People often ask me if I can help them get into medical sales. As someone who recently left that industry, the first question I ask is, “Why?”
“Well, I hear you can make a pretty good living in that field.”
“You can make a pretty good living if you’re good enough in any field,” I often reply.
They don’t often know what to say next, and to alleviate their discomfort, and often their stammering, I’ll tell them why I got into it and why I think it led to my success in the field. I’ll shorten it here, but I was reluctantly persuaded by a coworker to take an interview with a company that distributed orthopedic bracing and soft goods. I have a degree in sports medicine and was working clinically in the field, but I didn’t see myself as the typical salesman, so I didn’t think I was the man for the job. However, I was in the job market, and it was an opportunity, so I took the interview and later the job.
Despite my lack of formal business education, my manager’s message to me when he offered me the position was simple: “You work hard; you speak the language; you’re a good person; and people trust you. The ‘business’ part will come in time.” I would soon find out that is the “business” part, but for me, this was about a new way to serve patients. It was a different role, in a different industry, but it was still about the person receiving the care.
When I sold for other companies, including surgical implants, the most important person in the room was always the one on the table. I was constantly aware of my actions in the operating room and how they could affect the outcome of the procedure. I spoke up, sometimes out of turn, if there was any inkling that something was being missed or needed a triple check. If you don’t do it right, you can’t do it twice.
So, what’s my point? People noticed. I had a great reputation and earned it because the other people in the room saw that I was there for the same reason they were: the patient. The physicians I worked with trusted me, and they didn’t mind so much when I spoke out of turn because they knew my intention was to help the patient. Every once in awhile, I saw something that they didn’t see and provided value because my focus was on what was going on in the operating room rather than looking at my phone or checking my commission statement. When people see that you do what you do for all of the right reasons, all of the time, their trust in you is a natural reaction. That’s the essence of leadership. In some businesses, it’s all about making money, and I can respect that. But, people who work in the medical field are often underpaid and they know it, yet they continue to put the patients’ best interests in front of their own. If you’re not willing to do the same, you’re going to have a hard time earning any credibility in that arena.
People often told me I was their favorite rep to work with. Sure, I was a good rep, and I did my job well. What I think made me stand out more than others sometimes was that my intentions were perfectly aligned with my customers when it came to our collective job as a team. Take care of the most important person in the room.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
JEFF BAJOREK is a sales and leadership coach in Detroit, Michigan. After a highly successful career spanning over a decade in orthopedic medical device sales, he formed Parabola Consulting to demystify the selling and loyalty building process for others. His free weekly newsletter, The Parabola Press, is published every Sunday. He can be reached at email@example.com or www.parabolasales.com.