In a shrinking economy, sales manager, Michael Meyer, led a bold job search for an employer that could offer higher pay in the medical field
“Some days, in sales you can feel like you are on top of the world. Other days, you feel like you have been stepped on and trampled on. But I have done the cubicle job and I have done the hard-labor job and I have done the sales job, and even at my worst day in sales, I will take that any day over any of the other industries,” said Michael Meyer of his position as regional sales manager for Sleep Solutions Inc, a privately held diagnostic service provider focused on products for patients suffering sleep disorders. “There is no doubt that this is where I see myself. And every day, I love it.”
Meyer has always loved working in medical sales. But the compensation in his previous job was a source of frustration. He felt he could be earning more. Meyer started his job search about a year ago and then “just got away from it.”
He decided to halt the process.
Despite having done a lot of interviews, he hadn’t received any offers of interest. “I had a few [jobs] offered to me but nothing too great. So, I just stopped for a few months. Then when I came back to it, I noticed that the calls weren’t there as much as they had been. And the interviews weren’t there as much as they had been. So, I was getting a little worried.”
Vying for more money in a shrinking economy
Who would even think of looking for higher-paying work in this economic climate? Most would simply be grateful to have employment. Undaunted, Meyer rebooted his search.
One online search drew Meyer to Ladders, where he signed up for SalesLadder. “So when you have a site that you have actually got to pay for, you realize who is serious and who is not serious about looking for a job. You weed out all the other people and narrow the search down to some serious folks with good resumes.”
Meyer decided to focus his attention on companies that offered executive sales positions in his specialist field of medical equipment. “I wanted it to be in the medical industry. When the jobs are posted, Ladders does a great job of directing you to the industry that the job entails. Health care was what I was mostly looking for.” He also wanted to stay within the St. Louis area and not travel a huge amount. And, as a regional manager, he was looking for a new territory to make his own. “All of those things excited me.”
Two months after Meyer began his job search through Ladders, he received the offer of regional sales manager for Sleep Solutions and began his new position in January.
Missouri’s economy is based primarily on manufacturing, farming, tourism, government and mining. Business conditions have slumped with all indicators showing a contracting economy. But Meyer said he believes that the medical-sales industry is always going to be a strong industry, regardless of shifts in the state or national economy. “You are always going to have people getting sick. You are always going to have doctors needing equipment and supplies.”
Trouble for pharmaceuticals, not medical devices
However, Meyer has noticed that one industry in his general field has been negatively affected by the economic slowdown in the Missouri area: the pharmaceutical industry. He believes many pharmaceutical companies hired large numbers of sales staff to push certain drugs that then later became generic products. Those companies were forced to implement layoffs en masse. “Talking to other reps and doctor’s offices, what I am seeing is that there is just not a lot of stability in the pharmaceutical industry.”
Meyer said he believes that the future of the medical-device industry remains bright in spite of a bleak, broader economic outlook. ”I don’t think we will ever see the layoffs like you do with other companies. With med devices, if it works and it is a good product, you have got a little bit of security.” (Meyer’s faith in the medical-device market matches the attitude of James Kasprzyk, an Arizona-based member of MktgLadder who recently scored his own job success in the medical-device industry.)
Meyer is confident that the growth that is going to happen at his new firm over the next few years is going to be “incredible.” Sleep Solutions, which is headquartered in Baltimore, has 26 sales reps nationwide. Meyer is responsible for the Missouri area and works closely with other regional managers. “There is a lot of communication on who does what, what works, what doesn’t work. I am always talking to other territory reps on the phone. We feed off each other’s ideas.”
He also enjoys the dynamic and interactive nature of the job. Most of his clients are family-practice physicians who provide feedback, and may even request that changes be made to improve products. The sales force then relays that information to the medical-equipment development teams. “It is up to us to feed those ideas back to the home office so they can implement those requests when making changes.”
The impact of awards and degrees
Meyer became a specialist in medical sales at an early stage of his career. At South Eastern Missouri State University, he earned a bachelor’s degree in health management. He toyed with the idea of becoming a personal trainer or working in cardiac rehabilitation. “But if you want to be compensated well, then sales is really the industry to follow.”
Making a mark and becoming a success in medical sales is tough. Meyer said having a health management degree is a huge plus. When he started out, Meyer concentrated on building up his resume and earning awards. “That then opens up the doors for so many other possibilities,” he noted. Success came from a can-do attitude that meant waking up every morning and hitting the ground running. And at the day’s end always saying “I am going to make one more call.” And constantly questioning if you have done enough that day to grow your market. “When I joined Ladders, I had close to five years of experience with a lot of documented sales success, and so when I joined I knew that I had a good shot. But I also knew that I would be going up against some pretty tough competition as well.”
Sales is not for everyone, Meyer said. “You can’t teach someone to be personable or to be outgoing.” But for sales professionals with experience running a territory and managing it like their own business, Meyer said the transition from another industry into his line of work can be very smooth.
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