Being present is not just a strategy; it’s the heartbeat of professional evolution. In this episode, Crystal Sobande, Cardiac Rhythm Clinical Specialist, openly discusses her transition from selling cosmetic dermatology treatments to navigating the ever-changing world of medical devices. Discover the behind-the-scenes hustle and unpredictability as Crystal walks us through the typical day in her life. She discusses the balance between anticipating and adapting to uncertainties in her role, from the moment she wakes up to the rush of managing scheduled procedures. She shines a light on the competitiveness of the market, the preferences of physicians, and even personal growth. Tune in now and discover the world of cardiac rhythm!
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A Day In The Life Of A Cardiac Rhythm Clinical Specialist With Crystal Sobande
In this episode, we have with us another special guest and she goes by the name of Crystal Sobande. This episode is truly special because Crystal came to our program a few years ago. It’s our early days. She showed up 110%. We showed up 110% and she got a position. Now, not only has she had a fantastic career but she is in a position to help our clients get positions. She did with Eric Johnson.
It is a treat when I get to see something like that full circle and see someone who went through our program in the early days, has started a career in the middle of the career, comes back, and finds candidates within our program to take into the company again. It’s a beautiful thing. I love being able to share this episode with you.
I’m not going to say anymore because I don’t want to spoil it. I don’t want to give anything away. This is a treat. I believe every episode is a treat. An episode like this is a rare treat. We always do our best to bring innovative guests to you so you can read what they’re doing in the med-tech space. This guest fits that bill. Without further ado, I do hope you enjoy this interview.
Crystal, how are you doing?
I’m doing well, Samuel. How are you?
I am fantastic. This is a special day because Crystal graduated from our program a few years ago. That was the beginner stage of our program. Our program is so advanced now. We had hundreds of people go through it. What I love about Crystal being here is she’s living her best life in the medical sales space. She’s doing things and making moves. She’s going to tell us all about it. It is so cool to have a guest that came from the program. With that being said, Crystal, why don’t you tell everybody who you are and what you do?
I’m excited to be here, first and foremost. I am a clinical specialist for one of the top medical device companies out there. I work in the cardiac rhythm space, specifically selling pacemakers and defibrillators. As I disclosed to Samuel, I’m going to start a new position as an account manager in the cardiology space with a different company. I’m super excited about that.
What’s important to understand with what you shared is a lot of times, you start with a big-name company to get the training and backing that you’re someone that in this space. You’ve been trained well and you know what you’re doing. As soon as you put in a few years, the opportunities are out there and they grow.
If there’s something that makes a lot of sense that you have to move to, that’s what you got to do. In your case, that’s what happened. We’ll get there. Let’s get back into your field. I want you to explain what your field is. We’re going to get into it because I want the audience to be crystal clear on the cardiac rhythm space.
With cardiac rhythm, I always tell people it is not for the faint heart at all. As I was described, it’s almost like getting a Master’s or a Doctorate in Electrophysiology. You have to know as much as the EPS and the cardiologists technically as well as clinically. My days start at 6:00 AM. I’m outside. I’m in the cath lab. I’m in implants all day long. You’re bouncing between an implant and a clinic. You might not be done until 7:30 or 8:00 PM.
Let’s walk through. We have to see a visual experience that we can keep in our minds. Take us to it. You wake up at what time and walk us to the nighttime.
I go to sleep thinking my first case is at 10:00 AM. I get a call at 6:00 AM and it’s like, “You have a case in 30 minutes. The patient is going to be on the table.” You are finishing up and getting dressed in the car. You’re on the way to the hospital, speeding there the whole time. Everything is in chaos. You’re rushing and doing this implant for about a good 45 minutes to 1 hour. You might wait for a little bit. You might not have your next implant for 1 or 2 hours.
It’s a hurry-up-and-wait lifestyle, or you could have back-to-back implants. Between that, you’re getting paged, “Go check a patient on this floor. Go to this hospital and have this patient checked.” People’s hearts never stop. You’re constantly going to have to be on top of that. You’re constantly bouncing around, getting called and pulled from every which way throughout the day. You have clinics.
Typically, we work as a team but your job is very autonomous at the same time. You work by yourself. You have your schedule but as a team, you work within a territory to be able to cover all of the different hospitals and clinics. There could be up to 5 or 6 different hospitals, 7 clinics going on all at the same time, and maybe 4 people on your team. It’s a divide-and-conquer type of thing.
Let’s dig into that a little bit. You’re saying four people on the team. You’re all covering the same region. If Bob can’t make it and Jessica’s available, Bob will call Jessica to come help. If Sally can’t make it and you’re available, Sally will come to you to help. That’s how it works. When you have a scheduled procedure and someone else has an issue, what normally happens?
If there’s a scheduled procedure and it’s supposed to be something simple like a pacemaker change out and one of the leads goes bad, and you don’t have that specific lead, you’re scurrying and texting everyone in your Rolodex steps nearby. You’re like, “I need this lead ASAP.” It’s one of those fire drills.
You have to define lead. Many people are like, “What is she talking about?”
Typically, pacemakers will have 1, 2, or 3 different leads. Each one will sit in a ventricle of the heart and that’s what they use to pace the tissue of the heart. Sometimes, during a change-out, we never want to say, “It’s just a change-out.” When you think things are going to be simple, that’s when things go bad. You never want to say it’s an easy day because that’s when it goes crazy.You never want to say it's an easy day because that's when it goes crazy. Click To Tweet
Every once in a while, you can get in there. You think everything’s good and then everything is not good. With this lead, the installation has fractured. We need to go. Since the pocket of that patient is already open, the best thing to do is go ahead and put in a new one. I thankfully have never had this situation but there are times when I’ve seen it where other companies, if they are not prepared or someone can’t get there soon enough, you’ve given it to your competitor.
What does that look like? That’s talked about a lot but I want you to walk us through the experience of that happening.
I specifically have not gone through that, thank God. However, what that would look like is the physician says, “We need this.” The person says, “I do not have that on hand but I can get it. How long is that going to take?” They may say 20 to 30 minutes. The physician says, “Is X company around?” They ask their staff. They’re no longer talking to the rep anymore. You’re not a part of this anymore.
You have been dismissed. Let’s say that happens and rep so-and-so from the company so-and-so has it and can make it. Are you sent home? What happens?
You’re not sent home but you’re out of that case. You have a lot of kissing to do afterward.
How does that impact the reputation that you are trying to establish? Is that something that people understand happens? You did specify that it hasn’t happened to you, thank God. How bad is it when something like that happens with a rep?
If you were trying to establish rapport with a physician that you don’t have great relationships with already, that’s very bad. It can happen. There are times when things are on backorder and every company goes through this. They have been on backorder for months. We’re scrambling. All across the country, everyone is short on a specific type of product but your physician only likes to use that specific type of product.
For the most part, they understand but these physicians can be very particular. They want what they want. On some days, they could be more particular than others where they’re like, “I don’t want to deal with this. I don’t want to wait 30 minutes.” On other days, they might say, “I’ll wait. That’s fine.” A lot of that also boils down to the person they’re working with and the relationship that you already have with that physician. If they don’t care for you to begin with, they’re not going to give you a chance at all.
Let’s talk about that a little bit. With the way it works with your team, would you say that the moment you wake up to the moment you end your day, you don’t know what can happen even though you have a bunch of scheduled procedures? Would you say that it’s relatively controlled?
No, you never know what will happen, what’s going to get added on, and what’s going to be canceled. You have an idea of what your day may look like but you can never think that’s what your day is going to be. If you’re that type of person, you do not need to be in CRM.You never know what will happen. You don't know what's going to get added on. Click To Tweet
It excites you.
It does excite me. It’s a thrill and an adrenaline rush. At the end of the day, you’re like, “Thank goodness, I made it.”
What were you doing before you took our program?
Before I got into CRM, I was working for a cosmetic derm office selling cosmetic derm treatments.
You went from that business into medical sales. You got to learn how dynamic each day is. How long did that take from, “What’s going on? No day is what I think it’s going to be,” to, “I got this. This is how things work. Let me get cracking?”
You learn how dynamic it is quickly. As soon as they throw you in the field, you’re like, “This is my schedule. I’m going to be following this person.” You’re then like, “This isn’t happening at 10:00 anymore.” They’re like, “No, hurry up. We have to be here in ten minutes.” You learn that fairly quickly. If you’re adaptable, you’ll catch on. It’ll be great.
It wasn’t too hard for me. It’s a mindset that you have to get into. You have to be okay with it. I don’t know what can happen. Sometimes, things can end up in your favor where you’re like, “It should have been a little bit more chaotic day but things dropped off. It’s been more of a chill day. I could breathe, do modules on the computer, and fill out my expense reports. I can have other things I could focus on where I’m not running around like a chicken with a head cut off.”
For everybody thinking about this space, a lot of people are probably thinking, “What about the travel, weekends, and nights?” I try to do my best to make it clear to everyone that the nature of medical sales is travel. A lot of times, it’s local travel, like you guys. You are traveling within a region. It’s relatively close to where you live. What about the nights and weekends in the cardiac rhythm space? What does that look like?
If you love your nights and weekends, be prepared to give some of that up.
What does some of that up mean?
It depends on which team you’re on but you’ll be on call. That is a non-negotiable. Every territory is different in how their team operates. I’ve been on two separate teams where I was once on call one time a week during the week and one weekend a month during the month. Automatically, one week out of the week, I needed to be within the territory. I can go anywhere. One weekend out of the month, I needed to stay within the territory and could not go anywhere.
This newer territory is a little bit bigger. I’m one time 1 week and once every 9 weeks. There’s a little bit more flexibility there. However, just because you’re not on call does not mean that one of your physicians is not going to call you specifically. You don’t tell them, “I’m not on call now.” You still have to deal with it and answer your phone.
That’s why they’re using you. They’re going to say, “I know Crystal is going to answer her phone at 2:00 AM. They might be on call at 2:00 or 4:00 AM. Whatever time that is, she’s going to answer her phone and get the job done. That’s why I can count on her. That’s why I’m going to continue to use the products that she’s selling.” Your job never stops.
Before working in this space, I was not great with my phone at all. My friends laugh at me. They’re like, “You’ve come a long way with texting and answering your phone.” You are glued to your phone. You cannot be. I have at least four Apple chargers around me at all times. You have to be glued to your phone because you never know what’ll pop up and come through.
When you were getting into the position, you knew that you were going to have to focus on developing customer relationships. I’m sure, even though you had experience doing that in your last role, that you don’t know what you don’t know. When you got into developing relationships and getting providers’ attention that are ready, you were even committed to other companies and their products. Talk to us a little bit about what that was like, the harder and easier parts of it. Share some things that you never thought you would have to consider doing or figure out how to do.
Coming into this space, I did not have a background in cardiac rhythm and EP at all. I felt lost. As time goes on, it’s a slow process to learn. I’m still learning. There are people in the space who have been doing it for many years and they’re still learning. It’s not anything that you’re going to learn overnight or within a year and say, “I’ve got this.”
When I first started, people who were training me were like, “You’re not going to feel good until at least 4- or 5-years in.” Forget about that and do the best that you can. If you think you’re going to get everything perfect, you’re not. When I was able to get past that, I realized, “I need to learn what I can learn and know what I can know to the best of my capability.” More than anything, I feel like what helped me with building rapport was having a presence. People take for granted how much they are present and available.
These physicians are so busy. They have many things that they have to do. We work hard but they work harder. Knowing that there’s someone that they can call on takes you such a long way. I tell everyone who comes into it, “Know your product for sure because they’re not going to trust you if you don’t. Know what you’re doing because the patient’s safety is first.” Be present. You can’t hide just because you don’t know anything.
They like to know that the more you’re around, the more you’re going to learn being around them. I’ve learned so much hanging around specific physicians. They’ve taken me under their wing and shown me things that I wouldn’t have learned otherwise. That’s how you’ll build your network. Stay present not only with the physicians but with their staff and everyone. I try to build rapport with everyone in the building, down to the cleaning lady at the hospital, because she’s going to let me in the door if I don’t have my badge.
That’s important to mention because people don’t think about those things. You said, “Be present.” I’m sure you’ve had accounts where they were not using your products yet and you were trying to be present. What did that look like for you?
It looked like a lot of rejection at first. It’s not an obvious rejection. You have to be consistent. Just because you go somewhere the first time and you’re not getting the response that you want, you don’t say, “I’m done with this. I’m not going back.” Consistency is key in this game. Be consistent and present. Keep coming back around, figure out what exactly it is, and find out why they do not want to use your product. Why do they like the other product?
Maybe it’s a lack of knowledge that they don’t know. I’ve had a situation where there’s not anything wrong with the product. It would happen to be the person before you. They didn’t care for it. Figure out why and why not. You can somehow dig deeper to figure out how you can carve away in there. There’s always a way. You just have to figure it out.
It was a learning curve, all the cardiac education to get caught up and be a resource to your clients. A lot of people assume that to get these jobs, they have to study and learn all they can about cardiac to apply. We say, “That’s not what you do. You need to get the position and then you’ll learn.” What would you say to that? To everybody that’s reading this, they’re thinking, “I want to be in her space. What should I do as far as cardiac education? Should I do anything? Should I focus on the company and getting into it?”
I agree with you. Know the basics, get into the space, and know what type of space you want to get into. I did do some extremely basic training online, where I needed to know what exactly cardiac rhythm deals with to that extent. You need to know what you’re trying to get into. Did I know what ventricular fibrillation was? Not. Even in the first three months, I always told this story and was wowed. After year one, I was like, “I came such a long way.”
I remember my first three months. I was with my technical trainer at the time. She’s taking me through a bunch of different rhythm strips. She’s like, “What is this?” If you know anything about cardiac rhythm, I stupidly say, “Ventricular braided cardio is not even a rhythm at all.” I’m like, “Why would you say that?” It’s like learning a new language. You have all of these new terms and things that you have never used before. All of a sudden, you’re being tested on it. Years later, I still laugh at myself because I’m like, “Why would you say that?”
Going back to what you were saying, you don’t have to know. Those things will come. I was putting in the effort. I was studying every night. You’re going to be out in the field during the day. Your day does not stop once you get home just because you’re not on call yet. You get home and you continue to study. It’s like getting a Master’s in EP. If you’re getting a Master’s, you might have your regular full-time job.
When you get home, you still have to study. You’re getting quizzed. They’re testing you every so often. This program wasn’t like, “You’re in the program and we teach you.” There were still tests that you had to pass and get score percentages to be able to go on to the next level. Not everyone makes it out of the program because they’re not able to pass.
For our audience, give us one sentence about what that program was so they know and they have some context.
It is a 2 to 3-year program that gets you prepared to be a sales rep within the cardiac rhythm space. Typically, a lot of people will go to these pacemaker schools such as ATI or PrepMD. These bigger companies are starting to have these associate programs, where they’re training people on the job training and teaching them how to become a sales rep or a clinical specialist at the completion of it. They’re expecting you to work. You are getting paid for it. They’re also expecting you to pick these things up quickly, learn the material, be able to apply it, be on your own, and do the work independently.
A lot of these bigger companies are doing programs like that. That’s why when you were in our program, we focused on getting into a company-offered program like that as opposed to going to an outside school where you spend a lot and still risk maybe not even getting the position. Is your new opportunity cardiac rhythm or something a little different? Why don’t you go ahead and explain it to the audience?
It is something a little different. This new opportunity, which I’m extremely excited about, is as a cardiology account manager. It’s not in cardiac rhythm but still in that cardiology space. It’s less clinical but still very technical. It’s selling a diagnostic agent for echocardiograms. I’m extremely excited. There’s more negotiation that goes into this.
Another thing about cardiac rhythm is that people are mistaken about that type of selling when they say, “I want to be a sales rep in cardiac rhythm.” You are not selling. You’re not going into an office and saying, “Use my pacemaker.” These physicians, in all honesty, look at every company that makes a pacemaker and every pacemaker does the same thing.
What you’re selling is the support. You are selling yourself and the clinical support. They’re going to make sure you’re ensuring that patient safety is going to come first. You’re going to do everything right for this patient. At the end of the day, if you don’t have a lead, it’s not like they say, “I’m going to wait for you.” They go to the next person.
There are subtle differences between all of these different companies. It’s physician preference. This type of selling with this new opportunity that I have is the selling that I want to do, where I’m able to carve out a share of the market and I can go in there. It’s more competitive. There are more negotiations happening. It’s not necessarily like, “I like this person so I’m going to continue to use his product.”
It sounds like you’ve been on both sides of that. One thing I want to touch on quickly is that people who aren’t in the industry hear the big companies and big names. They think that the goal is to get into these companies because they can set up their career and everything go well. That can happen. One thing that people should know is regardless of which company you start with, the reality is to understand the space you want to get into first, get into that space, perform, and do the job to the best of your ability, and the world opens up. Is that what you’d say? Would you say that’s true?
I got into the program and wanted to be a sales rep for this company. I became a clinical specialist. I loved it but throughout the program, my eyes were wide open because I was like, “There are so many other things out here.” You don’t know it until you’re in it. I didn’t come from this space. I only knew what I knew.
I knew about that specific company because I happened to have a cousin who also worked for the company. He was able to give me a little bit of insight but I didn’t know much about anything outside of cardiac rhythm and medical devices. Once I got inside, I was like, “You can do this and have more of an opportunity, make more money, or do this and have a better quality of life.” It all boils down to what it is that you want. I tell everybody that you have to know what you want.
Shortly into the program, I realized, “I don’t know if this is what I want to do.” Being a sales rep, you have to take more calls than a clinical specialist. That was my reasoning for not becoming a sales rep. I’m at the point in my life where I want to focus more on family. I was like, “This doesn’t align with my personal life. In the future, it may be something I would love to come back to but now, it doesn’t align with my professional goals. My personal goals are not aligning. Something has to change here.” Once you get into it, you can see.
I also tell people, “You have to put that time in.” You cannot just get into it and after 6 months or 1 year, you say, “I want to get up and go.” No. You have to put that time in because people respect you more. Know what you want and what the end goal is going to be. You can get it. I’m a result of that. I’ve got the opportunity of my dreams and the quality of life. My personal and professional lives are on the same page.Know what your end goal is going to be. Click To Tweet
Crystal, this was awesome. You are enlightening us with everything that you’re doing in your career. We have to do this again. We have to revisit Crystal. She was one of our early cohorts for the medical sales career builder program and she’s doing amazing things. With that being said, can you participate in the lightning round?
I’m always up for a challenge. Let’s do it.
You have less than 10 seconds to answer 4 different questions. The first one is, what is the best book you have read in the last several months?
Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss.
That guy is the real deal. I don’t normally ask this but I have to know. What did you love most about that book?
You can use all the different negotiation techniques not only professionally in your work life but also in your personal life.
Best movie or TV show that you’ve seen in the last several months?
Love is Blind. I’m watching it and it’s not the best season.
I’m going to be honest. The whole concept of marrying someone that you’ve known for five minutes blows my mind. The generation that’s on Love is Blind and the ones that are coming after are all about that life.
I feel like I watch it for shock factors. It’s like a car accident that you can’t turn away from.
Best meal you’ve had in the last several months.
I moved further down South. I had some good barbecue from Hutchins. It was so good. I’m not even a barbecue person.
Where exactly is this Hutchins?
It’s in Texas.
Is it a chain?
They might have two locations. It’s not a chain but you will smell like smokey barbecue for two days straight after eating it.
Is it worth it?
It’s so worth it.
Last but not least, what’s the best experience you’ve had in the last several months?
The best experience I’ve had would be moving to a new city and getting this new job opportunity.
Crystal, it was fantastic learning about everything that’s happening in your life. Thank you for being on the show. We can’t wait to see the amazing things you do.
Thank you for having me, Samuel. This is amazing. We have to do this again.
I stress this at the beginning of this episode. This is why we do it to be able to see something like that full circle, be a part of it, and see the wins. You read an interview with a client who helps clients. I would like to believe that this type of episode makes it clear what we do within this program. When Crystal found us, she was a medical assistant. She had no sales experience. She’s killing it. She’s on her way. If you want to get into the medical sales space and be a professional within a med-tech company, I want you to go to EvolveYourSuccess.com. I’m going to clarify this a little bit.
Whether you are someone who wants to be a medical sales representative, someone who wants to be a clinical specialist, someone who’s been trying to become an associate sales rep in the med-tech space, or even if you want a position that’s not directly sales and you want a support position or a quality control position, this is what I want to say.
If you want to work within the business of healthcare or with a manufacturer of healthcare, whether it’s manufacturing a medical device, a drug, or a test, and you want to be any part of that with your career, I want you to visit EvolveYourSuccess.com. Fill out the application, schedule a time, and make sure you get to your call on time. We get so many phone calls. We can’t entertain people being late or not showing up.
If you’re serious, go to EvolveYourSuccess.com, fill out the application, and schedule some time with one of our account executives. Make sure you make your call on time because they will not wait for you. You’ll be trying to get back on the schedule and we won’t let you be on the schedule for months because that’s how we do when people don’t show up. Book some time and have a conversation. It’s time to do something a little different.
The biggest thing that I can say in years of seeing people work to get these positions, being in the industry myself and everything I’ve been given an opportunity to witness, support seems to be the underlying theme because what we are selling is confidence. When you know where you should be in the field, you understand your transferable skills, and you can showcase that with a number of resources that you created when you’re verbally supported by people who have had interactions with you and are promoting you, being in the position that’s open, when all that’s working for you, what happens is you develop this deep-seated confidence.
It makes the process of getting an opportunity within a medical technology company, medical device, pharma, or test. You’ll going to be able to show up in a way you are not showing up now. That confidence should not be underestimated. When you are clear on why you should be somewhere, you know how to deliver that message, and you’re practiced at it, you’re going to show up differently.
I can’t stress it enough. If you want to be in this space, go to EvolveYourSuccess.com, fill out an application, and let’s have a conversation. As always, we do our best to bring you guests who are doing things a little bit differently in the medical sales space. Make sure you tune in in the next episode.
About Crystal Sobande
With over 8 years of experience in the medical sales industry, Crystal Sobande is a solution-oriented sales leader who delivers exceptional customer service and satisfaction. She has a BS in Exercise Science and multiple certifications in advanced security, coolsculpting, and medical sales career building.
As a Clinical Specialist at Medtronic, Crystal leverages her skills in CRM, sales strategy, and consultative selling to close deals with 90% of prospective clients and generate revenue streams for the company. She also serves as a liaison between physicians, practice managers, and patients, resolving issues and fostering an atmosphere of continuous improvement. Her mission is to provide non-surgical solutions that enhance the quality of life for her patients and the profitability of her organization.
She is a graduate of the Medical Sales Career Builder Program 3-4 years ago, and currently a Cardiology Account Manager in Lantheus.
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