Hiring Medical Salespeople Can Be a Challenge. Here’s How to Get it Right.
People who sell medical devices have a unique skill set and a big challenge: they’re often lay people who sell to medical professionals.
They’ve got to be good sales people – that’s a given – and they’ve got to be able to understand a product so thoroughly that they’re able to educate the true experts in the field: the end users. The people who’ve spent years training to have the knowledge and skills to use those devices.
A medical salesperson has to speak their language and know more about the device than they do.
It’s not an easy job.
No wonder it’s not always an easy job to fill. So how do you find the medical sales people you need?
You start by knowing what you need. Here are five questions to help you clarify what you’re looking for (so you can make sure you get it!):
- What is the new hire’s sales territory or channel?
- What are their quantifiable sales objectives?
- What tools and or training will you be able to provide?
- What is the range of experience of your new hire?
- What is the market compensation package of your preferred candidate profile?*
*Questions 4 and 5 are interrelated. If your salary range is low, you’ll probably need to hire a newer sales rep. If you’re looking for experience, you’ll have to up your salary band.
Knowing what you want tells you what you want your new hire to accomplish, which then helps you define what personality traits and experience a candidate needs to have.
Now you’ve got the beginnings of your ideal candidate profile, and the parameters for your job search.
Don’t Get Sidetracked by Charm. You’re Hiring a Salesperson. They’re SUPPOSED to Have the Gift of Gab.
A bad hire, by definition, is a good interviewer. You’re dazzled by them and so you hire them…and it all goes wrong from there.
Salespeople – even mediocre or downright awful ones – are good interviewers. That’s their job. They’re good with people and they can talk.
But can they walk the talk?
The difference between a great salesperson and an average one comes down to one thing, numbers – and a a great salesperson is positively itching to share their sales numbers with you.
A mediocre sales rep will distract you with industry insights, dropping Fortune 500 companies and names of industry big wigs. How do you know when this is happening? By the end of the interview you’ll still have no clue whether they had achieved their sales targets last year.
The best way to get the answers you need is to ask them directly: ask about their sales volume, previous targets, sales cycle duration – and make sure you get the numbers. If you don’t get the numbers in the interview, follow up with an email asking for them.
Interesting fact: research shows that if you want people to tell the truth, ask them in writing (especially text messages). They think about their responses longer and give more accurate answers – even when they’re not necessarily positive ones. (The electronic trail might make them more accountable, too.)
Determine Your Sales Velocity and Then Find a Salesperson Who Excels at YOUR Speed
Find a salesperson with experience in a similar deal size and sales cycle. Calculate the sales velocity or the number of deals closed within a period. Sales velocity is dependent on your product’s price and the total number of customer contacts a salesperson can make in a month.
A person that is used to dealing with high volumes, short sales cycle and small deal size will have trouble adapting to the a sales cycle that will take at least 10 months and a multi-million dollar deal size. The sales strategy, skills and experience needed are very different.
Should You Go With a Big Gun or Go Green?
The answer to whether you need to hire a big gun that has an established reputation within your industry lies within your business objectives – and your budget.
Hiring someone too senior who has taken on management responsibilities usually had a sales ops team to create marketing materials and feed the sales pipeline and may not be the right fit for a startup or a small sized business.
And if you want experience but you’ve only got a junior budget…admit it and plan accordingly. An entry-level salary means an entry -level candidate. If you’re not investing in an upfront salary, make sure you’re prepared to invest time and effort to train and mentor your new hire.
To determine which way to go, here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Do you have time and capacity to train?
If this is your first sales rep and they are required to take charge of the entire sales cycle from prospecting, marketing to account management, you may need someone that is seasoned and can hit the ground running. Having a green person will require a lot of training. Do you have the time or resources for it?
This is especially critical in medical sales. If your salesperson hasn’t sold your particular medical device before, you’ll need to make sure they know everything about it, fast.
What’s Your Budget?
Entry level salary means newbie rep. Those are the rules. (I don’t make them, the market does.)
Do you need results right away?
A seasoned sales professional in the medical devices field may have a few prospects to start with right away. Excellent!
Caveat: if the only reason you are hiring a seasoned professional is because of their existing sales contacts, keep in mind might be legal and ethical reasons they might not be able to use their previous contacts at your business.
Will your clients tolerate a green sales rep?
Will your rep be able to answer all questions your clients may have and quickly present solutions if any problems arise?
This is a critical issue in medical sales. In some ways, every new sales rep, no matter how experienced – unless they’ve sold your competitor’s products – is going to be green when it comes to your product.
Which brings us back to knowing thyself.
Know how you plan to transform your sales rep from newbie to subject matter expert – and be able to tell them your training plan in their interview. A sales rep who is motivated and committed will want to know this, because they’ll want to succeed.
Conversely: if they don’t ask, ask yourself: why not? Why don’t they want to know how they’re going to get up to speed? (In other words, be afraid.)
So those are my tips and tools for finding a terrific medical sales rep: know yourself, know what your clients expect, know your sales velocity, know how much energy and resources you have to train, know your candidates’ numbers, know your budget and what level of experience it will buy you…
…and then sally forth and find your dream candidate.
Need help answering any of these questions, creating a job description, defining salary bands, or even finding candidates? Looking for a quote? I can help.
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