Thursday, December 31, 2009

Farewell 2009

Steve Porcaro asks a great question on his Linked In Group: What is the ONE thing you like best about Medical Device Sales?

As the answers show, it is hard to choose just ONE thing. There are many great things about being a part of a dynamic, challenging and exciting industry like this one. Medical device sales is rewarding on so many levels.

In 2009, many other industries were in a total free-fall. I saw some of the damage up close. As you might imagine, I talked to many people this year who had lost their jobs. In some cases, it was as though the industry they had been a part of had completely vanished.

Medical devices may have hit a few bumps, we may have had to rethink a few things, but on the whole the industry is weathering the storm far better than most. Although the financial rewards may not have been equal to prior years, in times like these it is no small thing to simply be able to provide for your family.

Best Wishes for a Happy, Healthy and Prosperous New Year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Happy Holidays from a very special elf

This very merry video was created by one of the new hires. I hope you will enjoy it was much as I did. What a fun, creative way to get his customers' attention!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Seven Touches

One of the things I talk to candidates about when I am interviewing about is cold calling. Every sales position requires it to be successful. As you all know, persistence is crucial to winning a new customer.

I found an article about "seven touches", which is the idea that it takes a customer about seven contacts (or more) before they decide to do business with you. Touches are more than just cold calling on the phone or in-person, as this article suggests.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

My Least Favorite Game

As a recruiter, phone tag is the bane of my existence. Like many salespeople, connecting and communicating with many people every day is an important part of my job. If I played much phone tag, it would be very inefficient, so I have figured out ways to short-circuit the game.

Here are a few things I do to ensure I connect as quickly as possible:

1. On my own voice mail message, I ask people to let me know the best time to return their call. Then I put them on my calendar at that time and ring them up.

2. When I leave a voicemail or email, I let the person I am trying to reach several possible times to reach me based on my schedule.

3. When I am trying to connect with someone, I often email them as well as leaving them a voice mail message, sometimes simultaneously. Just like my voice mails, I always ask people to let me know the best time and number to reach them at. When they provide me with this info, I acknowledge via e-mail to let them know I will call them at that time.

4. Text messaging is another great way to set up a time to connect live.

5. I return calls right away rather than waiting. If they just called me, then they are probably available. Quicker response conveys greater urgency, and people often respond accordingly.

6. I find that trying different methods (voicemail, email, texting) and different times works well. Some people respond better to email, others to calls.

Basic? Probably. These are pretty simple things, but I have noticed a lot of people play a lot of phone tag. Since I do my fair share of cold calling, I have found using these approaches in combination helps boost my response rate.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tax Write-Offs for Capital Equipment Purchases

A candidate I interviewed today in the copier industry said they are having success leveraging Section 179 to encourage their customers to move ahead with capital purchases this year.

There is an entire website devoted to this tax incentive, which is part of the Reinvestment and Recovery Act.

As the site explains: "Section 179 was designed with businesses in mind. That's why almost all types of 'business equipment' qualify for the Section 179 deduction."

Business equipment like copiers, video towers, powered instruments... probably worth exploring. May only apply to for-profit businesses (many hospitals are non-profit). As you know I am not a tax professional, but I am sharing this tidbit in the hopes you may find an opportunity to close more deals before the end of the year.

Happy Selling and Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The best and worst of my job

Today was a great day, because I got to call someone up and tell them they got the job. I love that!

It was also tough, because I called someone who had done a terrific job throughout the interview process and let them know they didn't get the job.

I don't enjoy giving people such news, but I understand that at a minimum people appreciate closure, even if it is not what they want to hear.

There are times when we think a candidate is great in many ways, but not the right fit. There was one such candidate recently. I left them a message, with a brief explanation. In return, I got one of the nicest, classiest responses ever. Although it did not change the outcome (in fact the candidate agreed with the rationale), that person's stock shot way, way up in my eyes.

If I ever have or hear of something that is a great fit for that person- I will definitely call them right up.

My recommendation is always to be as gracious as possible if you are not the chosen candidate and ask to be considered for future opportunities. It's even appropriate to drop a line from time to time too, maybe a couple times a year. In time, it could lead to a positive outcome.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

FutureMedica and on-line courses

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.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

As long as we are celebrating... Why not celebrate 3 years of blogging?

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)...

For Neophytes:
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

For Everyone:
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

The Interviews:
1. Sonny Crockett's Great Year 12/14/07

2. Athletes in Medical Device Sales 5/30/07

3. The Rookie of the Year Interviews
NOM 3/13/08
2007 7/21/08
2008 7/17/09

If you have a favorite, or something you'd like me to consider writing about, let me know!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Reason to Celebrate

Sometimes its good to look for even small reasons to celebrate. So break out the champagne, I have surpassed 500 contacts on Linked-In!

Hitting the 500+ mark on Linked-In is considered the "big time". They stop counting individual connections after that point. Thank you to the many who have accepted my requests or reached out to me to join my network.

If you haven't yet connected to me, you can find me at

Once in my network, you will be notified when I update what I am working on (like new positions), add new connections or join new groups. My blog is also uploaded to my Linked In page.

If you haven't spent much time on Linked In, now is a great time to build your network in anticipation of new possibilities in 2010!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

New! Jobs on Twitter

I am now on Twitter. You should follow me at:

Get the inside "scope" and be the first to learn about new openings!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

25 questions

No, this is not the list of questions you get tagged with on Facebook.

I referred to 25 questions I had prepared before going on a ride-along with the electrosurgery rep this summer. A candidate I spoke with today is preparing to go on a ride-along and wanted to know what these questions were.

The list of my actual questions on that day follows. I recommend anyone going on a ride-along prepare a list of questions before going with the rep to gain as much information from the rep as possible. The focus of the questions might be slightly different than mine, but not much. Basically, you want to understand the job as best you can from someone who does it, and to learn what it takes to be successful.

1. If you were a recruiter (like me), how would you explain this job to a candidate?
2. What does it take to be a successful rep for this company?
3. Who is your major competition (in this territory)? (follow-up by various second level questions to find out more)
4. Biggest day-to-day challenges? Toughest part of the job?
5. How often are you in surgery?
6. New products?
7. Average sales cycle?
8. Cost of (major products) and financing/purchase options?
9. What is the biggest challenge facing you in this economy?
10. Tell me about a typical/recent sale, and decision makers in the process.
11. How much influence does the surgeon/clinician have over the final purchase decision?
12. Why are our company's products better than the competition? What is our biggest competitive advantage?
13. What do you have for demo equipment? How do you run evaluations (samples etc)?
14. How much contact do you have with customers after the sale?
15. Do you do much selling to the C-Level, how when why?
16. What has been the biggest surprise to you about this job?
17. How much cold-calling do you do versus existing business?
18. What are the essential skills and attributes for success in this role?
19. What questions you ask if you were me? If you were me, what would you make sure I/candidate understood about this job?
20. What is your background?
21. How long have you been in this position?
22. How did you approach "starting up" your territory?
23. In retrospect, what would you do differently? What have you learned?
24. Tell me about the training and support you've received from the company.
25. How much travel do you do, how many overnights?

If you count the number of question marks, there are more than 25 questions here ;) This should be at least a starting point for anyone going on a ride-along. I am sure there are other people who have some great questions to ask, or if a rep, questions they wish someone would ask them.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Demand for Sports Medicine Products

When I talk to candidates, one reason they often mention for wanting to be in medical device sales is the demographics of the aging baby boomers. The reasoning goes that because baby boomers are staying active longer, by jogging, playing sports etc, they are putting more wear-and-tear on their joints. Hence, increased demand for Sports Medicine repairs.

This is true, but there are several other factors driving demand for such products. Unfortunately, the so-called obesity epidemic also increases demand. Extra weight puts a lot of extra stress on joints.

Another contributor to increased demand is the intensity with which athletes engage in, specialize and train for sports from a younger and younger age. Thank you to the candidate who brought the following information and article to my attention:

"As kids begin to specialize in their sport at a younger age, doctors are seeing an increase in the injuries associated with the sports that they choose."

Excerpt: By way of example, we are seeing more swimmers suffering from shoulder pain and rotator cuff injuries, more cross-country runners with knee pain from patella femoral problems, and more soccer players with ankle sprains and anterior cruciate ligament injuries.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Rep Tracking in Hospitals

Most hospitals have instituted a system to track sales representatives and other vendors who visit their facilities on a regular basis. One of the main reasons is to protect the safety of patients. Requirements to register with the services usually include background checks and certain immunizations. There are several services out there, so it is likely a representative will have to register with more than one, and stay current through periodic renewals, in order to have access to the hospitals in their territory.

When I went on the ride-along with Raquel, you will remember that she signed-in at the first hospital we visited. That was with one of these credentialing services. Even though it was her first time in this particular hospital, she was already registered with the particular service they used.

I have added 2 of these services to my blogroll below. Reptrax and Vendor Credentialing Service (VCS). VCS offers on-line HIPPA, bloodborne pathogen & OR Protocol training for $60-125 each. Most medical device companies will offer this training to new sales reps themselves. However, this training might offer one way for an enterprising candidate to demonstrate their initiative and commitment to breaking into medical sales.

If there are other major rep tracking services you are aware of, please feel free to note in comments below...

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Follow-up on foul language

Today I received an invite to attend a webinar entitled "Workplace Cursing and Off-Color Remarks: Policies that Stop Lawsuits". Although I will not be able to attend, I thought it was worth noting as a follow-up to my last post.

The first line of the description states: "Cursing and off-color remarks in the workplace are a lawsuit waiting to happen."

Cursing should not only be off-limits during the interview, but forever thereafter too. If you've considered cursing in the workplace acceptable, it is probably time to rethink this idea.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Interview Suicide

No matter what, never ever ever curse in an interview.

As a recruiter, I work really hard to find the best qualified, smartest, most enthusiastic candidates I can. When one of them goes to an interview and drops the "bomb", it is enough to make me want to jump off a bridge. Or worse yet, curse- but I don't. Because it's simply not professional.

(Please note: I even omitted the sixth letter of the alphabet above. That is how serious I am about absolutely no cursing.)

Most often, cursing seems to occur when a candidate is relating a story about a certain situation. They may actually be quoting someone who cursed at them. Not a good idea, however colorful or dramatic it may seem. It does not convey how tough, intense, determined or assertive you are.

The only thing it communicates is that you have poor judgment.

Not only should you avoid the "bomb", you should avoid any version of a curse word that a fourth-grader would be reprimanded for saying. I don't even like to hear my fourth grader call anyone stupid or say "shut up". Your safest bet is to keep it totally G-rated.

We all come across people in this world who are "difficult". Situations that are "challenging". You could also say they are jerks, and that the situation sucks- but I would think twice about saying even that in an interview.

I guarantee, the hiring manager will understand you, even if you do not use foul language.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Terms in Electrosurgery

While I was on my ride-along a few weeks ago, there were quite a few new terms I learned about electrosurgery. Here is an explanation of electrosurgery on Wikipedia. As noted here, "electrosurgery is usually used to refer to a quite different method than electrocautery".

I myself have made the mistake of describing electrosurgery as "cauterizing", but no more! Raquel said it is common for hospital staff to refer to electrosurgical units as the "cautery" or "bovie" unit. Since she was properly trained in the correct terms, when she refers to the "electrosurgical unit", it sometimes results in looks of confusion from the staff.

Essentially, electrosurgery is the use of energy to cut (like a scalpel) and coagulate. Electrosurgery helps limit blood loss while making precise cuts, as described on the Wikipedia page. For this reason, electrosurgery has a very wide range of applications in many different specialties. On Conmed units, a higher "blend" means more coagulation.

Another new term I learned was thermal necrosis. Some tissue may become necrotic (dead) at the electrosurgical site, evidenced by black spots. Although the goal should be to minimize this as much as possible, Raquel said that she has spoken to some doctors that think the black spots are good because it tells them that "it's done". Woo.

Before Raquel espouses her product's ability to reduce thermal necrosis compared to competitive products, she is sure to find out what matters to the doctor and what the doctor interprets as a good result. She also noted the importance of finding the right surgeon who cares about electrosurgery and will champion her product.

Friday, July 17, 2009

2008 Rookie of the Year

Today, I'll have an opportunity to interview the latest Rookie of the Year. He is someone who from his first interview showed that he was "hungry". It's a quality that people talk a lot about, but what exactly does it mean? I hope that our conversation today will shed some light on it.

From my perspective, true hunger for success includes the willingness to take responsibility for preparing yourself for the next step in your career, not just asking someone to "give you a shot."

(Read comments below for the interview...)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Day in the Life of a ConMed Electrosurgery Rep

This morning, I met the Conmed Electrosurgery sales representative at a local hospital. Raquel* (not her real name, but you knew that already) has been representing Conmed Electrosurgery for about a year. She had prior medical sales experience, including some O.R. sales experience. In her first quarter with the company, she catapulted her underperforming territory into the top echelon of the company.

When we originally began talking about this day, she said, "Everyone wants to be in the O.R.. That's the glamorous part of this job. But there is a lot of work that goes into getting to that point. That's what I really want to show you." So today, she showed me just that- the cold calling and prospecting that goes into uncovering opportunities.

Before we went into the first hospital, she explained some of the things she does as part of her pre-call planning. She reviews the rolling history report, which shows what the facility has been purchasing over the last 18 months. In this case, even though it was not a major ConMed Electrosurgery customer, the facility was buying pencils used in the electrosurgical generators. She also checks which GPO the facility is under. In this case, it was a contract that Electrosurgery is not on; however, the particular GPO does not generally require a high level of compliance. She also established a few goals for the call: finding out the types of equipment in the facility and seeking out a key contact who might be able to facilitate a CE course.

Before today, I did not realize that the ConMed Electrosurgery reps offered CE (or continuing education) courses to their customers. They have a number of topics they teach to hospital, such as a course on the importance of smoke evacuation. The hospital personal benefit by gaining CE points, necessary as health professionals. The rep gains a suitable audience.

When we entered the facility, we headed to sign in on RepTrax. Once Raquel had signed in to the RepTrax computer, it printed off a sticker for her to wear while in the facility. Most hospitals now have a similar vendor management system, which requires that all reps register and sign-in when visiting the facility. Those who don't may find themselves escorted to the exit. When you are done in the facility, you must sign out. If you overstay the time period you've specified, then you get a black mark on your record.

From there, we headed to biomed. This was a mid-sized hospital, but the windowless halls were labyrinthine. At every intersection, there were signs indicating different directions for different departments. The thought occurred to me that as a new rep, one might have to allow almost as much time for navigating an unfamiliar hospital's hallways as the roads to get there.

The first thing we saw when walking into the biomed office was a dismantled System 5000, the workhorse of the Conmed Electrosurgery product line. After introducing ourselves to the two friendly biomedical engineers, Raquel began examining the unit and asked the head biomed engineer what was wrong with it. She knew her product well and identified a possible need for an in-service to prevent a recurrence of the issue that had sidelined that particular unit. She also asked what I thought was a pretty good question, "Who yells when these are broken?"

The biomeds were quite willing to share information about ConMed Electrosurgery's history and equipment in the account, as well as competitive equipment and status. They also gave her an overview of how many operating rooms there were in the facility. One of the biomeds mentioned that he was on the committee for new product evaluations. She also found out the names of several key contacts in the account.

Raquel had noted that biomedical engineering was a great place to gather information when first calling on a new account, and I could see why. When we left biomed, we had a pretty good initial overview of the status of the account.

From there, we called on several other departments in the hospital, including the O.R., GI Suite and Labor and Delivery. At each point, she gathered more information, and more contact names and numbers. Later, she shared her point of view on approaching gatekeepers with me. She said that when she begins talking to people, she shares information with everyone she speaks to about who and what she represents. She is careful to wait until she has a conversation underway before asking, "Who's in charge (of making the particular decision)?" Asking this question upfront can sometime offend people, because they might think she's implying the are not important enough. She also said because she makes sure everyone knows who she is and what she has to offer, that sometimes these gatekeepers will spread the word on her behalf if a need arises.

Before the end of the day, we made similar calls on a couple of other facilities. In these other facilities, she had more established relationships, so she followed up on specific opportunities. We did not go into the O.R., but she said on average she is in surgery a couple of times per week.

Between calls, I had a chance to ask her my 26 questions, and was able to get answers to pretty much all of them. That is more that I can write about in one post, but I promise to write more in the coming days. I learned so much today and can't wait to share.

Ride-Along Today

Today is a day I have been looking forward to for quite some time. I am going out on a ride-along with one of the sales representatives for ConMed Electrosurgery.

It is common for potential candidates to go on a ride-along during the interview process for many medical device sales positions. Today my goal is to get a flavor of what such an experience might be like, and to better understand what it takes to be successful as sales rep for Conmed Electrosurgery. To that end, I have 25 questions I've prepared for the sales rep. I don't know if we'll cover them all, but I'm sure I will gain a lot of valuable insight today of what the day-to-day of the job is like. (And I just thought of one more!)

If you are going on a ride-along, you will not only be learning about the job, but you will also be assessed by the rep, who will give input to their manager on whether or not they think you can "do the job". It's an opportunity for the company to take an in-depth look at you in a daily setting: how you handle new situations, how you relate to potential customers.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine meeting

Yesterday, I went to the AOSSM meeting in Keystone Colorado. Although I have lived in Colorado for a couple of years now, this is the first time I've been farther than the Eisenhower Tunnel. The morning drive into the mountains was gorgeous. Colorado has to be one of the most beautiful places in the world to live.

Perhaps because of the natural beauty outside, the traffic on the exhibition floor inside was quiet. I was told that this is not uncommon for this particular meeting, especially since many surgeons brought their families and headed out to the mountains after seeing what they were most interested in.

This was an exciting show for ConMed Linvatec, since the launch of the new Shoulder Restoration System is official. FDA approval was received a few weeks ago, and product is being rolled out across the country. Accordingly, the booth highlighted the new shoulder system.

I met some of the new people I've been involved with hiring recently, and reconnected with some long-time colleagues. When I arrived, I asked the two new hires from Colorado to walk me through the booth product-by-product to show me what they've learned so far. One of them has been on-board for only two weeks, the other about three months. I asked lots of questions about the products, including strengths and competitive advantages. It was a good learning experience for me, and good practice for the new reps. It think they did a great job.

The shoulder system is a fantastic addition to our product line. The leadership and direction of our new president was a major impetus behind bringing this product through the development process so quickly. R&D and marketing have done a fantastic job. There are superior and patented features that are part of the system which will contribute to its success in the marketplace.

The sales force is thrilled to have this product in their bag, and I believe their customers are going to be too. I watched as a surgeon tried out the product. One of our marketing folks walked him thru step-by-step as he "implanted" the device. From my observation, the surgeon seemed impressed by the product features and ease of use.

The head of R&D for sports medicine was kind enough to give me an overview of the major competitors' products, comparing and contrasting ConMed Linvatec's system to theirs. As a recruiter, I am often asked about our competitive advantages, and it was great for me to learn more about this new system. The launch of the SRS goes to the heart of ConMed Linvatec's future as a company.

I also learned from him about "booth etiquette": do not step onto the carpeted areas of competitor's booths, don't gawk, and never handle your competitors' products or instruments at the show. Violation of these rules mean that your company could be sanctioned, and your booth demoted to a less favorable location at the next year's show.

Still, I walked the floor of the convention hall several times, observing the people as much as the displays. Almost all of ConMed Linvatec's direct competitors were present, plus a range of other companies, perhaps 50 or more vendors in total.

It was a terrific day. I can't wait to see the impact the new SRS will have in the coming months.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

AOSSM in Keystone

This Friday, I will be attending the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine meeting in Keystone, CO. I will have updates from the meeting. If you will be in attendance, please feel free to reach out to me to let me know.

For more information on this meeting and association, visit the AOSSM website.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Introducing Electrosurgery

Earlier this year, I began recruiting sales people for one of ConMed's other divisions: ConMed Electrosurgery.

It has been a great experience for me. Not only are the folks at ConMed Electrosurgery great to work with, but I believe it has also sharpened my ability to assess fit for both Electrosugery and Linvatec. There are differences in the overall sales process derived from the different product lines, and subtle difference in the organizational cultures of the two divisions.

What makes someone a good fit for ConMed Electrosurgery?

1. Capital sales experience- developing and managing a pipeline of business, identifying, qualifying and pursuing the right opportunities at the right time. Not that this isn't important for ConMed Linvatec, but ConMed Electrosurgery has an even more focused, capital-intensive product line.
2. Process orientation- at ConMed Electrosurgery, they have identified some key sales processes that lead to success. If you are someone who enjoys mastering a process, ConMed Electrosugery would be a good fit for you. I noticed this as a distinct element of the organization's culture early on, and I saw this trait in the first hire I made with this division. I understand this salesperson is now thriving. As a recruiter, that's just about the best outcome possible.

After filling 8 positions in the last six months, I still have more to learn, but have enjoyed my experience tremendously so far.

Next month, I will be going on a ride-along with one of the Electrosurgery reps. I will be able to bring you a "Day in the Life of an Electrosurgery Rep." I am sure it is going to be a great learning experience for me- and I hope for you too!

If you want to learn more about the products, check out the website: ConMed Electrosurgery

I am presently recruiting for a Conmed Electrosurgery Territory Manager, based in Cleveland, Ohio. If you are a local, qualified candidate, I invite you to send me your resume at for immediate consideration.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Reports from the AAOS Annual Meeting

When the meeting began yesterday, someone told me that they'd heard the number of surgeons attending the AAOS was down significantly. Today it was a different story.

Due to the climate of economic uncertainty, many companies scaled back the number of representatives they sent to the AAOS this year. The result is that the people who are there staffing the booths are very, very busy.

Mid-day today, the report from the Linvatec booth was that it was busy. All the surgeon stations, where the doctors can try out the new products, were full and had been all morning. Linvatec's power products were garnering a lot of attention, in particular the MPower system and the React blades. The MVP- Most Versatile Suture Passer - continues to grow in popularity. Interest was genuine and leads are strong.

Friday, February 20, 2009

AAOS in Las Vegas

The annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons is taking place this year in Las Vegas. Linvatec sales reps were given an opportunity to "win their way" to Las Vegas this year by selling a targeted amount of products in different categories.

If you are going to be at the AAOS next week and would like to learn more about opportunities with our company, please let me know right away. You can reach me at

I would be happy to send you more information and arrange a "meet up" with someone on our team. Here are a few of the immediate opportunities we are currently hiring for....

Regional Sales Managers in Dallas, Baltimore/DC and the Carolinas.

Direct Sales Representatives in the same areas.

Product Managers in Sports Medicine and Arthroscopy Power.

Even if you are not actively seeking a new position, but are interested in networking, please let me know.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Resume Bloopers

In college, I was a comparative lit major. That basically means I love words, I love books. Keep that in mind if you decide to send me a resume.

Even though I consider my grasp of the English language pretty good, I still grab the dictionary and look up a word if I want to confirm its nuances. Which is what these people should have done...
  • How about the person who provided "proper instructing of instillation of equipment during surgeries." Instillation- really? I wonder if there is any moonshine involved.
  • Exactly the opposite of what they intended: "My successful and verifiable entrepreneurial experience in sales and new business development has required that I be tenuous in my approach to the business and sell through strong relationship development." Frankly dear, I don't know anyone who is looking for a tenuous rep. Usually, quite the opposite.
  • Or the overly empathetic cover letter: "I understand that in these current economic times you are intonated with potential candidates for career advancement. I am sure that at times it is actually overwhelming." While the sentiment is appreciated, let me set the record straight: I do not generally sing or chant while reviewing resumes, even when I get a lot of them.

So don't be shy about whipping out your dictionary if you are reaching for the right word. Better to get the right one than an unintended meaning.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

"Portable Employer"

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.

MBO Partners

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.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Search and Apply

Today, about 1200 people stood in-line for 35 firefighter jobs in Miami. It made the news I suppose because it is a good illustration of how tough the job market has become.

On the recruiting and hiring end, the downturn equates to a lot of resumes to review. I have definitely seen a significant increase in the number of applicants for our open positions. Some people unfortunately just seem to be lobbing their resume at any job they can find, whether or not they are qualified.

I have a suggestion- even if you think you are capable of doing a job, if you do not have 75% of the qualifications or required experience listed as a requirement, basically that is a pretty good indicator that is a waste of time to apply- of yours and everyone else who is involved in the process. Some qualifications- like "Bachelor's degree", or "Local candidates only"- are pretty much non-negotiable, so heed them well.

I have a lot of compassion for people who have been laid-off in this economy. In fact, it hit home pretty recently with one of my family members. Still, I think it is better to focus your time and energy appropriately, perhaps especially at a time like this, on opportunities that you are a viable match for.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Going Green

There has been a lot of talk about the green jobs, a "clean energy economy" and reducing one's carbon footprint. Recent college graduates are interested in working for green companies, and consumers have begun to demonstrate their willingness to consider the environmental impact of their purchasing decisions.

Being green is not new to ConMed Linvatec. The operations group has really lead the way, starting with a strong commitment to Kaizen that dates back to the 1990's. At that time, we were all big fans of the book Lean Thinking. As part of the operations group, I participated in a number of Kaizen events. I understand that Kaizen is an integral part of manufacturing operations at Conmed's New York facilities as well. Kaizen is a fundamentally green approach to manufacturing.

Lean Thinking highlights the Toyota Production System. Japanese car manufacturers like Honda and Toyota are some of the foremost practitioners of lean philosophy in the manufacturing world, but as the book explains, many of their manufacturing ideas were inspired by Henry Ford and american grocery stores- where "just-in-time" inventory was, and still is, an art form.

These ideas connected with a deep current in Japanese culture of respect for nature and a need after the second World War to be as resourceful as possible. You could say this philosophy is exemplified by "Waste not, want not." The TPS approach is to eliminate as much waste- wasted time, energy, materials and scrap- as possible from the manufacturing process. The idea is that in most manufacturing processes, there is much more waste than there is opportunity for increased efficiency. Unlike the high-dollar investments often required to increase efficiency, reducing waste is about observing and streamlining the manufacturing process carefully to eliminate waste and improve quality.

So over nearly two decades, through dozens upon dozens, perhaps hundreds of Kaizen events, the manufacturing of ConMed Linvatec products has become less wasteful, faster and more flexible, cleaner and greener.

In an excerpt from a recent article written by one of my esteemed colleagues at ConMed Linvatec, here are some other ways that ConMed Linvatec has been "Going Green" for many years...

  • Packaging. Almost all our boxes and shipping containers are made out of recycled material.
  • Trade-in programs for capital equipment. We accept back any and all prior generation capital equipment and offer credit toward the purchase of new equipment. The returned equipment is often taken apart and some parts are used in the service and repair of other products.
  • Made in the USA! Not only are most of our products manufactured in the USA but we also contract with many local suppliers. Many of our direct competitors are now subcontracting the manufacture of their products(s) outside the US; shipping from China (or elsewhere) increases the consumption of fuel and the "carbon footprint" of such products.
  • Autoclavable camera heads. Autoclaving is a widely accepted and environmentally friendly method of product sterilization. It is a much "greener" method of sterilization than other methods which rely on harsh chemicals that need to be specially handled and disposed of.

More and more business have begun to realize that being green is just plain smart. In the medical device industry, ConMed Linvatec is a green leader.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Knee Arthroscopy

It seems pretty intuitive, but patients who undergo knee arthroscopy are quick to recover and return to their normal activities. The Journal of Arthroscopy published the first study that measures patient recovery time last year. This was done because the study's authors note that "return to activity has been poorly quantitated."

A brief synopsis on the AAOS website highlights the results and leads to a layman's explanation of the knee joint, including common problems that may warrant arthroscopy.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Semper Fi

The other day I interviewed a military veteran. He told me that he uses the values he learned in the military in every day life: leadership, loyalty, duty, personal courage and selfless service.

In particular, I think loyalty can unfortunately be undervalued. Every man/one for himself, right?

I see a lot of talented people who jump from job to job to job, sometimes by misfortune, sometimes by misjudgment. I don't think any of us can completely escape misfortune in our lives; times like these make it all the more apparent. At this point, we probably all know good, hardworking people who have been laid off.

What you can guard against is misjudgment.

One of the most common, career-wrecking misjudgments I see is when people make their career choice strictly based on money, strictly on "comp plans". As Lou Adler, my recruiting hero says, "money does not drive day-to-day satisfaction on the job". I am paraphrasing here, but I believe he is right.

When people focus strictly on money in making a career move, they often blind themselves to other equally important matters (products, company culture, stability) and therefore set themselves up for disappointment. Because when the comp plan doesn't pan out exactly the way they thought it would, then what are they left with? Anger, resentment and a job they probably don't like all that much. Like they say, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

They also get a resume that gets choppier and choppier over the years, which hurts them in the end. It is not uncommon for such people to peak early in their careers and have a lot of excuses why this job or that job did not work out- it is never their fault.

I realize there are companies and recruiters out there who overpromise and underdeliver, inflate and maybe even lie sometimes about income potential. Some of this is inherently fuzzy business because the final numbers depend a lot on the efforts of the individual rep. All the same, I don't think I am sort of recruiter, or that ConMed is the sort of company, to exaggerate the potential or cover-up the challenges.

This became clear to me the other day when I heard back from a candidate had just been on an interview in on of ConMed's other divisions. He told me he appreciated the fact that both the opportunities and challenges had been made clear to him- that no one was trying to paint a too rosy picture. I thought to myself, "Well, that's just the way we do it at Linvatec." I gotta say, I am kinda proud of that.

In the end, I think people who are loyal often save themselves a lot of heartache and turmoil. They are "stickier". They usually don't make a move unless it is a well-considered. In the end, their decisions benefit both themselves and the companies they work for.

I call that a win-win.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Opportunities with ConMed Electrosurgery

I have recently started recruiting for ConMed Electrosurgery. There are about 300 capital and disposable products in this line. The key product in this line is the System 5000, an electrosurgical generator. It is used to stop bleeding during a variety of different procedures.

The reps in this division tell me 1) they are proud to represent the best product of its kind on the market and 2) they love the fact that they are in so many different types of surgery: general, ortho, neuro and more.

Current Territory Manager openings include:
Columbus, OH
Cleveland, OH
Indianapolis, IN

If you are a Hoosier or a Buckeye with great capital sales experience, please send your resume my way for immediate consideration. Recommendations and networking encouraged!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

White Space

This seems to be the time of year when a lot of people update their resumes, perhaps this year in particular.

Do not underestimate the value of white space in making your resume more readable.

Sometimes people seem to want to cram everything they have every done in their entire life onto their resume, often in big thick blocks of text that are nearly impenetrable. When you look at dozens of resumes each day like I do, trying to pluck out what is important from what is not important on such a resume is rather tedious.

That is where white space helps. It gives breathing room and legibility to your resume. It allows the reader to read, instead of making them strain through your thorny thicket of words. It may force you to edit, to prune out the unnecessary information to keep your resume a reasonable length. For reasons like these, white space is an essential element in highlighting your accomplishments.

Chose the accomplishments that you are most proud of, ones that you can substantiate, the ones that have made a difference. Set them apart with a little space all around. Use a few bullets. It gives your accomplishments the chance to be been seen and understood. And it is a lot easier on my eyeballs.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Cold Calling, Girl Scout-Style

It's that time of year again, when the girl scouts come calling to ruin your New Year's resolutions with boxes of cookies. Actually, the order form says that if eaten in moderation, the cookies can be part of a healthy diet. That is, if you can resist the temptation of downing half-a-box of Samoas in one sitting.

That's it pretty tough to resist, even for the strong willed.

I got my daughter off to a good start by ordering 14 boxes of cookies, including half-a-dozen boxes of Samoas. (Well, you know, they freeze well.) (Not that any of these cookies will actually be around long enough to make it in to our freezer.)

If you don't know what Samoas are, they are these fiendishly tasty confections, covered with caramel, chocolate and coconut. It's like a triple threat, highly addictive. If you haven't tried one yet, I would advise you to consider the decision carefully, since one cookie will probably alter your eating habits for the rest of your life.

Whenever there is anything to sell, my daughter is more than determined to meet and exceed her quota. Her troop wants every girl to sell 25 boxes or more. In this case, she decided that her personal goal was to sell 233 boxes of cookies.

"Whoa," I said. I want to support Girl Scouts as much as the next parent, but I know selling cookies, lots of cookies, means I have to be right behind her at every step along the way. "How about you try for 100 boxes? Then if you meet that goal, we can reassess and see if you want to increase it?" Fortunately, she agreed. The Girl Scouts suggest that this is a good exercise in goal setting, and I think an important part of it is learning to set a goal that is challenging but not unattainable.

Before we went out, she wanted to practice. She knocked on my bedroom door. When I opened it, she said, "Hello, would you like to buy some Girl Scout cookies?" She also made her own visual aide- a poster with cut-outs of the different cookies pasted on it. Once she had rehearsed some more and was fully prepared, we set out down the street.

I hung back a little at each door, letting her have a chance to run the show. She knew her stuff: how to fill out the order form, when the cookies would arrive. She was determined to make a sale at every door.

When one lady said, "I'm on a diet. I am really trying not to buy cookies," my daughter responded, "We have sugar free cookies." She ended up selling that household 2 boxes of cookies. As we walked away from that house, my daughter said, "I did not want to loose another customer!"

A lot of people did order, because my daughter was the first Girl Scout to come around this year. Some people were out, and there were a few who declined. I could tell it took a lot of gumption (though my daughter has plenty) for her to knock on each door.

She did get a little discouraged when she was turned down, but I counseled her if she stays positive and keeps her activity level up, that she will be able to meet her goal. I saw a few opportunities to tweak her presentation a little to increase the average sale. (Can you tell I interview a lot of sales people or what?)

She sold 17 boxes yesterday. A good start. I did not expect that she would meet her goal in one afternoon, but in time I am sure she will.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Credit Crunch Hitting Hospitals

A recent story on NPR explained the impact that the problems in the credit market have had on hospitals. The lack of credit available for new construction projects could foreseeably have an effect on other types of capital expenditures, such as equipment.