Medical equipment comprises a wide range of equipment– except drugs—used to diagnose, mitigate, prevent or treat diseases. It includes various products and fields such as furniture, equipment, supplies, assistive or corrective devices, instrumentation, disinfection, transfer and services, medical clothing, physical therapy and first aid.
Before being marketed in Canada, these products must be approved by the Therapeutic Products Directorate (TPD), a national body that evaluates their safety and efficacy for patients and professionals to feel comfortable using and recommending them. Canada currently has more than 60,000 approvals.
Medical equipment sales are currently $4 billion, a number that has been rising steadily for the past few years as a result of technological progress and health research. The future is rosy for medical sales representatives.
MEDICAL EQUIPMENT INDUSTRY OVERVIEW
The medical equipment sector is very dynamic—it employs more than 22,000 people divided between large companies that account for only 10% of the total number of companies and more than 50% of sales, and SMEs with fewer than 50 employees, representing 80% of companies. Ontario leads with more than half the 500 companies and 70% of the 22,000 employees. Exports power the industry, with 60% of sales abroad and 75% with the U.S. As a result, medical representatives need to be perfectly bilingual and very mobile.
The main clients are the health care professions, hospitals, care centres, analysis and research labs, industries and communities, home care patients and handicapped persons. A good knowledge of medical terminology is therefore essential for selling medical equipment.
MAIN DUTIES OF MEDICAL REPRESENTATIVES
Medical reps are responsible for the various stages of the sales and follow-up process to develop sales and build customer loyalty:
- Conduct in-depth analysis of client needs.
- Proposed tailored solutions.
- Conduct business negotiations and manage calls for tender.
- Ensure the order is properly filled with all the people involved.
- Train clients.
- Create, develop and maintain good business relationships.
- Share useful information with management.
EDUCATION AND JOB REQUIREMENTS
A university background is recommended for medical equipment sales:
- Bachelor of science (BSc)
- Bachelor of nursing
Experience of two to five years in the medical sector, a laboratory or related environment is an asset.
- Familiarity with the medical sector, standards, and safety rules
- Understanding of the decision-making process in hospitals
- Proficiency in using computers
- Excellent listening and interpersonal skills
- Selling skills
- Ability to close deals
- Energy, perseverance and determination
- Thoroughness, tact and punctuality
- French and English communication skills (written and oral)
Compensation has a fixed and a variable component. Medical sales reps also enjoy a number of advantages such as a car allowance, health care and retirement plans, life and disability insurance, etc.
Medical representatives can continue to work in sales by heading up or managing a team of medical representatives. After several years of experience, they can also try their hand at other occupations such as marketing by becoming a product manager or marketing research manager, as long as they have a solid background in this area.