Attention medical sales reps – a new job opportunity

Medical sales - a new opportunity

Since starting the Sales Training Connection, we’ve written numerous posts about selling in the medical sales market.  Most of these posts are based on our experience conducting sales training with medical device companies and sharing what experts are saying about the medical sales industry.

But sometimes interesting stuff comes from unexpected sources. The other day we stumbled upon an intriguing headline in the Money Section of USA Today Hospitals hire sales reps to woo doctors. Besides the imagery created by the notion of doctors being wooed, the fact that the headline suggested hospitals were hiring sales reps made the rest of the article a must read.

So, what is actually happening? As the article points out, a growing number of hospitals are hiring pharma and medical device sales reps to call on physicians offices seeking to persuade them to use a hospital’s services. The focus is on increasing referrals from doctors now splitting their referrals, as well as, doctors who are not yet using the hospital.

How big a deal is this? Pretty big.  First, it’s happening all over the country.  Second, the largest hospital chains are making major commitments in terms of the number of sales reps they’re bringing onboard. For example, Tenet Health Care, the nation’s third largest for-profit hospital chain has 152 sales reps at its 49 hospitals and HCA, the nation’s largest chain, has 150 sales people.

Why is it happening? Hospitals have always tried to at attract doctors – so the basic goal is hardly new.  But, it is a new strategy.  In addition to the general increase in competition, another factor driving the trend is that many referring physicians no longer visit their patients when they are in the hospital so there is less opportunity for two-way communications between the hospital and these physicians.  They rely on hospitalists instead.

How’s it working? Tenet reported that since 2007 their sales reps have increased the number of physicians actively referring patients by 39%.  From a sales perspective we would say that is pretty good wooing.

After reading and discussing the article, we asked ourselves – “What does this all mean for sales training?”  We wondered how many sales reps from sales training companies have called on a hospital to discuss the value of considering sales training for their new sales teams.  We bet the answer is not legend in number.  Might be worth part of an afternoon.

Now that hospitals are now hiring sales reps to persuade doctors to refer patients to their facilities we think there is a great job opportunity for medical sales reps and a new sales opportunity for sales training reps, too.

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©2011 Sales Horizons, LLC

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About Richard Ruff

For more than 30 years Dr. Richard Ruff and Dr. Janet Spirer - the founders of Sales Horizons - have worked with the Fortune 1000 - such as UPS, Canon USA, Smith & Nephew, Boston Scientific, Owens & Minor, Textron - to design and develop sales training programs. During his career Dick has authored numerous articles related to sales effectiveness and co-authored "Managing Major Sales", a book about sales management, "Parlez-Vous Business" which helps sales people integrate the language of business into the sales process, and "Getting Partnering Right" – a research based work on the best practices for forming strategic selling alliances. Dr. Ruff received his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology from the University of Tennessee and a B.S. from Rennsselaer Polytechnic Institute.
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