August 14, 2022 | sales hiring

6 Healthcare Sales Rep Skills to Look For

Recruitment for any position in a company is an involved process. From advertising job openings to creating competitive compensation packages, vetting prospective employees, and onboarding new hires, there are many time-consuming (and potentially expensive) steps to consider.

Hiring a healthcare sales rep can be especially challenging.

Finding someone with the right sales rep skills for an industry as heavily regulated as healthcare sales can be crucial for ensuring long-term success and minimizing risk.

With how long recruitment cycles can be in the industry (and how hard other companies in the industry will compete for high-quality talent), it’s important to find the best healthcare sales talent as quickly as possible.

This may mean taking extra time to carefully vet the skills and qualifications of each applicant for a healthcare sales rep position. Taking more time to verify sales rep skills may sound counterintuitive as a way to find great talent quickly, but it can help you save time on onboarding poor-fit sales talent who lack the right skills and motivation to do the job.

So, let’s take a look at some of the major healthcare sales skills that reps looking to join your company will need, how you can instill these skills in your existing sales team, and how you save some time on healthcare sales recruitment.

What Skills Do Sales Reps Need in Healthcare Sales?

There are many skills that a top-notch healthcare sales rep will need to perform their job effectively—far too many to list absolutely every skill in a blog of reasonable length.

Here’s a condensed list of some of the most important skills that healthcare sales reps need to have (or develop) when joining your organization:

1. The Ability to Research and Learn New Information

Healthcare sales is not some static field where things will always remain the same. As time goes on, new regulations, new technologies, and even new sales techniques will continue to crop up that force top-performing sales reps to reevaluate the way they approach their prospects and existing customers.

Failing to keep up with new regulations and techniques could leave a sales rep at a major disadvantage or even increase the risk of the rep accidentally incurring a regulatory penalty.

Additionally, reps who don’t know how to research their prospects (or the competition) could be left struggling to make an effective case for their own company’s products and services. This can lead to reps underperforming in the field.

So, the ability to learn new things and conduct research is a critical skill for healthcare sales reps—one that goes unappreciated by many. Working knowledge of existing regulations and best practices for healthcare sales is still important, but knowing how to keep up with changes can be even more important.

2. Communication Skills

This is one of the most obvious skills for any job that requires frequent customer interaction.

For a healthcare sales rep, being able to communicate effectively across multiple channels is an absolute requirement. Strong communication skills that work across telephone, videoconference, email, or face-to-face interactions are critical for ensuring that healthcare sales reps are able to succeed.

So, when vetting a new sales team applicant, medical device companies need to assess more than just how comfortable or personable the rep is during a face-to-face interview.

They need to assess how effectively the rep can communicate in written format and if the rep can maintain composure over the phone—or if they simply fall back on a rigid script that fails to address the prospect’s specific needs.

It also means checking if the sales rep has the ability to effectively follow up on previous communications or respond to urgent requests from clients. Commonly-cited sales wisdom states that it can take upwards of eight touchpoints to close a deal—so sales reps who give up on communications after just one or two failed attempts may not be the best fit for your needs!

Another key communication skill is the art of “active listening.” This is the ability for a sales rep to listen to what a prospect is saying, understand their concerns and needs, then use that information to move the conversation forward.

3. Relationship Building

Closely related to communication skills (in particular, the ability to actively listen and to follow up on communications with prospects), the skill of building relationships with customers can help healthcare sales reps build long-term success.

Relationship building involves frequent communication with the customer—even outside of sales efforts. Reps who build relationships earn trust from their prospects by being a reliable resource who listens to the customer’s problems and provides solutions to those problems.

To customers, sales reps who build relationships aren’t just some guy from XYZ Medical who shows up to spout some sales pitch every couple of weeks. Instead, the rep is Lindsey, the person who is always happy to walk them through some issue with their durable medical equipment, electronic medical records system, or other problem whenever asked.

This relationship makes it easier to get through to prospects and convince them to close deals.

4. Time Management

Time management is a critical skill for any employee. It’s especially important for sales reps working in the field.

However, time management means more than just being efficient during individual interactions with customers. It requires sales reps to learn how to plan their schedule to ensure the greatest efficiency without risking overbooking themselves if one meeting takes longer than expected.

This can include not only knowing how to set a schedule but being able to accurately estimate meeting times as well as mapping out travel routes (and how long they will take). Such time management skills help to maximize the value a sales rep can generate each day while in the field.

Even part-time field sales reps can benefit from this, as it allows them to see more prospects in a single day (helping them meet their quotas in less time).

5. Flexibility/Improvisation

Every sales rep can benefit from knowing when and how to be flexible during a meeting with a client (or even outside of a meeting). On any interaction with a customer, sales reps never really know exactly what is going to happen.

The customer could bring up a complaint about a product, show interest in some new product or service the rep didn’t plan to sell, or ask some off-the-wall questions.

In these situations, it’s important for the sales rep to be flexible and make changes to their approach on the fly. This way, they can address the customer’s most pressing needs quickly without adding long delays to the sales cycle.

Of course, if the rep doesn’t know the answer to a difficult question (or if the right answer is “no”), then they need to be able to communicate that openly.

6. Familiarity with Technology

There really is no getting away from modern telecommunications technology in healthcare sales. Even when healthcare sales reps focus on face-to-face communications, knowing how to operate the company’s customer relationship management (CRM) software, place videoconferencing calls, and manage email communication tools remains important.

In fact, Sales Hacker listed being “tech savvy” as one of the 30 skills every sales rep should have, regardless of industry. After the COVID-19 pandemic and the rise in remote work environments caused by the lockdown, knowing how to use technology to maintain contact with prospects has never been more important.

How to Teach New Healthcare Sales Rep Skills

The above list just represents a few of the most important skills healthcare sales reps should have. However, not every applicant for a healthcare sales position will have peak proficiency in every skill. And, as sales techniques continue to change with the industry, it will be vital to keep your sales team up to date.

This is where continuous training for healthcare sales reps can help. With an ongoing sales education program, you can help bring new hires up to speed with the most critical sales skills they need to succeed, teach the “old” reps new tricks, and minimize your liability risks by ensuring every sales rep knows what not to do during sales interactions.

In addition to using an online education platform to train employees, you could also set up a mentoring system where your top performers coach other team members. This helps to spread best practices so everyone on the team has a chance to succeed.

Another benefit of mentorship is that it can help you with your succession planning initiatives. By having more experienced sales reps share their skills before they leave the organization, you can groom ready-made replacements. Sales leaders who are approaching retirement could be especially valuable additions to a mentorship program. Such grooming can even help to reduce employee turnover by demonstrating your plans to promote from within (motivating reps to stay for a chance at upward mobility).

Make Finding Skilled Healthcare Sales Reps Simple with a CSO

Need help finding the right healthcare sales rep for your organization? Reach out to Axxelus today! As a contract sales organization (CSO) specializing in healthcare sales, we have helped numerous organizations fill their healthcare sales staffing needs.

Every sales rep we bring to the table is backed by our “Hire-Right Guarantee.” Basically, if you’re not satisfied with your sales rep or they leave before the year is up, we’ll replace that rep without charging an additional recruitment fee.

We’re confident that our comprehensive recruitment and vetting process will help you find the best sales reps for your needs—both in terms of skill and cultural fit with your business.

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