Death of a (medtech) salesman?

November 1, 2012 by MassDevice

The world of medical device sales is being turned on its head by policy changes and the growth of big medicine. Sales reps and device innovators can pivot their strategy and still be successful if they properly identify stakeholders and adapt their value proposition.

Death of a (medtech) salesman

By Evan Anderson

This article was originally posted on

Only a few years ago, a medical device sales representative ("rep") could establish a relationship with a clinician, convince this provider of a new product's clinical benefit, and close a sale. These days, throughout the medtech industry, we often hear horror stories of hospital systems taking purchasing decisions away from clinicians, large group purchasing organizations (GPOs) stifling innovation, and physician-owned distributors trying to replace sales reps. What in the heck is going on with medtech sales?

Two years ago, I had an opportunity to find out when I jumped from R&D into sales at a small, market-development-stage medtech start-up. I transitioned roles because I thought it was where I could benefit my company most and believed understanding sales would benefit my future product development work. In sales, I discovered a world that was being turned on its head. This is best explained in by a story that started with a request I received last January from a high-level procurement officer at a large hospital system.

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The Pitch

To set up the story, I came back in-house in October 2011 after a year in direct sales, in order to develop the sales channel for our second product. My responsibilities included finding physicians with a target profile, getting initial feedback on the product, vetting distributors, and developing training and strategy documents for the field. A well-published physician in the southeast expressed interest in using the product and put me in touch with the head of the product committee for his hospital system.