What do you do when you want to launch a new concept or technology in today’s medical device space? You know, the long sales cycles and complex hospital systems.
Obviously, you need a guru. This episode’s med tech guru is Michelle O’Connor, CEO of the CMR Institute, which has provided training and development for medical device, diagnostic and other life science companies for the last 50 years.
If anyone knows about the newest med device industry trends, it would be someone as passionate about creating collaborative relationships between commercial sales organizations and healthcare systems as O’Connor. Oh, also she is a frequent speaker and trainer, and she serves on the Board of Life Science Trainers and Educators Network.
Does this describe you? Quick quiz.
You’ve got an innovative technology with the potential to improve patient outcomes and reduce hospital readmissions. You even have supporting data and research—the favorable outcomes data that hospitals love. But you’re frustrated by your inability to get any traction in the market.
O’Connor has seen hundreds of companies in her 24-year tenure with CMR. And this is what she has to say to a company with a product that is full of potential, but misses the mark in sales.
“They failed to train and prepare their sales reps to call on a different decision maker—in this case, the economic buyer,” O’Connor said. Without naming names, “This company continued to call on traditional influencers with more of a features and benefits message rather than a value proposition that spoke to the new decision maker.”
It’s just that traditional call points don’t have the ability to influence broad adoption of a product across health systems anymore.
Two problems with this nameless company—they couldn’t the economic buyer and they were staying in their comfort zone.
“They had not been trained or prepared to call on the newer decision maker for that product,” O’Connor explained. And the company wasn’t adequately preparing sales on the new call points, either.
What the Economic Buyer Wants
First, you have to understand the market in terms of data. “What types of data are health systems looking for when they make these kinds of decisions?” O’Connor said.
What the Economic Buyer WantsFirst, you have to understand the market in terms of data. “What types of data are health systems looking for when they make these kinds of decisions?” O’Connor said.
Labs? Clinical providers? C-suite? You have to find the right data for the right decision makers.
It’s not just about an innovative product and solid outcomes data. Go-to-market sales strategy can be the difference between a successful and an unsuccessful company.
O’Connor talks about a specific successful company she encountered. “Prior to launching the product, they totally revamped their go-to-market sales strategy. They brought the sales leadership in to contribute to the development of a new value proposition.”
Basically, sales was involved in the whole process to determine the value that the company brings to the market in terms of cost, quality, and outcomes.
“These sales leaders were also trained to call on the C suite,” O’Connor said. “And finally, they ensured that their sales reps were trained to use a value-centered approach.”
So as a company, they took a step back before they launched the product to develop that value proposition. “The training piece, I think, was integral to that,” O’Connor added.
It boils down to two components, really.
How to Reach Buyers Effectively
Hint: It’s not to email a bunch of times.
If you think it’s hard to get an email answered from somebody in the C suite, just think about being the somebody with 50 or 60 sales emails a day.
“To get the interest of something in the C suite, it has to be a very unique value proposition,” O’Connor said.
“Instead of going in with a sales pitch or a request to meet with someone, offer a value proposition. Here’s how we can benefit your health system, and if I can have 30 minutes of your time, this is what I will do. Boom, boom, boom.”
Say your product will impact hospital readmissions. But say that’s not what the health system’s focusing on right now.
“If they’re trying to solve a problem that your message doesn’t necessarily appeal to, they’re not going to pay attention to that email,” O’Connor said.
What to do about it? “Take a step even further back and identify a unique approach to each health system,” O’Connor recommends.
A lot of helpful information—their strategic plan, their annual report—is out in the public domain. “This looks like determining what metrics they are falling short on or that are impacting their bottom line and then positioning your product in terms of the problem that it will solve for that particular health system.”
Do your research and craft a solution to a problem that the institution may be interested in.
“It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach,” O’Connor said.
“That’s a mistake that med tech companies make. Their approach is more of a traditional call approach, and that’s just not going to work in this value-driven market.”
The truth is, over the last few years, there’s been a reluctance to shift the go-to-market and selling model. But lately there’s been an uptake in an interest in doing things differently. “Med tech companies and GPOs are realizing that, to impact market share and revenue, a different go-to-market approach is required.”
This whole attempt to solve a problem? It’s way more likely to succeed than misaligned incentives.
If the med tech company’s goals and the health system goals are not aligned, that’s a lose/lose.
Good news: “There’s a sweet spot for med tech companies and for health systems to come together and to create a win/win proposition,” O’Connor said.
Cost, Quality, and Outcome
Maybe a decade ago you could just call on a surgeon, get that clinical buy-in, and be done. Today you need to think more strategically.
“It’s all about value, and that value to most health systems means cost, quality, and outcome,” O’Connor said. “Being able to position your product within that triangle is critical.”
So, CMR Institute helps prepare companies to tackle just that strategic problem. O’Connor prepares company go-to-market strategies differently to present their product or solution within the context of a value proposition.
“One of the things we do is help organizations create a value proposition if they don’t have one, because you can’t create an effective go-to-market strategy without it,” O’Connor said.
In CMR Institute workshops, you’d answer some questions like these:
These questions help companies define their product or service in a manner that allows the provider organization to analyze its value to the health system without just focusing on cost.
“Other workshops help customers understand who the new decision makers are and the measurements and goals on which they’re focused,” O’Connor added.
“This greater ability to present solutions for real provider issues allows our customers to create a more successful go-to-market strategy. And I think that that’s what it’s all about today.”
CMR Institute also offers free resources and podcasts on the changing market for med tech companies on its website. And for a deeper understanding of what CMR Institute can do for entrepreneurs, just contact Michelle O’Connor directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post is based on a podcast interview with Michelle O’Connor from the CMR Institute. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to Med Tech Gurus.
If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.
On this episode of Med Tech Gurus, we sat down with Jay Michael Brown with Number Three Investments and CEO of Rock West Medical Devices about some of the market realities and strategies that can affect the success of medical device develop.
Mr. Brown has a degree in Marketing and Business Administration from Western Kentucky with further study at Columbia University and training in Human Resources at Princeton University. With over 40 years of experience in the medical device space, including time spent in the OR, Critical Care, Emergency, Pulmonary, and Vascular Access Markets with various products, he has been a part of or driven eight successful exits to some of the largest Fortune 500 companies in healthcare.
How Companies with Great Potential Miss the Mark
A lot of companies with great potential fall short. This is exceptionally true of technology based companies who must not only develop great products that function with exceptional efficacy, but also meet needs dictated by the market.
Mike told us he’d been a part of many projects, both in their infant stage and into clinicals, that had great potential because of the quality of their product, but ultimately fell short due to market conditions or non-engineering problems.
Once such product was a Pulmonary Monitoring device meant to measure airwave breathing through chest measurements. Despite being “one of the best” products he’d be associated with, they were unable to sufficiently drive the market and came up short. This particular shortcoming was a function of money more than anything else - as it’s extremely expensive to inform the market.
The product far exceeded the expectations. However, the key was physician education - not only on how to use a product, but in the understanding of the need for the product through the niche it fills. Mike admits that he and others didn’t do as much diligence as they could have. Understanding the market is key.
Although they did eventually sell the business for the amount of cash invested, a testament to the business acumen of those involved with the project, the product had great potential to improve patient healthcare, which would have set it up to be an exceptionally lucrative venture. The tech had the makings of a smart ventilator that other companies are adapting to their technologies. Good tech comes back around.
How Companies Can Hit Home Runs
Missteps in the market won’t always be as palatable. Pleasing the venture capitalist by recapturing investments is always better than landing in the red, but it falls far short of the goals for start up investments.
You can get engineers that are extremely bright and know what they want to do, but it takes more than just being able to create a good device. The early diligence of understanding the market is key and can be the downfall for some really great products. The marketplace doesn’t accept every invention out there.
If you have a product that fills a need, you better make sure you’re not only able to teach people how to use it, but also help them understand more profoundly the need for it if you want to sell them the product. They have a wonderful product, but the market need isn’t understood by the market. Educating the market on its needs is what is expensive.
One of the biggest successes Mike had seen was around an IV catheter. The industry had been using needles to administer IV’s. It was easy to see the patient discomfort and cost associated with such necessary equipment, so different companies were trying out plastic catheters. It was a product whose market needed a massive amount of selling. The need was obvious, so the product was greatly successful.
In this case a fantastic product met an exceptional need in the market. Even after many, many iterations the original company is still going strong today. By being able to be sensitive to the market needs - both obvious and what can be informed - your great tech can begin to slid into gaps that can, in turn, profoundly affect the medical field and prove very beneficial for investment.
Advice for Medical Entrepreneurs
“They need to understand the market need,” Mike reiterates. “You can’t say this often enough to someone who has an idea.” There is an uncommon link between good technology and the need it’s meant to meet. Moreover, relationships and communication with physicians and other professionals in the field who make use of this tech, are necessary to inform the market. The sooner your group is aware of this, the more quickly they can research and make plans to adapt to current and projected market patterns.
The second part that’s become is the regulatory pathway. It’s a real problem; you need to understand and know it because it can be a major portion of your cost, especially with all the clinicals.
A startup most likely should never try to take a product all the way to market. This sounds crazy at first, but if you have something that has a real market need, the big three or five companies in the industry don’t do development extremely well and are willing to acquire technology to grow their businesses.
Know your exit candidates. Know who’s playing in the space you’re playing in. Are you the kind of player that can play in this size of a game? Is there a niche you can fill? You can start this conversation post-regulatory. As soon as you’ve finished your clinic work and prove that the product is viable in the marketplace, you can start the exit process. Having a million in sales goes a long way towards proving marketplace need.
This post is based on an interview with Michael Brown from Rockwest Medical Devices. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to MedTech Gurus.
If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.
On this episode of MedTech Gurus, Dr. Alejandro Badia, CEO & Chief Medical Officer of OrthoNow LLC, was kind enough to sit down with us and talk about why being an early adopter is a good thing, how surgeons can teach other surgeons, the biggest challenges facing OrthoNow, and a host of other topics.
Dr. Badia and the team at OrthoNow are revolutionizing the orthopedic urgent care market through the implementation of boutique clinics, available at the patient's convenience, drastically reducing the amount of time needed to get an appointment with a specialist.
Be an Early Adopter
One of the most common mistakes in the medical world is a hesitancy to be an early adopter of new technology and devices. Countless companies have had what it takes, but just miss the mark because they are unwilling to break free of routine and complacency and embrace new ideas.
Take for example, a company that was developing a new suture welding technology. If we’re honest with one another, knot tying is a bit primitive. It treats patients like a shoelace, and often ends in bulk, adhesions, and quite a bit of scarring. This particular company had developed a technology that was less invasive, left less scarring, and healed faster. They were bought by a bigger company, and the entire project fell by the wayside. The company bought the technology, made some fundamental changes, and in the end, the product stalled and was abandoned. This is a shame because neither surgeons nor their patients got the benefits of this breakthrough technology, all because the new company weren't’ interested in being early adopters.
Let Surgeons teach Other Surgeons
Obviously with medical devices, much like most other items, the salesperson is important. They are specially trained and skilled at presenting a product in such a way as to best convince someone of their need for that product.
That being said, the best teacher for a surgeon is probably another surgeon. Take the roller plate that was sold to Johnson & Johnson, revolutionizing the way implants can be marketed. One of the reasons it was done so successfully was that they realized that surgeons can teach other surgeons. They held small workshops where surgeons taught on cadavers how best to use the plates, and in the end, it was an incredible success. In this ever changing world, it’s important to teach people how to do something, rather than merely selling them a product.
Fail Fast, and Fail Forward
In the founding of OrthoCare, Dr. Badia used failure as a catalyst. Before OrthoCare came into existence, there was Doctors Now, a general Urgent Care practice that never quite picked up traction or got the results they were hoping for. It would have been easy for Dr. Badia and his colleagues to move on to the next thing, but he understood that entrepreneurs need to see failure as a revision of the business model. Failure is the catalyst that drives success.
Thomas Edison famously said, after failing over and over again to perfect the light bulb “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”
So 5 months later, the DoctorsNow model became OrthoNow, and has been a runaway success, and is now being franchised. Fail quickly, fail forward, and learn from your failures.
What is Needed is a Change in Behavior
A year or two ago, if you asked what the biggest challenge for OrthoNow was, the answer probably would've been awareness. People need to know that the company exists, which seems like a pretty fundamental challenge to most companies.
Now, however, the answer is quite simple. What is needed is a change in behavior. The tendency with significant injuries, be they sprains, cuts, or even fractures, is to go straight to the emergency room. Or for more minor injuries, the closest urgent care clinic will do. What happens when you get there? You spend hours waiting to be seen, likely get a slough of tests that are unnecessary to your particular ailment, and are sent out with a splint, some pain meds, and a referral to an orthopedic specialist. They can also often end up misdiagnosed, which can have long lasting repercussions for the patient. They’ll say things like “I went to the ER and they told me I had a jammed finger.” This can mean a plethora of different things, and only someone with specific orthopedic knowledge is going to be able to accurately diagnose the issue.
At OrthoCare, the average patient is in and out in 70 minutes with a cast on, ready to begin healing. What if, instead of heading straight for the ER, folks said to themselves “let me drive 15 more minutes to not only save hours of my day, but to get somebody who specializes in orthopedics. Almost everybody who comes through the doors at OrthoNow has been to another doctor first, but they’re out to change that. In this country, we can make healthcare more efficient by seeing the right specialist at the right time.
Know What Surgeons are Looking For
Last but not least, some solid advice for those medical entrepreneurs. Know what surgeons are looking for. They are hit up all the time with new technologies and treatment options. If you have a solid value proposition that’s good for the patient, and cost effective, you’ll get their attention. If it’s not cost effective, the surgeon as well as the patient are spending loads of money on something with little to no return for them.
If you’d like to learn more about franchising an OrthoNow clinic, you can head to OrthoNow and find all the relevant information. You can find Dr. Badia on LinkedIn, or at DrBadia.com
This post is based on an interview with Dr. Alejandro Badia from OrthoNow LLC. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to MedTech Gurus.
If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.
Navigating group purchasing organizations (GPOs) can be daunting, whether you’re an individual entrepreneur launching a great innovative product or you’re a small business looking to sign on to a contract.
Our guru on today’s episode of Med Tech Gurus <link> podcast is Dale Wright from Actalur Group. Listen in as Dale leverages his many years of experience in the industry, sharing how both organizations and entrepreneurs can find success in the GPO sphere.
This article covers the highlights of the interview.
What GPOs Want
Dale’s previous, long-standing role as Chief Contracting Officer at Amerinet (now Intalere) had him interacting with small business and entrepreneurs alike in order to contract and provide innovative medical technology solutions for their GPO members across the US.
Never knowing who might have the next “big thing”, his team was always willing to listen to any tech product presented to them. Any product with merit had to follow their three-fold vetting process, which Dale shared in hopes of helping entrepreneurs understand what criteria most GPOs use when signing new contracts.
Firstly, is your product safe and high-quality? If not, there’s no point in moving forward and discussions should end.
Second, what is the savings benefits for both providers and patients? Again, if savings solutions can’t be passed on to the GPO members, it’s not worth moving forward.
Lastly, what would the revenues look like for the GPO? While less important that the first two, revenue would obviously need to be taken into consideration, and, if they’ve done the first two steps well, revenue will always follow.
Other factors that GPOs take into consideration are customer service (how easy are you to deal with?), distribution capabilities (can you keep up with members’ demands?), and the financial stability of your company.
Where It Can All Go WrongA lot of companies negotiate their group purchasing agreement and think the work is finished, but the work really starts once you get the agreement. Once you get that agreement, it’s basically a hunting license to go call on those group members and show them what you’ve got.
Don’t stop once the contract is signed—it’s the open door you need to launch your success.
Dale also warned of the downfalls of arrogance—whether you are a market leader or just starting out, you don’t have all the answers, and you are only harming your business by being uncooperative. GPO’s have a choice and can easily choose to move on to a similar product from a company who is easier to work with.
9 Tips To Seal The Deal
1. Know your market. If it’s a small market, you might not get the ROI you need to make it worth your time and money. Also, make sure you can actually contribute something innovative to the market, rather than rehashing products that are already making the rounds.
2. Double the amount of capital you think you need. In nearly every case Dale saw of a startup falling over, they didn’t plan for enough capital. Know that it will, most likely, take twice as long to break even.
3. Have a passion for what you’re doing. Most people are savvy enough to see when someone is just trying to collect a paycheck so you have to be the biggest advocate of your product--love it, believe in it, and know how it can help.
4. Hire the right talent to make sure you are represented well. Like you, your representatives should know the product and the industry. Find people who can provide innovative solutions to the challenges you and your members face, who know your product inside and out, and can demonstrate why you have the edge over your competitors.
5. Be reliable and show up. Your customers need to know they can depend on you and that you’re there for them anytime they have a challenge.
6. Work hard! And know you’re probably going to lose a lot of sleep, especially if you are an entrepreneur and investing your own resources into your product. It won’t always be that way and the payoff is worth it.
7. Do your due diligence. Research what is already out there to see what is a potential help or hindrance to your success. You need to understand the needs of the members and whether or not your product can address those.
. Be honest. Tell the truth, whether it’s good news or bad news. Your customers will appreciate that they can depend on your honesty.
9. Be humble. Be grateful for those who give you their business because they have a choice, after all. Approach it as if you were stewarding their needs, rather than treating them with the attitude like you are doing them a favor.
If you have an innovative new medical tech product and would like to reach out to Dale for advice or direction, you can contact him via his LinkedIn profile, or drop him an email email@example.com.
This post is based on a podcast interview with Dale Wright from Actalur Group LLC. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to Med Tech Gurus.
If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.
Imagine if you could have someone on your team that could tell you exactly what an investor, or team of investors, were looking for? Instead of going in and pitching a bland generic deck, you were able to pinpoint your message to the precise interests and desires of those on the other side of the boardroom table?
On this episode of MedTech Gurus, we sat down with Ken Hubbard, the Co-Founder and Chairman of CapStack West, for a chat about angel investors, a big mistake that companies make when pitching to potential investors, and advice on entrepreneurs in the MedTech space.
Ken and his team at CapStack West looked at the MedTech world and saw that there was a massive gap between angel investors & what entrepreneurs were creating. After discovering that only 5% of the companies presented ended up with investments, he decided that it didn't’ make any sense, and he was going to help people looking to make a splash in the MedTech industry get more of their companies invested in.
What the average CEO doesn’t know about raising money?
Obviously, the CEO is an intelligent individual. They’re leading the company, navigating the waters of one of the trickier industries out there, but they may be overlooking one consistent mistake that is all too common in presenting a company to a board of investors.
In every pitch deck, there is a “team slide.” In the MedTech world, this is a slide outlining the individuals who invented the device, the people running the company (often the same ones that invented the device,) and then the board of advisors.
Where most companies make a mistake is listing every advisor on this page, even the ones who don't’ have any financial stake in the company. Most investors are going to want to know that the board of advisors have some financial skin in the game, so to speak. The advisors have known the CEO a lot longer than the investors, and if those advisors haven’t put any money into the company, the investor is going to start asking questions. What are they not being told? Why wouldn’t the folks on the advisory board believe in this enough to put their money where their mouth is, so to speak?
If the advisors aren’t putting money into the company, doesn't’ list them as advisors during your pitch. They can be mentors, they can be supporters, but not advisors. On the flip side, if your advisors are investing in the company, make sure and list them. There may be some situations where the folks on your board cannot legally own a stake in your company, and if so, this should be disclosed.
It’s a competitive world out there. There are far more companies that need capital than there are people to help inject that capital. A recent client of CapStack West, rather than putting forth the investment for training on how to prepare a presentation, decided to crowdfund first. Ken and the team acknowledged this and wanted the client to let them know how it went, and if they needed anything.
Six months went buy, and the client called, saying they had raised $2.4M against a projected ask of $500,000. Upon further explanation, it was revealed that they got promises of $2.4M, but after 6 months of chasing, they only closed just over $100,000.
That is an awful lot of time and effort to talk to all those investors, for very little return. If this particular CEO had been a little more flexible, adapting and allowing guidance from experts, they likely would have been able to close well above their ask.
On the flip side, another client came in and was adaptable and flexible and willing to learn. As they worked together, this CEO, who came from a product & sales background, began thinking and talking like a CEO instead of a salesman. A salesman will tell you how great the product is, whereas a CEO will tell you how you’re going to make money from your investment.
Less than 2 years later, and that company is on path to do over $10M in sales this year.
Build a Plan around Valuation
The MedTech market is heavily regulated, and built upon a very long cycle. By the time a device gets to market, it may have already been sold once or twice. Instead of one large round of investments, build a plan around valuation. Launch a round of investments knowing that another round will come later.
A lot of companies know before they even present that they're not going to be the ones to get a product to market. They know the product will be sold prior to its market debut. If you can go into a meeting speaking the language of valuation, you’re far more likely to get a positive response from an investor. If you go in saying “we have $10M valuation which includes our IP, presales, where the product is to date, and after successful clinicals, it will be valued at X,” how much more attractive is that to an investor?
There is an incredibly large network of a new type of investor out there, one that wants to change the world. These investors are very well positioned to do big things for the MedTech industry, so get out there and look for these World Changers.
If you’re interested in learning more about CapStack West, or joining the CapStack network, head to capstackwest.com, and sign up for a free trial. You can also find Ken on LinkedIn, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post is based on an interview with Ken Hubbard from CapStack West. To hear this episode, and many more like it, you can subscribe to MedTech Gurus.
If you don’t use iTunes, you can listen to every episode here.
Recently I was watching one of those Sunday Morning political shows. You know the type… there is the host and two distinguished guest both polar opposites in their point of view on the issue being focused on.
Of course the outcome is always predictable with each guest trying to shoehorn their talking points in the very limited air time they have. It deteriorates into the two of them trying to talk (or shout) over each other. Then add the host yelling over the top of them to try to gain control of the interview.
The lead me to consider the value of listening.
Most experienced medical device sales reps would tell you, “I am a very good listener and am always engaged with my customer”. This is likely true, at least on the surface. In my own experience I find that I will sometime drift to “Listening to respond”.
What I mean by this is often I find myself listening to the point that I start to formulate my response or my next question to direct the sales interview. In many instances missing a subtle point or gesture that might have helped me steer the interview.
As a Medical Device Sales Manager and coach I see this almost daily from the most seasoned of Med Device sales pros. After we leave the prospects office I might ask them about an issue the prospect raised, or why they lead the conversation a particular way. Their response tells me they totally missed the point (or opportunity…. Trust me if it was a big opportunity I would chime in and ask the question myself.
My point with all of this is it is real easy to fall into the habit of listening to respond versus being an “ACTIVE LISTENER”. So the question is, how do I correct this?
Well over the years I have handed out probably 50 copies of
“Stop Telling and Start Selling”
By Linda Richardson
This book is loaded with thoughts, examples and ideas for how to become a more productive sales person, simply by becoming an active listener. I often pick it up and review a chapter or two. Interestingly enough when I do, sometime during the next week or ten days I get a big order that I had been working on for months.
So ask yourself, “AM I AN ACTVE LISTENER?” You might be interested in your answer. If you are really daring ask the question to a spouse, partner or friend!
When asking the typical medical device sales person about the positive (fun part) and negative (“ugh” part) of their role. Almost always prospecting or cold calling is in the negative part.
If you have ever performed this activity it can be “dreadful” to be sure. Especially if your company or manager has not provided the proper tools, or coaching, for you to achieve a high level of positive result from this activity. So, the questions are; “How does a good medical device sales consultant prepare for this activity?” or even before that “Why do I need to do this? I have a great territory a terrific medical technology and I am at or above my number!”
The Why Question
Let’s start with the why question first. Now this may seem pain fully obvious. Everyone in a sales meeting will discuss how they approach prospecting, coupled with a great deal of cheerleading and pumping the team up. However, day to day when one is all by themselves in their territory it can be dreadful to get out of the nice warm car, or pick up that telephone and call that new account. One has to get out of their comfort zone… and approach and talk to someone (who is very busy) and interrupt their day.
What if they don’t like me? What if they hate my company or technology? They might yell at me! They might hang up the phone! Yep, all possibilities, and this is why a significant percentage of new medical device sales people fail. They are simply not prepared for what it might take to perform this critical activity! So they simply do not prospect, or at best provide a token effort.
As you read through the great deal of material available and/or use CRMs or other systems out there, they each have a common theme for prospecting or new account development. This is a crucial activity for all of us. Yes ALL of us, I can hear many of the Med Tech Sales Managers out there saying , “I am beyond that”… um no not really as it is important as a sales manager that you are grooming your own prospects too… sorry chief.. you can’t dodge that one! I personally find that I often have to lecture myself on not prospecting enough it is easy to do, yet there is no activity more important to you personally and your company! So let’s think about how to prepare yourself and your customer for what is about to happen.
The How Question
There is no doubt that prospecting isn’t easy. There are many layers of defense that our future clients have. Gate keepers, voice-mail, email, in some industries vendor credentialing, yes it is tough. However there are several simple yet critical techniques that can raise your success rate and make it rewarding and perhaps even fun (ok less dreadful).
The point here is the more a medical device sales person (or manager) dedicates themselves to the concept of prospecting the more likely they will be to not just succeed, but will more than likely blow there number away. This takes mental toughness and dedication, with a healthy dose of preparation.
Yes, it is hard work there is no doubt. One can read about various systems and techniques. They are like diet books your book store, library and on line retailers are loaded with them. At the end of the day it is work! Work you need to plan for and prepare for. It is however worth it. Believe it or not… it’s your customers that will thank you as you just made their life better!
This weekend I took some time to participate in one of my favorite and relaxing activities.
You guessed it …. Flying! I have been a private pilot for 12 years and I find it to be one of the most enjoyable activities, individually or with the family.
This weekend’s activity was individual. It is crucial for a pilot of any level of certification to stay current. Certainly, one would expect this with your commercial airline pilots or the fighter jocks that (deservedly so) get all the glory. Well the same is true for a private pilot, there are standards of currency we must maintain to legally fly.
This got me to thinking about one’s professional life and the mentoring of sales people I have participated in throughout my career. Every time I work with a sales team member I work into the conversation, “What are you currently reading?” I am astounded by how often I get that 1000-mile stare, or the sheepish grin when I hear the title of the latest novel (at least in this case they are reading something!).
There are so many great business authors both established and contemporary to check out. There are also great leaders to read about so we can learn by their example and how they overcame challenges. If you don't like to read there are dozens of terrific videos on YouTube for FREE!!! So, you can’t even complain about the cost, it’s there for the simple investment of a little time.
So, let me ask you. Are you current? When I turn the key on my Cessna Cardinal you hope and expect me to be current (and certainly the F.A.A. does). Don’t you owe it to yourself, your family and customers to be current in your professional life? Challenge yourself to read one business book or one book about one great leader per month, I think you will be pleasantly surprised with the positive results you will see, because you will be current.
By the way, your customers and co-workers, perhaps even your manager, will notice the difference.