What does it take to work as a sales rep at one of the top medical device companies in the world? MedReps.com recently asked Mark Calkins, Director of Sales for Stryker, about what he looks for in candidates and what Stryker sales reps do that makes them so successful.
MR: Stryker consistently pops up on several “Best Places to Work” lists, including the MedReps list of the Best Places to Work in Healthcare Sales. What do you think makes Stryker a great place for sales professionals to work?
MC: A lot actually. We constantly attract and maintain talented professionals because of our culture. We are all high-energy, highly motivated and constantly challenge each other to maximize our performance and exceed sales expectations. We are like a big brotherhood and sisterhood that constantly goes to bat for each other. Stryker is also known for promoting from within, not based on seniority, but performance, so there’s a lot of room for upward and lateral mobility. I have been here 10 years and started as an assistant sales rep, so I would say 5 moves in 10 years speaks to they way the company likes to reward its best performers.
MR: Can you give us an overview of the hiring process at Stryker?
MC: It mostly starts as a typical hiring process, but it can be long and arduous. The first step once a candidate is tracked for possible hire is a screening interview over the phone with a hiring manager. Next, we often conduct a Gallup type interview to really get a sense of an applicant’s personality, their business acumen, relationship skills, their business strategy and if they are performance oriented. These first two steps of the interview process give Stryker a good sense for the candidate’s skills and knowledge, experience and talent. Assuming these factors align with the position, the candidate would then go through another series of interviews such as a ride-along to spend a day in the field, which gives the candidate a “day in the life” experience. After all that, then there may be a few more meetings, including a final interview with the sales director. The whole process can take between one to three months.
MR: How can a qualified medical sales job candidate make sure their resume gets noticed by a hiring manager?
MC: Typically I want to see a performance-oriented resume that also includes a good track record of success, a four-year degree and GPA – because we want to know if a person is smart – and an objective that matches the position they are applying for. But, I will say, I don’t just hire a person based on paper. I want to know that someone has conviction, skills and passion and also why they want to be in medical sales.
MR: What mistakes do you see candidates making during the interview process that may eliminate them from consideration?
MC: First the usual stuff – being late, coming unprepared or not preparing interview questions or acting disengaged or uninterested in the position. But mostly, really a candidate has to be able to close the deal. They have to be willing to sell me on why they are the right person for the job within the first five minutes. They need to “have me at hello.”
MR: Does Stryker ever consider hiring candidates without medical sales experience?
MC: We actually always do. I have hired an offensive line coach, a flying fishing guy, a pro baseball player, a guy who worked on oil rigs and a pharma guy because they all showed me they had positive relationship building skills, passion and conviction and a desire to work in healthcare sales.
MR: What is the best way for potential candidates to research the products they would be selling at Stryker?
MC: There are a number of good resources, but really our website is the most comprehensive when it comes to an overview of our products. ORlive.com is another great place to look at videos of our devices in use. However, a candidate doesn’t need to come in here rattling off a bunch of statistics from our website in order to get a job, but I do expect someone with medical device sales to know a bit more than other applicants.
MR: What characteristics do the most successful Stryker reps have in common?
MC: We all have the ability to build deep, long lasting relationships from the top down, including clients, healthcare providers, distributors and users. We all have strong work ethics and the ability to perform. We also all are able to wear a lot of different hats – from sitting in on a C-suite level meeting to dealing with the supply chain – we can walk the walk and talk the talk.
MR: Any last words of advice for sales professionals hoping to work at Stryker?
MC: Yes, be aggressive, creative and persistent. The hardest part is being able to cut through the red tape to get an interview, so they need to use social media to network and think outside the box. Sometimes we will even slow down the hiring process just to see how determined and aggressive a candidate is -sometimes it’s just part of the process.
Mark Calkins has spent more than a decade contributing to Stryker’s success, first as a sales rep, then as a marketing manager, training manager, regional manager, and currently as Director of Sales. He oversees 12 Regional Sales Managers and 130 sales professionals covering the Western U.S.