Medical device sales – physicians suggest four ways for sales reps to build credibility

Medical Device Sales

When asked what their top concerns are about selling medical devices,  interacting one-on-one with physicians usually tops most sales people’s list. And it’s very understandable.  No matter how much clinical training they receive, interacting one-on-one with a physician terrifies most new sales people. Horror stories become folklore within companies, at hospitals, and in physician practices about medical device sales people who have made an initial misstep. Avoiding the misstep is a key to building credibility.

So, we asked implanting physicians about this concern and to share their advice to new medical devices sales people on how to begin building credibility. Of course, clinical competence is expected. And, physicians know that clinical competence will grow over time with experience.

What else did they say was critical for a new medical device sales person?  The initial three points they shared focus on accountability.

  • If you don’t know, don’t pretend There is no shame in saying “I don’t know”, or “I’ll find out and get back to you”. The problem is when a sales person pretends and ends up “dancing” around an answer. It’s quite obvious to everyone that the sales person is “dancing” – and that’s when the sales person’s credibility sinks.
  • Do what you say you are going to do – Even on day one, this is something every new medical device sales person can do and it’s a great way to build personal credibility.  Whether it’s following up on a question or following up on an invoice, respond within the time frame you committed to is key.
  • Own up to problems and mistakes – This is one of those situations where not owning up to problems and mistakes tanks any credibility a sales person might develop.

The fourth point deals with discretion and timing – Appreciate the arts of discretion and timing – While crucial to building credibility in any sales environment, physicians (and clinical staff) in hospitals are particularly sensitive to timing and discretion. Cath Lab Managers and OR Directors for example,  don’t appreciate medical device sales people who hold up a physician in a conversation – thereby delaying a procedure, and as a result the subsequent ones, too. Physicians don’t appreciate being approached right after a procedure that didn’t go well. Understanding the “rules of the road” is critical to building credibility.

A final thought. Everyone knows it will take time for a new medical device sales person to develop personal credibility. However, as they are building their personal credibility, medical device sales people can draw on their company for credibility. Whether it’s clinical studies, superior customer service, on time delivery, corporate image, or some other characteristic, drawing from sources of corporate credibility will help medical device sales people fill what they perceive as a credibility gap – until they build their own credibility.

Check out other posts on sales effectiveness at the Sales Training Connection. 

©2011 Sales Horizons™, LLC

About Janet Spirer

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. Janet has followed two different, yet complimentary paths. First, as a B-School Professor she taught marketing, sales, and business strategy courses. She also managed a consulting practice focusing on sales productivity and marketing – working with a variety of clients ranging from Xerox to IBM. She translated those experiences into a book – “Parlez-Vous Business” – that helps sales people develop the business savvy to sell successfully. Since co-founding Sales Momentum® in 2000 with Richard Dr. Spirer received her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University, an M.P.A. from The University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Economics from Brooklyn College. She holds the appointment of Professor Emeritus at Marymount University.
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