1. What is medical device/product sales?
Medical device sales involves selling a tangible medical product into either hospitals, the Community, or both. The products, depending on their nature, are sold to Consultants, Surgeons, Nurses (including Specialist Nurses), and clinical staff such as Anaesthetists and ODAs. Medical sales roles are highly desirable.
2. What type of products are there?
i. Capital equipment. This embraces those technical pieces of equipment that are of a high capital value, often with a plug on (!) that a hospital will not be purchasing every other day. Examples include patient monitors and incubators.
Due to the highly technical nature of the products and the very lengthy sales cycle associated with capital equipment (often a number of years leading to a final tender situation), it is exceptionally difficult as a pharmaceutical representative to break into this market.
ii. Medical devices. Examples of products in this category are orthopaedic implants and specialist cardiac devices such as pacemakers. They are often sold into theatre by a representative during a surgical procedure. The representative will stand by the side of the surgeon, fully scrubbed up, answering technical queries and ensuring that the product is being utilised properly. Essentially the representative becomes a vital member of the clinical theatre team.
iii. Medical disposables. This category covers areas such as wound care and continence care. The products are used once and then disposed of. They are often oriented towards nursing staff and frequently are sold into both hospitals and the community.
3. Is medical product sales for me?
Yes, if you want full territory performance accountability, autonomy, a business focused working environment, high bonus earning potential, career progression opportunities within an expanding market sector, a sales job that will allow you to establish exceptionally strong customer relationships, and a role in which you can see immediately whether or not you have been successful in your sales call.
4. What other considerations do I need to make before trying medical product sales?
Although healthcare sales is potentially highly rewarding both in terms of job satisfaction and financial benefits, you must ensure that it is going to give you what you want before making the plunge.
One consideration to make is whether financially you are in a position to initially take a potential drop in basic salary. If you are currently a Hospital Specialist on a basic salary of £40k or more, you must realise that it is going to be almost impossible to avoid taking a drop. Do your monthly financial commitments mean that no matter how well intentioned you are, a basic of £35k will simply be not enough? More realistically, a starting salary of £32/33k is more likely in theatre device roles, or £27-30k in medical disposable sales positions. Bonus schemes, although often open-ended, do not usually allow reps to be earning much bonus in the first six months of doing the job. Read our page on earning potential.
Another consideration to make refers to the long hours and stresses associated particularly with theatre based roles.
5. What research should I do into medical device sales?
Firstly, you need to decide what sort of position you are pursuing. If you are going for a theatre role, then get yourself into theatre. Observe a procedure and see how the theatre team interact. Absorb the atmosphere and gauge how as a sales representative would fit in and work effectively.
You can arrange this by utilising existing contacts – perhaps you currently sell to Consultants who could introduce you to Surgeons, or you may already sell to Surgeons, just not whilst in theatre. Alternatively, speak to the secretary within a surgical unit at your nearest hospital and find out when a rep is next due that you could speak to.
If you have decided that medical disposables is for you, speak to a Practice Nurse the next time you are in a practice. Ask him/her what makes a good wound care rep, say, and what do they look for in certain products.
You will find that you learn a great deal about the market by asking a few simple questions, and this will both help you to secure interviews, and to impress at interview.
6. How do I research a specific role?
The best way to conduct some research is to shadow an existing healthcare representative. This will give you an insight into how the job differs from that of being a pharmaceutical representative, and will give you an opportunity to ask somebody knowledgeable about the challenges and rewards of doing the job on a daily basis.
The next best thing to do is to talk to members of the customer base that you will potentially be selling to. Therefore, if your ambition is to sell theatre devices, then talk to a Surgeon. If you are more inclined to target the disposable market, then speak to a Nurse.
Utilise the Internet as much as possible. If you have an interview coming up, have a look at the company’s website. Find out what the company’s product is called, and then put the name into a search engine. If the product that the company specialises in is used for a particular procedure, put the name of that procedure into a search engine to learn more about the general field your product is used within.
In short, there is no excuse whatsoever to attend an interview with a medical device company not fully up to speed with the company’s product and area of expertise. In all honesty, this will be expected of you by your interviewer, and if you fail to meet this expectation, then ultimately you will be unsuccessful.
7. What else can I do to maximise my chances of getting interviews?
You need to make sure that your CV is working for you. To this end, the CV needs to include as many sales based achievements as it possibly can. Sales Managers want to see evidence that you are a high performer, somebody who will exceed their sales targets consistently. Less bluster, more achievements! In short, there is nothing else that can be done other than be persistent, don’t give up, and a successful career in medical sales is there for the taking.
Job sales types in the medical sector:
Sales roles in the medical sector by area: