Over the last few months, the criticism of spine reps has intensified. Is the spine industry a mirror image of a larger epidemic effecting America? We have become our own worst enemy, a divided society, no less a divided industry. Us against them, rich against poor, business against government, the unregulated against regulation, red against blue, right against wrong. Whether our readers agree or not, there has been a blatant assault on the sales rep. Some of it is justified. Some of it is not justified. Some of it attributed to good old A1, red, white and blue greed. So in an effort to set the record straight for our readers, here are the facts.
Whether management, surgeons, or hospital personnel believe it, your hard work is what makes this industry thrive. You are the stimulus that pumps life into a company. Whether TSB has been in sales or in management, the bottom line is the infantry gets the job done. A visit into the Korengal Valley would expose that there aren't too many generals waiting for a firefight. The publics perception is that you are all making $250K per year, drinking Bordeaux, smoking Cohiba's, and investing in Broadway musicals, and we all know whom we can thank for that. People believe that most of you have banking hours, are overpaid, and are the primary reason for the escalating cost of delivering healthcare in the U.S.. Just because you did not go to medical school doesn't make you any less valuable in the food chain. As baby boomers enter their golden years, they have been programmed demanding the fountain of youth. They want bionic knees, hips, ankles, and spines, demanding a return to normalcy after all is said and done. Insanity at its best. We may be a civil society, but based on what is going on around us, not a very intelligent one.
Unlike salaried employees, sales reps are solely responsible for what they earn. Essentially, you are no different than a stock broker in that you eat what you kill. You deal with a pernicious, apathetic, and selfish healthcare environment. Did I miss any other adjectives? You are stonewalled by hospitals, operating rooms, nurses, doctors, and hospital administrators whom frown upon you as a necessary evil until they need something, and then they want you to drop everything you're doing to help them out, and you do it. When did this assault begin, and whom do some of these people think they are in contributing to the escalating cost of healthcare (Do you hear me Dr. Steinmann)? Hospitals complain about cost, yet continue to expand and build newer, bigger and better facilities. There are new cardiac centers, children's centers, women health centers, cancer centers, and parking garages, yet no one seems to be questioning and demanding accountability on their part. There is no excuse for the behavior that is exhibited by these people. Unfortunately, courses in professional behavior is not taught in med school or grad school. 80% of your business comes from 20% of your accounts, because your days are spent brokering rather than selling. Thank you corporate America and Dr. Famous for your contribution to our day. When you do have something innovative or clinically beneficial for the patient, you have to move mountains to motivate a surgeon to try it. During the interim, the patient suffers. On average you spend $100-$125 per week on gas (thank you speculators), in addition to tolls and parking (someone needs to pay for the construction) and you are obligated to buy a prospective customer lunch if you have any chance of getting their attention, whom no less has no problem telling you that there will be 10-15 employees attending. TSB usually tells the nurse that I will be glad to meet the surgeon one on one and buy him a sandwich. Some even have the audacity to tell you where they would like it catered from. (that's my favorite). A shameless society. Besides these expenses, hospitals want you to register with various vendor management services to protect the patient, a bogus rationalization. What about your protection? It's bad enough that hospitals are squeezing you for every penny on the dollar, but some want you to pay to play in their facility. Aren't these people embarrassed? And then you have to deal with management at your respective company. So in an effort to set the record straight, here are the facts.
Management is in denial when it comes to market dynamics. Some still believe the party is going on. Publicly traded companies continue to push you to your limits by promising their Master, Wall Street, that they will continue to grow in spite of all the barriers that you face everyday in growing your business, no less the ones that you cannot control like insurances denying surgeries (can't wait for NuVasive's analyst call). Attrition has become a norm in sales. You're on the clock. If you can't increase revenue in a short period of time, you're gone. Just look at some of the companies out there. Management is more concerned about share holders value than whether they have delivered the necessary tools so that you may be successful. How many empty promises have been made to you? How many product development timelines have been missed? Yet, the game continues by increasing your quotas and demanding results. Some companies can't even provide you with samples and marketing collaterals. Your middle managers have grandiose expectations. They accept whatever is spoon fed to them by the senior management team and never question the validity of any strategy let alone revenue expectations, because they cower for their jobs. They're great at giving you a quota when they have no clue as to the demographics of your territory, or the obstacles that you are confronted with on a daily basis. Product evaluation committees (what free market), preferred vendor lists (discrimination), vendor certifications (violation of your rights), surgeons protecting other companies turf and their own consulting agreements, if that isn't the decline of the empire, what is? TSB wants to what's going on? You know what Marvin Gaye once sang;
"Picket lines, and picket signs, don't punish me with your brutality, talk to me so we can see, what's going on, what's going on, what's going on, we've got to find a way to bring some understanding today."
As a side bar to our discussion, TSB hopes our Jewish and Gentile brethren had and have a wonderful holiday season! L'Chaim!