Linvatec.com

Friday, June 27, 2008

Positive Selling

Not long after the National Sales Meeting, I received a book in the mail. It was from Powergirl- a.k.a. Pocohontas.

It's a book that we spoke about when I interviewed her. It's called How Full is Your Bucket. Her note included a "drop" for my bucket. She's awesome this way, and partly why she's become such a valued member of Linvatec's team so quickly.

I read it right away. It's short, quick and a very worthwhile read.

The theme of focusing on the positive and "filling" other people's buckets ties in very well with Linvatec- where we are, where we are going, how we view ourselves, and our relationships to one another and our customers.

During one of the presentations at the National Sales Meeting, one of the members of the management team talked about how deals are best won not just by being honest, but blatant with our customers. He said, "I really believe we are the ones in the white hats."

In other presentations, reps advised staying positive in every interaction and emphasizing the strengths of Linvatec's offering rather than racing the competition to the bottom. They talked about counteracting misinformation and shared examples of when such negative tactics have backfired for the competition.

When competition is tough, I think Linvatec's company culture reinforces that fact that it's important to stick to the high road and do right by the customer. I think it's the best path toward creating trust and long-term relationships with customers.

I think integrity like this is important to reps who are looking for a company to build a long-term career with. Having interviewed sales reps from other companies and industries who feel they've been pressured to do unsavory things just to close the deal, I understand that it's a pretty uncomfortable position to be in.

Another way Linvatec lives out "the positive" is the way everyone is so willing and eager to help one another- through sharing knowledge and cheering each other on. This sentiment came through loud and clear in a survey the sales force took earlier this year, and was palpable throughout the meeting.

I don't know if you've heard about Bill Gates idea about creative capitalism- "Doing Well by Doing Good"? This isn't anything that's new to medical device sales- it's an inherent part of being a good rep, and part of the reason why so many people are attracted to the industry. Linvatec's motto could well be "Doing Well by Doing Right".

Well, in sharing this great book Pocohontas did right by me, and I, in turn, intend to pass it along. I've picked out who I will send it to next.

And let's "keep it in the family"...

Monday, May 19, 2008

Competitive Advantages

One question savvy candidates often ask me is how Linvatec's products compare to our competitors. I was able to broaden my knowledge of the competitive advantages through the training sessions last week. Here are a few highlights.

Sports Medicine
  1. Self-reinforced bioabsorbable material- When I compared samples, the non-reinforced material broke after a few bends. I am still trying to break the unique, self-reinforced material that Linvatec's bioabsorbable implants are made of. No luck so far. This material is used for products like the Matryx screw and Fracture fixation line. One of the product managers explained that there is an obvious benefit to greater strength when these implants are used in knees, ankles and feet where they are sure to be subjected to wear and tear.
  2. New products- such a patented Sentinel Drill Bits and a hip arthroscopy kit for that new, emerging arena are innovative additions to Linvatec's already extensive line
Power Products
  1. Cleaning- Linvatec's large bone M-Power and small bone Micropower lines can be cleaned through the washer/sanitizer. Our major competitor's products should be scrubbed by hand. This advantage results in a labor savings for customers and meets the AORN preferred standards of care.
  2. Because Linvatec's power products are better sealed, they are more reliable and durable
  3. 2 years warranty standard, versus 1 year for competitor's
  1. Our camera can be routinely autoclaved- again, a significant cost and labor savings for the hospital, with a 5 year warranty against steam capture to back it up
  2. Patented ShockFlex prism mounting protects the camera from damage if dropped

I don't think our product offering has ever been stronger. It is a great opportunity for reps who want to represent products of exceptional quality and a company who stands behind them, every step of the way.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Yee Haw Fun!

I shot the Western Director of the United States. Stone cold dead. Twice.

Then he shot me.

Obviously, we were just using blanks. All the same, I was pretty proud of my gunslinging ability.

Friday night we all shared a wonderful western adventure. I won't make any claim as to the authenticity of our experience, but it sure was fun.

It was a beautiful outdoor setting atop a mesa. It was a great opportunity for us all to express our inner cowboy or cowgirl- gunslinging, pitching horseshoes and lassoing. Doc Holiday, Pocohontas and a crazy bunch of urban cowboys contributed to the lively evening. There was even some line dancing involved, though not strictly of the country-western kind.

One of the highlights of the night was the 212 club, roaring up on the back of Harley Davidsons, special treatment in honor of their superb performance in 2007. Though the fireworks have faded, it's a night we'll all remember fondly for some time to come.

Friday, May 16, 2008


Gophers, godfathers and great products made for a very interesting day.

Rather than simply subject reps to hours of Power Point presentations, the marketing group worked hard and succeeded today in keeping the training sessions lively and interactive. Here are a few highlights of my fun day...

  • I drilled a tunnel in a saw bone with our Badger drill bit and wiredriver.
  • I was shot at by gangsters multiple times, but emerged unscathed thanks to my skillful Matrix-like evasive maneuvers.
  • I practiced using our new MVP suture passer on an Alex model and discovered it's a lot like sewing.
  • I played St Andrew's and finished -8 par. Pretty good for a girl playing golf for the first time, wouldn't you say?
  • Heard from our new president, Joseph Darling, about his management philosophy and direction for the company.
  • Saw pictures of JT's beautiful baby girl.
  • Counted my blessings many times over that I get to work with such a generous, creative and wonderful group of people.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

2008 National Sales Training Meeting

Today is the beginning of Linvatec's National Sales Training meeting.

Since so much of what I do is over the phone, I look forward to opportunities like this to meet face to face for the first time many of the people I've had a hand in hiring. If I listen carefully, I can sometimes come up with the name that matches the voice I heard during the interview process. I'm usually not good with names, but when I already know someone's biography, it usually sticks.

The training sessions get underway tomorrow. It's a great opportunity for me to learn more about the company's products, initiatives and successes so that I can speak intelligently to candidates about what Linvatec has to offer. There are also the intangibles that are so important- like the pervasive, upbeat feeling among the sales force, their excitement about the direction of the company- that I soak up from being here.

Stay tuned for more over the next few days.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Industry Newsletter

Someone brought to my attention the AdvaMed Smart Brief. It's a newsletter centered on medical technology, and covers current news of many medical device manufacturers. It looks like it could be an interesting read to learn more about the goings-on in the medical device industry.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Strong Quarterly Results

ConMed today announced first quarter results. The details are on the website.

A few highlights:
  • Sales grew 11.6% in the first quarter, a new record, and strong growth is anticipated for the remainder of the year
  • The Arthroscopy line, in particular the HD video systems, led the way with significant growth of 17.6%
  • Sales outside the US grew 21% overall
What this means:

  • The TrueHD camera is a huge success. It offers reps a tremendous opportunity to grow business and market share with a best-in-class offering. This is only one of many outstanding innovative products in Linvatec's expansive portfolio. Representing phenomenal products like TrueHD helps breaking into new accounts and making sales that much easier- a sales person's dream.
  • It's a great time to join Linvatec.
Here are some of current openings:
  • Tampa, FL
  • Miami, FL
  • Westchester, NY
  • Boston, MA
  • South Houston, TX
  • Augusta, GA
If you are interested, or know someone who would be a great match for any of these openings, please e-mail me at LMcCalllister@Linvatec.com

Friday, April 18, 2008

Outpatient Surgery

Outpatient Surgery a publication and site which offers information on products and business practices in the outpatient or ambulatory surgery center market. Centers like these are a growing source of business for Linvatec. Surgery centers may be owned by a group of doctors, rather than a hospital system, which only increased the decision making power of the surgeons in these instances, since they have a direct stake in the center's profitability.

One particularly relevant recent article was titled "How to get what you need from HD". Reading up on resources like these is advantageous for current reps and prospective candidates alike.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Healthcare for 1099's

In orthopedics, many reps are hired as 1099 independent contractors thru distributors. Linvatec does, as well as companies such as Zimmer, Arthrex, Smith & Nephew and others.

As a 1099, reps are responsible for buying their own insurance. I came across a site that provides quotes from multiple companies that could be a good source of information.


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Minimally Invasive Surgery in the Headlines

Last week, there was an article on the front page of the Denver Post about minimally invasive surgery.

It's not the first article I've read about this interesting progression in endoscopy. The article talks about surgeons accessing surgical sites through natural orifices. It highlights the story of a young man who had a tumor removed through his nostril, avoiding a lot of "collateral damage" that is typically incurred by cutting through other healthy tissue and bone. Linvatec's TrueHD camera is the kind of product that makes such remarkable surgeries like these possible.

Read it here.

Monday, March 17, 2008

How to Get Experience When You Don't Have Any

One the the biggest frustrations of job seekers is to be told time and again that they fall short of the right type of experience.

New grads are told they are not the right fit for a sales position, because they don't have any prior sales experience.

Experienced sales people are told they aren't qualified for medical device sales because they don't have any O.R. experience.

In both cases, it's sort of a conundrum. How do you get experience if no one will give you an opportunity to get it?

From the employer's perspective, they are always taking a chance, even with candidates who have the right experience. Will this person perform? Will their results measure up? So a less experienced person represents an even greater risk.

Here's what I propose: short of having the actual experience in the O.R., for example, do everything you can to lessen the employer's risk in hiring you. There are many ways to do this, and the method that is most effective may depend on the particular employer.

To start with, characterize the risk that the employer thinks they may be facing by hiring someone without the right experience. In the case of O.R. experience, the risk is that it will take someone too long to gain the knowledge and familiarity they need to function adequately in the O.R., in particular talk to surgeons in an intelligent, fluent way about surgical procedures.

My last few posts have pointed to some resources which I think could be very helpful for someone who wants to learn about the O.R., and demonstrate their willingness, eagerness and ability to learn quickly to a potential employer.

If you want to be a device rep, you'll need to know anatomy and medical terminology- why wait until you get the job? Start now.

As I mentioned before there are surgical tech programs around the country which would provide a tremendous amount of useful knowledge. You can locate certified programs through the Association of Surgical Technologists and the National Center for Competency Testing

Obviously these programs would take a lot of time, money and commitment to complete. I think is probably more important to have solid experience in B2B sales. That's why I think the books suggested below are the next best step in the right direction.

Also, on Linvatec's website is an amazing Education section on surgical techniques. It includes videos of surgical procedures by some top surgeons and detailed PDF's with step-by-step surgical techniques.

One candidate told me he went into "lock-down" the week prior to his interview, where he read and studied everything he could find on Linvatec's products. What he realized in the midst of his self-imposed cramming was: "Hey, I actually enjoy this stuff."

And yes, despite his lack of prior surgical experience, he was hired.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Feedback on "Pocket Guide to the OR", other resources

I received some helpful feedback on the Pocket Guide. Although I think could be a valuable resource, the comprehensive nature of surgical procedures is much broader than Linvatec's product focus.

For a more in-depth focus, consider looking into "the 'bible' of Sports Medicine, which is McGinty's Operative Arthroscopy."

Compared to the Pocket Guide to the OR, it is a much more in-depth and pricier option ($50 vs. $225, overstock discount thru publisher). On Amazon, there seem to be a number of used books available. The publisher Lippincott Williams & Wilkins seems to a specialty house focused on clinical and medical markets, with books on many more surgical specialties.

Also recommended, as I've mentioned previously, is the Arthroscopy Journal for keeping up on the latest topics in the Sports Medicine field.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I got an e-mail a couple of weeks ago with this in the subject line. It took me a minute to figure out what it meant. Looking at the name of the sender made it click.

Rookie Of The Year Nominee.

This rep came through the training class I talked about in my post called "Something Special". I remember sitting next to him when I dropped by one afternoon. I could tell he was just soaking up the information, grasping new ideas and snapping the pieces into place amongst what he'd already learned, as though solving an immense puzzle.

Sometime last year I spoke to him, about the time he hit "the wall". His voice sounded a little strained. He told me that he had written 42 thank you notes to one account after an evaluation. He was struggling, running around, working hard and not yet seeing the fruits of his labor. I don't think it was too long after that things began to turn in his favor.

I think the numbers indicate that he doubled the sales in his territory in 2007.

Please read the comments below to learn more...

Repurposing "Salesforce" for the Greater Good

I heard an interesting story on National Public Radio about a group in New Orleans that is using Salesforce to help rebuild a neighborhood. The database helps them to track needs for materials, repairs and volunteers in a neighborhood called Broadmoor.

Link here to read or listen to this story.

I've heard good things about Salesforce. I am sure they never envisioned their software being utilized in quite this way.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Pocket Guide to the Operating Room

This week I interviewed someone who has recently completed a surgical technology program. Much like reps, surgical techs needs to learn procedures inside and out, including the sequence and the instrumentation involved.

Time in the operating room is valuable. Surgeons like things to move along quickly and efficiently, which in the end is better for the patient. Surgical techs are expected to anticipate what the surgeon needs, and reps who can do the same have a great opportunity to build credibility with the surgeons and their OR team.

The rep is there to support the entire OR team. By making sure techs and nurses know exactly what they need and when, the rep can ensure the procedure moves along smoothly, even when new products are being introduced.

Gaining this level of knowledge about a myriad of different surgical procedures is challenging. The average surgical tech program takes 1.5-2 years to complete, including 500 hours of clinicals. Reps need a comparable level of knowledge, which comes through training, experience in the OR and a lot of studying.

Here's a great book this surgical tech suggested to me which sounds like it could be an invaluable resource for reps. It's called:
Pocket Guide to the Operating Room
by Maxine Goldman.

According the the publisher's website, it includes details on more than 500 surgeries, with descriptions, drawings and instrumentation. This tech told me that she would review the guide in preparation for each surgery while she was going through her clinicals and being exposed to new procedures daily.

Noted as a key feature, which is particularly relevant to Linvatec's product line, is the emphasis on: "extensive coverage of minimal access surgery, including endoscopic procedures for multiple specialties, microsurgical techniques, and instrumentation for these procedures."

The guide also indicates what to expect if there are complications and what types of procedure(s) the surgery might evolve into as a result, allowing one to anticipate the instrumentation needed if specific scenarios were to occur.

Much like a good surgical tech, anticipation and preparation are key to a rep's success. A well-prepared rep always has exactly what they need for the case, and more. If a surgeon turns to a rep and asks, "do you have...", the answer had better be "yes".

Monday, March 10, 2008


From what I've heard, this year's Academy was a big success for Linvatec. Lots of excitement, on the part of customers, reps and everyone involved.

Of the new crop of products released, one standout may be the Spectrum MVP Suture Passer
It's part of Linvatec's Spectrum line, which has for many years been recognized as an essential instrument set for arthroscopic repairs.

I once heard the challenge of arthroscopic procedures summed up something like this: imagine trying to tie a knot in a piece of wet spaghetti with a couple of chopsticks (while the noodle is inside a box, no less).

I think the analogy I heard was a little more elegant, but still I think you can understand the challenge and level of skill required for an arthroscopic procedure. The MVP Suture Passer greatly simplifies some of the common challenges surgeons face.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Economic Downturn

The news is rife with reports of lost jobs last month. 63,000 job were eliminated, the most in five years.

On my end, I've definitely seen an increase in the number of applications from certain job markets that were previously "dry". In particular, there has been a flood of resumes from folks in the real estate and mortgage industries seeking higher ground. I think there has been a bit of a shake-out in pharma as well. Talking to folks who are focused more on B2B sales, I sense some concern about the willingness of businesses to expand and invest in services and capital equipment.

I am far from being an economist, but being a recruiter does put you close to job trends in the economy.

Medical device sales is touted by some as "recession proof", the idea being that medical care is a necessity, and not something people can put off as they would buying a new car or refrigerator. Again, while I can't put cold, hard numbers to this entirely plausible theory, I can offer a few interesting anecdotes.

I asked one of our distributors recently if he felt there was truth to this statement. He said that in his 20 years in the industry, there hadn't really ever been a serious slowdow, despite fluctuations in the larger economy.

A couple of months back, someone applied for an opening that had just recently been filled. The person was from the mortgage industry and was pleasantly persistent, such that I was prompted to call and speak to him briefly to explain the situation. In the course of our conversation, I found out that this young man's father had worked for Linvatec back in the '90's.

I ended up talking to his father, who told me that he'd always told his children that he had chosen a career in medical sales precisely because of the stability of the industry. When you have mouths to feed, avoiding industries that are feast or famine, boom or bust becomes all the more important.

"I think my son is finally starting to understand exactly what I was talking about," he told me.

Some salespeople I talk to seem to focus on base salaries and expense packages as the primary measure of stability in a company or opportunity. I think this view is too narrow. The industry itself can have a huge impact, as many have recently seen first hand. I think some other important factors are: stability of the management team, average tenure or turnover in the salesforce, consistency of the compensation plan, the breadth of the offering. On these measures, I think Linvatec is very strong.

I wonder how many people have seen what they thought was a solid career, solid success vanish in front them. Some will ride out the lean times, while many will start from scratch establishing themselves in another industry. It takes a lot of hard work to succeed in any realm, a lot of hard work to develop your product knowledge and base of contacts, master the nuances of the sales cycle particular to your industry. And even more hard work to start all over again.

I think many sales people are self-starters who want to have control over their own destiny, a big part of that being their own income. Although nothing is absolutely certain in this world, I think building a career in medical device sales offers favorable conditions that put salespeople in a position to exert a good measure of control over their future. They aren't likely to see their hard work swept away by a downturn in the economy. Even now, despite the challenges in the larger economy, medical device reps can continue building their careers, onward and upward.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

New Products released at the AAOS

The annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is being held this week in San Francisco. For Linvatec and many other orthopaedic companies, this is the most important trade show of the year. There are 15,000 attendees, primarily orthopaedic surgeons from around the world. Our entire marketing team and much of the sales force is in attendance.

Linvatec has launched eleven new products at this year's show. Link here to learn more.

Monday, February 18, 2008

What Does Your Voicemail Greeting Say About You?

Last week, I heard a great voicemail greeting.

You may be wondering, what can be so great about a voicemail greeting? Though seemingly insignificant, a voicemail is often the first introduction a stranger has to you. I can sometimes be put off by this first contact with a potential candidate, or intrigued.

I am annoyed by greetings that are chopped off, as in " ... back. Thanks." As simple as it seems to listen to your greeting after recording it, there are people out there who don't. Sometimes greetings sound as though the person recorded it while visiting a dog pound, or on the inside of a meat grinder. I've heard greetings that sound decidedly irritated, as though the person recorded their message after a fight with their significant other, or so low-energy and miserable it's as if they'd recorded the greeting while lying flat on their back in bed with the flu.

Voicemail greetings that intrigue me are those that make me think, "This person sounds really (energetic, professional, on-the-ball). I am really looking forward to speaking to them." They are clear, easy to understand, and sound as if the person takes their voicemail seriously. It makes me hopeful of a prompt and courteous return call. There are even those in this industry who become so fanatical about returning calls, that they call back even if I don't leave a message just to make sure they didn't miss anything important.

Of course, I realize that you can't judge a person solely by their voicemail greeting. Why, it's preposterous to even think such a thing (although it would make my job a lot easier).

I hope you'll understand I am exaggerating to make my point. My point being, that your voicemail greeting is part of the total impression you make on recruiters, customers, and potential employers- people that can have a direct impact on your livelihood and future prospects.

So why was the voicemail I heard the other day so good?

After stating their name, etc, this sales person proceeded to say, "Be sure to ask me about some of the new products I heard about at our national sales meeting..." and then briefly mentioned three of them. Wow, I thought. Smart.

If you've ever read the Little Red Book of Selling by Jeffrey Gitomer, you may have encountered this idea before. This candidate had not read Gitomer's book. So much the better. A voicemail may seem so mundane, so simple, but Gitomer says that it is a greeting that people hear over and over, so why not make it work in your favor?

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

What I Like to See in a Resume

I remember reading a book once on how to write the perfect resume. It offered several suggested formats. As a recruiter, there is only one I prefer: chronological, starting with the most recent work experience at the top. It's straightforward and easy to read.

When I read resumes, I have a few questions in my mind.

1) What products does this person sell? Suggestion: Include a short description of major product (categories) and total number of different products.
2) Who does this person sell to? Describe the primary decision makers in the buying decision.
3) How complex is this sale? Expand upon the decision making context.
4) Results? Rankings and yearly performance to quota are the most relevant. Awards or outperforming quota in a given month are fine, but it's the final number at the end of the year that matters most.

If your resume can answer these questions clearly and succinctly for each position held, then you give a recruiter an opening to see past the obvious and recognize relevant patterns of similarity between different industries.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Happy New Year

The New Year is full of so much promise and possibility. I always find it exciting. It's also a great time to pause and reflect on one's accomplishments of the past year. At Linvatec, it was a pretty good year for all concerned.

I came across a question on Linked In that had a lot of excellent information who are new to sales.
"What general advice would you give to someone starting out in sales?"

I considered contributing my two cents, but the answers were so good, I didn't really need to.