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Welcome to our latest series of short articles on the world of the NHS and medical devices.

Healthcare teamwork comprises many different professionals and personalities. Here, we take a look at the role of the medical sales representative.

What qualities would your ‘perfect’ sales professional have…?

In any hospital, you’re likely to see an assortment of sales representatives from different medical or pharmaceutical companies. And, as with any profession, there’ll be an array of personalities and individual approaches to how they carry out their role.

A good medical sales professional should add value.

What sort of qualities do you look for? At what point do you regard them as an integral part of the healthcare team? And, ultimately, what does your ‘perfect’ salesperson look like…?

Here are some areas to consider. Which ones matter most to you?

 

 

Appearance – smart and appropriate or fashion model…?

Most salespeople are usually recognisable by their well-groomed, professional appearance. Not only are they representing their companies, it’s a mark of respect to the many different types of people they’ll meet throughout the working day. First impressions count and – whilst no one wants a fashionista to turn up – being inappropriately or underdressed can seriously undermine credibility and professionalism. It’s hard to dress up if you’re already dressed down…

Discretion – for your eyes only…

Often, sales professionals are privy to personal and sensitive information surrounding patients’ use of their product, and are regularly present in the operating theatre when a case takes place. Theatre attendance is a privilege and should be regarded as the inner sanctum – where trust, discretion and being situationally appropriate are paramount. Could you imagine anything but…?

Product knowledge, education and support – talking the talk and walking the walk…

Talking about a product is one thing. Yet, when a salesperson can build on the brochure descriptions and relate that product to clinical evidence and specific real-life scenarios – knowing the procedure inside out, adding invaluable insight and taking on a consultative role – that’s when they really come into their own. And everyone benefits…

Offering solutions – autonomy or bureaucracy…?

No matter how well-planned something may be, challenges can always crop up. And sometimes there isn’t the opportunity to go away and mull things over. Whether they work for a start-up or big corporation, having someone who can make decisions there and then – with the autonomy to be responsive and adaptable – can make a huge difference in a time-pressured situation. Solutions are always better than obstacles…

Exceeding expectations – under-promising and over-delivering…

Dependability ought to be a given, such as having a representative who always shows up when they say they will and who always follows through on what they promise. Having someone who routinely goes above and beyond what’s needed though – proactively and without prompting – is just the type of initiative and back-up that can make others’ lives so much easier…

Facilitating a smooth process – dealing with the red tape…

Recognising the demands of a clinician’s workload and not wanting to add to it should come as second nature to a good salesperson. Having someone experienced who can work effectively with hospital management and internal systems to help a clinician use a favoured product – including managing all the ongoing liaison and administration – means that the clinician doesn’t have to, and frees them up to concentrate on what they do best…

Understanding the bigger picture – being in it together…

Partnership is all about team effort. Having an appreciation of how everything fits together, the roles of the different stakeholders involved and recognising the various factors that may impact a service and its needs – e.g. in the form of pressures, pilots, targets, resourcing, procurement, funding – can only strengthen that bond and commitment to a shared goal. Why just have someone who only sees what’s in front of them…?

How did you get on?

Because of the multitude of specialties and products used in hospitals, sales professionals are a continual presence in the healthcare setting. We see them all the time. But, when you come across one who ticks all the above – and truly adds value to what you do – that’s when you know you’ve got a team member who’s worth their weight in gold.