Small Biz, Big Smart Sales Force
March 27, 2012 6:31 PM   Subscribe

How can a small company hire honest, reputable sales people and how much do these mystical people get paid?

My husband and I own a small medical company that is rapidly expanding. We offer services used in the OR and provide both the equipment and the technician for each service offered. Think biologics and blood managment. We currently have about twenty employees in the field and are very tiny fish in a gigantic pond.
We are struggling to find the right candidates for our technician positions - they are strong clinically but lack the sales drive or they are entirely too agressive to be taken seriously by the surgeons. The sales aspect of the job is perhaps 70% of the position though the clinical technician aspect is necessary not only to physically provide the service, but to get the rep in front of new surgeons. We have tried hiring LPNs, EMTs and spine reps - all fine, but not the ideal we seek.
We would like to find people who are competent and confident. We need them to be able to have intelligent discussions with surgeons about fairly complicated stem cell science, so obviously they must be intelligent and quick thinking. They also MUST be comfortable being present in the OR during surgeries and comfortable around a sterile field. It would do me no good at all to have a brilliant sales person who passes out onto the sterile back tables and trays. (We've been there, it's really No Good.)
My questions are; where do we find candidates and what kind of compensation are they likely to be looking for? Should we W-2 them or 1099? Commission structure? (I have seen the previous commission AskMe's which have been illuminating for me.) Salary? Take me through this step by step because based on our current employees, I am Doing It Wrong.
Throwaway email -
posted by anonymous to Work & Money (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The best sales people know the product they are selling and believe in it. Or, at least, they are able to convince themselves, and hence others, that they believe in it.

Do you offer your employees training? Do you provide them with sufficient resources to learn about the products you are selling? What do they do if they have questions about the products? Do you have a central database that they can query for information about the products?

Make the sales people's job easier and they will perform better.

You say you're a small fish in a large pond. What do your larger competitors do to train their salesforce? What's the industry best practice? What can you do to emulate your larger competitors, given the budget constraints that your smaller size likely places on you?

As for compensation:

There are different ways of compensating salespeople.

1) Base salary plus commissions.

2) Base salary against which commissions are charged until the base salary is recouped (called a "drawdown"

3) Commissions plus bonus for hitting target.

4) Base salary + commission + bonus

5) Equity incentives


Lastly, medical sales seems like the kind of industry for which headhunters were created. Why not find out who the big headhunters in your industry are and ask them what qualities they look for in candidates that they field for open positions?
posted by dfriedman at 7:37 PM on March 27, 2012

I believe a lot of medical device sales work through independent distributors. Because it is so difficult to find people that can sell and have a technical / medical conversation with a surgeon, those people find they can make a very good living self-employed. To find them, find the people that are selling something complementary to surgeons. As long as your product is not competitive to what they already sell, generally there is no issue with them picking up additional products. You get the bonus of them already having established relationships with your target customers. Of course, every other company is trying to get them to sell their products too, so you need to be able to sell the reps on wanting to sell your stuff. That means, quite frankly, that they need to believe they can make significant money selling your product to their existing customers. Talk to your existing clients, they probably know some independent reps that you can talk to.

If you want to hire someone...I come from the tech sales world. Guys that can sell, and sit down with a CIO or IT Director for an actual technical conversation about backup strategies, or database tuning, or whatever, are paid well. In a major market like DC, NY. or SF, those guys are going to make $75K or more as a base, plus commission, benefits, maybe stock options, etc. If they have a security clearance in DC, the conversation starts at a six figure base.
posted by COD at 5:54 AM on March 28, 2012

« Older How much is too much alcohol?   |   My boyfriend committed suicide Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.