Are you interested in helping people with heart problems as well as discovering the sales level in the medical device industry? In this episode, Alexander Frekey joins Samuel Adeyinka to share his knowledge and experience about what is really in the cardiovascular electrophysiology market and what is in store for people who want to enter this field. Plus, they dive deep into the importance of asking the right questions and overcoming burnout. Join us in learning all about selling medical devices and thriving in the market!
We have with us another special guest and he goes by the name Alexander Frekey. Some of you might recognize that name. He is what I like to call a medical device sales influencer on the LinkedIn platform, but what he does now is a little nuanced and that’s cardiovascular electrophysiology. Some of you might read that and say, “What in the world is that?” I am not going to spoil it, so you better continue reading.
In this episode, we get into that career that he’s doing now, how people that want to get into the medical sales space should approach medical sales reps and the right types of questions they could ask, and we get into something that’s very pronounced in medical device sales, medical device sales burnout. Without further ado, I hope you enjoy this episode and thank you for reading.
Alex, how are we doing?
I’m good. How are you?
Fantastic. I have absolutely no complaints. I want you to tell the audience who you are and what you do.
My name is Alex Frekey and that is my real last name. I work for a med tech service provider for the cardiovascular electrophysiology space where we have the most in-depth AI system for diagnostic arrhythmia and heart monitoring for that space.
Do you sell heart monitors?
Let’s get into that a little bit because there are people reading this that have no idea what that is. Is this the role you’ve always had, where you’ve sold a piece of equipment?
Yes. Technically, I worked for a company in the surgical space. The readers out there like Jacob McLaughlin, he was on my team here in Arizona. I sold surgical equipment for the gynecology division.
Now, it’s heart monitors. Walk a little bit about what that looks like. Who are you calling on? What’s the day-to-day? What are you doing?
Heart monitors fits in the palm of your hand. It goes on above the heart and it detects about seven different types of significant arrhythmias. These are the electrical signals that your heart is producing and it’s trying to find something that is irregular to start a diagnosis for a patient. Let’s do an example. You have heart palpitations and want to go to the emergency room or ED. How do they find that? They will give you an EKG.
EKG strip is read and see how your heart’s beating and how that’s ventricles are moving and if it’s beating too fast for tachycardia or slower, bradycardia. It’s trying to find how your heart is out of rhythm. It’s all of a sudden, your electrical signals are off so it finds flutters and things of that nature, but way more in-depth than what I’m talking about. It finds that to start a diagnosis for a cardiologist or electrophysiologist, doctors who are in sync with the electrical signals of the heart.
When you’re selling this equipment, who are you trying to get to buy in to want to use your product?
A lot of these are put in cardiovascular offices and that’s any cardiologist, electrophysiologist, or interventional cardiologist. For everyone out there, heart doctors, plain and simple.
Does this type of sale require more people to buy in to utilize the heart monitors or do they get to make the decision?
I had to learn a little bit differently than what I used to do at my previous company. It’s like, “The cardiologist could love this device. This is the best heart monitor for his patients and it gives them the best data, etc.” but the people that are involved in putting the heart monitor on like your medical assistants, nurses, and office managers, this sell or med device is way more in-depth than saying the doctor, “I like you.”
When I was with the gynecology division for our hysteroscopes intrauterine for women that take out polyps and fibroids, I go to the doctor and say, “You want to use this tool?” They say, “Yes,” and they tell the OR and you’re in. This is way more in-depth where the doctor can love it, but the MA loved putting the other patch on to the patient and was doing it for a couple of years and doesn’t want to switch. That doctor has a lead MA who is not going to budge so it’s not the doctor. It’s different.
How often does that happen? Is every account pretty much like that?
That’s 100%. We call them champions. In the med device world, you’ll hear that word a lot. You have to have a champion. You can have an administrative champion, which is your office manager, clinical director, or practice manager, and a clinical champion which is the doctor. These two people are going to start that conversation to then talk to everyone else about the benefits, features, and stuff and how you’re going to bring to their patients.
I like that. To make some quick comparisons. Let’s go back to the role you had when you were in with your previous company. Give us a little bit more detail about that role and the OB-GYN space.
I start off in med device as an associate, which is usually your entry-level position where I was an assistant to the territory managers running trays, which is our hysteroscope. We sold diagnostic and operative hysteroscopes, which came with a whole bunch of disposables. It’s the products that people buy over and over because they get used and tossed away, but there was also capital equipment involved as well, which was a fluid management system that calculated fluid in and out of a patient while using this product because a uterus has to be dilated with saline.
This machine calculated the fluid in and out and pumped it in and out. It was more of a scale to see how much fluid is going through the patient. We don’t want fluid left in the patient. There was the scope itself, I call it a cool GYN laser gun. It looked like a metal laser gun. We had a circle in the back where a blade went through that took out any type of abnormal pathology inside a woman’s uterus.
In that space, physicians made all the decisions. You focus on the physician. They are the call point and everybody else called it suit.
Be what the physician wants is what they get. They’re the ones using it in the OR and no one else could tell them differently.
Compare the two different styles of selling and which one you enjoy more and be honest.
I’m going to say the surgical sale is easier. Getting a doctor to use our product was a lot easier than convincing an entire practice to switch to a heart monitor. I got to say I enjoy the heart monitor better because it’s more buy-in. They have to believe in the product to get it for their patients. The hysteroscopes, there are three other ones out that worked similarly and it all came down to relationships who the doctor liked more and they would use that in the OR. I’m going to be honest.Doctors really have to believe in the product to get it for their patients. Click To Tweet
Let’s get back to college. You’re in college and you’re like, “I see a future in the medical device. That’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to study hard and become that.” What was your track?
The honest truth is when I was in college, I double majored, one in Business and Marketing and the other major is Biochemistry. I wanted to go into pharmaceutical sales. I graduated college in 2009. For those of you reading, you can Google that in 2009 and 2010, the pharmaceutical sales industry died. Everyone got laid off. No way that Alex Frekey is getting a job.
These are facts.
With my education, I don’t care how smart I was, no one was getting a job unless you had 20 years of experience and 20 doctors in your pocket to bring on to use your drugs. I started interviewing and I got far in one. LinkedIn and social media were not around that much. My brother-in-law was a nurse anesthetist and he got me interviews with Stryker and everything. All of them laughed at me like, “You have no experience. You’re not going to get in but we’re going to entertain because we like your brother-in-law.” I’m like, “Cool.” They were honest with me.
I took every conversation I built on each one. Like some people do with networking, I did it in person. That was it. I wanted to but I wasn’t getting it. I struck out 100 times. I’m like, “I got to build my sales experience. I need outside sales and sales in general.” I was in sales since I was sixteen. I worked at Foot Locker and GNC. I did that whole part-time stuff. I got a job which emerging technology in the world at the time was the iPhone. I worked at Verizon Wireless. I sold the iPhone and went into business sales.
I then left Verizon. I was a freight broker so I used to sell LTL trucks and stuff to businesses for their shipping and all that stuff. I got back into sales where I worked for a large sports nutrition company in the nutraceutical world. That was a couple of years where I was one of the directors of sales as well as I was also a formulator for them. I did a whole bunch of different roles in the company.
I then built my resume to be big enough that I handled lots of money and different accounts from mom-and-pop stores to corporate accounts. I then networked my way into my previous company where my wife worked in a GYN office, met the doctor and I’m still close to them now. They wrote me letters of recommendation, introduced me to reps, and then got my first go at a medical device company.
How long were you there?
Three years in 2022.
You had quite the experience there learning everything you did in the OB-GYN space. Talk to us a little bit about that space because again, there are readers out there that have no idea what that means. You did explain what you sold, but what’s to be expected in the OB-GYN space? I don’t think that’s talked about as much as the spine, sports medicine, or trauma.
It’s not the glamorous one. Spine, trauma, and cardiovascular are always the ones that are like, “They’re cool.” To all readers and everyone out there, I’m going to be honest with you. My manager asked me, “What made you want to get in the OB-GYN space?” I looked her dead in the face on a Zoom call and said, “Do you think I woke up this morning that I want to be in GYN?” She left, but it was the truth. It wasn’t about the GYN. It was about making my market at the company and that was it.
Let’s get back to GYN. GYN is a great starting point. I’m going to say this because the doctors are not mean. They’re very calm because they’re dealing with women and pregnant women all day. They’re very nice. A lot of the doctors in GYN say yes all the time because they’re that nice. They’ll try you out because you had a great conversation with them. It’s great to start and get your feet wet.
The company had a great product and a great entry-level position as an associate. I learned so much. GYN is more simplified area where it focuses on one section of the body. It’s very hyperlocal. You’re not talking about spying up from the neck to the pelvis. It’s easier to learn. Granted, I’m a male, I learned it. I can talk about the uterus more than women can. It’s a great way to start.
For all readers there, GYN is a great way to start. You’ve enterprise yourself throughout your career for you to start, with the experiences you’ve had, working at the nutraceutical company, working at your previous company, and also found yourself a brand on the LinkedIn platform. Talk to us a little bit about how that came to be. When did that start? What allowed you to be consistent with it and truly develop a brand? Talk a little about that.
What I did is I talked about what I knew. I didn’t know a lot about the med device world, in general, like the top to bottom of it, but what I knew is my day-to-day life. A lot of my posts, if any of you guys follow me out there, they were about what I did during that day and how that translated to something I learned, something that was positive, maybe a great conversation with a doctor.
It was genuine because it was that days’ worth of, “I had a call and a case here. I did this. I met this doctor. I talked about this,” in general terms. I didn’t mention names or anything like that but it was about learning experiences that I wanted to pass on to those of you out there that are reading that we’re real. It was a real account of what I did to be successful. I even put failures on there because they’re more important than successes, but I built my brand on LinkedIn talking about my day, in general.
Where did the transition from your previous company to your current company? How did that happen?
I’ve been at my current company since March 2022. As I started to talk on LinkedIn, I’m going to be honest with you. Not one recruiter reached out to me on LinkedIn because I was talking about my day and they saw that I was so passionate about my current position. They were like, “I’m not going to talk to that guy. He’s going to tell me to go pound sand.”
Honestly, I didn’t go on LinkedIn to have people attracted to me so I can get another job at all. It was genuine information. I saw some things in my previous company and in the division that I was working in that I didn’t see a future. To all the readers out there, if you’re in a company and you can’t see five years down the road what you’re going to accomplish and do and move up and stuff, try to make a transition because that’s a tell-tale meaning sign of it. It could be shortsighted or a very quick position.
I was with them for a few years. It’s a great resume builder but I didn’t see myself going further and being a regional, etc. so I decided to look outside. I opened my profile up and talked to a few recruiters. From November 2021 until March 2022, I talked to 10 recruiters and interviewed 20 times with a good resume. It was the hardest interview months of my life. It was grueling.
What helped you finalize on your company? What was the a-ha moment for you?
Honestly, it was the connection with my manager. I understood what the process was in terms of what they were looking for. I understood what they were looking for in a new rep and we literally connected. We were talking on the phone and after interviews for 20 to 30 minutes about business, in general. We jived well and we still do, but it was the responses to me in terms of how fast she got back to me and wanted to talk about stuff and the engagement.
Also, it is the evolving technology in the company. That was a huge thing. Cardiovascular is always a great space to be in. It’s not dying. With artificial intelligence being such a big thing right now, the company is on top of it. It was a no-brainer in that sense, but mainly the culture, talking to other reps, and the engagement from the manager were huge.
That is fantastic. You’ve had good experiences and gotten to see a big company and a smaller company. Talk to us a little bit about what it means to be an effective representative. Consider your both experiences. What are the consistent themes? Maybe the top three qualities that a good sales rep has in medical sales, so all-encompassing.
First and foremost, under-promise and over-deliver in everything you do. Do not ever tell a doctor in office that you could do something that you cannot pull through. Your relationship and reputation are your resume. If that doctor is like, “That guy’s a jerk. He lied to us,” you’re done. You’re absolutely finished. Always under-promise and over-deliver. Response time is huge. We all live on our phones but a quick email back is, “I can’t do this right now. I’ll get back to you in a few hours.” Communication is huge.Under promise and over-deliver in everything you do. Your relationship and reputation are your resume. Click To Tweet
Also, a lot of people out there are so focused on sales like the sales process, but it’s all in education. The more you understand your studies for the product line or the clinical data that you’re going for, how you can discuss what you do and have, and the why behind what your product does, the more successful you’ll be, not just a car salesman.
You talked about your entry into the medical sales world. Programs like what we have help people get into positions. There are all kinds of discourse around, “I don’t know if they’re valuable,” and you have different examples and levels of it. What is your take on programs that help you get into these positions?
If I’m talking in a personal sense, I almost went to the medical sales college. I was even toying with that idea. For all readers out there, don’t do that. These programs are very valuable because I didn’t have the information on what to do, how to network, and what research to do. If I were to talk to myself and my buddy Jacob a couple of years ago, I would’ve gotten in a couple of years sooner because it’s about the experiences you have but also the industry knowledge and the ins and outs of what they do. What do reps and managers do? How to have those conversations?
To be honest what the companies look for and what a good territory manager or associate would do, I didn’t know any of that. I couldn’t even get in contact with these people because I didn’t know networking like that was such a big deal until now. Your program and the programs like yours are very valuable because they’re going to teach you and show you those different ways of communication and research, to build your why, and why you want to be there.
When someone approaches you to ask about getting into the industry, give us some of the big noes or the big don’t lose that people can learn from.
For those reading, if you’re going to reach out to me, Jacob, Sam, or others out there, look at their profile and what they do. Look at the company they work for and go to the company website to see what it is that they do because if you sit there and I get on the phone with you and you ask me, “Tell me about your day.” I can tell you seventeen different ways about my day, but get me specific questions that you want to know about what I do like, “How do you set your day up? Do you set your goals for the day?” Something very hyperlocal to what you want to know.
If you ask general questions, I can give you an answer like, “I woke up and yawned. I put my shirt on.” That’s a dumb question. I’m going to use a quick example. Someone messages me and I get on the phone with them, and I’m like, “I’m driving. Give me a call. Here’s my number.” I like to talk when I drive. That’s it. I don’t like talking when I’m sitting at my desk. I like to be doing something. Call me when I driving because I usually have 30-minute drives all the time. They didn’t even know what a heart monitor was. They didn’t even know what the company was, but they said they wanted to learn more about the company without even googling the company.
Do some research beforehand. I am not Google. You can get a lot done in five minutes of looking up a company and seeing what their mission statement is and what they produce. Get a good background of what that person that you’re talking to does because it’s going to be a wasted conversation of very generic answers. If you ask a specific question, you get specific answers and have a reason to talk to them.
Hopefully, people are taking notes. Let’s go back to the sales rep. One thing that’s impressive about you is again, you enterprise yourself. You have a lot of things that you’re doing that speak volumes on the person you are and how you show up in every single facet of your life. As sales rep that wants to enterprise themselves, maybe they want to be a brand leader like you were, what are some habits that they should take on that will allow them to do that? I’d like to believe that you’ve simplified so many things in your life that allow you to put your hand into different pots and explore. Give us the details. How do you make everything work?
Time management is big. I have an eight-month-old son who was born in December 2021.
Thank you. For those of you moms and dads out there, it’s hard to balance everything and find the happy medium of your career and the extra stuff you do on the side. Maybe you have a side business or whatever it is, you have to time manage and set end times. Your workday ends at 5:00. I don’t take personal calls at 6:00. Times aside for certain things.
My wife and I have a schedule where I go to the gym in the morning, she goes to the gym during my baby’s bedtime from 7:00 to whatever. She leaves the house and does her thing, but time-manage so you can set goals and get things done in those timeframes. With med device, depending on what you get into, your work-life balance could be way different in every product facet. If you want to do those things, enterprise yourself, and branch out to do many different things, own a business, do things of that nature, and even in your career is crucial.
You have an eight-month-old son, you’re married, and a busy guy. Talk to us a little bit about what refuels you. How do you keep your energy going? How do you stay after it and high functioning in all responsibilities that you have?
Other than highly caffeinated drinks, my family is my motivation. I do everything for my wife and son. They’re at the forefront of everything. When I’m getting tired throughout the day, I think of what I got to get done to be successful for them. That’s mainly it but do other things in your life. Depending on the medical device you want to get into, you should branch out and have a side business or hobby and passion that you should do as well like personal training. I don’t care what it is but get your mind away from your career so you can focus on something else and then come back to it in the morning on the weekends.
You have multiple things going on that you don’t get burnt out by your career because it will burn you out. In medical device, 6 to 24 months is the time people are like, “I can’t do this.” Have other things you’re doing throughout your week that separate your time from your career that are extra and stuff that will refuel you. That’s what I recommend.Get your mind away from your career so you can focus on something else and then come back to it in the morning. Click To Tweet
I love that you mentioned that because I talked to a lot of device reps and burnout is consistent, but what I’ve noticed, especially with new reps because we’re helping people get into positions. I talk to them a year later and they’re like, “Sam, I had no idea I’d be this busy.” For reps and device reps reading this, what are some of the tell signs to watch out for and get in front of if you’re starting to feel that?
Be upfront and honest with your manager about what you’re doing throughout your day. Talk to your superiors about some tips and tricks. Talk to other reps in the med device world in your division because everyone goes through it. It’s how you circumvent getting burnt out. I’m burnt out at the end of every day but in terms of, “I don’t want to do this anymore,” type of feeling. The reason why you want to be with a company in a certain product line is you have to like it and get behind it or you’re going to get burnt out because it’s monotonous for you and it’s going to like, “I don’t care about what I’m doing,” you have to care.
Talk to your superiors and let them know you’re going through these things because they’ve been doing it a lot longer than you have that can help you with more tips and tricks. They’ll be like, “Try to structure your day this way. Do talk to your doctors this way.” A lot of managers, especially good ones, will be receptive and love that you’re honest with them like, “I need some coaching on this.” That’s my recommendation.
I can go to my manager anytime and talk to her about what I’m going through. I had a meeting with her about a big account that we’re talking about. She’s like, “You seem frustrated.” I’m like, “There’s a lot of cooks in the kitchen and I’m getting so many different avenues on what’s going on. How can we narrow this down?” I told her that straight face-to-face. We then had a great plan and talk.
Is there any other message you want to give to the readers?
Have your purpose on why you want to get into it. All of you out there, there’s good money in med device. I’m not going to lie. There’s good money being a car salesman too. Have a reason why you want to be in med device. One is going to say, “I want to help people.” You do help people to an extent, but at the end of the day, numbers matter.
Numbers are what is going to keep your job, get you paid, increase your commission, and things of that nature. Have a reason why you want to be there other than money and other than helping people. Is it the thrill of it? Whatever it may be, find it and live by it because if you don’t, that burnout will come sooner than later.
Sage advice. Thank you for that, Alex. Before we wrap up, I want to have a little bit of fun with you and I’m going to ask you about four questions. You’re going to give me the first answers that come to mind. You’re going to have less than ten seconds to get them out. Are you ready?
What’s the best book you’ve read in the last six months?
Becoming A Dad guide part 1.
Who wrote that?
It’s comedic. It’s funny and good.
Any useful tips at all in it?
Don’t drop the baby.
I didn’t know that was a thing. What’s the best movie you’ve watched in the last six months?
It’s not a movie. It’s Stranger Things, the fourth season. I’m a huge fan.
I’m a huge fan too. I cannot stop watching that show. It wasn’t the movie, but I’m going to let it slide. What’s the best meal you’ve had in the last six months?
I’m not going to lie. It’s my wife’s Bolognese from her grandmother. It’s amazing.
I’m going to give you that. You’re the third person that’s mentioned a significant other, but you at least identified an actual meal. Lastly, what’s the best experience in the last six months?
Other than watching my son grow up right now, being eight months old, I’m going to have to say learning every day with this new company. It’s learning and talking to a cardiologist, but learning, in general, is my best-encompassing experience.
Again, a sage tool for people to take from because that’s key. When you have a position that you love, it’s key to always be consistently learning. You’ll always be on the cutting edge of it. Alex, it was awesome spending time with you. We’re going to be watching you with your current company, doing your thing, and continue to enterprise yourself. We can’t wait for more content on the LinkedIn platform. Thank you for your time.
Thank you so much, Sam.
I enjoyed that episode. He gave us so much insight into what his career is in cardiovascular electrophysiology, how people should approach medical sales reps that want to get into the industry, and of course, how to powerfully avoid medical device sales burnout. That can be applied to any medical sales field because burnout is real and it exists. If you’re not watching it and not being honest with your leadership, it can happen to you.
As always, we do our best to bring you innovative guests. You might be reading this and might be thinking to yourself, “I would love to take my hand at cardiovascular electrophysiology,” or another type of med tech sales. Maybe med-tech sales is your calling and you can see yourself in a role like what he described. It’s time to take action on those thoughts. Take action on those dreams and let’s make something happen. Visit EvolveYourSuccess.com and select Attain Medical Sales Role. Submit an application and let’s have a conversation and see if we can get you into a role that leads you into a career like what you read.
If you’re out there in the field, maybe reading this on your way to your next account and you’re wanting to improve your numbers, be in that 5% or maybe the top 10% in your company, get to Winner Circle or President’s Club, and finally want to make that happen then visit EvolveYourSuccess.com, select Improved Sales Performance, and submit an application. Let’s have a conversation. As always, we do our best to bring you guests that give you insight. Make sure you stay tuned for another episode of the show.
Born and Raised in Scranton Pennsylvania
College: Misericordia University
Bachelors in Business/Marketing
Bachelors in Biochemistry
Early 20’s acted and modeled in NYC, credited roles in John Wick, NBC Black List, Planet Fitness commercials. Came from the Nutraceutical world being a director of corporate accounts at GAT Sport for 7 years before moving into Med Device at Medtronic. Being there for 3 years I transitioned into iRhythm in the Cardiac space where I currently am.
Also I own my own line of supplements called Performance Supplements www.PerformanceSupp.com.
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