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After over a decade of sales I occasionally take a breather to reflect on the various sales tactics I’ve witnessed or tried.  It’s a long and embarrassing list traversing the emotional gamut from uncontrollable laughter to intense self-loathing. Personal favorite??? It has to be the photo of my stare down with the 300lb pound pig for the Fourth of July BBQ marketing piece.  It’s been five years and I still receive a couple of phone calls about it every Independence Day. While I still make it a point to afford my clients with the occasional laugh, most of my effort is focused on the more important goal of establishing myself as the trusted expert. It’s an undertaking but the results are well worth the effort. It entails continually educating myself in order to deliver helpful, pertinent information to clients. My latest tool is a site called ORLive.

ORLive is a website that broadcasts live videos form the surgical suite for free. The presentations are full surgeries at top hospitals, with educating commentary by the performing physicians. It affords medical device reps the opportunity to learn first hand about some of the latest surgeries and products. Take a few minutes exploring the site and see what you think.


Let me start by saying that the clinical statistics and information on the product discussed in this post is available either on the Seattle Genetics site or  US government clinical trail website. Now that that’s out of the way let’s get on to the good stuff.

I’m a nerd. As much as I might strive to prove otherwise through various endeavors of machismo, or engaging in melodramatic altercations with that middle aged guy in the mirror, I’m still a nerd. Don’t get me wrong, you want to strap on a parachute and jump out of a plane or barrel down the mountain on a pair of skis and I’m your’re man. I just also happen t0 periodically read biochem books for fun and dream up half crocked laboratory experiments to pitch at the head of state university’s biosciences department. Yep, I’m a geek.  As a result, I have a tendency to strike up some unusual conversations and get excited about some pretty obscure things, hence the subject matter for this post.

Roughly a year ago in one of my habitual bouts of networking I made the acquaintance of the owner of a clinical trails oversight company. He’s a really awesome guy and unfortunately for him, our occasional morning coffees provide a great excuse for me to indulge my internal dweeb. I of course salivate over the chance to explore the mechanism of action on the latest pharmaceutical concoction, which lead to a conversation about Seattle Genetics and some of their upcoming cancer treatment drugs. Our discussion of Seattle Genetics began over year ago. At that point my friend had been monitoring their trails for some time and was stunned by the results. Right now they’re either preparing to or have begun stage three trials for at least one drug, which means things could hit the market in a couple of years. There have been almost no adverse reactions, especially in comparison to standard chemotherapy, and according to the conversations we’ve have had, the remission levels are astounding. Here’s the skinny on how it works.

Seattle Genetics has created what’s know as an antibody-drug conjugates or ADC. There are essentially two parts to it. The first, known as the antibody portion bonds with a structure that is unique to the surface of lymphoma cells. It could be described as a lock and key situation where this key only fits a lock exclusive to lymphoma cells. When the antibody portion comes in contact with that specific structure, called a glycoprotein, it bonds with it and causes the cell to absorb it. Outside of the cell the second part of the system known as the drug payload, is inactive. Once it’s absorb inside the cell, the cell attempts to digest in and in turn activates the drug payload. As soon as it’s activated the drug payload kills and destroys the lymphoma cell. In essence what Seattle Genetics appears to have designed is a drug which targets and kills ONLY lymphoma cells. It’s a brilliant piece of bioengineering and could prove to be monumental if it continues to deliver the results communicated thus far.

While this blog’s primary theme is general sales skills, its secondary motif is to relate to medical and pharma. As an effective sales person you always have to keep an ear close to the ground for changes coming within your industry and this one could have huge ramifications for the oncology market. Information like this is helpful in structuring and setting longer term goals and I hope it help some of you medical folks. On the flip side, if any other overly science minded individuals happen to come across this post, I hope you enjoy the elegance of this drug as much as I did. Thanks for reading.


Okay folks I have a confession, I’m a sales person. That’s right, a social extrovert who if not careful will attempt to cram more words in than Jim Carey after a three hour red bull and skittles bender. Trust me, I know exactly when it’s happened. Right about the time my stomach gets that tight empty sensation,  the blood vessel in my temple nearly ruptures, and a crack of sheer terror flashes through my frontal lobe as I grasp the fact that I should have shut my yapper two minutes before. Admit it, you know the sensation.

We’re all prone to our moments of verbal regurgitation? Specifically in those sixty seconds right after someone utters our second favorite question, “what do you do?”. Oh the glee… the excitement… the overwhelming urge to give them every single reason why they should love our product! Do it quick before they get away!  We give them the full Baghdad shock in awe campaign with the hope that one of those wonderful little nuggets will be just the hot potato they’re looking for. Unforeseen to us they’ve reached auditory overload and our magnificent sales pitch sounds to them like Charley Brown’s teacher in the Peanuts Christmas special. So what’s the answer, what do we do? The key is to have a distinct and specific twenty  to thirty second infomercial.

It may appear daunting, but you need to be able to deliver who you are, what you do, and a catching bullet point in thirty seconds or less. Once the  person has responded it’s okay to go into detail but your opening intro should always be short and sweet. Think “rifle” not “shotgun”. There are a few things that should be key in every infomercial.

1. A unique way in which you help your clients that sets you apart

2. Your name

3. Your company

4. A specific description of one thing that you do.

5. Who you sell to.

6. An open ended question.

Thirty seconds max. Let me give you an example.

Doctor: (rushing of course) I only have a minute, what exactly do you do?

Rep: I work with general practitioners to prevent heart attacks. Ward Sieben with Biomedix. We diagnose Peripheral Arterial Disease. Have you had any patients with circulatory issues in their legs or feet?”

You want to give the prospect a limited number of specific bullet points to focus on. In this case I’m trying to focus the physician on heart attack prevention, peripheral arterial disease, and who is the patient in their practice that they need it for. Think of the person as a database. If you type thirty different search words into a database you’re going too much information to wade through, but if you give specific, distinct parameters you’ll get exactly what you’re looking for. The same is true with people. In this case patients with circulatory issues in their legs or feet. I’ll bet the bank they’ve run across an overweight diabetic with foot pain issues in the last couple of weeks that they suspect might have a partial occlusion.  Last of all, practice, practice, practice. You may have two or three versions for different situations but they all  need to flow as freely those excuses to your mother as to why you can’t make every Sunday evening dinner this month.

In the meantime, happy hunting out in the field and remember…   it’s a good life!

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