Your success in sales isn’t determined by what you sell, but how you connect. In this episode, we have Sales Coach and Founder of MMS Consulting Katie Mullen to reveal the secrets to becoming a better sales professional. Katie walks us through her journey, from her early days in the industry to becoming a sought-after sales trainer. As the episode progresses, Katie dissects the different categories of medical sales and explains the lifestyle implications of each. She also shares pro tips for getting through the gatekeepers and reaching the decision-makers. Tune in now and equip yourself with the knowledge and strategies that can transform your career. Your next sale might be just a click away!
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Samuel’s Personality Test Result – ‘Analytical’ followed by ‘Driver’
Katie’s Published Book Title – The Sales Tightrope: A Research Based Guide to Not Annoying Customers, and Still Being a Top Performer.
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Becoming A Better Sales Professional With Katie Mullen
We have with us another special guest and she goes by the name of Katie Mullen. Katie has spent over ten years in medical device sales and now she spends her time training sales professionals on how to be better. She’s a popular LinkedIn influencer, with some of her content reaching as many as 40,000 people.
If you are reading this right now, you’re someone who either wants to get into medical sales, you’re already there, or you’re looking to transfer to a new field within medical sales, this is an episode you have to read, but I’m not going to spoil it. I’m going to save it all for the interview. As always, we do our best to bring you guests who are doing things differently in the medical sales space and I do hope you enjoy this interview.
Katie, how are you doing?
Good, how are you? Thanks for having me.
I am fantastic. We’re glad to have you. Why don’t you tell the audience who you are and what you do?
My name is Katie Mullen and I am a sales trainer, consultant, and author in the works. I typically train sales teams on how to be better salespeople. I have all the different things that I teach. What I’m trying to do is teach people how to get out there and get new customers because so often in sales, people are either hunters or farmers. A lot of times what we end up doing is becoming order takers where we wait for the phone to ring and wait for existing customers to order from us. There’s no way to build your funnel appropriately if you’re just doing that.
A lot of what I do is teach people how to get out there and find those customers using new techniques, but also traditional techniques like the phone and email. I use a lot of data and research in my sales training to teach people how to do those effectively so that they can make the best use of their time. I also get into stuff like presentations, LinkedIn, and some newer tools like video messaging. It’s all across the board.
Typically, what I do is go into a sales team when they’re having their yearly sales meeting or their every six months sales meeting, whatever it is. I go in and do a whole day of training with their whole sales team. We do a lot of interactive stuff as well as a lot of learning and absorbing all the data and all the research that I have.
Do you do this for your own organization? Do you work for an organization? How do you do this?
It’s all me. I did a lot of sales in my career. I started in sales at an early age and I loved sales. I ended up getting into medical device sales when I was about 25. I did that for about ten years. The whole time I was doing that, I was always this de facto sales trainer. They would say, “Somebody new is starting. Call Katie Mullen and she’ll get sorted out.” I eventually came up with my own sales and training materials because it was easier and quicker for me to do that when I was doing so much training for people anyway. As I was doing that, I realized I enjoyed this. I enjoy teaching people how to do sales and how to be the best salesperson they can be.
My husband’s a physician. When we moved to Denver when I was 35, I had to give up my sales territory. I was doing Kansas, Missouri, and Nebraska. I had to give that up when I moved and I decided, “I’m going to do this. I’m going to become a sales trainer and a sales consultant.” I started doing that and the company started hiring me to do that. I’ve been doing that ever since. I work for myself. I have my own company and I do all the training myself.
Let’s talk about who you serve. Is it primarily medical device sales? Is it any type of healthcare sales? Is it beyond healthcare? Talk to us a little bit about the type of companies you typically work with.
My niche, I would say, is medical device sales. It’s what I know best. I have done selling in all kinds of different industries. When I first started my company, I was intending to be just medical sales. As time has gone on, I have noticed that I have gotten some interest from people outside of the medical community because I do think that sales, a lot of times, translates to every industry. My niche is still medical device sales and medical sales in general. That’s probably about 80% of my business, but I still do quite a few in that other 20% as well.Sales translates to every industry. Click To Tweet
I want the audience to get the gravity of who I’m talking to. I am going to highlight something that you did. Katie Mullen is an influencer on the LinkedIn space and she had a post where she garnered 40,000 reactions on the LinkedIn platform, talking about an element of selling. That is a feat within itself, Katie. Talk to us a little bit about how you made that happen and what it’s done for you.
That post has almost 5 million views too, which was crazy high for that. Ever since I started, I’ve had a pretty healthy audience on LinkedIn, but that one was off over the top. I hit a nerve within the LinkedIn community. The LinkedIn algorithm likes a little bit of controversy. One of the reasons that that post did so well is not everyone agreed with me. The topic of the post was nobody is interested in your company’s history. No one cares what year you were invented. That was based on a lot of research I had done with customers where I had gone out and said, “What are your pet peeves when somebody comes in and tries to give you a presentation?”
A lot of the customers were saying, “I hate it when they come in and do a bunch of slides about how they were invented in 1972 and this is how great they’ve been since then.” It was very consistent. The customers don’t like this. For some reason, particularly in the medical space, I believe they often start with this. It’s the first three slides of every presentation. It’s what everyone does. I don’t think people realize that customers hate it so much.
When I posted about it, I had a bunch of people agree with me, probably 90%, but probably 10% adamantly disagree with me. They would say, “It’s so important for people to know us and know who we are and know that we’re trustworthy and our history is so rich and we need to tell them this.” There was a lot of discussion within the LinkedIn community about who’s right about this and who’s wrong and what we should do instead. That’s why it hit such a nerve. It’s because there was some disagreement and a lot of people not wanting to give up what they’ve been holding onto for so long, which is the company history slides.
How did you come up with the idea for it?
When I first started my company after I left the medical company that I was at for so long, I decided how I make myself different as a sales trainer. There are so many sales trainers out there. It wasn’t enough, in my opinion, to have been successful. I went out and did all this research, picked up the phone, and found hundreds of customers across the country to ask all these questions.
When I come up with my content on LinkedIn, a lot of what I’m doing is going back to the research that I’ve done and pulling content from that. That’s one of the pieces of content directly from my customer research and that’s from the mouth of customers. That’s one of their top five pet peeves when people come in and do a sales presentation.
5 million views, and 40,000 reactions on one post. What has it done for you as far as business?
One of the main things it’s done for me is create a lot of open doors. I got a call from several publishers and they said, “You have all this great content. You have all this training. Have you ever thought about writing a book?” I had thought about it before but hadn’t ever prioritized it. I did end up signing a contract to write a book. I love to write.
It’s been fun because I already have all this content. I do deliver eight hours’ worth of a sales day of training. I have been taking my content and putting it into the book and with some additional stuff as well. I only have so much time when I give my sales trainings to get into the customer data and research that I’ve done. It’s been fun because I’ve been able to get into that even more in the book, which has been fun to have the time to dig in and share all that.
This is an interview and I have an interview question. Ever since you decided to go this route, start your own business, and provide this amazing sales service, what would you say your proudest moment has been as an entrepreneur selling sales improvement services?
I would say my proudest moment would be when I got a message after one the very first ones that I did from a very established sales rep. One of the problems with going in and doing this is you have a lot of sales reps who’ve been in the industry for many years and they’re like, “I had another sales training. I had to sit through another one.”
This sales rep was pretty established and had been around for a long time. She wrote me a message, saying, “I wanted you to know that I’ve been through tons of these trainings and yours was by far the best I’ve ever been through. I learned so many things and I’m excited to get out and use some of the techniques that you taught us.” That meant a lot coming from someone who’d been through this before and was very established.
Let’s get into it. We’re not going to get eight hours of training in our time here. Let’s talk about access. You mentioned access earlier. What are some of the top things that sales reps can do? Right now, there are a lot of medical sales reading this episode. Give us the top three things that you would advise sales reps to be doing in the field when they’re trying to get access to their customers.
The top one is to pick up the phone. Many sales reps don’t want to pick up the phone. It can be uncomfortable. There’s a thing called call reluctance and it is real. There’s a lot of research that was done. There’s a company called SalesLoft that did some research that if you stick with one method, so if you stick to email, you’re going to be 77% less effective. If you stick with the phone, you’re going to be 95% less effective. You have to combine different ways to get to the customer. What is often forgotten is truly the phone.
What sales reps will do is they’ll email. There’s some research also from SalesLoft that shows that often they stop after a try or two. I’m a big fan of what I call polite persistence. We have to keep trying and we never say, “It’s been so hard to get ahold of you,” and act annoyed. We keep politely trying over and over again, but we’ve got to pick up the phone. You’re so much more likely to get a meeting and some information from the customer if you pick up the phone and catch them, rather than emailing them. They’re going to be busy. They’re going to blow you off on email most of the time. One of the main things I would say is don’t be afraid to pick up that phone.
One of the research data points that I found that was interesting in my research was I asked them, “What advice would you give to salespeople? If your niece or nephew was going into medical device sales, they’d never been in it before and they said, ‘Uncle Steve, I know you deal with a lot of sales reps. What can I do? What advice would you give me?’”
I had 56% of customers give me the same phrase, which I thought was so shocking because it was an open-ended question. For 56% to say the same phrase was crazy. The phrase was, “Be friendly.” They would go on and explain. Often, they come in and they’re in a rush, or they assume that I can meet with them at the time that they happen to be coming through town, or they demand that I tell them when we’re going to be budgeting for such and such. They said, “The main thing they need to do is be friendly and make my life easier.”
Every interaction that you have with customers, whether it’s the phone, email, leaving voicemail, starting to have a conversation, or doing a presentation, focus that all around being friendly and smiling and forcing yourself to smile even when you might not feel like smiling. When you’re talking on the phone, look in the mirror and smile at yourself. Your voice will sound so much warmer than if you’re looking like this and you’re talking very normally. Sometimes it’s nerves. A lot of times, honestly, people don’t act friendly because they’re nervous, particularly for those newer sales reps. Force yourself to always be thinking about being friendly all the time.
The last thing I would say, a general piece of advice, is to remember that customers don’t care about you. What they care about is themselves. One of the things I do in my training is I’ll put up a slide. I’ve pulled everybody’s photo off of LinkedIn ahead of time. I’ll throw up the slide of everybody there and say, “Where did your eyes go?” Somebody always chimes in and says, “I went to myself. My eyes went to me.” That’s true because we care about ourselves. That’s the bottom line.
That’s why customers don’t like it when we go in and talk about our job history or our company history because they don’t care about us. What they do care about is themselves. Keep it focused on them. We’re not asking questions like, “How was your weekend?” You can ask those questions. There’s a time and a place for those, but it’s truly getting into their pain points and what their day-to-day life is like, avoiding headaches, and solving problems is what they’re going to care about. Always keep it about them, not about you.
Are you ready for more probing, Katie?
When it comes to medical sales reps, specifically field-based medical sales positions, case coverage, or even pharmaceutical or biotech, what would you say you see, maybe the top 2 or 3, most common problems that you see those types of reps doing over and over again?
Depending on the space that they’re in, a lot of times, reps are going in and they’re assuming that somebody’s going to be available to talk to them. They’re dropping in because they don’t want to pick up the phone and make those appointments or feel like, “If I call, they’re not going to be able to get me.” That is, again, one of those pet peeves. Customers typically don’t like it to be dropped in on and say, “Do you have a few minutes? I’m in the area.” That’s one thing I would say is a big problem for reps.
During COVID, it was fixed a lot because of the lack of access that we had. Now everything’s starting to open up and get back completely to normal. That’s still a big problem. The second one is people not understanding customers well enough and that’s hopefully what I can help them with is understanding customers to understand what they like and what they don’t like.
For instance, a lot of times, people are taught when you go in and sell to somebody, tell them you can save them money. Everybody wants to save money. If you can tell them their ROI is going to be better, they’ll love it. This came up as one of my big customer pet peeves. I will differentiate between opening with that versus getting into that deeper into the conversation.
If you open with that, customers are like, “You have no idea how much I’m spending. How can you possibly know that you can save me money? I’m the one who negotiated the first deal. If you’re saying you could save me money and that the first deal’s bad, you’re telling me I did a bad job. You’re not coming from a position of knowledge. You know nothing about our industry and what we’re dealing with. It’s all white noise. Everybody’s telling me they can save me money.” It doesn’t differentiate you at all. Let’s get into it further. You want to never start by saying, “I can save you money.” That’s an example of people not necessarily knowing customers well enough to know that.
Let’s flip it. Let’s talk about the rock stars. I’m sure you’ve done this long enough where you’ve seen a consistency, almost a pattern, for lack of a better word, for people who do the right thing and continue to attain success in the sales space. What would you say are the top three things those rock stars are consistently doing that you keep seeing that if anyone chose to do those things on a consistent basis, they’re going to see some serious headway in their territory?
I would say one of the main things is being a good listener, being truly interested in the customer, and wanting to get to the bottom of things. Sometimes what people do is ask a question and you can tell they’re waiting to pounce and say, “That’s so great that you want that because we have this awesome feature.”
They start getting into all the things instead of sitting back, listening, and saying, “Let me make sure I’m understanding this. You’re saying this. What happens when this happens?” Gather as much data as you possibly can from that customer so that you can turn it around at the end when it’s time to frame up your solution and you have all the information about what they need.
The first thing would be being an awesome listener. This is interesting, being a good listener. When you think of a sales rep, you think of somebody who’s very charming, very smooth, and can talk to anyone and that’s often not what it is. I’ve known sales reps who were like that, who weren’t very good because they interrupted and wanted to be the one doing all the talking. I’ve known sales reps who were very shy, and you’re like, “I can’t even believe you’re in sales, honestly, because you’re very shy and you’re not outgoing.” Those often are the best ones because they are great listeners and they invite a lot of information to be thrown their way.
The second thing would be having that grit. Be persistent. There’s a great book called Grit by Angela Duckworth and she talks about how talent is very overrated. What matters is the heart being willing to do the hard work and having that grit to keep going day after day and do the mundane. That is so important in sales because so often, picking up that phone and setting yourself a reminder, “Every single week, I’m going to prospect an hour’s worth of new customers. Even if I was the top sales rep or I won the trip to Costa Rica or Puerto Rico, I’m still going to prospect because I want my funnel to keep growing week after week no matter what.”
I would say the third thing would be people who are willing to try new things and who are optimistic. There’s also some data out there about the more optimistic we are, the more successful we are in any business, especially in sales. You are 20 to 40% more likely to be successful if you’re optimistic. You’re willing to try new things, get out there, and keep going. You don’t get down and people are more willing to want to be around you. I’d say those are probably the top three.
Let’s switch gears a little bit. Let’s talk about those that are entertaining going into sales. For example, with our program, we talk to a lot of professionals that are in an industry and they’re thinking about changing industries completely. Some of them come from very professional fields like a physical therapist or a chiropractor or, in some cases, even an MD who no longer wants to practice medicine but wants to be on the other side of the industry.
For these types of individuals and everyone else, what would you say they need to ask themselves before they entertain medical sales? What’s that self-check of questions that they go through and say, “If I can say yes to these things, then yes, this is for me. If I can say no to these things, then I have no business getting into medical sales.” Go ahead.
I would say there are a couple of things. The first thing is, how willing are you going to be to pick up that phone? Sometimes those people who have been in those positions, like an MD or a chiropractor, they have this jaded view of sales reps because they’ve had some annoying sales reps. They think to themselves, “I don’t want to be that annoying person.”
When it comes time to pick up that phone, they’re like, “Maybe I’ll email them. I don’t want to bother them.” If you have that view, I don’t think you’ll probably be super successful because you have to. There’s no getting around the fact that you’re going to have to go out there and be that annoying sales rep sometimes. There are things you can do to be less annoying, but you’re still going to be the sales rep knocking on that door at the end of the day.
The next thing I would ask is, “Are you going to be able to be someone who is internally motivated week after week?” It’s a different job. When you do chiropractic work or something like that, you’re probably working for someone. You probably have a fairly good salary and you can keep coming in and somebody’s going to tell you where to go, what to do. In sales, the harder you work, the more money you make.
If you are worried that you’re not going to be able to stay internally motivated to work hard, then your salary is going to be pretty limited, but the great side of that is the harder you work, the more money you make. If you’re willing to get in there and work hard and be internally motivated, it’s a great career for you.
Talk to us a little bit about your family dynamic. One thing I’d like to know about any guests on our show is how are you able to rock this amazing career, provide these services, and still conduct a family. How do you make it work, Katie?
I’m lucky my kids are in school full-time, which is helpful. I talked to a gal who was in sales and she had a 9-month-old and a 4-year-old or something. I was like, “That’s so hard.” I tend to wake up early and I try to work out and get in some emails and stuff before my kids even get out of bed, particularly in the summer. Summers are the hardest, in my opinion, for working moms because all of a sudden, instead of having your kids in school all day, you have to drive them places. Even if they’re doing stuff, there’s still a lot of, “Pick me up here. I need to do this. I’m not waking up until 9:00.”
Now, all of a sudden, I need breakfast and it’s in the middle of your workday. I’ve sat in my car and done conference calls in my car before. I’ll drive down to the park, do my call, and then drive back home. I think you have to make things work. I did that even when my kids were little. I would get them in the car and I’d be on the phone while we’re sitting in the car or go to a coffee shop or whatever it is while they were at the babysitter.
You could make it work. You have to be flexible and creative with how you’re doing it. It’s helpful for the kids to understand what you’re doing and why. My daughter’s off school right now as I’m doing this and I explained to her what I was doing and she’s off doing her own thing during it. It’s helpful for them to see mom doing something productive and important.
Our kids should know exactly what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. It’s very inspiring for them and it helps them put things in context too. You said earlier that your husband’s a physician. I have to ask, how much has this helped? When you’re trying to figure out the best approach, do you bounce all your ideas off of him or does it not quite work that way?
It doesn’t always work that way. He’s like, “Sales reps.” He sometimes will be willing to answer questions about things, which is very helpful. He’s also one person. That’s the thing about sales reps. One of the things that I talk about in my sales training is different personality styles. There are four that have been identified. There are these two scientists from the ‘70s or the ‘80s and their names were Merrill and Reid. They identified four social styles that are super important in the sales world. One is a driver and that’s somebody who’s like, “Let’s get it done. Don’t bore me with asking me about my weekend. Tell me what I need to know and I’m going to give you five minutes.”
There’s the analytic who’s very different, who’s like, “I need every chart. I need every piece of data. I need to think about it. I need a lot of time to make my decision.” There’s the amiable who’s a people pleaser, who’s like nervous to make decisions, but they want you to like them. There’s the expressive who are very charming. They’re the life of the party. You’re going to have to remind them 10,000 times to get you the data that they told you they would get you.
Once you identify those four social styles, you realize that everybody’s different. Just because one person thinks one thing, you can’t assume everyone. My husband is very much a driver, so if you ask him, “Do you like it when people ask you how your weekend was?” He’d be like, “No, please don’t waste my time with that.” When I did my research 75% of customers said, “Sure, small talk’s fine in moderation once I get to know you.” I do think it’s important to remember that not everyone likes to be sold in the same way.Not everyone likes to be sold the same way. Click To Tweet
Which category do you fall under?
I’m also a driver. I’m very much a driver. I’ve softened a little as I’ve gotten older, but I still am that way.
I’m curious. You’ve had so much experience with this. Can you meet someone and assess where they fall?
There are clues and I talk about this in my training. There are clues. For example, do they have a gatekeeper, a secretary, or an assistant? What did they say about them? How does their voicemail sound? Does it take a long time for them to get the voicemail across or is it very short and sweet? How do they answer their phone? There are some clues that you can gather, but the other thing is, too, everybody has a little bit of both. Some people are like expressive drivers or maybe amiable analytics. Everybody’s got a little bit of both in them. A little bit of several things, I should say.
I have to ask then, did you assess me? Where do you think I fall under?
My assessment of you would maybe be expressive.
I have to be reminded to stay on task. I can get with that.
You seem like you’re the life of the party. I would say you’re an expressive driver would be my assessment. I have a questionnaire. I’ll send it to you.
I’ll take it. I still want to ask you a few more questions around sales when it comes to what makes an amazing sales rep. Two things. I want to get your one piece of advice that you would tell any sales rep. One theme that I know exists is sales reps who have been in the game for a little bit longer than everyone else tend to be reluctant to new strategies and new ways of approaching how to do things. Oftentimes, if you can break that, once they see a new way, they’re amazed. Speak a little bit about what you see in that space and then maybe give us 1 or 2 creative ideas that you’ve seen that have helped a sales rep be more successful.
One thing that I’ve embraced is video messaging. It’s like leaving a voicemail for someone, but you’re putting a face to the name. People are very reluctant to do this because they don’t want to get to do their hair and find the right lighting. It’s something new. It’s scary. I have a 30-minute training session I do on this and by the end, I can tell everybody is terrified, particularly the older sales reps that have been around for a long time. I say, “How’s everybody feeling now?” Without fail, somebody will yell out, “Terrified, scared, or nervous.”
I remember one of the first texts I got from a guy after this. He said, “You won’t believe it, but I was being ghosted by a customer. I’d given them a budgetary quote and then it was all a big rush. I didn’t hear back forever. I kept following up, but nothing. I figured, what do I have to lose? I sent him a video message over text and I got a message back from him literally within seconds. It was laughing, ‘I’m so sorry. I have been avoiding you because of this and that.’”
“It was so effective and I was polite about it, but it reminded them and they were much more likely to get back to me. It was so great that after months of being ghosted, I finally know what’s going on now.” That’s a great example of somebody who’s very established. They’re set in their ways. It’s not something they’ve ever considered before, but being willing to get out there and try it because it can be effective to try new things.It can be really effective to try new things. Click To Tweet
Did they take a video with their phone or was it through a platform that allows them to make videos for audiences?
There’s a lot of different ways to do it. My preferred way are through text. You can’t do a super long one, but I don’t recommend a super long one anyway. You can do it through LinkedIn, but you can only do it through LinkedIn if you’re first-degree connected. You can’t do it to a second or third-degree that you’re trying to get connected to.
If you’re going to do it over email, you have to use a platform. You can’t send it as an attachment. It’ll get blocked for sure. For the different platforms, you can use YouTube which is free. The problem with YouTube is that sometimes institutions will block YouTube entirely. I have found it to be pretty effective, though because you’re not sending it. When you use something like Vidyard, Loom, BombBomb, or some of those, they often suppress the images when it gets sent to them.
If it’s the first time you’ve sent them an email, it’ll say, “Images have been suppressed for your safety,” or whatever. You don’t get that image, the video messaging image, whereas for some reason with YouTube, it does tend to go through because you use it as a screenshot versus doing it as a platform, like a GIF or something.
What I always recommend to people is try it first with YouTube because it’s free and it’s more likely to get through. If it’s working well for you, then you can invest in one of those other ones that cost money. My favorite is something called SalesMail. It’s very easy to use. It’s a little more expensive than some of the other platforms, but if you’re willing to spend the money on it and you’re going to do a bunch of them, it’s super effective and easy to use.
If somebody had the money and they were going to do a bunch, you would advise sales mail over YouTube?
Yes, because it’s a lot faster. With YouTube, it’s a whole process where you have to upload the video like you would any other YouTube video. You’ve got to make sure you make it unlisted. You don’t want to make it public because you don’t want such and such hospital going public, but you don’t want to make it private because then you have to use a password to get into it. You make it unlisted so that only anybody who has the link can get to it. That’s tricky. You’ve got to make sure you do that.
You have to take a screenshot of yourself while you’re talking and do a link to that screenshot, so it’s a little bit more clunky. It takes a while. With SalesMail, you open up the app, you push record and then you can zip it on over through email to somebody. It’s faster. If you’re going to be using it a lot, it’s much more efficient.
When you send these video emails, how do you prevent them from seeming like random solicitations that all of us get every day?
I never recommend sending it as a first reach-out. The thing that I find to be the most effective is the instance of getting ghosted. If it’s somebody that you’ve already interacted with and for whatever reason, all of a sudden, they stop reaching out to and you’re like, “What’s going on? Why aren’t they reaching me?”
Another one that I found to be very effective is to get to the platform above that person. Let’s say you’re talking to someone and they’re like, “I’ll take this information. Send it to me and I’ll give it to my boss.” What is effective is you say, “I’ll get the information for you that you’ve asked for,” whether it’s a quote or some brochure or whatever it is, and then say, “Also, I’m going to make a video for your boss. Is that okay? Will you also send that to them?”
They’ll be like, “Sure.” You find out the boss’s name. You find out a little bit of information, then when you send them a video, you say, “Samuel, I had a great time chatting with Rebecca today and she filled me in about your company that you’re looking for X, you’re looking for this, you’re looking for that. I’d love to set up a time to talk to you because we can offer that. Here are a couple of ways that we’re going to be able to talk to you about what you can offer. I’d love to chat with you if it makes sense to come in hopefully sometime next week,” or whatever it is.
I have found that to be a super effective way to get to the boss because if you are looking at the brochure or the proposal, they will often not get the gist. You can give them a lot more information, put a face to a name, and make it seem like you’re a real person, which helps you get that meeting with the real decision-maker. Those are the ways that I think are the most effective and not as a first reach out.
You’ve done a number with your profile and your influence on LinkedIn. You teach programs around how to do this and that’s wonderful. We do the same thing, but with your programs, who is it best for? Would you say for any medical sales professional or a specific type of medical sales professional? Speak to us a little bit about LinkedIn specifically and who you found it to be the most useful for when you’re training.
The first thing I would say about LinkedIn is if you’re going to use LinkedIn, you have to identify whether you’re trying to appeal more to recruiters or whether you’re established and you’re happy with your company and then you’re trying to appeal more to customers. One of the biggest mistakes I often see is people will have all this stuff about like, “I exceeded my quota 150% and I won the such and such award and all these things.” That’s not appealing to customers. They’re like, “Great, I’m so glad I’m sending you on some awesome trip while I’m sitting home.”If you're going to use LinkedIn, you have to identify whether you're trying to appeal more to recruiters or whether you're established and you are happy with your company and you're trying to appeal more to customers. Click To Tweet
If you’re trying to appeal to recruiters, great. Have as much of that on there as you want and as you can. If you’re starting to now try to reach out to customers and get them to want to talk to you, then you got to take all that stuff out. It’s a risk because you’re not going to get recruited as much if you don’t have all that in there. If you’re happy where you are and you’re trying to establish your name at your company, I would recommend saving it all in a document for when you are going to do it. You don’t have to recreate the wheel, but get that all out of there and talk about more about the customers.
“I wake up every day because I enjoy working with customers. Here are some problems I help them to solve. Here are some of the key accounts that I’ve established. This is my territory.” They can know, “This person is the right person I should be talking to.” That’s one thing about LinkedIn. We’ve got to establish that.
As far as people that are going to be good at using it, it depends on your call points. Let’s say you’re talking a lot to biomed. You’re probably going to have 50% of biomeds who are never hardly on LinkedIn, but you’re going to have 50% who are pretty active on it. Same with nursing. You’re going to have a decent amount of nurses who are pretty active on LinkedIn.
This percentage is lower than it is for biomed, nursing, purchasing, or some of the others but you’re still going to have doctors who are active on there. I would say no matter what you’re doing in medical sales, focus on your profile. Make sure you’ve got a great picture on there. There’s a neat platform called Photofeeler. Have you ever seen this?
No. Speak about it.
It’s one of my favorite things I do in my customer trainings. I pull everyone’s picture off of LinkedIn, secretly. I don’t tell him that I’m doing this. I run it through this program called Photofeeler. It votes on your picture. It tells you what people are perceiving you as far as how friendly and efficient you are. They’re like, “Does this person look like somebody I’d want to interact with?” It gives you a score. If you’re getting it and you’re like, “My score is only four and a half,” then you probably need a new picture.
This sounds so subjective.
Real people are voting on it.
How many people?
You can put in however many you want. The way it works is you can either buy the votes yourself and so then you don’t have to vote on other people’s or if you don’t want to pay for it, then you have to vote on other people’s to earn the credits to do your own thing. It’s pretty cool. You can even do it for social if you want to get online or something.
People vote on your picture and tell you how approachable you are or standoffish you are, and so on and so forth.
People are often surprised. They’re like, “I thought that was a good picture.” A lot of it has to do with this smile and the lighting and all that stuff.
How long does it take to get your results?
It’s fast. Let’s say you only want twenty votes. There’s been a few times when somebody’s picture wasn’t up for whatever reason. I’ll say, “Let’s put it through. It’ll probably be done by the end of this meeting, so within hours, it’ll be done.”
It sounds like this is a great way. If you’re working with people to improve their profiles and you don’t want to tell someone it’s a bad picture, this is a great way to do it.
I’m not being the bad guy. I’m not like, “I don’t know about that picture.”
Is there anything else you would like to share with the audience? You’ve shared so many pearls of wisdom. For everyone reading, you better be taking notes because she’s dropped some pure gold. Is there anything else you’d like to share? Any overarching message? Please share with us
I will share one little nugget. If you’re trying to get into medical sales, I would make sure that you ask the question of. “Are you on a GPO?” A GPO is a Group Purchasing Organization. One thing you might not realize is that every hospital is usually part of one of these. There’s a lot of different ones. The reason they join them is to get better deals on stuff.
Most hospitals have to comply with that contract within 80%. Everyone is different. Often, I hear people say, “I’m going to get this job with this new medical startup. It’s this amazing technology and it’s got this and it’s got that.” They don’t realize until after they get the job that they’re not on contract with anyone. This sets you up for a pretty hard road because you call someone and you’re like, “I’ve got this new technology to show you.” Their customer’s like, “Great, are you on contract?” They have to say, “No, we’re not.” “I can only buy off contract 20% of my buying time and yours doesn’t quite sound like something I’d want to fight for.”
To buy off a contract, they have to fight for that product. They have to want it. I would make sure and ask, “Are you on at least a GPO? If not, you’re in a potentially tough spot.” The other thing I would realize about medical sales is that there are three different kinds of medical categories and you may have already covered this, Samuel, and some of your other stuff, but one category is the procedural reps who are going in and looking for and doing procedures.
The other one is capital and the other one is consumable. Of course, there’s pharmaceuticals and that’s its own animal. It’s important for somebody like me, who’s a mom, to realize if I want to do a procedural sales rep job, that’s going to be hard for me because I’m going to have to get there when the doctor wants me to be there at 6:30, 7:00, 7:30, or whenever it is. Unless you have some flexibility or there with somebody else helping you with your kids, that might not be the job for you. My husband will tell me, “If I tell my sales rep to be there at such and such time and I want them ready with the tray or whatever, they better be there.”
If you don’t want that lifestyle, you’d be much better off in a capital job, which is much more flexible. You can decide when the meetings are going to be. The consumables might be even better for you because often, those sales reps can do their work from home. They’re not always even having to get out in the field as much as a capital rep. As you look at jobs, make sure you’re looking at, “What is this job going to be and what’s that lifestyle going to be for me?”Becoming A Better Sales Professional With Katie Mullen Click To Tweet
As you all know, if you read any of our episodes, we help you find exactly what position you’re supposed to be in. This categorization is wonderful. Thank you so much. This has been so enlightening. I loved having you on the show, but we do have one more thing to do, Katie. Are you ready?
I think so. I hope so.
We’re going to have our lightning round. You have less than 10 seconds to answer 4 questions starting now. Katie, in the last few months, what’s been the best book you’ve read?
That is a good one. What inspired that read? Were you told or did you see it online?
I saw it online. I can’t even remember who recommended it or why, but I read it. It might’ve been about how to lose weight and whatever. Somebody said, “If you’re having a hard time staying on track, read this book.” Now I love it for business too, so that’s great.
Best TV show or movie you’ve seen in the last few months?
My daughter’s obsessed with Friends, so that’s pretty much all I get to watch every night. It’s one episode of Friends. I haven’t watched anything else. Friends reruns for me.
Does it ever get old?
No, it doesn’t. You start over and it takes you a long time to get back to it.
It’s almost like Seinfeld. You can you can keep doing it.
Also, The Office.
The Office is the best. That’s my favorite comedy show.
We did watch the movie about Tetris, which was good, I thought.
I haven’t seen it. That’s good.
Yeah, it was good. I liked it.
I believe it. He always delivers. Two more questions. What’s the best meal you’ve had in the last six months?
We went on vacation and we went on this amazing boat. I would say that my favorite meal that we had there, she made fresh sourdough from scratch and she gave me some of the starter. I’ve been making fresh sourdough. I know it’s not a meal, but I feel like you could make sourdough into a meal.
Where do we try this boat meal?
It was on a it was on a catamaran in the British Virgin Islands. It’s a bit hard to get to, but if you can get there, I recommend it.
Last question, what’s the best experience you’ve had in the last six months?
I did a training in Boulder for a company called Sakura. It was an amazing experience. They were so energetic. Every sales rep was excited to learn and the management was sitting there. Their entire management staff, the CEO, the CFO, and the marketing director were in the front row listening and taking notes. I feel like that’s so rare in this world. They’re often in the back checking their email, not listening, thinking that they know everything. I thought it was such an amazing experience that they were all engaged and wanted to learn so they would all be on the same page as they were moving forward. Everything they did was wonderful. It was a great meal. It was a great experience.
Katie, it’s been an absolute pleasure having you on the show. Thank you for all the wisdom you shared with us and we look forward to the wonderful things you’re going to be doing on the LinkedIn platform and turning these companies around with our sales forces. Thank you again.
Can I put in a plug real quick for my book? It’s going to be coming out pretty soon.
Yes. Please tell us what it’s called and where we get it.
The Sales Tightrope: A Research-Based Guide to Not Annoying Customers and Still Being a Top Performer. You’ll be able to get it on Amazon. What I do is a lot of the things I talked about in this episode, I’m going to go into a lot more detail about including my customer research and how to do video messaging and get into the nitty-gritty of it and all those things. I would love it if you would check it out.
We’ll probably add it to our required reading because we’ve talked about some amazing things. Thank you again, Kate. It was wonderful having you.
Thanks for having me.
That was Katie Mullen. You read it here, folks. Being a good listener, having that grit, and being optimistic in every situation. It was such a pleasure having Katie on the show because these are the things that every sales professional needs to always keep in mind no matter what’s going on in their career. You’re reading this episode and you might be somebody who’s looking to get into a medical sales position. Maybe you want to be in pharmaceutical sales or maybe you want to be in medical device sales, or maybe you want to be in diagnostic testing sales, or maybe you have no idea.
Whether you know or not, you know where you need to go. If you don’t, I’m about to tell you. You need to go to EvolveYourSuccess.com. Go there, hit Apply Now, fill out our application, and get in touch with one of our account executives. They will show you and introduce you to a program called the Medical Sales Career Builder that will change your life. Make sure you tune in next time for another episode.
About Katie Mullen
Katie Mullen is the founder of MMS Consulting, which delivers sales training and consulting to Fortune 500 companies. Prior to starting her business, Katie worked as a sales rep and was truly “in the trenches.” After almost 15 years in sales roles, Katie decided to pursue her passion of teaching the art and science of sales to others.
She is the host of the Golden Rule of Selling podcast and a regular contributor to LinkedIn. Her posts and podcasts reach millions of people each year. She has equipped thousands of sales reps around the country with her unique methods and tactics, using her customer research as the backbone of all the training.
Katie teaches sales reps how to sell in a way that makes customers comfortable, because she keeps the focus on them. She teaches good sales reps how to be great sales reps.
Katie graduated Summa Cum Laude from the University of Kansas and lives in Kansas City with her husband, two kids, and plethora of pets.
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