Be More Than Just a Sales Rep, Be A Clinical Asset
Being successful is not easy; it takes hard work, a lot of effort, and a lot of time. We spoke with Travis Ward, Manager, Surgical Products Portfolio & Sales Education, about his experience with medical device sales, his recent transition into the sales educator role, and how to dominate the medical device sales field.
Travis believes that anyone interested in pursuing a career in medical device sales should learn by experience. There are many online medical device sales colleges and other programs, but hands-on experience is more beneficial for your education and career. Putting yourself out there for an internship or a minor position in the company allows you to become knowledgeable about the products and prepare yourself better for becoming a medical sales rep.
The best way to keep and maintain a good relationship is face-to-face interaction, out of sight, out of mind. You must distinguish yourself as a clinical asset, not just a sales rep. Make yourself stand apart from the rest by showing that you care about the HCPs needs and taking the time to explain the devices to them and answer their questions. It is beneficial for successful sales reps to create a relationship, not just a transactional one-time deal. Make them want to need you or want to talk to you. Travis found it greatly beneficial instead of dropping off samples like some of the other reps, he would stick around throughout the surgery and be helpful in the OR. Travis said, “Before the case, when the scrub tech is setting up, I’d have the scrub tech set up each individual item in order so the surgeon wouldn’t have to ask for a specific item. The scrub tech would just hand it off anticipating. So, the doctor knew if he was going to use products from my previous employer, that I would be there facilitating the scrub tech so I could speed up the case for the surgeon. They really appreciated that, and it was huge for me. Some companies would just drop trays off.” Going the extra mile will open doors and new opportunities and relationships.
When the COVID-19 Pandemic hit, Travis and the rest of the medical device sales reps were uncertain about what that meant for their access to the hospitals and their relationships. Despite all the uncertainty, Travis realized that the pandemic benefited medical device sales reps more. Travis stated, “I think the pandemic really helped reps, honest reps understand how their accounts felt about them. Like if they had zero access, then to that account, they were just a sales rep. If they had access, then that account viewed them as an asset or someone they had to do business with.” When in surgery, Travis realized that it was not about him, not about hitting a sales number, or even the doctor. “It is a random Tuesday for you, but there is a person on the table. To that person, someone’s mother or loved one, it is the most important day of their week, probably of their month, maybe of their year, one of the most important days of their life possibly. We are dealing with surgical oncologist, surgical urologist, surgical gynecologist that are trying to deliver life-altering procedures, the rep is there for the best possible outcome for that patient, not just to make a sale or hit their number,” states Travis.
The Best Training the Best
Travis has been putting together a new education program for the incoming reps. He wants to separate the new incoming reps fresh to the program from the more advanced reps who have been there for 90+ days. The best way to learn something new is by repeating it over and over, like when you were little, and you practiced writing your name over and over on a piece of paper.
Practice makes perfect, and Travis is a big advocate for “do one, teach one,” so when the reps are practicing putting together the medical device while explaining, for them to really nail it down, they need to demonstrate it for someone else. He aims to focus on core product lines in the first six months of the PMI reps’ career. He wants their education to be simple, straightforward, and valuable for their career.
Travis mentioned that stepping into the portfolio manager role was a big learning curve. Still, he has been fortunate enough to have a team like Reneé, Amanda, and Melissa to help him. Without having a team or a leader to help guide you along the way, you would not be able to achieve your full potential. As technology advances and AI evolves, Travis hopes to see cancer and other life-threatening diseases become modern inconveniences. Maybe Travis will still be in medical device sales, making headway toward unforeseen cures and still maintaining quality relationships with his HCPs.