Friday, December 4, 2009

LANX, No Thanx!

TSB has spoken to a few sources as to what has transpired at Lanx, a side effect to the Goldman investment. Yes, readers Goldman's Private Equity Group has invested in this venture as per one of TSB's investment banking sources. Whenever there are new investors in a venture, change is imminent, especially if our readers know anyone on the management team.

Supposedly, Lanx is looking to hire 29 direct sales people for the East, and at least a dozen new sales people in the West with a starting salary of $60K per year. The word on the street is that a former "Medtronic Robot" has taken over the helm. Obviously changes are in effect because the once cryptic Lanx Spine website has entered the nebulous world of neverland on the internet. Oh when will we see them Lanx products Mr. Goldman?

Lanx is known for one product and one product only, the ASPEN. Lanx was budgeted for $80 million in revenue for '09. In all likelihood they are going to finish at an estimated $60-65 million, considering that Aspen accounts for roughly 66% of their revenue. The other products are "me too." Obviously, Lanx is recruiting sales people asking the usually questions; "How much business can you bring us in a certain period of time?" "How many surgeons do you know?
"Are any interested in being consultants?" Now that the founders are gone maybe the new management team will start paying back some of the vendors that they have "stiffed" in the past.

TSB wants to know what our readers have heard on the street? Lanx, No Thanx!


  1. TSB: You've mentioned on several occasions, in an obviously negative connotation, that companies ask potential sales reps the "usual" question of, "how much business can you bring?" Assuming the rep in question is an experienced spine rep (as opposed to a greenhorn), wouldn't that be one of the questions YOU would ask? Or do you feel that asking, "what color is your parachute" is a more relevant question?

  2. Anonymous:

    Some observations, if you have never shown me your product line, and I do not know the functionality of the system how do I know whether your product is sellable to my customers? What happens if the majority of your portfolio are "me too" products and you have one break through technology? How much revenue do you expect in a short period of time? How ridiculous is it to ask someone for a 30, 60, 90 day business plan? Don't you agree that anyone can say anything they want to get the product line, or the job. Some of these managers have no understanding of how difficult it is to get into a facility in today's environment. Let's use California as an example. Unless you have a champion surgeon, the process still takes anywhere from 3-5 months considering that you have to go through administration, product evaluation committees, etc...... Recently an acquaintance of ours told us of interviewing with a company with no representation in a major market and all this manager wanted to know was how much business could he bring and how fast. When told he had contacts but it would take some time, the manager replied, "I'll take my chances until I find someone that can bring in immediate revenue!" These are not isolated scenarios! Companies are not looking for sales people to build a business, they are looking for sales people to hit the lottery! Why do you think independent distributors have no loyalty, because the companies show no loyalty! It's a two way street!

  3. I ask again, what question(s) would you ask if not (a) how much business can you bring or (b) what would you do to get business over the next X days? "Do you promise to try really, really hard?" Like it or not, Sales is one of the few professions where one's results are so directly and singularly measurable (i.e., dollars). At the end of the day, Joe Sales Rep is going to be evaluated by how many dollars he has brought. So, you can either ask in the interview stage "how much do you think you can bring" or ask more touchy feely questions and just hope that he delivers. Furthermore, it's not just the big/bad/evil manufacturers that ask the million dollar question, it's the poor/oppressed independent distributor that you so valiantly defend. Do you suppose that Independent Spine Distributor, Inc doesn't ask the disgruntled Stryker rep they're interviewing The Big Question? For that matter, do you think Stryker (or any big player) doesn't ask The Big Question when Joe Sales Rep demands a $200k+ salary to join their company? Or maybe you haven't awoken from your quixotic dream yet...

    Anonymous wants to know what TSB's readers think about The Big Question!

  4. Anonymous:

    You are probably one of those managers or investors that asks for a business plan and eliminates the realistic proposal from the pie in the sky plan. Let's face facts, today's spine business model is a by product of the Blackstone Model! You are looking for someone to broker a surgeon as a consultant in exchange for volume. Why else would someone want to use another "me too" product? To quote one of my readers; " it's all about dead presidents!"

    If you are so sure of Joe Sales Rep demanding $200K to join a company, then why don't companies offer sales people upfront guarantees based on projected volume? Because there are no guarantees, it's a two-way street. Since many early growth stage companies have independent distribution models, what purpose does a business plan serve when a distributor is carrying five different products? What happens if your product(s) suck? How many bonuses have you paid out on your distributors forecasts? If you really believe that there are companies offering $200K salaries to distributors in exchange for their business, I would like to know who they are? We live in a world of non-competes! If you are using Stryker as an example, they were probably doing that in the 90's when there were very few non-competes.

    So let me ask you this question, have you ever sold in your life? When you pose questions like "what would you do to get business over the next X days" makes it clear that you do not sell or have never sold in today's environment, especially when hospitals are making most salespeople go through product evaluation committees every time a new product is brought into a facility. That my friend can take anywhere from 3-5 months even with a champion surgeon.

    Brokering Surgeons as consultants, Surgeon owned distributorship run by family memebers, buying the business, Oops! I forgot, we are not allowed to have that discussion because that's the industry's dirty little secret. It's not a question of asking for a forecast, it's the implication behind the question that bothers our readers.

  5. I am on the corporate side of your "us versus them" world, but not in Sales. I just calls it like I sees it as a sales outsider looking in. So, once again, let me frame the question for you. Joe Sales Rep is doing $2M/yr in Anytown, USA as a rep for Big 5 Spine. He's frustrated with Big 5 and has come to you, the sales manager for Anytown, asking for a job. Assume he has already sat out his non-compete period. Are you telling me you wouldn't ask him how much of that $2M he thinks he can bring over? Alternatively, you want to hire Joe Sales Rep in a region where his non-compete doesn't apply. You wouldn't ask him how he would go about buildling up a book of business in the new region over the next X days/weeks/months? (I understand that there are regional differences and other circumstances that might affect X, but pick an appropriate X for Anytown.)

    Believe me, I wish that so many reps weren't just surgeon brokers. But that's beside the point. "What's your plan for getting us business" is a pretty universal question to ask any prospective sales rep in any industry. It isn't (usually) asked because the company doesn't know the answer; they ask to validate that the rep knows what they doing. If I understand you correctly, you would prefer that dollars and timeframes aren't discussed in the hiring process? Just hope for the best and check in 24 months later? That make me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

  6. A short note-
    You hire a hungry rep with the right attitude.
    That is the difference. Everyone else is full of crap... hire a good person/organization and you will get results. Hire a "whore" that pushes you for long contract discussions and massive guarantee or comissions and you get nothing. Experience tells me that 'seasoned' reps are full of crap. You may get 10% of what they promise.
    Hire/retain a 'person' that is passionate about your product and you will get results.

    If you are saying to yourself... well how passionate can they be about my 'me too' products... well then you (and the idustry) are already doomed.

  7. Let's be honest the devil's in the details! There is a difference between asking "what's your plan" versus "how much business can you generate in X amount of days or months." I agree with you, a plan is a must, but to look into a crystal ball and determine how much revenue you can generate without ever selling someone's product is BS unless you have sold the product for at least a year and have some financial data to be able to compile a forecast.

  8. I have heard from many credible sources that many of the top distributors are very unhappy with management and are only looking for a good opportunity to leave Lanx. If the very out of touch "Management Team" thinks that they can replace these key agents with direct sales people and get the same results they are going to be in for a rude rude awakening. I for one would not want to tie my future to Lanx and this management team for any longterm success.

  9. I had to double check the URL at the top of this page to make sure it didn't say cafepharma. Whenever any small spine company is mentioned (or even larger ones), disgruntled reps seem to come out of the woodwork to bash management. "The Spine Blogger: where what's been heard on the street can be discussed in a professional manner." Hmm. How about "TSB: Like, but catering to the disgruntled spine rep." In the spirit of the holidays, maybe TSB can erect a Festivus pole to allow for an Airing of Grievances for each spine company and its management.

  10. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  11. It's really simple.... Spine is a small community and if you have been in it long enough you know who's in it. the senior management at LANX is a goon squad!!!! Look it up and do the research and show me the accomplishments, besides US Surgical(no brainer).... Let's talk about how to build relationships and sales reps who can create opportunities instead of looking for guys who go from company to company with the same old story about their doctor who doesn't even know that he is part of the deal.... Creating sales isn't taking your one or two acounts all over the place is about creating new accounts while staying strong with your old ones. Everyone is lazy and is affraid to work and would much rather jump ship when they are not happy and bring their doctor along with them. Have fun and when LANX hires some real talent you may hear about them truly growing instead of just moving along with market growth.

  12. why have all thses messages been deleted, what are the ground rules for this to happen?

  13. Lanx can't really be that bad of a place to work at is it, I mean they some great talent that they have run off? Clearly the executive team knows what they are doing right?

  14. From all the postings on this huge blog and all the sales decisions of hiring 60k reps and removals of good sales manager talent I wonder what this does to employee morale at Lanx?

    Clearly the executive team knows what they are are doing right?

  15. TSB deleting certain posts is predicated on readers calling out managers at LANX by name and using derogatory comments to describe these individuals. TSB believes that all our readers can get their point across without using vulgarities to describe their targets. Since this is TSB's blogsite, we exercise our right tp monitor our readers commentary in a discriminatory way. Once again, thank you and keep reading!

  16. I was recently called by a recruiter for Lanx. They said that they are matching the reps current compensation and are positioning themselves to go public in the near future. I work for the #2 spine company so it was a no-brainer to stay where I am. They dont have a great reputation around these parts.

  17. TSB:

    You seem very cynical about this scenario. Many companies are looking to snipe good distributors and reps from other companies if they have been successful. Of course the company wants to know how much of the business they can flip if they sign on. You seem to think consulting agreements are inherently a part of every rep flipping a surgeon when they change companies and that is just not the case. I'm sure that happens, but never in every situation.

    You asked "if you have never shown me your product line, and I do not know the functionality of the system how do I know whether your product is sellable to my customers? " Obviously, no one would be very far into these discussions with a company without having seen their product and calling other distributors of the product to hear their experience. Most likely, before anyone signed on the line their surgeons would have already seen the product and possibly even used it a time or two.

    As far as guarantees, companies will absolutely pay a guarantee while you sit out your non-compete. As long as they are comfortable with the numbers, they will make a deal. To become comfortable with the numbers, they want to know "how much business you can bring" and they want to see a plan, and they want to talk to your customers.

    The reason a surgeon would want to use another "me too" product is because of his relationship with the rep. The same reason he was using the previous "me too" product from that rep. Of course, more nefarious reasons exist, but I don't think that is the norm. I had changed companies in the past and the amount of business I could flip determined the package that I could negotiate. Of course it was not based soley on a single conversation, both sides have to due their due diligence, but these are questions that have to be asked.

  18. The last post here was nearly 2 months ago. Any recent opinions as to how the management is doing with direct reps vs. distributors?

    Has anyone even seen any of the Lanx products in their area other than the Aspen? Thanks.

  19. I am looking for experienced spine reps/distributors who are either looking to go direct or to start/continue being a distributor. Need agents/reps in the Midwest, specifically in MN, IA, NE, KS, and MO.

    Company is full-line spine company that has MIS and Biologics. 60% growth for 2009 an 12 new products introduced in 2009.

    Aggressive commission payouts above industry average.

    email resumes to

  20. Fuck Lanx they are all liars and snakes in Lanx management

  21. ABC said,
    Be very,very careful with Lanx. Your gut will tell you the truth once you meet the management and upper level. The products are very user friendly and very easy to sell. Bottom line when they started the first two years they had ball buster sales managers that worked there ass off just to later get fucked by the little Napoleon Mike Fulton. There inside plan is to eliminate all distributors and go direct and then sell the company. They will never go public because every one of there products has been knocked off. They train the sales teams and engineers to steal implants at conference's so they can later make one of there own, but who doesn't do that. You can do the same comparison too any companys out there. People bitch all the time but the bottom line is get your ass out in the field and have a personality that makes a doctor want to work with you. Your not selling the product your selling yourself. Also take a few medical course's. People talk of "me too products" how many "me too sales reps" are out there. 90% of the people selling medical should never be allowed in the OR. If medical sales is really that bad get out! Go work a 9-5 job. Life isn't fair and sitting around bitching about it will never help. Start thinking outside the box. When's the last time a sales rep ever asked a doctor not for business but maybe for some mentorship/sales advice. It's a good start to build a solid relationship and the sales will come later.

  22. 60k to start. in spine. thats a joke.

  23. I had the Lanx Aspen installed 8/1/2011 and late 2013 the pain started to return,and after some imaging studies and an Discogram it was found the system had failed. 1/9/2014 I had surgery , they removed the Aspen system and installed the old fashioned rods and screws. Aspen tells surgeons it’s to be used on a multi-level hernias. I know, I called and asked their customer service. When I checked their FDA approval as well as researching their patent information I found it was approved for ONE level only! I have issued a plea that if anyone else (as I have read on the Internet) has experienced as drastic failure to notify ,e and I will help coordinate exposure of it's failure! My fusions had not taken at any of the effected areas.

    This has DRASTICALLY caused me to delay my return to work , forcing me yet another huge economic blow!

    I have even read reports of Lanx doing payoffs to doctors to use their product, although I can not prove that , after learning the FDA's approval, I wouldn't be surprised!