There are many great things about medical device sales. But like any job, some aspects could be better. In general, I am not a huge fan of whining or complaining. Overall, I am very grateful for my profession. Sometimes though a dose of reality can be insightful. Today, I reflect on five of the toughest things about the job and industry.
5 Biggest Challenges In Medical Device Sales
1. Stress And Pressure
There is no doubt about it, the medical device space is stressful. Quota and performance is everything. And sometimes regardless of how hard you work, you may come up short. The reality is if you perform well most quarters and most years things will be fine. But there is a never ending stress that comes with carrying a number. To be fair, this is the case with most sales jobs. The challenge is that due to the high compensation the medical device sales space is extra competitive. As a rep you have to find a way to stay grounded and manage the stress.
2. The Months With Low Commission
Most medical sales jobs have compensation structures in which a large part of the pay is commission. Commission is great during the good stretches, but painful during the slow months. Even the best reps have stretches where business slows down or PO’s are slow to move across the finish line. It takes a certain mindset to get through the small paycheck periods and to know that you are doing everything possible to succeed.
Related: How Much Is A Medical Device Salary?
3. Difficulty In Accessing Physicians
In terms of practical matters, the most challenging part of medical sales is accessing the customers. Physicians are busy people with a lot on their plate. To make matters worse they get bombarded by every type of imaginable rep. To be successful, you have to stand out from the crowd and get facetime to represent your product. This entails being assertive and respectful of their time. This is easier said then done. The reality is your will be chasing customers around the hospital sometimes. This is not the funnest part of the job.
In What Doctors Really Want From Reps, James Brady highlights the main factors that reduce provider accessibility.
- Volume of representatives competing for HCPs attention
- Industry shift to large group practices
- Vendor credentialing
If you prefer a perfectly controlled job with predictable outcomes then medical sales is not for you. Just when you think you know all the variables involved to close a big sale, something new will pop up. Success in the medical device space is about being able to effectively handle novel situations. Whether it is addressing customer feedback on an issue you didn’t even know existed, or getting squeezed at the end of the quarter on pricing. The ability to navigate these situations skillfully is critical to being a high performer.
5. Vendor Credentialing
Okay, so this is not the biggest deal in the world. But it is a pain for sure. Some genius sold hospitals on the idea that they need to track the vendors that come in and out of the hospital for meetings. It is not a bad idea in and of itself, but the execution is awful. There are numerous vendor credentialing services used throughout the industry. And each healthcare systems uses a different one. There are forms that need to be uploaded, policies that need to be regularly signed, and the list goes on. If you cover a large geography this can be an endless administrative task. While you are focused on preparing for a meeting at one account, you get an email that the parking guidelines at a hospital on the other side of town have changed. Who has the capacity to measure this level of information?