What do you do for a living?
My actual title is called a Respiratory Care Account Manager, but the job description is actually selling critical care and surgical type products in the hospitals and surgery centers.
How would you describe what you do?
The people I call on within the hospital for the products I carry range from anesthesiologists, to surgeons, to nursing staff, critical care, intensive care units, and then also into the purchasing department and the administration. Not very often, but sometimes CEO’s and CFO’s of hospitals. My main two products are types tracheotomy and endotracheal tubes. The tracheotomy tubes are basically a product for patients that go home and have trouble with some type of upper respiratory abnomaly or problem. And the endotracheal tube line is more for surgeries.
A lot of people think that because we’re out there selling different products and pharmaceutical companies are selling all these different drugs that it’s driving our insurance up really high…in one sense you can look at us and say ‘yeah it does’…But I guess at the end of the day if you are on your deathbed do you want a product that is from Target, or do you want a product that has been in research and development for a long time and has had some of the best scientists in the world world looking at it?
The doctor administers the anesthesia and once the patient is anesthetized they keep them alive by a ventilator which is connected to the endotracheal tube.
What does your work entail?
It really entails knowing your customer’s very well, knowing what they do really helps you. I come from a nonclinical background in college. I have a double major in marketing and management, and I knew I wanted to get into medical device sales so I took a few premed classes, anatomy and physiology, some basic type classes to kind of get me a little bit of a jump start. It really helps me to know exactly what the doctor’s, or nurse’s job responsibilities are. It allows me to just be able to communicate with them better. It’s actually a great job for those that are independent and self driven. I basically can wake up whenever I want. I work out of my home office here, and I basically run a territory.
It’s a pretty large territory, probably anywhere between 50 to 70 some hospitals, and hundreds of little surgery centers all over the place. Typically on Monday’s I stay in the office all day just setting up my week and calling on doctors, and catching up on e-mails and whatnot. So it’s really nice just to wake up and be in your pajamas and work all day. The rest of the days I’m typically up around six o’clock, 6:30 and then heading out to some accounts and calling on the doctors. I typically get to about three or four accounts a day depending on traffic and how you set your day up. I also go to my accounts that I’ve already sold to and make sure that they’re happy with the product and that they’re satisfied and they’re getting the benefits that I told them they would get out of a certain product. Just basically making sure that they’re happy and they’re getting what they need.
How did you get started?
I knew in college that I wanted to get into the field so I took a few premed classes and it kind of got me started. It’s a tough industry to get into without sales experience, and it doesn’t necessarily have to be medical device sales, or medical sales for that matter. It kind of depends on the position that you’re going for, but a lot of times they look for people who have proven sales experience and then they hire them. It’s so tough anymore to get into sales without experience. It’s kind of a rough deal, sometimes you just hope that somebody takes a shot with you to give you the opportunity to show that you can sell if you don’t have any sales experience. I started out my first job in sales was selling
I’ve read a couple articles that said that sales, any type of sales, was one of the quickest ways to establish a good wealth base, and I can’t think of a better way to do it. You’re helping other people improve their lives and getting paid a very nice monetary value for it.
treadmills for physical therapy and accelerated sports fitness. I had 2 1/2 years of experience there and then moved my way into medical device sales.
What do you like about what you do?
Well, we talked a little bit earlier about the flexibility of your schedule. I’m very independent and self driven, so I don’t really like reporting to a cubicle every day and just kind of being locked up. I like to be able to get out and just meet new people and everything. One of my biggest things I like about this job is that you know you’re helping, you know you’re improving somebody’s life. People don’t choose to go to the hospital, it just happens that they get sick, or they get diagnosed with the disease or something, knowing that you’re selling a product that helps them or betters their lifestyle is really a great satisfaction. That’s probably the biggest thing that I like about it.
What do you dislike?
It can be very tough working with doctors and clinicians. A lot of them have their set beliefs, and it can kind of be a tough sell sometimes because there are so many of these older doctors that are out there, and they’ve been practicing for more years than I’ve probably been alive and it’s tough to convince them of a new product sometimes. It’s tough to break down old walls and foundations, so that can be a little tricky. Some people would say they dislike having quotas. I know some people are just scared to death about quotas, but growing up playing sports and stuff it is like a competition, and that’s kind of the way I approach a quota, that it’s competition. So I kind of enjoy that. I just enjoy it so much that I don’t think there’s a whole lot I can say negative about it.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
I’m currently set up with a base salary of $50,000 and then a commission on top of that. It’s kind of nice in that the base salary gives you the peace of mind knowing that you are going to have income coming in no matter if you’re selling something or not. But really when you want to make the good money, you start really selling a lot of products, and you meet your quota. And typically what they’ll have is $50,000 base salary, and then if you’re at 100% of quota to plan then you should make around $120,000 total, and in my case it’s whatever you go over quota at the end of the year they pay you 15% on top of that as well.
How much money do you make?
I made $120,000 last year, this year I’m on pace to make about $135,000-$140,000.
Would you say there are any perks to this career?
Yeah, absolutely there’s great perks. Companies are different, but with this job I have a company car. I don’t have a car payment, I don’t pay for car insurance, and I don’t pay for gas. They provide me with a laptop, they pay part of my Internet bill, they pay part of my office phone line, and they pay for my cell phone, let’s see, and what else do they pay for. They set me up with an office, they gave me my printer and all of my office supplies are paid.
What education or skills are needed to do this?
I would definitely say a bachelors degree is very helpful. You know now it all kind of depends. To be real honest you definitely want to have a bachelors degree, and some people say a Masters but I don’t have a Masters and I’ve got a couple friends that went and got their masters degree and it took them longer to get a job than it took me, and they’re not making any more than I am. With that being said it’s kind of a tossup.
You might be able to open up a couple more doors for you if you have your Masters, or it may bump you up a little bit in your base salary if you have your masters, but a lot of times it really comes down to if you know somebody in the company. As far as skills, you definitely you want to have a good personality, you want to be approachable by other people, you want to be able to communicate your opinions and your thoughts in a manner that doesn’t look like you’re just a sales rep, and I don’t really consider myself a sales rep.
I’m more of what they would call a sales consultant. Whereas you’re kind of consulting them, you say ‘look I know my stuff and I’m not trying to sell you on something that I don’t think you need, I’m trying to consult you on a better product that’s not only good for you but its also good for the patient.’ In my field typically at the end of the day it comes down to patient care, and if you’ve got a product that’s going to provide quality patient care you’re going to be successful.
What is most challenging about what you do?
That would probably be finding your decision-makers within the hospital. Because a lot of times you get people who are like, ‘Oh yes, I like your product’, but they don’t have the authority or the power to push the product through. We call these people champions. People that like your product and push it through. Anymore, you can’t really just go into hospital and show them a product and then they’re like ‘I want that product, let’s go ahead and order that product tomorrow’. Typically you’ve got to have one person who’s really fired up about the product, and then they’ve got to pull it through three, or four, or five different committees, and then all the committees have to approve it. So really the challenging part is finding someone who’s going to bat for you within the hospital.
What is most rewarding?
Just knowing that you’re selling a product that’s maybe keeping a mother alive for another couple of years, or saving somebody’s life that like a father, or son, or whoever it might be. Just knowing that you’re helping other people in their daily lives, and in some cases saving lives. A lot of times they call them ‘life altering products’, just knowing that you’re helping somebody is the most rewarding thing I get out of it.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
I guess if I could go back and do it all over again, I would try to have a little bit more of a biology background along with a business background. That would open up a lot of doors. I know that with the few classes that I did take, anatomy and physiology and medical terminology, those kind of classes definitely did open up some peoples’ eyes. I think chemistry type classes, kinesiology, and some other classes like that would really show employers that this person has known what they wanted to do and have been working towards it. I think having more of a biology background with an addition to your business background would be ideal. And also a big thing would be just to get out to hospitals and if they have programs within colleges or high schools you can actually get in, like say an operating room. Sometimes they have these programs where they can bring you in and maybe you can job shadow the anesthesiologist, or a cardiologist, or a brain surgeon, or a spine surgeon or something like that, so I definitely look for some opportunities like that to get in, to get a firsthand experience with it.
How much time off do you get/take?
It grows each year, you start off with 10 days with paid vacation, in California, you can actually roll your vacation over to next year so, and in addition to your seniority in the company you can even get more than that.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
A lot of people think that because we’re out there selling different products and pharmaceutical companies are selling all these different drugs that it’s driving our insurance up really high. It’s kind of a double-edged sword. Because in one sense you can look at us and say ‘yeah it does’, but if you turn it around and you look at it from medical device industry you know, it’s just business and they’re providing new technologies just like anything, with the better technology you are able to do things better, your prices are going to go up. So with technology advancing different products and everything it’s making them better, but also a lot of research and development are going in to so we have to make up our costs there and everything. It’s really a cycle that, you know everybody wins some, but everybody also gets hit a little bit with. But I guess at the end of the day if you are on your deathbed do you want a product that is from Target, or do you want a product that has been in research and development for a long time and has had some of the best scientists in the world world looking at it?
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
My goal is really to advance into a more advanced type surgical position, such as let’s say pacemakers and defibrillators, or spine surgeries types of products where I’m working directly with the patient and working with the surgeons. Those positions tend to pay more and they’re a little bit more rewarding in the fact that you’re actually working directly with the patient, and at the end of today you know like three or four days later after the operation or the procedure the patient comes back in and says ‘I’m feeling so much better, thank you’. That’s really rewarding and I’d like to get to that stage. I’ve always thought about going into management as well and that’s kind of the path that you typically take. In order to advance to a manager or a management position you typically have be in the field for two or three years and show that you can sell, that you’re experienced that you can succeed.
What else would you like people to know about what you do?
I think it’s a very rewarding industry. I think I’d just reiterate the fact that if someone is in to helping other people and getting paid for it, then this could be something for them. I want to be wealthy. I want to be able to take care of my family and friends and be able to do the things that I want to do and travel and I just have a lot of things that I want. I’ve read a couple articles that said that sales, any type of sales, was one of the quickest ways to establish a good wealth base, and I can’t think of a better way to do it. You’re helping other people improve their lives and getting paid a very nice monetary value for it.