There is a lot of people that like to give advice based on their anecdotal experience. While it is good to listen, it is also good to take this type of advice with a grain salt. The journey into the medical device sales space is going to be different for everybody. The path to figuring out how to break into medical device sales is multifaceted. It has a lot to do with timing, personality, economic factors, geography, and last but not least luck.
I like looking for patterns in the stories other tell about their experience. This is how I find the useful kernels of truth that are broadly applicable.
How To Break Into Medical Device Sales Reddit
Many of those on the subreddit r/medreps talk about having the right personality for medical sales. Of course personality is one of many factors that hiring managers factor in their decision making. So what is the right personality for medical device sales? In this article, we summarize the characteristics and personality traits deemed most desirable in a medical sales rep. Take this information into account as you start to identify how to break in medical device sales.
Related: Interested in a summary of the wisdom Reddit has to offer on how to get into medical sales. Check out our article Medical Device Sales Reddit: Questions & Answers.
What Type Of Personality Is Best For Someone In Medical Sales?
There are typically two candidate profiles that successfully break into medical sales. Those with a clinical or medical background and those with sales or marketing experience. This insight is based on profiling a large number of reps that have successfully broke into the industry. But outside of experience, what is the right personality for the job?
Top Qualities For A Medical Sales Rep
1. Take Initiative
It should come as no surprise that hiring mangers are looking for assertive individuals to fill these roles. The stereotypical medical sales professional is strong and assertive. The individual is able to do what is necessary to advance the interest of their company.
This is not a job interview in which you want to present yourself as a quiet and reserved candidate. While it is important in any sales role to be a good listener, a rep needs to be assertive and know when to take initiative. Whether it is following up on a lead or closing a new customer, the ability to take initiative is a must.
2. Confidence & A Winning Mindset
In my opinion, confidence goes hand in hand with taking initiative. Someone who is confident in their abilities will know when to take initiative. During the interview process you will need to present yourself as confident, assertive, and sometimes even aggressive.
The other part of this is having a winning mindset. Sales is difficult. Medical sales even more so. To make a career out of it you will need determination and a positive mindset. A positive outlook can make all the difference in getting through the challenging days. Especially the cold calls and rejection. In my experience, negative reps do not last long. They give off negative vibes to customer and colleagues alike. While it is different for everyone, you must find a way to stay positive and upbeat. Companies look for these traits in their new hires.
3. Quick Thinker
A medical sales rep needs to be able to think quickly on their feet. Most of your meetings and customer interactions will take place in patient care areas. For a lot of reps this will mean in the operating room. A rep needs to be able to address questions, handle objections, and engage clients in what can sometimes be a very chaotic setting. The ability to make good decisions quickly, track down information on the fly, and support customers in the heat of the moment are all critical skills to be successful.
The word that comes up a lot in this industry is tenacity. Just to get into the field you have to be willing to endure a lot of interviewing. According to a Reddit user who is clearly very proud of their profession, some folks have to go through hundreds of interviews being getting their first job. In most cases it takes awhile (1-2 years) to land your first job. This is after having some b2b sales experience! Then the hard work does not stop with landing the job.
Once you have the job, the day to day can be a grind. There is a lot of rejection. You have to be willing to work harder that the competition, and rejection is part of this process. So of course, companies look for signs of grit and tenacity during the interview process. It is difficult to teach these skills, so companies would rather find someone who already has the right instincts.
5. Organization Skills
Being productive and efficient all comes down to being organized. Whether it is being organized with your emails, calendar, customer meetings, or equipment. Organizations cherish employees who are on top of deadlines. A big part of this stems from a strong planning ability. This skill allows a rep to to stay organized both on the day to day and over the course of time in a territory.
During the interview process it is important to demonstrate that you are an organized candidate. This means having clean copies of your resume, prior sales numbers readily on hand, and any relevant supporting documents. Also, you can demonstrate organization skills with prompt and thorough follow up emails at each step of the interview process. This is an interview best practice.
6. Sense Of Urgency
A hiring manager once told me that outside of the basic qualifications, a sense of urgency was the important quality for a candidate. This is because a sense of urgency is something that can not be taught. A person either has the innate tendency to jump on things to get urgent requests completed, or has a more relaxed demeanor. In sales, it makes all the difference to promptly follow up on tasks, and to know when this is necessary.
Also, a sense of urgency is important internally within an organization. Upper management will hit up managers for forecasts, customer data, or other numbers and expect a response immediately. It makes it easier for a manager if they have a team of employees that is able to quickly address these types of requests without constant reminders.
What Do Medical Sales Companies Look For?
Every hiring manager is different. But without a doubt traits like taking initiative, projecting confidence, demonstrating grit, and being organized are universally valuable. In addition, hiring manager may look for personality characteristics important to the given geography, the local team, and the organization as a whole. Be professional throughout the interview process and remember you also need to be yourself.
Related: Click here to read our article on how to get into medical sales.
What Makes A Good Medical Device Sales Rep?
This is a different question altogether. After you figure out how to break into medical device sales, the question becomes what makes someone successful in the role. Of course hiring managers are looking for the traits they think will lead to positive performance. After all the objective is to hire someone that will perform well, not someone that just looks good on paper.
According to researcher Daniel Pink in his book To Sell Is Human, surprisingly the best salespeople are not extroverts, but ambiverts. Ambiverts, are defined as someone who exhibits qualities of both introvert and extrovert depending on the situation and context. According to Adam Grant “the ambivert advantage stems from the tendency to be assertive and enthusiastic to persuade and close, but at the same time listening carefully to customers and avoiding the appearance of being overconfident and excited”.