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Deep Career Insights And A Side Of Orthopedics With Eric Ford Part 1

Posted on January 11, 2023

MSP S4 | Career Insights


If you’re looking to get into a career in medical sales, this is the episode for you. Join Samuel Adeyinka on the first part of a series of interviews with Eric Ford as they share deep career insights. Eric narrates his journey going up the ladder in the industry with valuable lessons along the way. He even explains why certain specialties, such as orthopedics and trauma, are lucrative in the field and which areas you might want to look into. Eric details his career journey as a black individual making his way up the ranks and how the tragedy of George Floyd’s death opened up discussions that paved the way for more diversity and inclusion in these higher rank positions. Eric and Samuel also talk about the role of leaders and more valuable insights into building a career and managing a team. Don’t miss the gold nuggets from this episode by tuning in.

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Deep Career Insights And A Side Of Orthopedics With Eric Ford

In this episode, we have with us a very special guest, and he goes by the name of Eric Ford, but Eric is a very unique case, and I’m going to tell you why. Eric is an Area Vice President for DePuy Synthes, but what makes his case unique is that he is the first Black Area Vice President in DePuy Synthes’ history. That’s not only a big deal in the medical sales space. That’s a big deal in the corporate world. When you read his story and how he got to where he is, it’s nothing short of inspiring. He is also the youngest sales director in Johnson & Johnson’s Vision Care.

For those of you that don’t know, DePuy Synthes is a branch under Johnson & Johnson. It’s their orthopedics division, and it’s made up of four parts that I will not spill on because you are going to read about it in the interview. One of the reasons why I want to spend a little bit extra time talking about what you are going to read is that we get into a lot in this interview. Considering that he’s the first Black AVP in DePuy Synthes’ history and what a milestone that was for that company. Race relations are discussed.

Not only that, but what he experienced, the feedback he received, and everything that went into him taking on that role are also discussed. We get into orthopedics. We get into what makes an amazing sales rep. We get into all the dynamics that come with someone wanting to consider working for DePuy Synthes and what they better have prepared if they are going to try to work for a company like that, whether you are entry-level or transitioning from another company.

I’m not going to spill all the beans here. I will stop talking about that because the interview is jam-packed. What I want to say is to give yourself the opportunity to tune into this interview. Give yourself the opportunity to not be interrupted and read because it’s very insightful. We get into quite a bit. It’s not necessarily heavy, but it is layered, and we uncover a lot of layers.

This is going to be a two-part interview, and you are about to read part one. As always, we do our best to bring you innovative guests who are trailblazers, and pioneers, making things happen and doing things a little bit differently in the medical sales space. Thank you so much for reading the show, and I hope you enjoy this interview.


Eric, how are we doing?

I’m doing well. How are you?

Fantastic. No complaints. Why don’t you tell everybody who you are and what you do?

I’m Eric Ford, Area Vice President of DePuy Synthes, which is the orthopedic company at Johnson & Johnson.

A lot of our readers are trying to get into medical sales, whether it be pharma, medical device, or something in between. A lot of people don’t know the difference between Johnson & Johnson, DePuy Synthes, and all the different divisions. Why don’t you give us a little bit of background on what the different divisions are and where your role fits in?

I will start from a macro level. Johnson & Johnson is comprised of two divisions. It’s the MedTech versus medical devices, and we have the pharma division. A lot of folks do know pharma sales, pharma reps, Big Pharma, or however you want to describe it, but MedTech is a space that’s very comprehensive.

MSP S4 | Career Insights

Career Insights: MedTech is a space that’s very comprehensive.


You have companies like Orthopedics and DePuy Synthes. You have brands like Acuvue Contact Lenses that land within the Johnson & Johnson Vision Care space. You have Biotech, DePuy Synthes, Biosense Webster, Ethicon, and all these massive companies that reside under the umbrella of medical devices or MedTech. From an orthopedic standpoint, Johnson & Johnson has one of the largest orthopedic companies in the world, and that’s DePuy Synthes, where I reside.

Within DePuy Synthes, we have multiple players and four segments we like to operate within. You got trauma which is the space I reside in. You have joint recon or joint reconstruction. You also have Sports or Mitek, which is what the name of the company is, and then last but not least, you have Spine. These four players operate and navigate the space of orthopedics in the robust portfolios that exist to keep patients moving.

That’s our motto and our mission, “To keep patients moving,” because the day that a patient is on the table with a traumatologist working on them and one of my sales consultants in the OR, it’s the worst day of their life that they did not plan. There’s a weight that comes with sales consultants in my organization and the jobs we like to do to support our surgeons and patients. Once again, it’s not anything elective. It’s not planned. We take that level of understanding and responsibility to the utmost degree because we want to make sure that patients stay moving and have healthy lives after they are on that table for the given amount of time to fix their broken bones.

Let’s even put some more context into it as far as your role’s concerned because it’s important that people understand what you are doing as a leader. You are the Area VP of DePuy Synthes, the trauma division specifically. What does your day-to-day consist of? What are you normally doing? Do you even spend time in the field? What’s happening?

As a sales leader, we all know we have massive teams. Within my organization, I have nine direct reports, a massive team upwards of 120 individuals or sales consultants, sales associates, as well as overall clinical specialists that focus on the clinical aspects of our business. We also have great business partners from a structure of contracting, working with these big IDNs in hospitals and managing contracts to make sure our sales consultants have access to these great facilities to give great patient care through the rights of our surgeons.

My day-to-day looks like the macro level of managing the business effectively, like managing the P&L and managing my area budget to make sure that we are maximizing outcomes, hitting top-line sales, but also focusing on that bottom line to make sure we are staying within budget, staying profitable, and maintaining a healthy GP. What that looks like are personnel and people. You have your products and then our processes in terms of getting equipment from our manufacturing facilities and deploying them out across the entire nation as well as within my area to maximize the efficiencies that our sales consultants run with. This is a complex business. There are over 22,000 SKUs within portfolios that our sales consultants carry. Efficiency is critical.

You said something that a lot of people aren’t familiar with. You said SKU. I know what that means, but let’s clarify it for the audience.

How would you define SKU? I can drive my definition, but I want you to start there.

The different product categories that they fall into. I would say that’s the best way to describe SKU, but I want to do it justice. Tell the audience exactly what that means.

That’s exactly what it is. SKU is basically a specific product that we carry. When we are talking about over 22,000, that’s the products that our sales consultants and our teams have to know, learn, and be able to deliver to our end user or customer. It’s a tall order. When you think about other businesses, maybe they have 1 or 2 premium products that they like to drive and sell, but that’s the thing about our sales consultants.

It’s intentional in terms of how we call them sales consultants because they are literally consulting with that surgeon to make sure that the procedure, approach, equipment, and implant that is selected to focus on fixing this patient from a bone fixation perspective is appropriate. They don’t have to be the experts in all things, but they have to be the expert in that specific procedure and product to support that surgeon.

That’s a little bit of the clinical side. From my vantage point, once again, it’s on the business side of supporting my teams to mobilize them to make sure that we are hitting our overarching goals organizationally. That comes to hiring, sourcing talent, building robust teams, and securing budget as we look to invest in certain areas and growth opportunities within the scope of orthopedics, specifically trauma, extremities and foot and ankle.

If you think about my day-to-day, the email shuffle is real. We all have to deal with it and navigate the nuances within Corporate America, but it’s getting out into the field and being with my people. My boss, who is a great support, has been in the business for years. He always likes to say, “Wrap our arms around our people.” That’s critically important. In sales, a lot of folks we know are on an island. If you have that level of support through your direct manager or area vice president, we know people’s motivation is stronger, and their engagement is much greater and making sure that they know the level of support they need as well as the resources for them to do their job most effectively. That’s the role that I play now.

I also like to call myself that linchpin between the field and our internal partners. Working cross-functionally with marketing and finance to secure the proper resources for my team, but also making sure that our business is running fluidly so that the right insights from a field-based perspective get poured back into the internal partners so that we are making the right long-term strategic decisions to guide our business to continue to seal market share, be the market leader, and dominate the space that we are in.

It’s spoken with true confidence. Here’s something I want to look into. A lot of people want to work for Johnson & Johnson. They want to break into the industry. From my vantage point, I have seen that there are companies that are seeming to be more friendly to entry-level professionals to get into a business unit. Let’s talk about yours within trauma, for example. Talk to us a little bit about Johnson & Johnson’s take on inviting people from different industries to come into something like trauma at an entry-level.

There are so many entry-level positions that are available in trauma, and that’s almost part of our secret sauce. For a lot of pharma companies potentially or other tech companies, you have to have 3 to 5 years of experience, and it’s always that game of cat and mouse, “How do I get experience if I don’t have experience?”

That’s not the case here within the trauma organization, there are a lot of entry-level roles. Number one is because there’s high turnover traditionally in orthopedics, specifically trauma, because it’s an on-call business, where 24/7 that accident in the middle of the night, there’s a surgeon that is now going to the hospital to cover this case, to fix this patient, and there also is a sales consultant there to meet in the OR to make sure that patient and that surgeon’s supported.

If you think about the hours and the scope of the work, it’s hard and difficult. A skillset we are always looking for is someone that has grit, passion, and excellence at all times because you never know when the time is going to be there to be on call and to be in that OR supporting that patient and surgeon. That’s the first piece.

Entry-level positions are readily available across the nation, and it’s a business that structures from a team perspective and a team dynamic. We talked about sales sometimes being on an island and even more so when you are managing a territory by yourself. Fortunately, because of the nature of the business being on call and 24/7, we have built and constructed teams that allow our sales consultants to strike the right balance.

I like to use the word harmony because I don’t think balance can ever be realized, and that may be a falsehood. It’s the right balance that allows us to create the harmony where folks can feel like they can take time off, can take that vacation, and feel like they are doing a great job and not leaving their surgeons on the hook without dedicating and providing the best service that they can provide.

We've built and constructed teams that allow our sales consultants to strike a right balance that allows us to create the harmony where folks can feel like they can take time off. Share on X

When you think about our sales consultants and what that looks like, we have some sales associate roles that are open. That’s that entry-level position. The beauty of the business is as you grow, your pockets get fatter. What I mean by that is it’s 100% commission. That scares some people off because if you don’t kill it, you are not going to eat. I hate to be that direct or graphic, but that’s the reality that our sales consultants live with every single day.

Has it always been that way with Johnson & Johnson? Is it the associate sales rep’s 100% commission and the sales rep everyone’s 100% commission, or is that something that was newly introduced?

No. Within the DePuy Synthes trauma organization, that’s always been the case.

You are right. That can be daunting because, as the saying goes, “You eat what you kill.” You have to get out there and grind every day, and it makes sense that you are looking for someone with grit. Lay out the framework of the team because some companies have associate sales reps. Some of them don’t. Some of them have a clinical specialist, and some of them don’t. How is DePuy Synthes in the trauma division? How is it set up? What does a team consist of?

It consists of three main players. It’s very simple. You have a sales associate which is that entry-level. You have a sales consultant, which is the SC3, and then you have a team lead, which is synonymous with the SC3, but that team lead is that captain in the field managing the day-to-day potential scheduling and relationships with those great surgeons that we partner with. Those are the three levels.

Let’s walk it back now. We now understand what you do, exactly how you perform in your role, and how everyone reading right now can get involved as far as Johnson & Johnson DePuy Synthes specifically being friendly to folks with no experience whatsoever. Take us back to your history. Go back to college now. Let us know what it was your senior year. Were you thinking, “I already know that I want to be a medical device salesperson,” or something else entirely?

We are going back to college. It starts before that. I’m not sure if we are going to get there, but I will start with the mentality I had my senior year. I was blessed. Senior year, the first semester, I got my job offer from Johnson & Johnson, the same company I was with several years later. That’s unheard of. I graduated in 2008. We all know what the markets were doing in 2008. Once again, I was extremely fortunate, and my mindset was a little bit different. I have always had an entrepreneurial drive. I have sales experience. My first formal job was as a sales associate at Sears. I was in the lawn and garden department, so I had a pretty strong resume.

Leading up to my senior year, I had some great internships in Manhattan, New York, working on some of the biggest brands in the world. The last brand that I worked on was Pfizer. I was able to work in Manhattan at an ad agency working on a pharmaceutical brand five days a week, then going back to New Jersey, where I’m originally from.

My boss, at the time, being so gracious at Sears, was able to allow me to work Saturday and Sunday on the floor at Sears, still selling. In those summers, I was working seven days a week. I had the formal training from pharma on advertising perspective, and then my grassroots selling at Sears allowed me to build an exceptional resume leading up to my senior year. I didn’t even realize it at the time. When Johnson & Johnson was on campus, I shuffled my resume across the table, and the hiring manager that was on campus at Hampton looked at me and said, “You have a robust resume.”

I thought, “I got a couple of jobs on there. Let’s talk about this role.” We are held after about 45 minutes to 1 hour, sit down conversation and a formal interview. I got the invite to go down to headquarters and do a formal interview panel and a great case competition to secure my role. In October of 2007, I had a former offer from Johnson & Johnson, and it was a leadership development program.

That’s the one thing in my mind, my senior year, that I knew I could get a job. I have had jobs before, but I wanted to start a career and have development and be part of that journey. When I found the connection within Johnson & Johnson and the fact that it was a development program, I wasn’t interviewing with anyone else, and I signed my name on the dotted line.

Walk us through that quickly from that acceptance you took to where you are now. What was the career track like?

You had a sales leadership development program with Johnson & Johnson Vision Care. For those of you who don’t know Vision Care, that’s the Acuvue Contact Lenses, and they are the manufacturer of those. I started in a program that was supposed to be 18 to 24 months. Fortunately, I always like to say it was based on my skillset, but it was based on external factors outside of my control. I was pulled out of the program in six months. They said, “You know enough. We are going to give you a field-based territory.” I was blessed with a territory right in DC, and they said, “Go figure it out.” After six months, I got my own territory and rocked out.

For three years, I was a sales rep in DC. I had multiple President Club trips and President Club wins, and then I wanted to challenge myself. At the time, my fiancée and I were planning a wedding. She was like, “We are in the middle of planning this wedding. You want to advance your career. I’m supportive, but you now want to relocate back to Jacksonville for this new role. Help me make this make sense.”

We had to sit down and unpack the opportunity from a development standpoint. Once again, it wasn’t guaranteed. I was interviewing for this role, which was the national sales training role. I interviewed against folks with 10 to 15 years of experience, and I was only three years into the role. Fortunately, I was able to beat them out for this role, and at that moment, I knew I couldn’t take this for granted.

I went into that role. It was going to be a two-year rotation. I killed it. I had great success, built great relationships, launched a lot of great projects, and did a marketing rotation while I was in the management development program. Upon completing that rotation, I jumped out into the field to manage my first sales team of ten. I’m in Dallas, Texas. Relo is a theme in this journey. Once I moved to Dallas, Texas, I was married, I had my wife, we reloed, and then all the weight of the world was on my shoulders. I’m originally from New Jersey, my wife is from Virginia, and we were on an island in Texas. I’m doing well with the company and having fun, but also learning each other and learning life.

That was one of the best things to bring us closer together because we had limited distractions with our family or a strong friend network in the area, but it also allowed us to focus on our jobs and career, and it was successful. Four years later, I interviewed to be the regional business director within the same company, Johnson & Johnson Vision, and I was able to secure that promotion after being turned down once for the same role for the West Coast RBD position.

3 to 4 weeks later, I had an opportunity to re-interview for my position in the northeast, secured it, and then moved back to the DC, Maryland area where I reside and was the RBD for about four years there. Before I wanted to switch everything up, all I knew at that point was Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, and I knew within the MedTech umbrella there were other opportunities, and I came across some great leaders. They guided me to the trauma organization within DePuy Synthes. I was interviewed for the area vice president role and was able to secure it. It’s been a blessing, a great time, and something I’m proud of.

That’s quite the journey, but there’s one thing I want to highlight in that journey that is of note, and I would love to hear and take on it, and the readers would too. Are you the first Black AVP for Johnson & Johnson or just for DePuy Synthes?

DePuy Synthes.

First of all, when did you even find that out?

I found that out leading up to the interview. Some folks discouraged me from going into orthopedics because there are few Black and minority leaders and even individual contributors in this space. A lot of people told me, “That space or specialty is not kind to people that look like you. You sure you want to go over there?” I knew going in that this was different. It felt different with a weight to it, but I’m always up for a challenge. I said, “From a sales consultant perspective, you got to have a little grit.” I believe in myself and my skillset, and I’m always up for a challenge to learn new things and not be stagnant or bored. I was all about it.

You got the role, and now you’ve been in this role. A lot of people had a lot of opinions and things to share with you. What’s the reality of it? What’s the context of it? Was it all hearsay? Is there some truth to what people say? What’s your experience been like from the perspective of being the first Black AVP for DePuy Synthes?

There’s always truth in this journey and the story of folks that are underrepresented. The reality is I was the first. As I looked at my teams and my individual and direct reports, they were all White males and one White female. As I looked at my sales teams, that first 90 to 100 days in a role, you are meeting, greeting, and seeing all your teams, and it was a little bit of a culture shock. I love this, but it was a bunch of White guys.

MSP S4 | Career Insights

Career Insights: There’s always truth in this journey and the story of folks that are underrepresented.


It was fun to interact and learn their history and understand how they built this phenomenal company and the legacy that sat within Synthes, but at the same time, I was thinking about a great opportunity to shape and what the new face of this organization look like, building on the legacy that’s been there, promoting the people that have been in this role for a while, encouraging them to do more, but then also encouraging them to open up the doors for opportunities of others.

That’s what I saw in those first opportunities. What I was pleasantly met with was not resistance. It was an openness and a willingness to join the journey, build this journey, and leverage some of the skills I was able to develop and showcase in my prior positions and prior roles here at the DePuy Synthes. All the ambition in the world stops if you don’t have a supportive leader. What I can say is I have always had a supportive leader, and even more so in the shoes that I’m sitting in now and the space that I occupy, because my VP Ken Carpenter has been phenomenal in terms of encouraging, creating space and opportunity for us to push the diversity equity inclusion agenda forward and supplying and supporting us with resources to do that.

All the ambition in the world stops if you don't have a supportive leader. Share on X

You stepped into this role right around the time of the murder of George Floyd. There was a cultural shift, at least in America. There was a huge cultural shift in Corporate America when that happened. How did that affect you, and then how did that affect you going into this role?

It affected me in the sense that I was observing a lot during that time. Being a Black man in America, we feel it, we sense it, and we sense it before George Floyd. Folks that were potentially oblivious or unaware, that’s what woke them up when they saw those actions happen to George and that murder happened. As I was observing their response, that gave me confidence and motivation to meet their openness and willingness to want to do something with actionable items that they can partake in. In my organization, we created a couple of initiatives to create a network and a surround sound to capitalize on this awakening that was happening to create more inclusive environments for folks that were traditionally marginalized.

The women’s leadership initiatives that we had sparked and took up a life of its own. Some of our African Ancestry Leadership Council initiatives sparked up a lot of great dialogue and conversations. We were taking it down to the level of, “Now, what do we do? How about those lunches that we are catering to? Can we find some Black businesses to support restaurant standpoint instead of going a Subway or Chick-fil-A?”

There were tangible things that we wanted to put in place, and then going to HBCUs, building out diverse networks so that we are building a bench and a pipeline so that when that next position opens up, we have the relationships and the connections to source from more diverse pools versus going to our friends or our buddies, or the same talent pools that we have traditionally gone to that yield the same potential majority results.

Those are the things that I was excited about because that willingness led to some immediate progress in the short term and progress that we have to continue to pour fuel on because we know it doesn’t stop with hiring. Where the rubber meets the road is creating that inclusive environment so that high-performing and underrepresented people stay, feel like they have value, have a voice, and can thrive in these environments.

MSP S4 | Career Insights

Career Insights: That willingness led to some immediate progress that we have to continue to pour fuel on, because we know it doesn’t stop with just hiring.


When people within DePuy Synthes saw your ascent to this position, I’m sure other underrepresented groups were inspired to take some initiative to go for these leadership positions. Would you agree with that?

I would completely agree. It was interesting because I got one of the warmest welcomes from the folks at DePuy Synthes. I also got calls and emails from people I didn’t know saying, “You don’t know how big of a deal this is. I have been with this company for 30 years.” I’m like, “I’m doing me.” I’m trying to get other stuff and doing my thing, and they are like, “No.”

I had some older Black women sit down and call me and say, “I need you to understand how big of a deal this is and what this means not only for the folks that have been here for years but the folks that are not going to come up behind you.” I wanted to sit in that for a moment and realize this was a big deal. It should be celebrated, but at the same time, because it’s my nature, let’s get to work. This is the weight that we carry. Let’s not make them feel as though this was a mistake or was a diversity “higher” or anything like that.

I don’t carry that pressure because I know I was prepared, had experience, and had the skillset to thrive in any environment, specifically the one I chose to step into. I never felt like that was going to be a limiting factor, but I also wanted to make sure that the door was going to stay open for those coming behind me. I was pleased within the first year, it’s not an AVP role, but an area director, so one level below me. We have a Black man that resides within that role and a female that also resides in that role as well. There’s never been a female AVP in the trauma organization, to my understanding, and we are working towards that too.

There’s been a lot of milestones in a short amount of time, and we are accelerated to your earlier point around the happenings of George Floyd and that murder. Once again, capitalizing on not the murder but the awareness and attention it drove is the greatest outcome that anyone could ask for with the worst circumstances that happened. With that, where we live now, I talk to sales consultants and individual contributors who are joining the organization who have been here, and they feel that shift is happening. They feel more supported not only by Black sales leaders but by White men, White women, or by women in general around the culture that’s evolving, not only within DePuy Synthes but within Johnson & Johnson as well.

You said it earlier. It all translates into things that can be done that are actionable, and that awareness has turned into action. Not just awareness, for awareness’s sake, but things that can happen that people can see and say, “This is the direction we should continue to go in.” That is beautiful. I love it. Let’s shift gears a little bit. We talked about the sales rep that trauma demands, but I want to talk about the sales rep that DePuy Synthes demands.

This is for all professionals who want to get into med sales and for professionals in different medical sales industries who have thought about being in a role like trauma, spine, or 1 of the 4 that DePuy Synthes has to offer. Maybe give us three qualities outside of grit because the grit is automatic. Give us three qualities that you would say anyone considering working for you or with you needs to have.

The first is intellectual curiosity. You have to be open to new ideas, new ways of working, innovative thoughts, and innovative processes. That intellectual curiosity translates into being curious when you are in front of a customer. Not always having to be the expert, but asking intelligent questions. That’s one thing I was reading and listening to a couple of psychology podcasts. They were talking about how all this automation, smart learning, machine learning, and AI is great, but one thing that Google and Siri can’t do is ask intelligent questions.

There’s a level of intellect that comes with asking intelligent questions. That’s what great sales consultants and reps can do. As they are on that learning and onboarding journey, someone who’s intellectually curious, who’s not going to take the book learning and say, “A plus B equals C,” how do we even get A, and why is A there? Why is A not after B? Asking those questions so that they truly understand what they are learning or ingesting so that when they can now show up and deliver whatever they need to deliver, it’s going to come from a sense of knowing versus being told this is what it is. That’s the first, intellectual curiosity.

The second is a willingness to wanted to invest in their own development. A lot of times, you have people that want to do a job, and they don’t care if they grow or expand. The reality is we want to have a compensation structure and incentive that incentivizes growth. Not only growth from a perspective of managing and growing your territory but growing yourself as an individual and what your impact is within any organization or team you are a part of.

If you know everything great, but the folks around you are struggling, how are you growing to be a better teacher? How are you growing to be a better coach? How are you growing to be a better learner? Someone willing to grow and focus on their development is also critically important. The last person or the last skillset needs Purpose and Passion. I call it the two Ps.

If they are purposeful and passionate about what they do, I don’t think they will work a day in their life. The beauty of working within DePuy Synthes and our model of keeping patients moving is that they can align their passion and purpose together to be profitable for themselves because it’s highly lucrative. We know that that’s a reality, but then also the purpose behind the work.

They are solving problems. They are adding value and doing it in a way that has meaning in the world. I know a lot of times people want the shiny or the sexy company, but a lot of the companies out here don’t have purposeful work. It’s either a distraction or something that’s nice to have. We are touching people’s lives in a way that not many folks can say they have, and that’s one thing that if you have that passion to do so, that’s what we are looking for.

In that same vein, we are talking about the type of person they need to consider for themselves if they are thinking about working with DePuy Synthes. You mentioned a few things that other companies do that you guys aren’t about. Talk to us about some of the things that anyone with a position now thinks about making a transition they need to watch out for.

What are some of the pitfalls? I want to get into this with you because you’ve spent time as a rep. You went through a leadership development program that placed you into all these different positions, so you get the full picture. What would you say are the biggest downfalls, particularly to sales reps, that they need to watch out for as they progress in their career? What are the ruts that you’ve seen that they need to watch out for?

The first one is people chase money. When you start chasing the money, you are going to start missing out on opportunities that are better for you from a development standpoint and better for you from a skill-based perspective and a competency standpoint. When you start chasing that dollar, that dollar is going to be fleeting, and you sometimes start making poor decisions based on that money, so that’s the first.

The second is thinking that the grass is always greener. Every company has its highs and lows. When people start jumping and hopping because, “I can’t deal with this,” and they think there’s a perfect situation out there that they are missing out on, it doesn’t exist. They are always going to be searching and looking for something that is not there, and that’s an unfortunate path to be on. The last thing is folks don’t want to do the work. It goes without saying, but people think that there’s a sense of entitlement that comes with these positions.

Let’s give an example of that. What does that look like?

My badge says Johnson & Johnson, so why are you not using our products? I came from training, and they told me we have the best, so help me understand why you wouldn’t acknowledge it. They don’t want to earn that business. They think that should be given to them. I also think they think because we have a massive company like Johnson & Johnson, multi-billions. They think they should be paid like they are a CEO, and they should have all these different benefits and perks and/or the perks of a new company that isn’t as financially secure. That sense of entitlement shows up externally and internally.

That’s an important pitfall I see some people fall into when interacting with their manager. It’s a sense of entitlement. When they talk to me as an AVP, there’s a sense of entitlement. We all should know our value and demand what we think we are worth. I’m never going to dispute that, but you demand that worth by proving it, showing it, and then being able to negotiate what you think you are worth.

If that doesn’t work out, it may be time to find a different role. To lead with that sense of entitlement and to only chase the money and not want to put into the work are the three things that I see people fail at all the time. Unfortunately, you would also have companies that prey on that mentality, promise the world in terms of finances, and say it’s not that difficult. It’s work life. It’s easy. You walk in. They know us. You can do whatever. They then feed into that ego of entitlement to say, “You’ll be the best here in a short amount of time.” When you start hearing those buzzwords and buzz terminology since trying to jump in, watch out.

You demand that worth by proving it, by showing it, and then being able to negotiate what you think you're worth. If that doesn't work out, then it may be time to find a different role. Share on X

Let’s talk about that because that’s a perfect segue. Tell me if you’ve seen this. Would you say that there’s been a surge of sales reps that are in the field right now that weren’t quite given all the training they could get and were thrown out there into the field and left to figure it out? We’ll stop there. Do you even agree with that picture? Have you seen any of that?

I have seen that. I wouldn’t say it’s based on the organizational structure because there’s compliance. You have to go through training, and you have to pass training. If you don’t pass, you can’t go and cover cases. I’m not talking about someone who passed the training, but it’s the soft skills, some of the dynamics and institutional knowledge to work within certain hospitals. If they don’t have a strong buddy, a peer coach, or a sales trainer, they will never know some of the nuances to operate and flow within their territory in the most effective manner they can.

That’s what I have seen, unfortunately, quite often, where people are left defending themselves after they check the box of completing training, and that’s an unfortunate place to be in. That’s what I was referring to earlier, that inclusive environment that we need to build out for folks who are starting and learning a whole new space that they have never been in before.

You started in 2007. I started in 2006. I remembered back in 2006. They were saying the sales rep was dead. “Several years from now, there will be no more sales reps. They are all going to be gone. It’s all going to be computerized, and it’s going to be no need for it. Doctors don’t even want to see them. It’s a dead field.” From what I have seen, there are only more sales reps in the field now. What have you seen from a leadership vantage point, and what do you think it’s going to look like several years out?

From a leadership vantage point, I remember hearing those same things. Businesses that pride themselves on exceptional service have a highly technical products, and they are always going to be in business. Those organizations and companies are continuing to grow. The businesses that are not highly specialized, it’s a little bit more of a commodity, and those markets are crowded and overflooded with options. The value and the impact of the sales reps are less, but you still need them because you got to fight for a small portion of the pie.


That was Eric Ford with part one. We go much deeper in part two, so make sure you tune in next episode for that, but I did enjoy speaking with Eric. He’s a very insightful person. You can tell that he thinks about things and considers many different perspectives before he gives his two cents on it. You might be reading this episode and thinking to yourself, “Orthopedics is where I want to be.” Trauma or Spine is where you want to be. You read this episode and thought to yourself, “I want to work for a company like that.” If DePuy Synthes is on your radar or a company like it, stop wondering about working there. Stop wishing you could work there.

I would even say that instead of sitting back and thinking, “What would it be like to work there?” What if you took action to work there? That is going to EvolveYourSuccess.com. Select Attain A Medical Sales Role, and take a look at our program called the Medical Sales Career Builder. It’s a program designed to help you get a position in a company like what you read now in 90 days.

We go through everything from every facet you need to get the position, your resume, LinkedIn, career portfolio, one-year analysis, and many other tools that we use to get you into these positions so that your best self is shining throughout the entire interview process. They see your value and why it’s such a good fit, and they want to add you to their team. Stop wondering and wishing. Take action. Select Attain A Medical Sales Role, submit an application and have a conversation with one with someone here at the Evolve Your Success team.

For those of you that are in the industry, you read this episode now, and you are thinking to yourself, “It’s about time,” maybe you want to experience something like what Eric experienced, and you want to catapult your career. Let’s take action. Visit EvolveYourSuccess.com and select Improve Sales Performance, submit an application, schedule some time, and have a conversation and let’s get you the results you’ve been looking for.

We are going to have another episode with Eric, which is part two, and that happens next episode. Make sure you come back to the next episode and read it because we go even deeper into some of the topics we touched on in part one. As always, we do our best to bring you innovative guests that are doing things a little bit differently in the medical sales space. I look forward to knowing that you will be tuning in to the next episode of the show.


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About Eric Ford

MSP S4 | Career InsightsThe youngest Sales Director in jnj Vision Care’s history & 1st Black AVP in DePuy Synthes history.
An experienced Medical Device Sales Leader, Eric has demonstrated a history of building and developing highly effective sales teams that deliver top line sales and bottom-line income. With Sales Strategy, Strategic Planning, Commercial Operations, Recruiting, and
Sales Force Design as his core skills, he has climbed the ranks of Johnson & Johnson while winning multiple president’s club awards, manager and director of the year honors all while being the youngest Regional Sales Director in his company’s history.
Eric blazed another trail in Johnson & Johnson history by being the 1st Black Area Vice President for DePuy Synthes which is Johnson & Johnson’s Orthopedics Company where he currently manages a ~$200M book of business with 110 Sales Leaders/Consultants Reporting to him. Eric graduated with honors from Hampton University’s Scripps Howard School of Journalism & Communication with a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) majoring in Advertising and minoring in Marketing within the business School. His current passions are Music through turntablism, cooking, hiking, biking, and traveling the world with his wife of ten years.


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