• Jason Baker

Medical Sales Reps need "NERVES OF STEEL"​...Pharma Sales Reps need Patience AND Relationship

Surgical Sales reps need to have "Nerves of Steel"...pharmaceutical sales reps need to be nice and patient.


There are a few similarities between pharmaceutical sales and Surgical device sales. In both professions, you are trying to educate doctors and other medical staff that the features and benefits of the products that you represent are better than that of our competitors. Both types of sales representatives provide lunches, samples, marketing tools, and clinical papers.

In both areas, you will be concerned with repeat business and purchasing groups. It gets more interesting when you start considering the differences:





The goal of pharmaceutical sales is to increase the number of prescriptions (”scripts”) written by physicians in your assigned geographical area. In Surgical devices sales, the goal is to get the purchase order. In pharmaceutical sales, the results of your efforts are rarely instantaneous; weeks may pass before you know if the lunch you provided increased the writing habits for your drug at that particular office. With surgical devices sales, you know at the end of the day if you did a good job because you either got the purchase order, booked a surgery or sold a surgical device. You don’t have to wait a month to see if your numbers go up.


Whereas pharmaceutical companies may provide their representatives with a targeted list of physicians, Surgical sales representatives will spend much of their time prospecting for new hospitals, medical offices, and clinics within their territory. With prospecting, there is a lot of cold calling. It is critical to network and asks for referrals in surgical devices sales. The sales cycle is usually longer, and surgical device representatives have to work harder to maintain relationships. Once a purchase is completed, a hospital may go five or ten years before they need to replace the equipment. This is especially true of capital equipment purchases. In pharmaceutical sales, you follow a routine schedule and see many of the same physicians again and again. In surgical sales, you will usually cover a larger territory, but the bigger the territory, the greater the opportunity.

The differences are in selling styles and processes and in what your own personal risk/reward factors are.



The bottom line is that pharmaceutical sales take a completely different mentality than surgical sales.


If you want to have a successful surgical sales career you need to be an expert in your skill-set and you need to have a killer instinct.

Why people are “unfit” for Surgical Sales.

  • Surgical Sales requires a disciplined approach with a laser-sharp focus on objectives while an emotional intelligence suited to accept that people don’t always react as we’d planned and customers don’t buy for the reasons market researchers predict. Not many people can embody all these traits in one

  • Surgical Sales requires balls of steel and a level of mental toughness that not many people are born with, and even less have the tools to develop this level of toughness. You don’t always get treated with respect and you fight stereotypes every day about being a surgical salesperson.

  • Surgical Sales require a certain mentality to win and sustain competitiveness. Effective surgical salespeople have created some type of mental framework and approach to keep themselves motivated in case of setbacks, some make it like a game (“go for the No”, “failing forward”) to get through the toughest times and still stay focused on the task at hand.




Why many fail in properly training Surgical Sales reps

  • Many companies still assume that sales is more of an innate skill much as interpersonal skills are: “some people are born great salesman”

  • Some companies do not have the resources for training or a trainer for that matter

  • Many companies train their surgical salespeople to be more of a transactional interaction, failing to realize that today you can’t treat physicians like a customer in a grocery check-out line and that relationships are huge in customer acquisition and retention, and that relationships can’t be “bought” no matter how much money you throw

  • Most companies don’t keep up the training, again, thinking that you go for a one-time training and somehow you magically retain everything you learned and also know how to apply it in real life.

If you don’t feel like you are getting properly trained to be an exceptional Surgical sales rep study these books by our team.






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© 2020 by Author Jason Baker