Episode 11 To The Medical Device Sales Battlefront In The Covid Era
Hello and welcome to the medical device success podcast I am Ted. Newell your host. The goal of this podcast is to contribute to your success and turn help you contribute to the success of Your Med Tech Company. Thank you so much for spending some time with us today. This is a crazy time to start a podcast with the corona virus dominating the news. However, there are important things we medical device professionals can be doing in this altered landscape of strategies and tactics for marketing sales and operations so working in the area of the corona virus, hopefully a short era. We'll be the subject of this first season of episodes. Let's get started. Welcome to episode eleven of the Medical Device Success podcast and today we are going to the battle front of sales in the Kovic era, and to give you just a little taste of what we're going to hear from a sales leader I'm going to play this clip. What is a sales? Call? Look like. How do we deliver an effective sales? Call I think to your point. It's we're GONNA have to figure out how we deliver. A sales call virtually flawlessly. And that that's where we're spending. A lot of our time is in our practice like role, actually role playing this is. How do you use them? How do you like your stuff? You presented in here alert forecast for about. How do affect the powerpoint, or is it a Presi presentation? How much of the screen is? Is You as the rap in the customer because you still need to have that, I contact, and how do you keep that interaction engaging like to me? That's the challenge posting pandemic that we're GONNA face because. In just a moment I'm going to introduce you to this sales leader, but I I wanna make you aware of some new re entry guidance that just came out from adv amid. This past week, and this guidance is a collaboration between the American. Hospital Association the Association of Peri Operative, registered nurses and advocated, which is also called the Advanced Medical Technology Association. For those of you that don't know who add the MED is a really should know advocate meds. Mission is to advocate globally for the highest ethical standards and patient access to safe, effective and innovative medical technologies that save improve lives, and if you go to the website, and you'll see their description of who they are, they are a trade association that leads the effort to. To advance medical technology in order to achieve healthier lives, and so on, and so forth they have about four hundred members from very small companies to large companies, and they really do great work. They have great great program, and they have great events, but what's important about? This guidance is a couple bullet points that they have here that I think you should be aware of. And in the consideration section under. Areas of hospitals and other healthcare facilities, it says medical device representatives should work with facilities and providers to let to deliver services, information and support remotely. Whenever possible there you go, we're back to virtual world. the second bullet. Medical device representatives, needing facility access for servicing medical equipment should follow the same social distancing and access policies applicability to staff with access to the equipment and the third bullet. Is that medical device representatives entering all areas of the facility should take safety precautions in accordance with the CDC Community Recommendations and state and or local public health recommendations, regarding handwashing face coverings, etc, so you really need to not only know the CDC guidance, but you need to know state and local guidance. And of course you need to talk to the hospital before you go and find out what all the new procedures are so I will have download of this on the show notes. You should read it and make sure your company is abiding by these standards. International listeners should be checking for guidance in their country, and also any guidance might be specific to regions, provinces, and so on. I guess that's a good segue back to the battlefield. Because that's part of the definition of the new battlefield, we're fighting on to compete and to provide services and value to our customers. And today we are really fortunate to have a sales leader with us and I. Think it's going to be a lot of fun talking to him. You know it's one thing to be a consultant like myself and sit behind a microphone and give advice, and perhaps I feel like I have some authority to do that. Due to the connections I have an industry and industry experience, but it's totally something different. Different to talk to somebody that has actually implementing action now in this new era. You were going to find this very very interesting. Our guest today is Jeff, Heidar. He's the vice president of sales North America for Kent Imaging. Jeff is an award winning strategic sales executive that has run successful teams with Johnson and Johnson Life Cell and Medlin he brings over twenty years of pharmaceutical and medical device sales experience. And he directs can't produce product sales in the wound and surgical care markets with experience of guiding sales teams in his motivational leadership style. Jeff, it's really great to have you on the podcast today, and it's great to have somebody from the trenches from the real world. You know a person that's trying to lead a sales team in this covert era and coming into the reopening so welcome to the podcast. Ted thanks a lot. Thanks for including me and thanks a lot for every linked in this has been a great podcast for me as a sales leader, and I've definitely share with my team. Many other, so you're doing a great service to the medical device industry and appreciate it well. Thanks a lot I appreciate those comments you know when I was preparing for this, and I was looking at the company that you work for can't and I was thinking about my career. It was interesting. Because early, my early career was plastic surgery neurosurgery urology, and it was all silicone implants. In fact I was the marketing guy behind the first tissue expanders. Invented by Cheddar Radha van. And, we always had a concern about blood flow in the tissue around those tissue expanders and all the. various reconstructive procedures. We were involved in like the breast reconstructions where they did some of those complicated flaps that your technology helps in so it really sort of took me back in time to an early part of my career and I'm just so impressed with the technology guys have. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? Yeah absolutely so Kent Imaging is company that was born out of technology developed at the Canadian National Research Council, so the team at developed. It are PhD. Mike was part of the team that was actually developing technology utilizing Indo cyanide green. That company went off to become Novak Mike the Canadian national. Research Council developed our technology so when you talk about blood flow very familiar with that, and and our technology has look at more of the effects of blood flow, which looks at tissue oxygenation, so we're going more the physiologic versus the anatomical effect, so it's it's been a fun fun. World I spent a long period of time at lifestyle selling ACLU normal matrices. matrices and had this experience that it is a natural move for me, but our technology where it's really helpful, it's helping patients. There's so many complications that exist when you don't have good blood, flow or good oxygenation to the tissue in the it's really something that wasn't appreciated ten or fifteen years ago and now it's become the gold standard that it's something you have to be plastic surgery or vascular surgery. You know any sort of reconstruction especially in wound, care and critical mosquito patients who have these vascular issues that are leaving two dead toes, or otherwise leading amputations and in our company as a whole. We're really focused on the technology on helping the patient. When someone gets an amputation. It's a five year death sentence. There's a five percent survival rates of people post amputation. So this is really a I won't say at a cottage industry. It's a very terrible very wide reaching impact on our older population diabetic population, but it's cool to be a part of a company that is focusing on the patient. That's that's the culture we have. There is patient I and the technology, and the application of it will follow. Is this the first startup you've been involved in. To this early stage Yes for sure I've been involved with starting up divisions I was in the earlier kind of mid phase of the start up phase with lifestyle, but this is know. We came from the ground up on this one, so it's been fun. A lot of great learnings, especially coming from larger corporate backgrounds like Johnson and Johnson and even life. Life I'll have more of a corporate structure so so we're does a bootstrapping this one, but it's been a great. We've had great adoption and we've got some very great support from key opinion, leaders who see the value and relevance of technology, so it's I. Hate to keep using the word, but it's been very fun to do this to build this technology. I'm going to take a little bit of a different direction just for a second but. First of all life so I own stock in life so a long time ago before they were acquired, and I did pretty good. Thank you for your efforts. And then the other thing you mentioned is the sort of career path. Issues were common on the fact that you have a big company background that has benefited you in the startup environment, and that's just something. I really want to emphasize when people ask me for career advice. I frequently tell them try to get on board with a really well run large company because they provide all kinds of additional education, and they provide a structure in an example of how something should be run. You know before you go four before you try to work for a smaller company. Obviously, that's worked for you. I couldn't agree with that statement a any more than than than what you just said. I mean it's there's so many learnings. There's so many little academic classes you take along the way social styles and versatility training how to coach people in different phases of their career. How do identify different behavior traits to really look below that I used to work with a guy named Greg Zimmer and he would always use thing. What's the question behind the question? That's something that I've applied. It's something you wouldn't get when you're in a startup or two or three people in a room like you get so much experienced so much. Education and you get to see it applied. There's probably. Would say a majority of the examples I. pull up how we handle something come from those large company experiences. A lot of People early in their career. We'll ask me how they can get into the startup environment and I think this might be somewhat reflective of the Silicon Valley. News that we hear all the time related to companies like facebook twitter where? People without a lot of industry experience suddenly are very very successful in a start up, and that is ultra ultra rare. And I think it's real important to have big company background. Before you move into a startup environment, you'll bring a lot more value to the startup, and this is something I would say to the listeners. Is You know when you make that? Move to go to a startup? Especially right now? There's a ton of opportunities to become an independent distributor. I am GonNa take two or three lines. Run my own business. It'll be freedom Al. have the security that I've never had before and. And, I won't have to worry about having my job. Eliminated gets a very nice romantic thought, but the one thing I cannot emphasize enough. Is You have to have a stomach for something less than perfection? It's just the way it is. You don't have the deep pockets. You don't have the resources many times you're having to you know where many many many different hats, and whether that's an independent distributor or that is. A startup anymore corporate function as we are. You really have to have thick skin and a lot of pepo business to keep your stomach from getting large ulcers, but again if you, if you enjoy that environment is very fond, and it's extremely rewarding. One of the reasons I wanted to come to start getting into starting up new divisions of companies, I never wanted to be a cog in the wheel. That was always A. A fear that I had and when you when you're running something like in the early phases of what your role is. If you're a clinical specialist, who's just happened to be your roles to cover cases you find yourself doing marketing. Your seniors find yourself doing other roles that you will never be a cog in the wheel like you're always gonNA. Have value and contribution to what you're doing. I know allowable any seek. It's nice to seek it, but you have to have that. Stick to it of. Intestinal fortitude to be able to be successful with that in the skills. And you mentioned. have to have the stomach for you have to be willing to wear a lot of hats. I remember when I was running a US operation for an Israeli start up. And we had three people and I was in the rotation. I was the president of the company I was in the rotation to clean toilets. So that's the way it works I. Mean until we had the cash flow where we could hire a cleaning crew. I was in the rotation to clean the toilets, and that's the part that can be part of the start up environment. It one hundred percent. Yeah, so let's get back to Jeff Heidar. Who is now in the middle of COVID era trying to run a young company? A small sales team. And trying to succeed. Let's talk about some of that. What kind of sales team do you have? So we have a mixed model of myself. And then we have a director of sales who runs a lot of the US operations and support for our distributors, and then we have a distribution network. A couple large national distributors at are maybe don't cover the whole country have large sections of the country, and then a couple regional distributors, so what we have is, and then we have a clinical sales specialist. So what we do is we support that sales effort through the technical and kind of internal. Internal tribal knowledge of the product to help them sell the product and distributors are really valuable for the relationships they bring to the table. They nowhere contracting is they know how to get around the process and maneuver through the hospital, and then we come in and leverage that with the product it's been. It's been a good especially the start up. It's a very wise way I think to grow your business. Lack companies go after a direct sales force out of the gate, and it's just a large. Expense you're, you're covering allowed benefits. I'll have cost a timeframe. When you're not generating much revenues, you may like I think years down the road. Most companies do move to a direct sales force model, but we've been very successful with our distributor model not without. I think in the covert era. It's really helped. Save our organization. I think we were having to furlough. People are let go of even five or six sales reps. that would be very very hard to stomach. I agree with you and I. Don't know if you've ever read the book crossing the Chasm. The A lot of companies they get this growth during the innovative hand. Early adoption phase of of the product life cycle for a product and you know many companies are like yours are sort of a one product company, so they think they're doing really great because they have this. Steady growth in these early phases, and they think that justifies hiring a huge direct sales force, and they spend all this money doing it, and they run into the chasm, and they can't make the bridge to the early majority part of the phase and they die. That's where they die. When they're trying to cross the chasm because they don't know how to do it, I think you're right I think it's it's. For Startup to conserve its resources, really get things perfected in using distributors. Independent Reps can be very helpful in that process prior to. You know moving on and maybe moving into a hybrid model where you have a few more sales reps in the field. Oh, but still with a distribution network inside so that's great. Then what what kind of challenges have you been facing? As this cova heiress I it started, and you're trying to start up a company and you know. Get revenues rolling I mean obviously from what I've read you. You do have revenues going. But. Still it's not the greatest time for this to happen, so Kovic hits, and now you're looking into the future at the recovery era. So Ted I totally agree with you. That challenge of raising funds right now of trying to get revenue very very challenging, especially when you look at investors, investors can take their money and put it into the stock market and play the volatility game. Do very very well with that. If they're willing to take that risk, what we're really focused on is as investors, and they're still out. There was once we're focusing on building a company with three to. To Five, year horizon. Knowing that company is going to roll into either an IPO or be acquired by another organization. They're still those folks out there, but this is really caused everyone to pause because they don't WanNa. Take a risk because there's too many unknowns in the marketplace right now so I think that's create one challenge from a revenue side of things, hospitals put capital freezes on clinics. Don't know what they WANNA do as far as investing. Some of the customers we talked to some our most loyal customers. The challenge they have is just simply. How are they going to stay open right? So from the plastic surgeon side of things they were their cases were reduced to only essential cases so that cancer so they some some hospitals he went so far as we will do a mastectomy, but we will not do a reconstruction. We're going to wait for that, so you have those folks. Who are you have staff to support? So what product use doesn't even matter? Matter at this point, they're more focused on. How do I keep my doors open? How do I keep my staff employed? So it's really changed. You know if we think about the challenger sale the book by a Mattress Brent Adamson. We have to reframe our conversation to the customer to what matters to them, so it's really caused a lot of change for us and how we approach the market and what our value proposition is. And what was that book again? It's called the Challenger sale by Dixon and Brent. It's a great book. If you haven't read it, really what it does is most people who are successive successful sales. Reps help really reframe the conversation from Gimme a better price. Let's look at the larger picture. How do we help? Fill your needs, so our product is the only solution you have to fill that need, so you really start with you know kind silent Senate can start with why why do we matter? How can we build the relationship to help you? Kind of frame it, so your proxy. Only one that meets that needs great read. If you haven't read it, I would strongly recommend to any. Any salesperson or sales, professional, or even marketing professional who wants to differentiate themselves I will put an link to that book in the show notes. Okay so. You know you've got this challenge. And you've described it really well. Hospitals clinics practices throwing up a lottery blocks. They have a lot of concerns and. A lot of our products and our companies in the what we provide aren't top of mind at the moment, so we to find a way to make them top of minder or get back in that game. What changes to the sales process? Have you been looking at implementing or considering implementing? And how do you roll in? Several questions so. Sorry about this, but if you're if you're considering these things, how do you then roll them into the distribution process? And what challenges do you have there? So I'm going to try to answer this. The Best I can, it'll be a little bit of a long answer, so when we think about the old sales model or all commercial model. I'm just got to focus on sales, because because in our organization sales and marketing or married pretty tightly. We worked together very well, and we're very dependent upon each other. But, but it was a face to face conversation. We built a relationship with a person. We had a nice brochure. We did the PEEKABOO. Where here look at my brochure nominees set it down. Let's talk about the point of just had eating lunch and learns you're able to bump into people at the scrub sink or in between patients. You could catch them for a couple of minutes and that. That is totally blown up, but that doesn't exist anymore, so you as you shared earlier with the guidance in Album Ed providing guides on really restricting access and I think in one of your earlier podcast talk about physicians being recommended to have their own office hours for vendors, so that's really changed things, so we've got to figure out. How do we engage in that model? How do we? You know having relationship with pre existing customers with distributors works awesome when you can't just show up at place, drop information or create that cold call that cold to warm interaction and turn it into a trial. It's very hard, so the playing field has changed for us. We have you know very limited access were battling with physicians mindset and all the other things. I've seen a lot of companies. Go webinar crazy, but they're not going to sell the computers after struggling these things all day to go sit on a Webinar. So what is the become the new norm I? Think is gonNA be a short-term norm so to answer your question, if I'm tracked with the questions you ask. What are we doing in this post? PANDEMIC MODEL? So you know we. We actually sat down with the past couple of weeks myself and our sales director will see where we and Brian who's our clinical specialist. We sat down and we're really just looked. At what are the characteristics of our wraps and the the rap? Who's going to be successful? Successful in the future, I think is going to have to be very tech savvy, very adaptable and cultural. They're going to have to be very strategic and easily maneuvered and understand where they're meeting the customer. They're meeting them online. So what does that sales call? Look like that sales calls not going to be used to do for how we present to them in a way. That keeps their attention. If it's GONNA be through zoom call. How do you execute an excellent zoom? Also in the perspective, you've given prior conversations about excelling accelerator ability to use powerpoint or Presi that you're going to have to make these conversations for for lack of a better term, quite sexy. To maintain people's attention, but you also want to be able to maintain context, so we're going through that process to really reassess a successful sales call is and what a successful sales processes, because now I think that's completely changed, so we took this model, and then brought to our director of research Liz Newell and Liz and kind of shared her input on his. She does with customers quite a bit so again. We all wear many hats in a startup and what you'll see is what we think is. We're going to have to work with our marketing group to make sure we've got flawless presentations very good. Exciting information is share a lot more video demos a lot more video. Video specific to application where it's going to maintain the person's attention, and it's gotta be active. We have add when it comes to technology. So that's what we're. We're attempting to move towards. We hope it's right, and that's what actually prompted me to reach out to you through late dinner as understanding. What are you seeing? What are you hearing and I'd love to hear from other companies what they're doing because you know I've surveyed other customer colleagues that I have. It seems that they're relying on marketing to provide a solution for this. The reps are going to go back in, and they're going to maintain their position. They had and they'll be there to support as needed, but. You Know I. Hate to say that the medical device rap is going to be the encyclopedia salesmen 'cause I really don't believe that I. Just think that those that don't adapt to the new environment will become the way of the excite, Pia, salesman, or the fuller brush salesman that yeah. I remember when, but I think we're GONNA. Our skill sets are going to have to change to be successful. Commercialize new products. I think that's a really important message and what I love to hear about. This is the fact that you and your marketing crew are working very closely together in your clinical team I think that's so important, and it's something that we've been encouraging you know on the podcast as you as you indicated you know. I have talked to a couple of people in in an area that I'm very familiar with which is ophthalmology and I'm really surprised. That I'm not hearing a lot of doubt, adoption I think they do believe that they will be going into. The normal environment that they had in the past, in fact, they had not seen the Advent Med or the AMA or the CMS guidance on visitors to practices or clinical facilities or hospital so. I was a little bit surprised at that and the publisher asked me the other day. What I thought sales would be like for diagnostic equipment and ophthalmology going into the last couple of quarters of the year. I said that it was going to be very very difficult. and the statistics aren't I. Don't know what they aren't plastic surgery, but I know what they are in a couple of other specialties that many of these practices have been injured financially, and they're not going to have a huge capital budget so really being able to communicate your value. Proposition is going to be real important and do it at different in a new way, which is exactly what you're talking about. It's great to hear this. Well it. It's great to hear, and what's more important I really hope. We deliver excellence in the model. We developed You know I think it's. It's great to talk about, but it at the end of the day. You know we're not. We don't have guaranteed incomes a large company where they can say okay. If you take a two quarter risk on this like we've got a queue flawlessly and confident our team to do that but I. Think this will to your point. There are companies out there who think that things are going to be normal and and you. You know for a company in a startup phase. We don't have two or three quarter. Mulligan where we can. Just kind of proceed, as is, we have a financial wherewithal to continue. We certainly are well funded, but it is important to deliver whatever we do flawlessly and I. Like your previous quote. We're GONNA. Give you a cold shower and then a warm towel afterwards so I. Think the cold shower here. Is that as much as people want to believe? Things will return to normal. I just don't see that happening in my conversation customers against the guidance you've mentioned. The warm towels that those that are strategic, those that are innovative and those that are are willing to adopt and adapt will be very very successful, and I think they will be wildly successful because they'll find the. They'll find the way they'll get the key to the kingdom. In what I was impressed with. When you and I had talked earlier prior to the PODCASTS, getting started or hitting the record button you had talked about not just designing a new program in new tools and things that you're gonNA use in the field, but also practicing roleplaying, so yeah, so I think you know as a manufacturer R. Value to distributors is more important. They have other. Excuse me other products that they are able to utilize. And Sell, and so we've got to continue to provide value to them so some of the things we've done again. Sharing this podcast with distributor and distributor wraps to help them improve. Their skill sets sharing things like the embedded video emails. has actually had great impact for us. We've been able to to increase our presence and build relationship and we've had people comment on that really helps simplify a conversation that they would not have otherwise been able to have live. For the distributors to trust continue to provide value. We can help them with with a skill set, so we have a veteran team at Kent imaging, and we go back and sharpen the saw at some point and everybody hates role playing. I think any sales rep who's listening to this or anybody in marketing? We'll know role. Play stinks, and you know what we're doing is. We're actually going back and how? How do we know how to work zoom properly? How do we answer question as someone throws you a curve ball? How you quickly? You're able to adapt and have the resources in front of you to answer that question whereas you might have had a sales aid to point to now. How quickly can you get to that sales aid? And do you have maybe a list of your key resources that? That you, can you know all tab into to share with the customer to answer the question now? Of course you always want. Leave him with something and come back with. You always have to answer it, but it's there's a balance there so having to role play this new type of sales, call and a and again we're not depending totally on electronic sales calls that is that is a skill. Set we're. We're going to have to develop, but I can't emphasize the role play of because everyone thinks they know how to do it and just like when zoom started. Where's the button? I don't know why I can't connect with you. I'm not sure why microphones not working like those are the things that just now have become unacceptable, so it's a skill set, and we have to role. Play that skill set. That's awesome. Anything else you would like to share with the audience. Before. We wrap this thing up. You know there's so many things preparation and talking. You know this is so much. You'd like to share, but there's there's one quote that Jaakko Wellington and he's author of the book. Extreme ownership in he's a former navy seal, his whole point is that when challenges come to your own it and here's a quote that he says something completely out of control, and that's fine. When that happens, you have to ask yourself. What can I controlled the situation? Just a little bit better, and then you gotta go. You don't get crushed by the things that are GONNA go wrong, ask yourself. What am I going to do and then go do it and I think right now? This is a critical time that you know. I'm any Graham, eight people on my team that are twos and other personality styles, but I'm running into the fire and get it done type of personality, but I have to remember that everybody is not like that, and that was a major learning for me in this process. Because as soon as we found out this happened was around March thirteenth. Net following week, things really began to shut down and I was like okay great. We got a problem. Let's solve it and our company came with some great solutions with our product to make it more of a a remote access type of product, and it's. It's really helped service well, but I had to as a leader. Make sure bring my team along with that. Some were still stuck in the morning period, because their world had just changed, they were still adapting to their kids being at home and having to do home schooling. My my kids are all older, so I'm not facing. They're somewhat independent. Aren't the baby at issue, so really is a leader. That's one. One thing I think I did not do well and have to is that everybody has a different place you know we have a CEO working out of a bedroom in his home where before he was working out of an office where he had everybody near him. How do we do me? So that's a big learning. We all have different personalities, and we all have to adapt and make sure we're moving along at the same pace. All the sale stuff is great. It's good conversation I think good leaders will adapt to that, but the interpersonal component is such a critical part of the change that we're going to try lead ourselves through in the CO Post Kobe era. Well well, that's great advice and. All I can say is to any investors that are thinking about investing in Kent Imaging. It's like a no brainer sounds like you guys have a great team. I looked at the website. Awesome technology really has a lot of value and I can see moving into more things like into interoperative usage of product. It sounds like you're already doing that, but interoperative usage, and maybe even telemedicine usage after my to telemedicine podcasts and getting to know that industry better I just think there's so much potential for your technology and I wish you guys the best of luck. I think you're going to do really well. Thanks thanks for having me I. Really appreciate you. Reaching Out, and afforded me a great opportunity I. Love to love to talk about stuff like this. It really is a passion Noonan Jeff something. We mentioned earlier, and I want to bring this back is. This'll be really interesting to see where you and your team are in three or four months. So if you don't mind I'd love to have you back, so we can see where we're your efforts of taking you and what did work and what didn't work? I love to do it. Group welcomed the opportunity and over. Sharing a great success story! I'm sure you would certainly maybe even doing it face to face right. We'll be out of this lockdown era. That'd be great. That'd be great all right? Listen you. Take care and thanks again. Thanks that have a great day. Thanks reporting your podcasts out there it's it's really valuable on I, really appreciate. That was inspiring. That was definitely a warm towel after a cold shower. Let's summarize. Jeff is a sales leader. That exemplifies professionalism Okay Jeff I. Hope I'm embarrassing you, but jeff reads listens learns, and then applies it to his profession. If you need a leadership book to read, We have several of Jeff's favorites in the show notes. At Kent imaging the sales team. Marketing Team, science team and clinical training team worked together to develop new tools for the sales process. Then they practice, and they role played so they could deliver as Jeff says flawlessly. This is how it is done. And in a few months, we will visit with Jeff again to see how the Kent Imaging team is doing. So look in the show notes for the Books Jeff recommended and today's immediate impact idea is to download the AMA CDC and ADV amid guidance on healthcare reopening, they are in the show notes links are in the show. Notes study these and be sure your team will be in compliance. International listeners need to get the guidance from their country, the region state province and city, and be sure they understand how to comply with it. If you like this podcast? Please recommend it. Rate IT and subscribe. Now go when you're.