How to become a salesperson of influence

The other day I spoke to a sales trainer, who was a reference for a candidate. He talked about the difference between being a "pleaser" and an "adviser" to customers. The ultimate goal is for sales people to develop into advisers, someone whom customers look to for expert advice. It is an interesting and important distinction.

It led me to consider the ways medical device salespeople can achieve the role of adviser. It's a combination of knowledge, commitment, work ethic and "paying it forward:"

  1. Stay up on the newest clinical studies in your field. This is a great way to demonstrate your genuine interest and commitment to being a professional.
  2. Preventative maintenance of customers' equipment. Why wait until something breaks down? Running preventive checks give you a good reason to show your customer that you're looking out for their best interests.
  3. Recommend other companies' products. If you are a knowledgeable resource, you will be the one to get the first call when they need something.
  4. Help doctors connect with referral sources. The more referrals you give, the more you'll get to grow your own business.
  5. Treat everyone with respect and interest, even the janitor. The scrub tech, nurses, OR coordinator — all can influence the surgeon's perception of you. Besides, they deserve it. It's not a bad idea to take out the garbage every once in while either.
  6. Be a resource to the surgical staff. If they need or forgot something, go out of your way to help them. If you try to make their lives easier, they will more than likely return the favor.
  7. Understand the issues. Developing a sense of the challenges the doctor may face in his or her practice, outside of the operating room, can help boost your value to them.
  8. Longevity. It takes time to prove yourself in medical device sales. At two years, your customers are finally beginning to take you seriously. The longer you stay with the same company, the better your knowledge, reputation and relationships will be.
  9. Own up when the case does not go well. Don't tuck your tail, but face up to the surgeon and have a professional exchange about what went wrong and how to correct things the next time. Likewise, after a really great case, don't always bolt off to your next task. Take the opportunity to talk to the surgeon then to cement your relationship.
  10. Improve the process. O.R. time is expensive. Find ways to save time or create other efficiencies. The surgeons and everyone up to the C-Level will appreciate your assistance in improving their business.

Thanks to Tim Tyrell-Smith, whose "10 Ways to Become a Person Of Influence" inspired this post.

"So, in a competitive [sales] environment, how do you stand out and become someone others want to know?" — Tim Tyrell-Smith

Lisa McAllisterLisa McCallister specializes in recruiting for medical device sales and marketing positions with an operating room focus, such as orthopedics, electrosurgery, endoscopy and a wide range of surgical specialties. She has recruited two Rookie of the Year award winners. Connect with her on LinkedIn or check out her blog,