Clark Wiederhold

Medical Device Reps: How to Stop Chasing and Start Building

Pursue your sales growth on a stronger foundation.

Sales never stops. It’s a constantly moving, changing, and shifting industry – and your role requires that you follow up constantly. However, too many medical device reps are chasing orders when they should be building a business.

How can you get ahead? First let’s start with a simple look at the difference between these two actions:

To imply that you’re chasing orders, means that your prospective customers are already ahead of you and you simply have to run to track them down. You’re not sure if they’re interested really, or if they’re worth your time, but you have to hit your numbers so lace up your running shoes. You’re constantly playing catch up.

When you look at the idea of building business opportunities, you’re constructing a framework that will house results. You bring prospective customers into the environment and then learn what’s valuable to them. Think about inviting people into the home you’ve built – there’s trust established, they feel like they can let their guard down, and the foundation is there to provide for you again and again.

This mentality can serve you well when thinking about how you’re growing your results with physician customers in MedTech. Rather than chasing orders, think about these 4 ways that you can build your business instead.

Tip #1: Go deep

It’s really easy to be busy.  You’ve got cases to cover, inventory to keep track of, and orders to push. You can feel like all of these are mission critical but your territory will quickly be running you as opposed to the other way around!

When you live life like that as a sales rep, you’re being pushed into a transactional stance – aka “chasing orders” -- how do you change?

  • Go wide before diving deep to evaluate all opportunity in your market at the time.  Then identify the handful of accounts (usually 2-3 at any one time) that have growth potential they aren’t seizing.  
  • Give yourself a timeframe and a date for diving deep into that customer’s world. A quarter is usually adequate as much can be accomplished in 90 days (when you focus!).  Make it appropriate for your business and long enough to make an impact.  
  • Don’t be afraid to discuss your intentions with your physician or main call point.  Be up front that your time is valuable and you’re looking to invest it with a partner in the market that is willing to grow with you.

When you follow these three steps, you’ll start to see some solid benefits emerge:

It goes without saying, but when you nail step one as we’ve laid out here, the following steps have far more impact in your sales success!

Tip #2: Be a consultant, not a sales rep.

Putting on a teacher hat and being a resource to your customers is at the very center of this forward-looking MedTech sales approach.

  • Dive into how they screen for your patient population. You’ll likely be able to teach to best practices you see like leveraging a validated symptom quiz or other diagnostic technique.  Then close on a trial period for screening and review the prevalence in their own practice.
  • Show them a case study of something that was done in a different market that helped them increase utilization or patient demand
  • Suggest simple modifications to their website, different and creative ways to engage referring physicians, how to get more patient reviews, etc.
  • Refer them to physician-specific resources and information to make their life easier in building their practice (such as the Growth Driven Practice Series)

By asking the right questions, helping customers reach patients with proven healthcare marketing strategies, and positioning your team as a consultants as opposed to “sales reps,” you can show regular ROI and keep your customers motivated to continually invest in their practice.

Bottom line: look for every opportunity to be viewed as more than just another vendor. If you’re looking for more content on this topic, we highly encourage you to listen to episode 5 of the Medical Sales Accelerator Podcast about how to position yourself as a partner vs a sales rep.

Tip #3: Establish relationships in all areas of the practice, on every call

By becoming “more than a sales rep,” you’ll find that the connections you make will be among the most meaningful (and profitable) of your professional career. This should extend beyond the physicians, encompassing the entire practice staff.

Driving value for your customers on the business side of their practice will allow you to go deep within each account — getting the entire practice excited about what you bring to the table.

For an interesting perspective on this, we found this open letter from a podiatrist to the “medical reps that visit his office” to be enlightening:

*It also further reinforces many of the tips of this article, as well as general communication and sales techniques that should not be taken for granted.

Before you know it, they’ll be using your talk tracks when interacting with patients, creating demand for your solutions within their practice and beyond.

Build first – there’s always time for the chase.

Sales is all about quarter-over-quarter growth, we recognize that. But growth has to be built on a firm foundation. While we’re always trying to plan out a quarter ahead, figure out our targets, and forecast appropriately, chasing is almost always associated with trying to “catch up”.

Instead of trying to make up ground all the time, split your time between chasing the order and this disciplined selling strategy. You’ll end up with a more innovative and personal approach, that results in a consistent, predictable, and often automatic model that only expands and increases over time within your market.