A few days ago, I posted Part 1 of Lisa McCallister’s two-part post on A Day-in-the-Life of an Endoscopic Technologies Rep. (Lisa is a medical device recruiter who blogs on MyJobScope: Inside the World of Medical Device Sales and Marketing.) Today is Part 2, where she explores the top 3 things a rep must do in order to succeed, as well as a realistic look at how much time it takes to be a medical device rep and what that time is spent doing on a day-to-day basis.
I love these posts, because they show you just how much you can really benefit from a job shadowing experience, and you can really start to see just how much they can help you stand out in your medical sales interview.
From the second endoscopy center, we drove down to a hospital where they rep had recently sold a Beamer system, an electrosurgical unit which can be used to stop bleeding in the digestive track. Unlike surgeons, who love blood almost as much as vampires, the rep explained that the tension level in the endoscopy suite usually goes through the roof when there is a “bleeder”. He told me that some of the cautious G.I. doctors in rural areas will send their patients to urban hospitals at the first suspicion of blood.
The rep explained how much more in-depth the sales cycle for this particular product had been. Although the sale of such a product is frequently doctor driven, in this particular instance it had been the nurse manager who had really pushed the purchase. In smaller community hospitals, doctors may be on 8-12 week rotations, lessening their influence in buying decisions. After making the sale, the rep had in-serviced the staff for 8 hours a day over the course of an entire week. During that time, he identified one staff member as someone he could tap as a “specialist” to help others in the account when they had questions, lessening the on-going support demands on him.
Since it was about 12 noon when we arrived at the hospital, and the festivities of GI nurses day far from over, we met a pizza delivery guy in the lobby. Although meals are not a standard operating procedure for device reps, it was a special day after all, and yours truly was working up an appetite.
The rep signed on one of the vendor tracking systems in the lobby. Later, he told me how meticulous he had to be about signing in and out. If he left a facility without signing out, the vendor system could lock him out and he would not be able to login at the next facility he visited.
We went up to the GI floor, where it happened to be a pretty quiet day. In the storage room, the rep retrieved the Beamer system for an in-service. On the side of the unit, the rep had added a couple of plastic hooks for hanging the cords used with the system. He had labeled shelves and created sample “kits” of the disposable products used with the system. I was impressed at the way he had organized his products to make use of them as simple as possible for his customers. Organization was certainly one of this reps strengths.
Later, when he in-serviced a nurse on the system, it occurred to me just how many different products medical staff are expected to know how to use. While a product in isolation might seem simple and intuitive, remembering the codes, set-ups and functions of a product in the context of a complex hospital setting is something very different. This is why medical device reps play such an important role in training or in-servicing hospital staff.
We checked out the scope room where a few dozen flexible endoscopes hung like long black snakes. Knowing that each scope probably cost thousands of dollars, I recognized just how expensive the inventory in that small room was. I wondered why there were so many and I soon found out why.
Next, the rep showed me the room where they scopes were cleaned. There were specialized cleaning units for cleaning and sterilizing the scopes through multiple steps. Each scope took at least 2 hours to cycle through the cleaning process.
On a busy day with multiple procedures, many scopes were needed in rotation due to the lag time of cleaning. I didn’t clean any scopes that day, but the rep asked the nurse manager if he could come back sometime to watch and even help in order to learn- a smart approach to learning more about his customer.
After lunch, we headed back into the city to yet another account. Along the way, I worked through a few more questions, such as:
How much of your time do you dedicate to the different aspects of your job? 15-20% cases, 15-20% travel or preparing for it 30% making calls and the remainder of time in-servicing existing accounts and products or handling paperwork.
What are the top 3 things a rep must do in order to succeed in this business? 1. get organized 2. learn products 3. hustle
Fill in the blank: If you love (hardwork) you will love this job. If you hate (being flexible) you will hate this job.
The rep had long targeted medical sales as the industry he wanted to be in, but paid his dues gaining outside B2B sales experience first. His advise to others hoping to break into the industry is to establish a successful track record in sales and document it in a brag book.
Prior to working in medical sales, this rep worked in the wine business. I asked him how the two industries compared. In the wine industry, he was accustomed to working 70-80 hours a week, including Saturday and Sunday. “At least doctors take vacations,” he said, compared to the non-stop 365 schedule of retail and restaurants. In many ways, he finds the sales processes very similar, because both required selling at multiple levels in order to gain the business. The customers in medical sales are much more professional though. “At least a doctor knows what he’s talking about, compared to a snobby wine merchant who thinks he knows everything,” he said.
At the next account, we met with a nurse who was interested in pricing on several products. He took notes and promised to follow-up with a quote. It was a short call and to the point, but looked like it could lead to a nice sale. The rep offered the nurse a binder filled with various catalogs of product and his business card. As we headed out, the rep mentioned that he preferred to create binder where all the product information could be contained. Brochures tended to end up in the trash. Once again, the rep was thinking of ways to make things easier for his accounts. It was a consistent theme throughout the day.
Back at the car, I asked the rep to show me his trunk. It was neatly packed with various products, brochures and customer information. The rep said he felt that lack of organization was a contributing reason for reps failure. “If you are not organized, you’ll sink in this business,” he said. Not only organizing stuff, but time and travel was key. Planning ahead for travel enabled him to better control costs and coordinate his schedule with his wife.
The ride-along was a terrific way for me to learn more about the day in the life of a Endoscopic technologies rep- and I hope for you too! And although GI nurses and associates day is a new holiday for me, it’s one I plan on celebrating again next year!
Want to break into medical sales? Don’t miss this step-by-step kit from the Medical Sales Recruiter: How to Get Into Medical Sales. It’s the “secret formula” to landing almost any medical sales job-even if you have no experience.
Ever wonder what life would be like as a medical sales rep?
Let today’s guest author, Lisa McCallister of My Job Scope: Inside the World of Medical Device Sales and Marketing, give you some insight into A Day-in-the-Life of an Endoscopic Technologies Rep. It’s an entertaining and informative look at a ride-along with a medical sales rep. Read on…
A couple of weeks ago on a Wednesday morning, I met up with the local sales rep for ConMed Endoscopic Technologies before 8:00 am. Like the rep, I was decked out in a pair of scrubs and a comfortable pair of running shoes.
It happened to be GI Nurses and Associates Day. Who knew there was such a holiday? Apparently, I had a lot to learn!
Our first stop was a nearby endoscopy center, where due to the festive occasion, we dropped off some bagels. One of the nurses invited us back to a large storage room. The walls were lined with products from different companies.
The rep asked for the nurse who was responsible for ordering a certain product. Over the course of the day, we talked to nurses in several facilities who ordered product and seemed to have a lot of discretion over the purchases. In this case, the rep let the ordering nurse and several others know about other products he offered. He also got the name of a rep for one of the large national distributors.
When we were back in the car, he explained that he found it beneficial to partner with distributor reps in areas of his large territory, especially those who were tenured and have long-term relationships with customers. In such instances, as a manufacturer’s rep, he goes into the accounts with the distributor reps, closes new business for his products, and handles all the in-servicing of the account. Both he and the distributor rep increase their sales as a result.
We arrived at another endoscopy center on the other side of town. The waiting room was full of eager patients looking forward to a colonoscopy. This routine diagnostic procedure, recommended for most people at 50 years of age, is the most common GI procedure performed. Other common procedures include esophagogastroduodenoscopy, more commonly referred to as EGD or Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography, a.k.a ERCP. (Thank goodness for acronyms!)
Here, we had an interesting conversation with the nurse manager. She had primary responsibility for sourcing many of the products used in the facility. One of her first questions was if the sales rep knew where to find collapsible wast canisters due to space constraints. The thought of all the medical waste generated by the facility sitting in a dump somewhere bothered her.
The nurse manager complemented the CET rep on his strong customer service, and grumbled about another company who had recently switched to a 1-800 number for all product issues. “When I have a patient on the table, I don’t want to call a 1-800 number and talk to someone who doesn’t know me or my situation.” She finds it harder to get things resolved quickly, compared to speaking directly with a sales rep for an immediate answer.
She also shared her experience about working with a rep who became “livid” when she had decided to buy from another company. The rep tried to low-ball on price. She told him flatly that was not how she did business. The rep then said he would go to another person in the facility about the purchase.
Not a smart move.
It was the nurse manager’s turn to be livid. “Excuse me,” she said to the low-ball sales rep, “I think you are misinformed about who is buying the product.” To us she explained that she wants to do business with someone who shares her ethics and values, and is honest and fair. This particular rep was someone she would never buy from as a result of this incident.
Back in the car, I asked the sales rep how he handled situations like the one she described. After all, it is a sales rep’s responsibility to figure out how to get the business. While making people angry is not a good way to grow one’s business, sometimes reps need to find alternative avenues for making a sale. The CET rep said he would consider approaching someone else in a facility for support in a similar situation, but he wouldn’t confront the other decision maker blatantly. Rather, he would ask someone else for support, and then fess up that he’d hit a wall elsewhere.
Part two, in which the heroine eats pizza and cleans a scope (well, almost.)
Want to break into medical sales? Don’t miss this step-by-step kit from the Medical Sales Recruiter: How to Get Into Medical Sales. It’s the “secret formula” to landing almost any medical sales job.
I am a big proponent of job shadowing (aka ride-alongs, ride-withs, or preceptorships), and not just for entry-level medical sales candidates–it’s a fantastic strategy for candidates who are moving from one area of medical sales to another.
For example, pharma reps moving to medical device sales or laboratory sales would gain a huge edge over other candidates by having this experience that goes beyond typical job interview preparation. And then, when you incorporate it into your resume and your 30-60-90-day sales plan, it’s the icing on the cake.
The questions you ask when you job shadow are very important. You have a limited amount of time to get this done, so you need to get it right. In the video below, I have a list questions to ask that will help you. Best of luck!
If “no experience” is stopping you from the dream job that you desire?
Listen to this short audio clip about how to overcome this objection…..
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Job shadowing is a great career builder for anyone interested in medical sales, whether you’re focused on medical devices, laboratory, surgical, imaging, pharmaceutical, or any health care sales arena. Sometimes known as a field preceptorship, this experience is great because it
- sets you apart as a “go-getter”,
- beefs up your resume with keywords that get attention,
- builds your network (and proves that you can), and
- gives you more informed answers to interview questions, resulting in a better interview.
It’s one of those “above and beyond” things that aren’t necessarily essential to get the job, but can make a huge difference in whether or not you do.
Even though it’s easy to understand how beneficial job shadowing is, it can be hard to actually go out and get that experience. In today’s video, I’ll tell you how. You can get a job shadowing experience through your own network, by using social media, or you can get contacts from the medical sales recruiter.
Today is Part 4 of our series, The Secret to Standing Out in Your Medical Sales Job Search. To recap,
Part 1 was Rethink Your Job Search
Part 2 was Use Social Media
Tip #4 is:
Try Job Shadowing
Job shadowing is not just a “try out” for your new health care sales career (although it’s great for that). Job shadowing gives you
- keywords that get your resume noticed in HR computer systems,
- material for your 30-60-90-day plan, and
- more informed answers to interview questions.
Not only does it supply you with a more substantial base for your job search, it also sets you apart as someone who’s willing to go the extra mile (literally). You will have demonstrated that you have energy, enthusiasm, a willingness to learn, and a drive to be successful–must-have qualities in medical sales, surgical sales, medical device sales, laboratory sales, imaging sales, or pharmaceutical sales.
So what’s your first step?
Find someone to shadow (most people are flattered to be asked). You can ask your local doctor’s office or laboratory for contacts. (Assure them that you’re not after their job or interested in working for the company they are with–you’re not the competition.) The day of, find out what a typical day is like, and ask the person you’re shadowing how to be more competitive in the job search and on the job. Have a list of questions ready to go, but be observant and come up with new ones as you go through the day. Be sure to ask your mentor for their advice (and maybe treat them to lunch). Absolutely send a thank you note.
A job shadowing experience increases your odds of landing the job dramatically. It sets you apart as a “go-getter” and shows that you can make contacts, and it’s another way to help the hiring manager see you in the job.
Bonus Info: Check out these free one-hour webinars for additional tips on landing a job in medical sales:
Are you looking to transition to medical sales? Do you know exactly which area of health care sales will be the best fit for you? There’s a big difference in the various areas: medical devices looks a lot different from pharmaceutical sales; surgical sales is different from laboratory sales; and imaging sales is different from clinical diagnostics. And if you haven’t worked in sales at all, you’re going to need to need the extra help.
Whether you are being forced to move on because of the current economic situation, or whether you’re one of the millions of adults switching careers just because you’re ready for a change, consider a field preceptorship (aka: job shadowing) to give yourself a boost.
Job shadowing isn’t just for students. The reason it’s so associated with students is because they’re the biggest group of people setting out on a new path. But just because you’re an adult doesn’t mean it’s not a great idea for you, too. Anyone trying something new needs a way to test the waters first, and job shadowing can do a whole lot more for you, too.
- Job shadowing lets you try out a career for a day to see if you’re really interested. You might like the idea of a job, but not like the day-to-day rhythms and challenges of it. And liking a job’s “typical day” is going to mean greater success for you down the road. It’s very important that you ask questions about the job, what the person likes and dislikes about it, what’s a good career path look like, and what more you need to do to get your foot in the door.
- Job shadowing is a great way to build your network in that area of the woods. You’ve just started with your mentor for the day. But you’re going to be asking questions, finding out who’s who, and meeting people.
- Job shadowing helps you get critical keywords for your resume. Sure, you’re going to play up your transferable skills when you’re angling for a new career area. Along with that, you can use the job shadowing experience to give you the buzz words that HR’s computer systems are looking for when they scan for interview possibilities. Giving that experience a spot on your resume also shows that you’re a person who’s creative, enthusiastic, willing to learn, and willing to go the extra mile for success.
- Job shadowing helps you have a better interview. If you get called in for the interview, your job shadowing experience is going to give you more “meat” to talk about. You’re going to have more understanding of a typical day on the job and what the challenges and issues will be. That’s going to help you speak more intelligently about what you can bring to the table, and why it’s going to be a good idea to hire you. It’s also going to help tremendously in creating your 30/60/90-day plan–which is vital to your interview success when transitioning careers.
Seriously consider a job shadowing experience. Most people will be flattered that you asked, and will be more than willing to help. (It would be a nice gesture to treat them to lunch, though.) Just remember to do your research first, come dressed for work with your list of questions ready to go, and be sure to send a thank you note later.
Here’s a link to a video on Steps to Job Shadowing In Medical Sales.
Job shadowing is just what it sounds like: you be someone’s “shadow” for the day, to learn what a typical day is like in their job. It’s also known as a field preceptorship, or a ride-along (especially accurate for going with sales reps on their routes). It’s a “tryout” for you with no pressure. It gives you a chance to see if you like that work environment, and see what it takes to be successful in it. If you work it right, you can ask questions throughout the day that will give you better insight into the work.
A big benefit of job shadowing for you is that you can gather keywords for your resume you might not otherwise have, especially if you’re just learning how to get into medical sales. You put the job shadowing experience on your resume and you write about which doctors you called on, what the products involved were, and what kind of medical sales accounts they are. The words you’ll use are the kinds of keywords that will get your resume noticed by computerized tracking systems, and then read by recruiters and hiring managers.
So now that you know why job shadowing can be so important to someone transitioning into medical sales, how do you go about getting that experience?
First, find a sales rep. If you’re interested in pharma sales or medical device sales, you can ask your doctor or medical specialist for the names of people who sell to them and their offices. If you’re interested in lab sales, find a small lab and ask for the names of the sales reps who call on them. Then, ask the sales rep if you can ride along for a day or half a day, to see what that job is like. It will be a nice touch if you offer to buy lunch, or maybe give them a small gift afterwards (maybe a LinkedIn Profile Tutorial or new sales book). Add that experience to your resume, and you’ve made a huge positive step toward landing a medical sales job.
If you need help with this, contact a career coach who can guide you through the process of how to break into medical sales.
A field preceptorship a fantastic way to boost your chances of landing a medical sales job. Also known as a ride-along or job shadowing, it’s usually something we associate with students, but a field preceptorship offers multiple benefits for the jobseeker:
- It gives you on-the-job experience without having to get the job. You can explore it to see if it’s right for you before you make the commitment to change careers.
- You can use the experience on your resume, giving you keywords that will flag your resume in Applicant Tracking Systems–especially helpful for those with no prior experience in medical sales.
- It gives you material for your 30/60/90-day plan, an impressive document to have in a job interview.
- It sets you apart as a “go-getter.” Not everyone will go to this length before they even have the job.
- It shows that you know how to make contacts, which is essential in a sales role.
- It’s impressive to hiring managers, and helps them to see you in the job.
How do you find someone to ride with? Ask your doctor or lab for the names of sales reps. When you contact them, ask if you can ride along for the day, or even part of the day. Reassure them that you’re not after their job, but are just looking for information. Try to stay quiet during the actual sales part, but in between, ask questions about a typical day, the pros and cons of their job, what it takes to be successful, and so on.
When you get to the interview, the prep work you did will show, giving you the edge over other candidates and help you land the job.
For those unfamiliar with the term, “preceptorship” is just another way of talking about job shadowing, which is the process of spending time with a professional as they execute their job in order to better understand what they do. It’s also called a ride-along, which gives you an idea of the day or days spent with your pro, riding along to different sites as they perform their job. If you want to launch your career in medical sales, there’s no better way to get a feel for the daily hustle of the job than participating in a ride-along with a seasoned pro.
If you’re looking at a career in medical sales, it’s likely you’ve gotten a science degree, or at least achieved a minor in science and studied the area more than the minimum amount needed to graduate. Yes, it’s not a legal requirement to have a science degree to go into medical sales, but the more you know about the field, the better you’ll be able to understand the products you’re selling and the way they can benefit doctors and patients. Talk with your professors or academic counselors about getting in touch with a medical sales rep, or do some legwork and call local hospitals to find out the names of reps that call on them.
Getting in touch with rep is the first step in landing a preceptorship. When you’re on your ride-along, ask questions of your mentor but also follow instructions about how and when to interact. It’s likely you’ll need to stay quiet when your rep is actually dealing with clients and trying to make a sale, and that’s fine. The purpose of the day (or days) spent shadowing a professional is to absorb the ins and outs of the job, not act as if you know it already. If you play your cards right, a successful preceptorship can benefit you in several ways:
Firsthand experience: This is vital. Instead of knowing the theory behind medical sales, a ride-along lets you see it in practice and understand what the job really entails. You’ll come away with knowledge of the real job, not the mythological version you may have built up in your head. As such, you’ll be able to start your career knowing exactly what you need to do to get the job done.
Pros and cons: A preceptorship is the perfect way to know exactly how the job will work for you and what upsides and downsides you will face. A Medical sale is a challenging but rewarding career, built on the ever-changing health care industry, and there’s no better way to see what the job really entails than a ride-along.
Contacts: Participating in a preceptorship is a fantastic way to grow your field of professional contacts and develop yourself as a new sales rep. By establishing a good relationship with the sales rep you’re shadowing as well as the clients you meet along the way, you’ll be setting yourself up for more professional opportunities when you’re out on your own. And don’t forget that a ride-along looks great on a resume, demonstrating that you’ve spent time in the real sales world and have a better grasp of the job than someone who’s only studied it from afar.
A preceptorship is an invaluable training tool and a great way to help your career get started. If you haven’t participated in one yet, now’s the time.