The medical sales rep’s world is a stressful one, and mistakes are bound to happen even to the best among us. In this episode, you will learn that it takes extreme ownership of everything you do – the good and the bad, the successes and the failures – for you to be really successful in the sales job that you’re in. As a medical sales rep, you need to always be on top of your game despite all the stress around you. In this conversation between Samuel Gbadebo and Bryan Martray of Medtronic, you will learn how to take that stress by the neck and use it for your own growth. Plus, if you want to know just how cool a device sales job specializing in deep brain stimulation is, then you have come to the right place.
I have a guest that I’m excited to introduce. His name is Bryan Martray and he has in my opinion, one of the coolest jobs you can have. He is in DBS, Deep Brain Stimulation. It’s implant devices right into the brain. I’m not going to talk all about what he’s going to talk about when we get to the interview, but what I want to highlight some things that he did talk about in this interview and that I want everyone reading to pay attention to. He cited some things that are important and one of those things is extreme ownership in where you are. That’s something that he has truly utilized as far as he can in every role, he’s been given the opportunity to take all the way to where he is now.
That’s also something that I think we should all take time to process, extreme ownership in where you are. Many people reading are either wanting to get into medical devices, or pharmaceutical sales, or some other type of medical sales, or want to transition within their role to a different field, or want to transition to a different industry altogether. You spend much time focusing on where you want to go and you think about, “This needs to happen. I need to do that and do this. I need to contact this person and understand this and work this strategy.” You can’t forget that there’s power in where you are and there’s power in owning exactly where you are and making sure that’s communicated to anyone that can give you the opportunity that you want to take.
That’s something Bryan addresses. He also says another thing that I want to talk about before you hear the interview about how to use stress as an ally in deep brain stimulation. It’s a high-stress environment, a lot of mental stress, and he’s found ways to use it to serve him. I think it’s appropriate, especially now we’re in these quarantine times and we’re dealing with the pandemic that we’re all still learning how to navigate all that stress that’s being caused by not knowing how to do something and being uncertain on where things are going to end up. We’ve got to think about how we can use that stress as your ally. It’s almost along the lines of that concept of getting comfortable in the discomfort.
When you can hone that and exercise that, not only do you turn whatever current problems you’re experiencing into testimonials but you also find ways to see what’s coming and put yourself out there and be bold in anything you want to go out and do. These are things that Bryan touched on. It’s great to hear it and it’s insightful. I want everyone reading to pay attention to that ownership, pay attention to when he talks about stress, and also pay attention to what he thematically mentioned with growth. He shows a theme of growth through every transition he’s experienced. I’m excited for this guest. I wanted to mention some things before the interview. Here’s the interview, I hope you enjoy it and thank you for reading.
Bryan, how are you?
I’m good. Thank you for having me.
Thank you much for being on the show. Everyone, this is Bryan Martray. He’s a Deep Brain Stimulation Sales Representative for Medtronic, and he’s coming from Tulsa, Oklahoma. Bryan, how is the day going?
It’s been crazy since everything’s ramped back up post-COVID. I’m getting caught up on some office things and some virtual training we have with the company and doing this also. It’s been a good Friday so far.
How has COVID affected your business and what’s changed that allows you to get back into the field now?
When everything’s first started going down, they canceled most of my elective surgeries. DBS is an elective surgery so any new patient implants that we had coming up were pushed off. I had some battery replacements, patients that were already implanted their batteries were getting low. We went ahead and did those, but for a month and a half there wasn’t much going on. Most of my referring neurology offices were closed, so nobody was seeing patients, but now things are opened back up and these patients are coming in and surgery schedules are getting crazy again, which is a good thing. I’m happy to see it.
Implants, brain stimulation, and neurology, you threw some words out there that everyone’s dying to know more about. Tell us what type of field you are in and a little bit about deep brain stimulation.
DBS is part of our neuromodulation division. To keep it simple, DBS is a small pacemaker-like device under the skin of the chest that sends electrical signals through leads that are implanted in certain targets of the brain that affect movement. Then we send signals to those areas of the brain to hopefully alleviate or, eliminate the symptoms that are caused by movement disorders, such as Parkinson’s, essential tremors, and so on.
Going back to when you started and even when you were a little boy, did you say that you want to grow up to be a deep brain stimulation sales rep?If you want to show value as a rep and be the best out there, you have to stay on top of your game. Click To Tweet
No. I want to be an astronaut or something cool. Even in a high school in a small town in America where I went to in high school, nobody talked about sales or being a sales rep, vice rep, or performer rep. That was nowhere on my radar.
How did you fall into it? Take us back to high school. What were you doing? When you went into college, what did you think you’d be doing and how did you get here?
I graduated high school and I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but through part of high school, and even through my first couple of years of college, I worked at an imaging clinic that my aunt managed for years. It was around the medical imaging world, radiologists, X-ray techs, MRI tech, CT techs, etc. so I knew that business. The thing at a high school was to get a job after college and make good money. I pursued the path of least resistance and went to college to be an X-ray technologist to work in medical imaging. I did that and got out of school in 2008. Up until 2015, I worked as an MRI tech at a small outpatient radiology clinic in Tulsa.
From the MRI clinic, how did you bridge that gap into medical devices?
In 2015, I was feeling like I don’t want to do this for the rest of my life. Some people do are doing fine. They find fulfillment in it but it wasn’t challenging me. I talked to my manager there and we talked about some things that I could pursue in that company and they offered me a job in Denver to take over a new imaging clinic that was opening there. I flew up and talked to them and I wasn’t feeling it. It wasn’t my thing. Denver wasn’t my scene. I didn’t want to raise my family there. I came back and shortly after that, there was a Medtronic neuromodulation rep on the spinal pain side that came to the clinic to talk about the MRI conditionality of their devices. Afterwards, I chatted with her and talked a little bit about Medtronic and how she got into the business and she pointed me some directions. I applied and put her name as a reference on one of our clinical specialist positions. One thing led to another, I got an interview that I thought went terrible and I got a second interview. I got some in-person interviews and there I was in Medtronic.
Not too many people can say the interview did not go well but it actually did and they just got the position on the first try. That’s impressive. That’s an amazing stroke of luck to get you that opportunity. You became a clinical specialist and then what happened after that?
I was a clinical specialist in our Neurosurgery Navigation division. Anything involved with brain surgery or spine surgery, I was running those cases for the reps, training the surgeons, or the staff on the technology. I wasn’t involved with DBS at that point. I did that for a year or so. We had some employee changes in our team that created a vacuum in our DBS team and they sent me to training. At that point, I fell in love with the technology and saw what it was about and helped the patients. I was able to meet some patients and fell in love with them. I knew that’s the direction I wanted to go.
I did that for a while. I was a clinical specialist in our DBS world. I was out at training or maybe I was helping cover a case out of state but I was talking to a guy and asked him how do I transition from a clinical specialist to a sales rep role. I don’t think he meant it this way, but he laughed and said, “That’s not why you were hired, you were hired as a clinical specialist. We don’t do that at Medtronic.” I think that was more of his personal opinion.
I see now that that’s not the vision of Medtronic, but I took it a personal challenge and I decided then that I am going to be a salesman at Medtronic. At that point, I tried to position myself any way I could and work as hard as I could with my customers, my internal customers, and colleagues and position myself for the job, and one thing led to another. I was then given the associate sales rep role. I was awarded this full-time sales rep role for DBS.
How would you compare where you are now as a sales rep being on the other side to where you were as a lead clinical specialist?
I think, as a clinical specialist, you develop this attitude that you know what it’s like on the other side. You’re essentially doing the job to a point but once you transition over and you have that number over your head and you have to start having harder conversations with the customers, it’s a different feeling when you wake up in the morning and you have to adapt and channel that.
You mentioned some things here that I want to get into. You talked about a team. Help our audience understand what does a team consist of when it comes to DBS, Deep Brain Stimulation.
Especially the first part of the surgery, what we call stage one, which is the initial lead implants in the brain, it’s a super technical procedure. It’s not a hard procedure, but there are hundreds of steps that go into it. Each one has to go nearly perfect for the patient to have a good outcome. The first thing we want to do is identify that the patient’s a perfect candidate. That’s done by way of the neurologist and the neurosurgeon. We can then interject and talk about it with us as reps also, we’re available to help in any way we can. When we identify the patient is a good candidate, they’re sent for an MRI.
The imaging department is part of the team. The MRIs have to be done in a special way, usually under sedation because at that point, the patient’s still tremoring from their disease. We sit down with the neurosurgeon and we make a surgical plan and make a trajectory in the brain. We try to identify the best targets for this patient and then surgery day is here. The nurses, us as reps, the scrub techs, and the imaging techs, everybody’s involved to make this patient’s day go perfect and try to have a nearly perfect outcome.
It sounds like such a coordinated effort. Who’s running point on this coordination? Is it the surgeon? Is it someone else?
I think the surgeon is the running point but as a rep with your technology involved in the OR, you’re right there behind them and you’re doing everything that you can do to keep the room running smoothly even though that may not be your job, but you have a part in that. You try to stay ten steps ahead of the surgeon and anticipate things and fix problems for the app.
It sounds like a type of role that’s all engaging like you have to be present. Talk to us a little bit about this type of career. When I say career, I’m speaking specifically to DBS, it sounds like a gratifying work. Talk to us a little bit about that.
It is and that’s one of the things that drew me to the role. I think it’s one of the few jobs in the rep industry that you can see your patient get better on the table. We do the surgeries most of the time awake. We do test stimulations in the surgery and saw a patient that’s been tremoring for years who maybe hasn’t been able to feed themselves for years or have any type of quality life for years and they instantaneously get better on the table when we do the test. For anybody that’s new in the room, or even if you’ve been doing it for years, that’s an emotional experience for everybody, especially the patient. It’s something that you get to celebrate with them and they can see what the next several years of their life are going to be like.
It sounds like you have to be grounded to be able to think clearly, be ten steps ahead of the surgeon, be ready for anything and even manage the emotional component that I’m sure everyone’s feeling.
Emotional intelligence is a huge key to this role because you go from the neurology office to patient-support events. We talk to the patients at their support groups and then you go into an intense OR environment. Compartmentalizing and channeling those emotions is a big part of the job.
What other qualities can you give me maybe two more outside of emotional intelligence would you say necessary or also need to be there?
Maybe this sounds something you hear all the time with sales, but service is selling. I think there’s a real corny video floating around on the internet that says selling is service and service is selling, but I can’t overstate that, especially with your surgeon customers. I think you can be a company that has the nicest, shiniest DBS product and that’s fine, but at the end of the day, if you can’t support that, if you can’t support your patient customers, surgeon customers, and neurologist customers, and thrive in that team environment, it doesn’t matter if they’re going to go with the company that serves them the best and serves their patients the best. No customer service can never be overstated.
You mentioned support groups. When I hear that, I think something outside of working but it’s part of your work. Is this something that happens on the weekends or at night? How is that part of your regular routine?
You have Parkinson’s support groups and maybe epilepsy also, but they offer services for patients in the state around the area. A lot of times that involves educational activities about the therapies that are available to them. That’s when we go and do, and we talk to the patients about DBS when they’re the right candidate, what surgery looks like, answer any questions, and point them in the directions of maybe some providers that can help them. That can be in the morning and it can be in the afternoon. It can be in the evening and I’m on weekends too. They try to structure them around the patient’s best, what we call on time with their medication, particularly in Parkinson’s. When the patient has the best movement control throughout the day, and everybody’s different. You have support groups at different times of the week.
I know you talked about the stages when it comes to working with the team, but I still want to get a better picture of your day to day. Walk us through an average day. What time are you getting up? What are you typically going to next until you finally get home?
During surgery days, I have 2 to 3 of those a week. Those are typically early days where I’m up by 5:30 AM to make sure my bags are packed and my car is packed with the products that I need. iPads are charged up and I have time to drink my coffee before I leave. Then takes us to the hospital. We do the cases and then after that, I’m usually answering emails or following up with patients on certain days. There’re other days of the week where I’m at the neurology office and I’m doing patient programming or assisting them with the programming of the patient’s devices. We have neurology conferences, etc. that we do exhibits at. It’s a little different type of sales job where you almost do a little bit of everything throughout the week.Take extreme ownership of everything that you do. Click To Tweet
On the weekends, do you find yourself in cases a lot or not as much?
That’s one of the perks of DBS. It’s not an emergent case, it’s an elective so you work hard throughout the week and then you try to play hard on the weekends.
I can also imagine you’ve probably made some amazing relationships with surgeons.
The majority of my surgeons are not much older than I am. We’ve got to be friends and we have good relationships with them. If you can support them and show value to them, you can’t top that in a surgeon relationship.
How often do you study in general to stay on top of your game? Is it a daily practice for you? Is it when a particular case comes up? What does that look like for you?
I think before any case, I try to review some points about surgery. Each case uses a little bit of different technology depending on what account I go to. I try to brush on that before the surgery and then if I have a week that’s slow or we have a few weeks in the summertime where surgeons are off, I try to read through some of my study materials from training. Medtronic’s good about providing materials to stay on top of things. That’s one of those things I think if you want to show value as a rep and be the best out there, you for sure have to stay on top of your game.
I’ve got a tough question for you, Bryan, that I’m going to ask. I want people to understand the gravity of your role and the value that DBS gives to patients. Would you be able to give us probably one of the most impactful cases you had on what happened top line in that case that showed you the power of the field you’re working in?
This didn’t happen during a case. It was post generator placement of a patient that was a new implant. They’ve had the leads implanted and they’ve had the generator implanted and they were at the neurology office for their initial battery program. The first time they were turning the whole system on, I wasn’t there, but I knew she was having it done. I got a text message about two hours after their appointment and it was the patient texting me and she said, “If you could see my face right now, I’ve got tears running down my face. This is the first time I sent a text message in 7 or 8 years.” That’s a small thing, like a text message but you can imagine how the rest of her life was impacted.
You are doing some amazing things, Bryan. More power to you. You’ve learned many things, you talked about having emotional intelligence. You talked about understanding the concept that sales is service and service is sales. For those that are reading, that are fascinated by this type of role and they want to prepare themselves, what would you tell them to do?
Take extreme ownership in everything you’re doing right now. No matter what happens in your day-to-day where you’re at, take ownership of it, and grow from that. This role is internally stressful and mentally stressful, so you have to find a way to make stress your ally and grow from that. As you grow through the ranks, I heard the saying from a video of my teammates, it’s new levels bring new devils. Each level you go up, there’s going to be something else and you have to own that and you have to grow from that and you have to remember never stop developing yourself. It’s a competitive environment and you have to come and play hard.
When you think going further and you think about your career maybe 5, 10 years out, where do you see yourself being in regards with this role?
We talked about the relationships with some of the surgeons and the staff. Even 5 or 10 years down the road, I love this role. I can’t see not working with those people in 5 or 10 years but fortunately, Medtronic is a great company to be at. Some would consider it a destination company. It’s an avenue you want to pursue and the company will work with you. Your DM will work with you and they’ll get you there but right now, I still have a lot to learn. That’s where I see myself several years down the road.
If you could go back to right before you started even being a clinical specialist, what would you tell yourself knowing everything you know now? What advice would you give yourself right before you started that position?
I think my background was a little atypical coming into the role and I would limit myself in my thinking and tell myself that I didn’t have the experience for this or, the know-how to do some of these sales tasks. Every job you’ve had, you take away some experience and goal building opportunities from that. Set lofty goals, think big, and find the discipline to accomplish those goals. There’s no magic pill and hack. You’ve got to work hard and take ownership and make it happen.
I normally ask what would be the piece of advice for the audience but I think you gave it. Thank you so much for that. Anything else you want to share with us, Bryan?
I had the atypical coming into this role. If anybody wants to reach out to me, you can put my contact information in the show notes. I’m happy to talk to anybody anytime about my role, what I do, or other opportunities within Medtronic.
Thank you so much for your time, Bryan. I can’t wait to hear more about how your career progresses.
I appreciate it. Thank you.
The story of being able to hear from a patient that’s texting for the first time after 7 or 8 years. Put your mind around that. To see the result of the work you put in at such a level is awesome. I’m glad that Bryan was able to share with us and give us a taste of what it’s like in the DBS division. Here’s what I want to talk about before everyone goes on about their day as you’re reading, I mentioned it before you read the interview, really assess where you are right now.
It doesn’t matter what it looks like. It doesn’t matter if times are hard, stressed, scary, troublesome, quiet, energetic, fun, wherever you are, whatever you’re dealing with, whatever you’re dealing in, own it. Know that it is going to serve you because you’re going to make it serve you. You have the power to make your current situation serve you completely. That’s the level of taking extreme ownership and that means owning your mistakes, the ones that you deliberately made, the mistakes that you accidentally made, whatever you did, whatever you’re doing, whatever you’ve experienced, it’s all part of your journey.
The sooner you can own it and take that into your storyline, the more you’re going to continue to serve yourself and the more power you’re going to have behind it regardless of what it was. I challenge all the audiences out there to dwell on that and take extreme ownership. Another thing I mentioned at the top of this episode, stress. There’s so much of it right now. You can see it everywhere from the people you talk to, to the bouts of road rage, to the news you turn on, to cafeteria conversations that you might even be able to catch on a Zoom call.
It’s everywhere. People are stressed out because loved ones have been lost. Jobs have been compromised. Money has been reduced. The patience of the average person has been shortened. We do have to find still a way to continue. We have to find a way to conquer this entire scenario and still go out and make our dreams happen. We can’t stop dreaming. We can’t slow down. We have to find a way to stay empowered and we can do that when you make stress the ally, when you say, “This is happening. This is what’s going on right now. This is what’s stressing me out but there is something here that I can grow from. There is something here that I can utilize and put into action. It’s going to serve me and wherever I’m trying to go, this goal that I’m trying to reach, I can attain it and I will.”
This can be applied to anything you’re dealing with and this especially can be applied to getting into the medical sales industry in this environment. This can be applied to promoting into a different field in this environment. This can be applied from getting promotion from an ASR to a sales rep or from primary care to specialty, whatever you’re trying to do, whatever you’re trying to create from yourself, there’s an opportunity to take extreme ownership of where you are. Use that stress that it’s caused. Learn what can you can get from it, grow from it, and then go and make things happen. I always appreciate everyone reading.
I always do my best to bring you guests that can give us insight into how we can do what we want to do professionally, and even apply some of it to do what we want to do personally. For all of you that want to get into medical device sales, pharmaceutical sales, genetic testing or diagnostic testing, please check out the site, EvolveYourSuccess.com, follow the prompts. It’s simple. Check out the site and take the assessment. The assessment will give you some insight into where you are as you work your process.
For those of you that are interested in improving their sales skills and trying to take where they are to a different level, check out the sales builder page on EvolveYourSuccess.com. Thank you again for reading and I look forward to hearing from all of you on the podcast page. You can go to the podcast page and make a recording and talk about anything you’d like to hear on some upcoming episodes. We will put it in and even sample your voice if you leave us a recording. Have an amazing week and stay tuned for some more amazing content on the Medical Sales Podcast.
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