Recently, Mike Matson posted a report which highlighted the addition of many new entrants into the spine industry that were visible at NASS. Unfortunately, what Mr. Matson failed to discuss was how many "me too" companies literally littered the convention floor. You know those companies that built newer and bigger booths, and graphics, to create the illusion that everything was wonderful regardless of the above scenario.
If these newer entrants have any innovation, they are coming to the market at an ideal time. If they are not greedy, and have the capital to launch their products in a professional manner, you know, provide sales samples, training if necessary, and provide marketing collaterals, the opportunity does exist to make an honest living. Why should you believe these comments?
Because their is a major shift in how surgeons are operating and doing business. The enemy lies within, and it is the major corporations in our industry mainly the payors, hospitals and manufacturers, slowly yet surely squeezing the life out of what once was a vibrant and exciting industry. You know where the patient comes first! With the advent of modern technology, "me too" products are all playing on an even playing field, unless you have an inherent poor design. That playing field is price. Can you save the hospital money, and are you willing to discount your product. If a surgeon is an "excellent technician and craftsman," he or she should be able to perform any procedure if the product is comparable, and if your organization is willing to respond to their needs. And therein lies the secret.
No longer is it necessary to work for a major company. These organizations have sliced and diced your territories and continue to build their sales force with younger and inexperienced people allowing these companies to shape the future sales model in spine. Essentially, the Spine Cartel, the Payors, and the Hospitals will control how much money you will be allowed to earn. The onus is on you to figure out how to expand your market share with less territory and customers. Smaller margins means less commissions for the individual sales person because the person making these decisions needs to make more money to feed the beast.
So in the spirit of the holiday season, and the gift of giving, open up your hearts and your minds because opportunities do exist. In many respects the surgeons and the salespeople don't even know that they are the foot soldiers that drive the industry. These are the people along with the O.R. Staffs that ensure that the patient has what is needed to make their quality of life better. Remember, you can design product and create a strategy, but if you don't have the foot soldiers, the people operating and selling, you don't have revenue!
I have seen the enemy, and the enemy is within!