Surgical sales is typically what comes to mind when one envisions medical sales. This is a rep that sales and supports medical devices used in the OR setting. Typically these are products used in surgical cases. The rep’s job is to promote the use of the surgical device to end users. The end users include surgeons, anesthesiologists, and the support staff. This article covers the basics of how to become a surgical sales representative.
How To Become A Surgical Sales Rep?
There are a a wide range of surgical sales jobs. The compensation and job responsibilities vary greatly depending on the role. Working as a surgical sales representative for one of the major manufacturers ranks among the best medical sales jobs. The challenging part is the path to getting one of these jobs. Most people starting out have to grind away in an associate role before acquiring a territory of their own. Associate roles entail a lot of surgical case coverage and long days for lower overall compensation. While this may be tough to swallow, the experience is beneficial and will lead to a higher compensated role in the future.
Click here to read an interview with an associate sales rep at Medtronic.
There are some surgical sales representative roles focused on consumable products and others geared towards capital equipment used in the OR setting. The day to day of supporting a consumable product involves mostly case coverage. With a big company, this means spending time with the same surgeons and building deep relationships through weekly interaction. The territory and number of accounts will be broader at a small company as more time is spent prospecting, in attempt to get new clients using the product.
Surgical Equipment Sales
Surgical equipment is a different story. The day to day of these roles are focused around demoing equipment and implementing the equipment for new customers. It is common to spend a couple of weeks straight with a single account, and then move on to the next facility.
Surgical Sales Rep Salary
Based on my experience the pay is generally in the 100-200k range. There are a couple of key factors in determining the target compensation of a role. It depends on the company size (large vs. small), level of experience in the industry, geographic territory, and most importantly the product line. There are large variations in pay based on the type of product type and the specialty of physician using the device. Certain medical devices like pacemakers can be extremely lucrative at upwards of 300k, but success is based on deep, long-term relationships with key physicians. It can be quite challenging to break in and disrupt established relationships as a new rep. On the other hand many of the orthopedics sales jobs have become commoditized and the pay has lowered over the years. When a product becomes more commoditized companies can get away paying less and using associate roles to provide case support.
The lower end of the compensation spectrum is start ups and “me too” companies. A company ramping up a new salesforce may pay well below the industry standard and hire someone without experience. These types of positions are one way to get a start in the industry.
Surgical Sales Rep Job Description
- Being on-site to support cases using the medical device
- Prospecting for new business by reaching out to surgeons who are using competitive products
- Setting up for cases and making sure the right equipment is available
- Being involved in the hospital sterilization process to make sure equipment is properly cleaned
- Supporting the facility on marketing efforts for the given clinical service line
- Addressing questions around pricing, GPO’s, and billing
Surgical Sales Rep Requirements
- A minimum of two years of business to business sales experience
- Bachelors degree (any major will do)
- Documented sales training in a previous role
- Documented success of sales quota attainment
- Talk track around why medical sales is for you
Click here to read more about Entry Level Medical Sales.
Breaking Into Surgical Sales
There is no doubt about it, breaking into a surgical sales representative position is tough work. Based on my experience and that of many others it is reasonable for it to take upwards of two years. It can be quicker if you have some type of medical background or already have a foot in the door. Here is one thought on how to get an edge.
Become an anesthesia or surgical sales tech. This is a way to build comfort and familiarity with the OR environment. Scrub techs know exactly how to work with surgeons, and the training programs are relatively short. This of course does not override the need to have sales experience. Though, I do know a few examples of medical device companies attempting to hire respected OR support staff that have the right personality for the job.
For more creative ideas on getting into the medical device industry, check out our article Medical Device Sales Reddit: Questions & Answers.
Surgical Sales Rep Jobs
You will learn as you go during the job search process. But efficiency is paramount. It is best to search for and apply to jobs directly through the hiring company’s website. The same surgical sales jobs will also be posted on the major job posting sites and also via recruiter services. I have always found it easiest to work directly through the company that has the opening. Recruiters are in the business of match making for their client, not necessarily getting you the best possible job. I prefer to be presented the job directly, rather than be sold on it through a recruiting service. At the end of the day a recruiter wants to get their client the best possible candidate, not get you the best possible job.
Apply like crazy to open positions, but be strategic. It you have limited B2B sales experience focus on associate openings and jobs that require a minimal level of experience. In getting started, I would recommend applying to the one job at each company which is the best fit. Most job opening funnel through the same HR team, so you will be considered for the other positions if they are appropriate to your experience level. Always keep applying, interviewing, and learning from your experience. Remember this is a process.
For those going through the interview process, the medical device company ConMed highlights 3 Tips On Preparing For An Interview.
Job Shadowing In Medical Device Sales
Big companies have thorough interview processes. If you have limited experience you may be asked to shadow a rep in the field. This is a time for you to get exposure to the job. But more importantly, this is an interview. Make sure you understand the basics of being in the OR environment. This includes things like:
- Changing into scrubs
- Not passing the sterile line without the correct attire
- Knowing when to put on a hair cover and surgical booties
- Understanding the basics of how to interact with hospital staff during surgical cases
- Being up to date on vendor credentialing
Best Medical Sales Jobs
To lean more about the other specializations within medical sales, read our article on the Types Of Medical Device Sales Rep Jobs.