Make 2011 your year! Target the medical sales job you want to get the life you want this year by trying something new–get the How to Get Into Medical Sales audio kit, use LinkedIn techniques to contact hiring managers directly, or invest in career coaching to position yourself for success!
Best of luck to you in 2011,
The 3rd annual G2 Reports LabCompete Sales and Marketing Conference in Las Vegas was a success!
The Venetian is a very swanky facility with lots of amenities, and it was a great place for the conference. Having said that, though, being in it feels a bit like being a rat in a maze. It’s not set up so that you can get outside–it’s set up so that you can get to the slot machines and gambling tables. So I’d like to tell you that the weather was beautiful, but I can’t. I have no idea.
As promised, the lineup of speakers was really fantastic. There were some great sessions on integrating CRMs, the power of social media in marketing, specialized testing, and tons of other thought-provoking ideas. But I’ve got to say that the best presentation there was by Ron Andrews, the CEO of Clarient, which was just purchased by GE. He had a great message about focus, strategy, listening to your customer, and how important your sales reps are to your success.
I spoke about laboratory compensation and recruiting, really more about what compensation packages should include, and what kinds of benefits should go with them. The biggest pain point I heard from folks (and a general theme I noticed weaving its way throughout the conference), was a general frustration with the skill level and resulting success of laboratory sales reps, as well as the level of candidates hiring managers are seeing in the marketplace.
Those are really two different issues, even though they are related….but if what you’re doing isn’t working, then you should do something different. The first part of solving those issues is finding the right people. I think a lot of companies don’t know that they should (or are reluctant to) access a recruiter who specializes in their area and can provide great candidates rapidly–AND who can provide insight, based on past experience, into what will work best for individual companies.
For instance, we received a post-conference call from a pathologist who wanted to hire someone as soon as possible for a sales role. His takeaway from the conference (that his marketing reps attended) was that he needs to hire someone who’s already done that particular sales process. For a smaller company like his (between $5-$10 million), that’s a good bet. There’s not a lot of resources to spread around and someone who has absolutely already done that exact job can hit the ground running. A larger company with more resources, on the other hand, needs to put together a sales training program so that there’s consistency in the sales force. That set up allows for a wider pool of candidates to choose from who have the basic skill set needed but can be trained in the specifics for that company.
Speaking of sales force management: who is your sales rep reporting to? This is another area where a relatively small change can result in a huge positive impact for a company. If your sales rep reports to a lab manager, pathologist, or even the CEO, you’re missing a tremendous opportunity. Those folks just do not have the time, attention, and the love that a sales rep needs to maximize performance. That sales rep needs to speak to someone every day–to share issues, brainstorm, problem-solve, and keep a managerial (unbiased and critical) eye on their performance numbers.
I advise companies to take a hard look at how their sales force management is set up–who’s managing it and what that process looks like. What I’ve seen across the board is that if you have a strong leader in place, your sales reps as a whole become better. And if you have an under-performing sales rep, that leader can help you exit that person and replace him with someone who is a better fit.
What do you think? Did you attend the conference? What made the biggest impact on your thinking for the future?
I hope that you and your family enjoy a happy and peaceful Christmas!
— Peggy McKee, the Medical Sales Recruiter
What’s the most important goal for a medical sales manager? Building a top-performing team. To do that, you need to hire top-performing sales reps.
But, because sales managers have (usually) not been taught how to conduct a good interview, and often rely on instinct to identify a new hire, they can make mistakes. The “hunter” they thought they were hiring turns out to be a mediocre sales rep who happened to be a great interviewer and rapport-builder.
How do you avoid hiring mistakes?
1. Identify what you need.
Your first step should always be to review your current team. What already works well for your team is very likely to work well in the future. You can use personality assessments (which are very effective), or look for similarities in experience and education.
Define your performance expectations for your sales reps, and use them to look for new hires. You have to know what you’re looking for in order to find it.
2. Make a list of questions to ask.
Once you have your goals in mind, it becomes easier to build a set of questions that will reveal if the candidate can fulfill them. Having a written list of questions to refer to helps you focus more on the candidate’s responses.
Behavioral interview questions are fantastic for drawing out what a candidate can really do. How do they handle the competition, look for opportunities, or deal with setbacks?
Are they continually sharpening the saw? Have they read any sales books lately?
Most important question: ask them directly how they will achieve the results you need in that position. (Hint: if they bring out their 30/60/90-day plan, you have likely discovered a winner.)
3. Tailor your interview to the candidate.
Just like candidates should target their resumes to highlight why they’d be a good fit for the job, you should read the resume closely in order to determine strengths and weaknesses that can help you create your interview questions.
3. Know what you’re willing to be flexible about.
Are you willing to take a candidate with less experience but the right background/personality?
Is your approach to hiring sales reps that you want someone “trainable” or very experienced?
Must that person have experience in medical sales, or are you willing to consider transferable skills?
4. Know what you can offer to reel them in.
You’re going to have to work a little harder to snag a true hunter.
What salary range can you offer? What about bonuses/percentages?
Do you have any room to negotiate benefits?
Where are your opportunities for advancement?
5. Pay attention.
This sounds basic, but it’s just as important that you listen to what a candidate doesn’t say, as to what he does.
Watch body language, and don’t be afraid to allow a little silence during the interview to see how the candidate fills it.
Take notes to refer to later, when you’re making the decision.
Always check references.
And don’t forget, you can always make your your interviews faster, easier, and much more effective by choosing candidates who have been pre-screened and pre-qualified by the medical sales experts at PHC Consulting.
It usually feels risky to hire someone. You’re taking a chance that this particular sales rep can do the job that will help you keep your job. So what’s a smart medical sales manager to do? Eliminate as much of the risk as possible.
Michael Mercer’s article, 3 Ways to Catch Sales Applicants Who Lie to You (which I found on The Sales Hunter), offers some great tips to help you turn the hiring process from a gamble into a sure thing:
1. Administer personality tests.
2. Use specific techniques (“tricks”) that put less-than-honest candidates on notice…but won’t offend truth-tellers.
3. Use your application form to encourage truthfulness.
(Or, you could go the simple, cost-effective route and get your pre-screened, pre-qualified, fully-vouched-for, top-performing medical sales and marketing professionals straight from the Medical Sales Recruiter…)
Job interview scheduling is usually a straight-forward process for hiring managers, but occasionally there are snags like this one:
My client booked my female candidate on a 7am flight (planning to interview her that day) with a same-day return arriving back home at 1am. The candidate was not happy for a couple of reasons—(1) that meant she would have to be up around 4am to get ready, get to the airport, and get through security in time for her flight, only to have to freshen up in the airport bathroom before the interview (she felt that it wouldn’t allow her to make her best impression) and (2), finding her car at 1am in an airport parking garage to go home wasn’t her idea of a safe thing to do.
So why would a well-meaning company do that? Sometimes companies schedule same-day flights out of consideration for a candidate who has to take off work, to avoid making them take any more time off than necessary. Sometimes it’s a cost-cutting measure for them, and sometimes it’s even a strength test to see how well the candidate performs in difficult situations. And sometimes, it’s just a last-minute booking issue.
These can all be valid reasons, but when the schedule becomes extreme like this one, I think it sends the wrong message about the company to the candidate: that the company’s cheap and doesn’t care about its employees, which means it won’t take care of them in the long run. That kind of message could scare off a great candidate. What’s worse—it could cause safety liability issues for the company.
What’s most important to you when you schedule candidate interviews? Making a great impression? Saving money? What other factors do you consider?
The Motley Fool’s list of the top medical device companies (in terms of stock ratings, anyway), includes some pretty big companies (Becton, Dickinson, and Co.; Abbott Laboratories; Johnson & Johnson; Medtronic; and Mako Surgical are on the list), and these heavy-hitters usually get the majority of job seekers’ attention. Corporations do have their perks (networking and exposure to name a couple)…but don’t skip the smaller companies. Why?
At a company like Johnson & Johnson, for example, you’re going to be one medical device rep out of a thousand. At a smaller company, you’re one of 35 sales reps (or so). A ratio like that changes everything.
- That means the VP of sales knows your name.
- Stronger relationships within the company will result in stronger recommendations for you later, when you’re ready to move on.
- Plus, you’ll get more recognition for your hard work now.
- You’re also likely (as in any smaller company) to have more flexibility in your job, and gain a wider variety of experiences.
- In smaller companies, employees tend to wear more hats. That broader skill-building experience will translate into fantastic benefits later on.
Smaller companies can be great places to build your career, and simply thinking about where you want to go over the long term can inform your “big company vs. small company” decision.
I posted this in October, but I’m posting it again since this outstanding conference is coming up at the end of this week. (I’m packing my suitcase now…)
If you’re interested in the latest sales and marketing strategies for your lab to raise your profile and stand out from the rest, register for the G-2 Reports’ 2010 LabCompete Sales and Marketing Conference! It’s December 8-10 at the Venetian Las Vegas.
It’s a great conference, packed with practical, powerful techniques to help you drive the growth of your lab. There’s a really fantastic lineup of topics and speakers this year…and I’m not just saying that because I am a speaker! (I will be presenting “Laboratory Sales Compensation: 2010 Survey Results and Analysis.”)
Here’s what else you’ll learn (from their brochure):
- Proven lab services sales strategies and savvy, successful marketing techniques
- How and why to infuse a proactive sales philosophy at all levels of your company
- Key market drivers and changing industry dynamics that are affecting your growth strategy
- Successful sales and marketing strategies unique to growing specialized testing
- Compensation plan benchmarks using the latest industry data
- Current market developments to fine-tune your 2011 sales and marketing plan
- Sales growth drivers that move you away from forcing “self-inflicted” price decisions
Get all the details and registration info for this outstanding conference here:
See you there!
Can you believe it? 2010 is almost a memory! Looking back over the year, here’s what you all have been the most interested in this year–our top 7, most-read posts for 2010:
If you missed one, now’s your chance to go back and take a look.
**Tip for the day: send along the link to this post to someone who’s interested in finding a job in medical sales, medical device sales, pharmaceutical sales, laboratory sales, or any other health care sales. They’ll thank you.