Women are outnumbered in medical sales. In fact, in the 2016 Medical Sales Salary Report, 71 percent of the respondents were men. In addition, the report found that women earn just 80 percent of what men do and that women make up only 14 percent of the highest paying job titles in the field.
While this picture seems bleak, if you look for them, you will find highly successful women in medical sales. We’re talking to these professionals to find out what it means to be a woman in the field and what it takes to be successful.
Victoria Styles was instantly enamored by the sales life. Going on calls, building relationships, the excitement of unpredictability — it’s all what led her into a passionate career as Director of U.S. Sales at CONMED.
What started out as a buyer job for JC Penney, quickly grew to becoming a representative for buyers when a recruiter saw the innate talent she had for the sales field. It was at this moment when Styles fell in love with the life of sales.
Styles understands the determination and hardwork that goes into being a medical sales representative. However, it’s a strong passion for her work that makes it all worthwhile. Here’s her story:
Never give up on your passions
Even after being turned down for the job she wanted, Styles spent 12 years building up her experience before landing a medical sales job with Bard.
I had the opportunity to see what medical representatives do everyday and I was immediately enamored. I loved the excitement of going on sales calls and knew this was a job that would always be around — the medical field is always in high demand. So, I called the recruiter from Bard Medical and told him I wanted the sales job. He said no.
Instead of calling it quits, I took my love for the sales industry and began selling for Airborne Express. I was with them for 12 years before I re-interviewed for Bard. This time, I got the job.
Don’t wait for challenges, ask for them
Reaching corporate management level is a great success, but Styles knew she wouldn’t be completely satisfied until she took a chance in the medical field. It was this first step and attitude towards a new challenge that pushed — and continues to motivate her — further into her career.
Medical is ever-changing and I find that thrilling. What you think you know today might be irrelevant tomorrow, which doesn’t leave room for your career to become stagnant. That’s one of the reasons I knew it was the right decision to step down from my corporate management position and take another shot at medical.
Even though this new move was a challenge, I didn’t stop to take a break. I had spent two years as territory manager with CONMED (after they acquired Bard), but decided I wanted to take on another role. When my managers told me it was impossible to hold both a territory manager position and be in charge of new hires, I asked them to take a chance on me.
This was one of the best moves I’ve ever made in my career. Training new hires forced me to dive even deeper into the knowledge of the company’s products. That year, I made President’s Club, which means I was one of the top five reps with the highest growth and revenue. Without presenting myself with new challenges — and fighting to make them a reality — I might not have ever reached that monumental moment in my career.
Being in medical sales is more than being a vendor — it’s about building relationships. Styles asks her team to focus on consulting, not selling.
I encourage each member of my team to simply be themselves. It’s one of the things I love most about medical devices sales — the ability to let your own personality shine. Being myself has helped me consult with customers, not become just another vendor to them.
As women, that’s where we excel the most. We have an innate ability to understand what buying influencers are going through. Thriving in an empathetic relationship setting is one of the reasons why women can become highly successful medical device sales representatives.
Give yourself a chance
Some women are unsure if medical device sales is right for them, and they end up never applying or quitting before they really know if the job is a good fit. Styles believes this can all be determined during the interview process.
When you’re interviewing with companies, ask questions about the company. Then the company knows you’re looking for a place that’s a good fit, and you’ll be able to better judge if they’re right for you.
I urge applicants to ask these questions during the interview process because there are a lot of medical device companies out there, and there’s definitely a perfect fit out there for you. Once you find a culture that fits your personality, there’s no stopping you from reaching your highest career goals.
What challenges have you overcome to reach career success? Let us know in the comments below!