If you want to work with the best and brightest minds in the healthcare profession, convince them you have credibility and sell to them then you must follow some seriously jagged rules. You can make an incision. But does the incision have a clear purpose? Or will you find yourself in a knife fight. Carry a loaded gun to a knife fight by knowing five core rules of engagement. Sit down with yourself and spell out your measurable expectations for outcomes and prepare. In orthopedic sales or in almost any medical sales capacity these core rules still apply. Obtaining sole source agreements or relationships that resemble that may be the goal but you must earn it.
Lawrence L. Steinmetz, in his book How to Sell at Higher Prices Than Your Competitors says: People like to know that they can rely on you. This almost always comes from the history of the relationship. It is a foolish (and rare) customer who will drop a known vendor to save a few pennies to buy from an unknown vendor. When customers tell you they can get it cheaper down the street, you might remind them that they know they can rely upon you and that there may be a serious question mark down the street.
So how do you begin to earn this option, this kind of respect, this reliability that you need? How can you ensure your clients won’t sell you out to save a nickel. Don’t tell me in this cutback mentality phases of healthcare and medical spending they are not thinking this way. They are. Respect is not easy. The level of preparation you must go through to make the high level medical sales and become a trusted insider for your customers comes at a pretty intense price.
Focus on Integrity Based Sales
Decide early on to be a man or woman of integrity in every communication interaction. Possess and act on having and delivering a mentality of “serving” not “selling”. Moreover, brand yourself as their internal business consultant, not an outsider looking to be paid. If they pay you or consider paying you then you need to be considered an integral part of their business. Be known as the insider problem-solver or solution provider. Of course follow up matters so you need to do all the little things that are forgotten in the days of Blackberry products and iPhones. So yes, hand write your thank you notes, do mailers for new products, always have a new bone model (in ortho) or product visible in your brief case because it will provoke questions and dialogue from surgeons
Know Power Brokers
Who is the Orthopaedic coordinator, OR managers, night staff head nurse, and yes, the front desk “gate keepers” that can be of great value to your schedule. Do you have or are you working on a relationship with each? If not you need to right now. These relationships, earned, pay off. What ortho surgeon is chief of orthopaedics in any given year? What surgeons will push/support your efforts to promote new technology, what surgeons are “wafflers”. Know all the egos involved. Yes, medicine and healthcare has them. Who is passive- aggressive? Who is aggressive? Who is manic? Who is depressed? Who can you push? Who do you need to be gentle with in these interactions?
…and How to Work With Them and the Relationships Surrounding
Always be the primary resource for your niche, be the one who educates the staff and who the staff knows is the most educated with regards to his/her niche. You need to be the finest teacher, trainer and mentor here. These folks are very smart but they cannot anticipate the amount of information coming at them, what’s important and what’s not. That’s where you need to come in and provide them options. If you really want to sell high margin medical products, healthcare products or the related you have to be very strong. Steinmetz again suggests: The sales reps who will provide that purchasing agent or buyer with a little technical education may very well get that preferential nod when it comes to getting the order at a premium over the competitor’s prices. As you get to know each person realize your great work can be derailed by something not apparent. Be aware of any conflicting relationships that may affect you business, including what nurse/surgery tech is dating your competitor, dating a surgeon. What competitor is married or dating any administration staff, OR staff? Can you think of more of these? I can.
Master Your Product and the Universe Surrounding It
The universe can be the individual office or something bigger. Be keen to decipher the relationship between the OR and the Central Sterile Supply Dept(CSS)- there is usually conflict or friction between these two departments. Seek to be the “bridge” between the two to better serve efficiency, this enables you to “head one off at the pass…” Know the peri-operative environment: OR protocols with regards to HPPA, sterility and proper behavior in the OR. Follow all hospital guidelines and do no take any shortcuts, remembering at all times you are an invited guest. As to product mastery, that sounds easy or a given. In my years of experience it’s not. In my case I must know my bone anatomy inside and out, knowing landmarks for entry points/exposures/approaches. I had better know how to read radiographic images (X-Rays, CTs, MRIs). Simply put, know your products better than anyone. Know outlines and lay out of all graphic cases. Know implant/system indications, nuances, contra-indications/pitfalls. Play with these systems and know how to put together under pressure. Know what happens when assembled incorrectly so you can help intra-operatively solve problems if instrumentation does not function correctly. What do you need to know for your niche?
And your work doesn’t stop after the sale! Provide technical support to operating room personnel through the following: inservices, interactive workshops, website access for various product technique guides as well as “hard copy” technique guides and/or CDs. Know all locations and potential locations for equipment to be placed and misplaced, know the “nooks and crannies” of the OR.
After you have built the foundation, personally, professionally, technically and by integrity you have earned the right to progress in this tough, important and life-changing career.