Getting Started as a New Medical Sales Rep: How Do I Handle My Co-Workers?

Dear Medical Sales Manager:

beginner tips for the medical sales rep

I am a brand new medical device sales rep.  I am just starting to meet everyone in the company, and I’ve been warned about office politics, and want to make sure I get off on the right foot.  Got any advice?

Dear Medical Sales Rep—

The biggest thing I want you to remember is to use the same skills internally as you do externally.  Now what does that mean?  It means to use the same people skills that you have for dealing with customers to also deal with the people in your company.

People in the home office have a huge impact on your success in the field—everyone from the person that reviews and pays your expenses to the person that manages your demo inventory to your boss’s administrative assistant—although there are many others.  Use your people skills to work with them, and don’t be surprised if you run into these things:

1)      Some “inside” people have no idea what’s really involved in managing a field-based sales territory.  They think you call customers, take them to lunch and then they buy (kind of like that ad for La Quinta with the Eskimos-We’ll take 90, 000 units).  As a result, sometimes you get attitude because they think there is no way you work as hard as they do.  Not everyone will think like that, but it isn’t an uncommon thing.  It’s not really that different from some of your customers who don’t realize how hard you work, either.  In both cases, you have to modify how you communicate with them.

2)      Some people are just difficult to deal with.  Period.  They are scarcity-based people that only see the glass half-empty.  They dislike you because you have “The High Pro Glow”, i.e. you radiate confidence and being a winner.  It doesn’t matter—you still have to deal with them (just like you have to deal with customers who are jerks) so get over it and find a way to manage the situation.  It normally involves being nice, learning more about that person’s family and interests and just plain biting your lip sometimes.

Here are some more specific tips for you:

  • When you go in house for training, take the time to introduce yourself to EVERYONE.  The switchboard operator and the people in shipping are often overlooked—but they shouldn’t be.
  • $10 Starbucks cards go a long way.  Buy some yourself (don’t expense them) and hand them out to people you will be working with.  The person that handles your travel is another great candidate for some love.
  • If your facility has a cafeteria, buy or organize a lunch for your internal team when you are in house.  Also, try and never eat alone while you are in house.  The networking time will help you in the long run.
  • Almost all internal organizations have recognition programs.  Find out how they measure superior performance and submit nominations for those on your internal team when they deliver customer delight.
  • Don’t forget to praise your internal team (anyone who’s helped you) for their support whenever you get any positive attention.

That’s what I mean when I tell you to use the same skills internally as you do externally.  Keep your co-workers happy with you by using the same skills that keep your customers happy.

Written by Peggy McKee - the medical sales recruiter
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