Women are outnumbered in medical sales. In fact, in the 2017 Medical Sales Salary Report, 70 percent of the respondents were men. In addition, the report found that women earn just 83 percent of what men do and make up only 30 percent of the respondents.

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.

While on track to get her MBA, Joanna Piazza decided to leave her 10-year medical sales career for a new path. But her strong passion for sales quickly lured her back into a new role as Health System Account Manager with Sysmex America.

This passion, along with skill and persistence, has driven her sales records up into the top 5 percent of her peers. Her 14 years of experience began at Siemens Healthcare where she learned there are always ways to win. With the right team to back you up, drive to continue pursuing the sale, and empathy for clients and patients, Piazza believes you can achieve any sales dream.

Now, she’s leading a successful team, teaching them about the path of greatest persistence.

Use meaningful persistence

Piazza doesn’t believe in blind persistence. Her never-give-up attitude is backed by data and various strategic plans. This gives her the ability to always show up at a customers’ door with purpose and meaning.

Persistence or a never-give-up attitude is key. There are always ways to win, you just have to find them and have a thick skin. Find ways to win by analyzing all aspects of the deal, then build a strategic plan to address every possible scenario.

I have three-year conversations with customers. This is especially important in diagnostic capital equipment because the products I sell are only purchased every five to seven years. So, every time I go into an account, I ensure I’m learning something from each contact.

You can’t just show up with no knowledge of their account or territory. You need to show up with purpose and something valuable to offer, such as a whitepaper or new research. This makes them realize, “Oh, she’s been thinking about me.” By just staying in touch like this, my goal is to make sure they don’t forget who I am.

Persistence isn’t limited to keeping in contact with customers. It’s also about staying on top of all relevant and updated information. Research your product, research the territory, and build an effective sales funnel from the start.

Connect with everyone

Med techs are Piazza’s main connections because they have an important role in deciding what products are going into their laboratories. However, her success stems from interacting with everyone involved in the decision-making process and analyzing who will make the final decision.

On a monthly basis, I’m interacting with IT employees and physicians, all the way up to C-suite. There are various decision-makers and everyone has a different role to play. That’s why I use a multi-prong interaction approach.

My initial touch point varies from hospital to hospital. Actually, I think part of what has made me so successful is that I don’t have a go-to call point. Typically, reps start out with the med techs, the end users of the products. But I’ve tried to take a different approach. Instead, I use my knowledge of the territory, various aspects of the hospital, and my previous knowledge of the account to decide who to speak with first.

If I have to start from scratch, I start with techs and the director. Then, I work my way up through the departments to decide who to connect with and who is ultimately making the decisions.

Make education a priority

Piazza didn’t go into medical sales with her MBA, but now that she has it, she wouldn’t give it up for the world. The knowledge and strength she gained from the program have sent her leaping and bounding through her career.

I went back to school in 2014, after being in sales for about 10 years. A female COO who I developed a close relationship with suggested it. I went to her for advice on how to approach the C-suite. I wanted to know what their interests were, their pain points, etc. She said to truly understand the business aspect and have credibility with executives, I should go back to school and get my MBA.

It’s the best decision I’ve ever made. I would recommend it to any woman entering the medical sales arena. It makes you understand the business side of healthcare as well as benefits you’re providing for the end users.

Getting my MBA wasn’t an easy task, though. I was working full-time and going to school full-time — all while having a family at home. While it was a challenge, I believe it made me even more dedicated and appreciative of the education.

Having the opportunity to work in sales first, helped me make the most of my MBA program. I could see how everything applied directly to my role. However, if you’re in college, know you want to become a medical sales rep, and have the means, I suggest you go straight for your MBA. But to all those currently working in the field, you can do both.

Also, take advantage of learning opportunities available at your company. At Sysmex, leaders value the spirit of independence and challenges. To advocate this, they provide associates with opportunities for self-fulfillment and growth through our own educational programs — Sysmex Management Academy and a mini-MBA program. Both help strengthen employees’ skill sets and allow all of us to continue our professional growth.

What does persistence mean to you and your career? Share your definition with us!

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