Relationship Building Beyond the OR
A shifting paradigm is affecting the way medical service providers are reimbursed—especially by Medicare—changes, the relevance and cost efficiency of medical reps within the operating room has been called into question. Hospitals are being forced to access the value of medical device sales representatives as bundle payment methods are being used more and more after the implementation of the Affordable Care Act.
When I think of the traditional relationship between a medical equipment rep and a surgeon, the stereotype I think of is an old school one. A former athlete shows up at an office, hands out gift cards to the staff, takes the surgeon out to dinner, makes small talk about whatever irrelevant topic you might like, picks up the bill, offers deals and discounts and—scene.
These incentive-based sales strategies have already been heavily regulated and have become less and less profitable, not to mention they are largely illegal. Medical sales reps have to be ready and willing to break the traditional paradigm and branch out to the supporting cast of professionals making the day-to-day operations of the facilities possible.
Adapt and Overcome
The new medical sales representative must evolve as a species, to function in this new biomedical economic ecosystem. They must adapt. Their communication skills must develop. They have to think about potential conversations with individuals previously unconsidered. The support staff, nurse managers, supply and material managers—all these roles are now integral to the implementation and sale of products to potential buyers.
Medical sales reps must educate themselves. They should already have extensive knowledge of the products they sell and possess hands-on training regarding their installation. Installing an artificial hip joint in a cadaver is not only practical in process, but I imagine would serve to strengthen the stomach. While OR presence has diminished, it has not vanished, and the product knowledge is still important when promoting advantages within the industry. A device rep should focus on subjects such as healthcare trends, changing methods of funding, key industry terminology and acronyms. Showing those other players you are taking a genuine interest in their world will promote more active and beneficial relationships.
One might go even farther in establishing rapport by sharing information with those larger medical cast members. Being aware of current and potential changes within the industry and sharing those revelations with the staff will not only go farther in building a relationship, but the effort will serve to enhance their position and performance in an environment which can be volatile and high stress. Leaving them better equipped to navigate it builds trust.
The offer of a helping hand can go a long way in an understaffed OR. Simply offering to provide minor assistance to a nurse manager could make a massive difference in how a nurse manager communicates with a rep. The more willing a staff member is to have a conversation with a device representative, the more flexibility the sales rep has in achieving solutions beyond a simple request for a 30 percent discount.
We have to acknowledge the changing field. Old hat strategy, while it can work, is fret with questions of legality. In most professional arenas, the exit-to-entrance ratio is two to one. We have fewer candidates available to steward an industry growing right along with an aging population. It is of paramount importance that recruiters place candidates who can do the job more effectively with fewer resources and less operating room access than traditional representatives.
At Relentless Recruiting, we know that focusing on candidates with a more progressive, self-educated outlook is the best way to maintain the level of success we are known for. Every day is a chance to do more for our clients.
Contact us today to start a search and build a medical sales team of relentless people.