How to Up-Skill Medical Device Sales Reps: Carpets vs. Clinics (Part 2)

By Jim Moliski, SVP Sales Enablement and Product Marketing

April 3, 2018

Upskilling and Training Benefits Medical Device Sales Reps & Workforce

In the previous post, you learned about the hypothetical Sarah, an experienced medical device sales rep who has run into trouble closing deals. Seismic changes in healthcare purchasing are driving her out of her clinical comfort zone and towards unfamiliar executive audiences in the carpeted areas of the hospital. If you support or manage reps like Sarah, you need to think about upgrading selling skills for business-focused buyers who are becoming more involved in purchasing decisions.

Does this mean that all selling will happen “on the carpet”? Will your team no longer use the clinical skills they’ve worked so hard to develop? No. In fact, success will depend on being confident, competent, and compelling in all environments. That’s because, according to Boston Consulting Group, everyone buys differently: “Hospital systems have strikingly different procurement practices, with some allowing the preferences of individual clinicians to drive purchasing decisions, while others employ highly centralized purchasing processes”. Clinical selling isn’t going away. But reps will have to adjust their mix of clinical and business selling strategies on a customer-by-customer basis.

Experienced salespeople come to Corporate Visions for the skills to survive – and thrive – in this new world. They often arrive at our programs with their confidence shaken by a few rough quarters. One pined for the days when success meant “buddying up to the surgeon.” Another spoke of difficulties finding the person with the right level of influence and wasting time with stakeholders who turn out to have no purchasing authority. Working with us, salespeople learn to supplement their clinical selling skills with competencies for working with cross-functional buying teams. They learn to structure their conversations around things executives care about, and to justify decisions by making a meaningful business case.

If you manage or support reps selling to healthcare buyers, here are three things to consider:

  • If you are like most companies, you are preparing salespeople for the conversation executives don’t want to have.
  • Most salespeople have a limited number of executive contacts; a lack of confidence keeps them from getting more.
  • Engaging executives comes down to a handful of critical competencies that sellers can learn without going through time-intensive training programs.

You don’t have to send them to business school. You don’t even have to take them out of the field. Instead, you can build out the skills of your clinical selling stars with programs that accommodate your training constraints—programs including:

  • One- or two-day in-person events that include live role-plays.
  • Online learning with interactive knowledge checks and simulations.
  • Video-based coaching with detailed feedback and remediation plans.

Upskilling and Training Conclusion

Fast forward six months and things are on the upswing for Sarah. She developed executive selling competencies through a multi-touch learning plan for justifying value to business-buyers. She’s received individualized feedback on her use of planning tools, her presentation skills, and her performance in role plays. Her manager now has enhanced coaching skills and is giving her actionable feedback on a weekly basis. She’s cementing these positive behavior changes through spaced reinforcement techniques, helping her internalize skills and concepts that are tailored to her specific learning needs. And she’s accomplished all of this without having to leave the field for a single training event. Most importantly, instead of dreading meetings with client buying teams, she’s looking forward to conversations in the carpeted areas of the hospital.

In our next post, we’ll talk about three strategies for making salespeople more adept at selling in the carpeted areas of the hospital.

Learn about research that produced a tested and proven framework for helping salespeople avoid stuck deals and make a more compelling executive-level business case. Check out the report.

Learn how to stand up training programs that equip your reps with the skills they need, exactly when they need them—and without taking them out of the field. Get the eBook.

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