Linda Hertz Group

My Medical Device Sales Career

If you spend a day with a highly accomplished medical sales person then you are probably going to hear that one of their primary drivers for success is cultivating surgeon relationships.  It is a rather obvious point but there is certainly more to this story. You will hear such things as “champion, KOL, thought leader, advocate, race horse, Big Dog and a host of other terms of endearment.


They will tell you that they possess the unique ability to build solid relationships very quickly.  It gets real interesting when you then ask them how they are able to do so when so many others cannot to the same degree.  The typical response is something like “I just do what comes natural” or “it is hard to explain but I just see things differently” or “I have the rare gift of connecting with my customers” or "my customers just know that they are in good hands with me."   You walk away feeling like you just had a close encounter with Haley Joel Osment from the Sixth Sense ( I see dead people) or maybe “Luke Skywalker” and being that you are a mere mortal, the “force” and the super natural are beyond your comprehension. Do you have a “Luke Skywalker” in your sales force?  I bet you do and I also bet that he is your #1 sales trainer based on his performance.   I found this to be of particular interest because this is often the very same person that is used as the gold standard for “what good looks like” in the sales force.   "Houston, we have a problem…"


This is where the story gets really interesting.  Poor old “Luke” is being paraded around like a show pony and asked to train most of the new people but he is unable to actually articulate what makes him so successful.  Since repetition is the mother of all learning, maybe we can just have the trainee spend the next six months with “Luke” to learn his moves.  It worked for Danielson in the Karate Kid (Wax on, wax off) and maybe Mr. Miyagi is looking for a job as a sales trainer. On second thought, that probably won’t work either.  Instead, we settle for a 3-5 day field ride whereby the trainee watches “Luke” perform his magic show hoping to bottle it up and take “it” home upon the completion of the training ride.  It begs the question, “Is selling medical products an art or science? I would argue both and in the meantime you may want to consider giving “Luke” some science classes.


"First management had plans, and then strategic plans. Now we have vision, and we're only one small step from hallucination." - Ainsley Throckmorton

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Tags: selling skills


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Comment by Brian K. Horban on February 25, 2011 at 4:27pm
Yes that is true...
Comment by Devin Hughes on February 25, 2011 at 4:19pm
A great sales person is 1/2 Picasso and 1/2 Einstein !
Comment by Brian K. Horban on February 25, 2011 at 4:16pm

I truly believe it boils down to chemistry.... You have talkers, doers, thinkers.. etc..

If you talk too much and your client is a thinker... you're out!

Sales can be taught sure on many levels.. but that only gets you so far as newbie....I truly believe it boils down personalities and things in common with your customer... If you dont have that "it" social factor.. people will see right through you.. I have always tried to pay attention to a new customers personality traits, what types of questions does he or she ask? What type of personality does he or she have?.... What items are in their office that I have in common with them that I can bring out and show some similarities...  pictures, trophies.. etc

Sure you can teach or tell this to a new rep but it boils down to a science factor as ...can that person not fumble or actually hold down a good conversation... can they mingle and socialize well with clients?.  

I had a former engineer for a sales manager and it was a nightmare... sure he knew the products and how to read projects.. etc. but he was absolutely horrible with customers!  He couldnt hold down a genuine conversation with a customer to save his life!

From my experience, I would say chemistry / science... in my opinion..

Comment by Devin Hughes on February 25, 2011 at 3:56pm
Good comments Brian.  Is building relationships more art or science?  In other words, can it be taught or are some people just more likeable, trustworthy etc...
Comment by Brian K. Horban on February 25, 2011 at 2:51pm

Good article Devin...


Relationships are the driving factors in many sales arenas..

I have often been awarded projects due to my long term relationships with existing clients. Quite often, sales people tend to talk too much or just not really pay attention to a clients needs. I have always put myself in my customer shoes and asked myself what is the best solution? What's best for this project or for my client right now? Another key factor I have found is going above and beyond or owning up when there is a problem but most of all just be honest and sincere..






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