The Do's and Don'ts of a Successful Medical Sales Team

18 April 2017

We work with the Directors of top medical sales teams across the globe every day. Here are a few do’s and don’ts we’ve gathered from observing their teams at work in our day to day. What will you take away from it?

Do connect online with industry professionals and share content
Nowadays, the best sales professionals focus on building their personal brand. This not only builds your credibility as an expert in your sector, it enables you to keep engaged with your clients all the time. For example, if you are sharing the content of an influential surgeon you sell to, or the work of their peers or major influencers, she’s going to notice. Your market will be grateful for the interesting and enriching content you are sharing with them and the online activity means you never stop interacting with each other. You can grow yourself to become the go-to sales person for your product and ultimately, set yourself up for a ‘warm’ sale when you meet up with people face to face.

Connect online with every client you meet and every client you want to meet (particularly on LinkedIn and Twitter) and share relevant content of interest. Follow top industry professionals and companies and share and like their content. Struggling to find material? Subscribe to key publications, websites, journals, influencers, and companies. As you build your confidence, start putting your own questions and take on the content when you post it and eventually, consider writing some content of your own about the industry, products and your profession. You are a sales consultant, and the best sales consultants offer a consultancy service in written form (online) too.

Do hire a diverse team
As a recruitment company, we often face the frustration of companies having the same blanket requirement for every hire in their office. ‘Must be from the competition’ ‘must be corporate’ ‘must have 5 years’ experience’ etc. Whilst it’s important that these ‘must have’ traits are represented within your team as a whole; what we’ve noticed is that diversity is key. The teams that perform better are the ones who are prepared to encompass a range of experience from different team members. Teams that have people with start-up experience, a healthy mix of introverts and extroverts, corporate experience and people that come from another health care field altogether. Diversity brings fresh ideas to the table and different approaches that bind together to form a winning team.

Have a look at your hiring process. Does it allow for this? Where can you realistically apply flexibility? What are you prepared to compromise on in exchange for something new? Try shortlisting who you want…and 2 you normally wouldn’t. Ensure you have briefed everyone involved in the hiring process about what you may be flexible about on each role, and treat no two roles as the same.

Do understand your competition
Good sales teams understand their competition. They follow them on social media, they check their website at least once a week, they learn their routine and what matters to them. They know what awards they’ve won! They understand how their products work just as good as they understand their own. After all, how can you realistically expect to sell your product over the competition if you don’t know what the competition are actually doing? Ask the guys you are selling to, who they are currently using. Go away and learn everything about them. Who is your main sales competition? Which territory managers? What are their names? Why are they good? What do they have that you don’t? Find out – knowledge is key.

Do get out there and network
The best medical sales teams know what the annual medical device industry calendar looks like on the 1st January and continue to populate this with emerging events as they are announced. They ensure their guys make time to get to these events and get talking to industry professionals in a non-sales environment, meeting and connecting with people online and making introductory conversations. They are there learning what the current thinking is, what topics are trending in the industry and of course, seeing other products out there on display.

Don’t take your product at face value
The best sales teams really know their product. They know what products came before it, what products are in the pipeline after it. They understand the technicality of the product and common clinical errors of use of the product. They have case studies of the products success as well as statistics around the success of the product. They understand the problem the product is trying to solve scientifically, practically, clinically and emotionally.

Don’t hire for yourself, hire for your clients
Top performing sales teams get the formula right for hiring people that their clients will like. It’s tough, the client is not involved in your hiring process. They definitely do not sift through your C.V’s nor do they sit in on your interviews.

Or don’t ’they? Here’s how you get them involved in your hiring process.

Ask them! Good sales teams ask for feedback. They strike up conversations whilst they are out on the field and asks questions like ‘who would you like to see walk into your operating theatre? ‘what does good look like to you? What type of sales people have let you down in the past?’ Do your market research and feed that back into your hiring criteria. It's easily done when you're out in the field by working it into the conversation. People like being asked questions about how you can make their life easier.

Don't ask things you should know already
Feedback from medical staff is that one of the most annoying things a medical sales rep can do is ask them something they should know already. The best sales teams avoid this by sharing their experiences about being out in the field and feeding back to their teams about their product and field experiences. They practice answers to questions relating to their product and general inquiries until they get it right. If you lose credibility by asking highly trained theatre staff something you should know already, expect an immediate ‘no.’ If you cover the the do’s and don’ts mentioned already in this blog, this is far less likely to happen!

What examples of success have you experienced in your sales team and what made it work for you?

Akbar Ali, Projectus Consulting ​