I meet with medical device sales reps to learn about the latest innovations and to ensure my patients receive the best care. But with my workload, I need to get relevant information quickly to decide whether or not to use a product.
I try to meet with reps whenever I have a few minutes in between OR cases or clinic patients. MedTech reps need to know their product or service through-and-through because that short interaction is often their one opportunity to get me on board. They need to be the expert and give me a concise, compelling presentation as to why I should use their product because the odds of me spending half an hour reading through the data and articles they provide are low, unless I am convinced otherwise. I want to learn quickly how the product is better than what we’re using currently, or if it’s a new product, what problem it’s solving.
It can be tough to connect with a doctor and convert them. After all, change involves some challenges in terms of time, effort, and workflow. Here are three things I look for when deciding to meet and work with a rep:
1. Catch My Attention With Relevant Information
I interact with medical device reps in a number of different ways, but in-person meetings generally best establish the relationship with the rep. Even though we have all of these technologies – email, Zoom, etc. – the in-person relationship is critical to establish trust. Once that’s done, a rep can rely on the other means of communication. Sometimes it takes four or five reminders for me to respond (after all, I’m often with patients). But the more relevant the information is to me, the more likely I am to respond. For example, if I see an email about something I heard about at a recent conference, or talked to a colleague about, it’s going to spark my interest. I get so many emails a day, it’s important to use personalized content to stand out in my inbox.
2. Show Me Other Surgeons Using Your Products
I also want to know who is using the product. In particular, I’m interested in:
-Surgeons I know personally. If I've trained with a product user or published with them, that relationship serves as a reference and gives me more confidence in the product.
-Surgeons in my area. If there is anyone in my community who uses the product, I want to know about it so I can stay on top of the latest innovations relevant to my patients.
-Surgeons I respect. I may not know them personally, but if a KOL uses the product, or is someone who has done research or spoken on the topic, that brings credibility to the product and the rep.
A highly effective rep would find these surgeons in my network and connect me to them if needed. It saves me a lot of time. Especially if I don’t have a relationship with a rep already, I’m going to notice their efforts if they identify product users who are relevant to me. It makes an unknown entity better known because someone else I trust has already vetted the product.
3. Be A Team Player
The truly outstanding reps are present throughout the trial process. It’s not just about knowing the product; they take a significant interest in the entire procedure relevant to their product and actively work with the OR teams to make things easier for them during use. For example, some reps just put their products on the shelf and you never see them again; there’s no support. A valuable rep will go out of their way to help the broader OR team to make using the new product that much simpler. Use of a new product should not negatively impact our normal workflows, as that experience can overshadow even the best products. The rep should make sure things go as smoothly as possible during the first few trials of their product. The feedback my team gives me can also influence me. If I learn that a rep is unreliable, or there is uncertainty about whether or not a product will be available, I may be less inclined to use the product, no matter how good it is.
Overall, reps should make sure they’re leading with personalized, relevant information, and be proactive. I find it’s more common for reps to err on the side of being invisible than to err on the side of being overly helpful. When the rep provides relevant information and is helpful to my OR team, I’m much more likely to listen and use their product.
Dr. Alexander Sah, MD is a leading orthopedic hip and knee surgery specialist. Dr. Sah completed his residency at Harvard Combined Orthopedic Program and currently practices at Sah Orthopaedic Associates at the Institute for Joint Restoration and Research, where he is also medical co-director. With over 20 years of experience in the medical field, Dr. Sah has published numerous articles and presented at leading conferences including AAOS and AAHKS. He is based in Fremont, California.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn.