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Endovascular Med Device Sales With Michael Clark

Posted on September 13, 2023

Sales in the endovascular space is not just about products; it’s about saving lives one catheter at a time. In this episode, Samuel Adeyinka interviews Michael Clark, territory manager atTerumo Interventional Systems. From cath labs to catheters, they uncover the intricacies and rewards of this high-stakes industry. Michael shares his journey in the surgical division, revealing the inner workings of a cath lab, where Interventional Cardiologists navigate intricate procedures from dawn till dusk. Michael walks us through the intensity of these days, where there’s no time to pause, let alone eat lunch. Yet, amidst the chaos, he highlights the importance of building relationships with healthcare providers and executing a robust business plan. Michael also touches on the impacts of COVID-19, the significance of pre-case planning, embracing the proximity principle, and more. Join us as we explore the pulse of endovascular med device sales and uncover the heart behind the profession.

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Endovascular Med Device Sales With Michael Clark

We have with us another special guest and he goes by the name of Michael Clark. If you don’t know what the endovascular space is, you’re about to find out. If you don’t know who Michael Clark is, again, you’re about to find out. This is an episode you don’t want to miss. As always, we do our best to bring your guests who are doing things differently in the medical sales space. I do hope you enjoy this interview.

Michael, how are we doing?

I am doing fantastic. How are you?

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

I’m Michael Clark and I work in the endovascular space, essentially calling on interventional cardiologists, interventional radiologists, and vascular surgeons. We do everything essentially from access to closure and everything in between, wires, balloons, and stents. It’s a pretty big bag that our division handles. The nice thing about that is that every day is different. You get into a ton of different cases and it’s pretty fun.

When you say pretty big bag, give us a gauge. Give some context around that. How many products?

Typically, in the endovascular space, it’s not unusual to go into a cath lab. We use that as an example. You’ve got companies like Boston Scientific, CSI, and all these companies in there. They have reps that are dedicated to the cath lab. They’re selling balloons. They’re selling their stents. They’re selling their wires. We are in the cath lab, but we also are going into the interventional radiology, the lab in IR, and selling our wires, coils, and stuff like that.

It’s unusual for a company to have a rep cover so many different specialties. The company has entrusted that to their sales force, and with that comes a lot of responsibility, time management, and planning. They seem to have a pretty good track record and it’s a well-thought-of company. I’ve been with them for a few years and the sales force and the people that I’ve met are second to none. It’s pretty nice.

What does the team make up? Is it just you in charge of a territory? Do you have a clinical specialist? Do you have other different types of stuff that you work with? Give us an idea of how a team looks like.

Since I’ve been with the company, that’s evolved a little bit. There have always been typically territory managers and then there are clinicals that will support cases and whatnot because, geographically, you can’t be everywhere at once. Most of the clinicians who are the clinical specialists usually come from a lab. Many of them come from a cath lab or have IR backgrounds or whatnot. We’ve also now evolved to where we have associate sales reps who maybe are not as seasoned per se, but they come at an associate level. They’re in there, growing and learning. The plan is for those individuals to get their own territory.

For my example, I’m in Wilmington, North Carolina. My counterpart is in the Raleigh Durham area. He and I share an associate sales rep as well as a clinical. We’ve got to strategize and use the resources that we’re given to the best of our ability and try to plan accordingly and plan ahead. That’s how it’s structured now. We work as a team. We have our targets and we come together to execute the plan as almost as a group, as a regional business team is what they call it.

Let’s get a little bit deeper into that. Walk us through a day in the life. What does a day look like for you? Give us your busiest day. What are you waking up? What are you doing first? Walk us through the whole thing.

In the medical device world, you can plan as best you can and things come about and things get changed. I’ll give you a typical day. It’s probably a little different from me. My territory geographically is large. Wilmington is my hub. I pretty much go two hours every direction from Wilmington. I’m right on the coast for those who don’t know where Wilmington is or aren’t familiar with the geographic area. I go an hour and a half south to Myrtle Beach. I go inland for a couple of hours and I go up the coast for a couple of hours.

In the medical device world, you can plan as best as best you can and things come about and things get changed. Click To Tweet

I can’t be one of those reps that goes to an account on a whim, hoping to get somewhere or hoping to catch up with someone and that’s what I’m going to try to accomplish. That person’s not there or something falls apart and I’ve wasted four hours of drive time. When you’re driving 2 hours one way and 2 hours back, you can’t be successful if you’re relying on that. I try to plan as best as possible.

A busy day would be getting up. Using that cath lab as an example, most cath labs start at about 8:00 in the morning. I’m going to get up and get in there well before they start if I’ve scheduled a day in the cath lab. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with cath labs or whatnot, but the cath labs are pretty busy. There are multiple interventional cardiologists that are in there on a daily basis and they’re going to have multiple cases.

Those rooms are going to be going pretty much from 8:00 in the morning until, depending on add-ons or whatnot, 4:00 or 5:00 in the evening. On a busy day, there’s no break time. There’s not even a break to eat lunch. It’s pretty much like you’re working straight through. It’s a tiring day, but those are great days because you feel like you’ve gotten to have good one-on-one time with that interventional cardiologist.

There are usually targets in that account that you’re trying to work with and execute your business plan. That’s what a big day would entail. Sometimes, we get called to support certain cases like a big Embo case. With that comes a lot of pre-case planning. You often get with the doctor ahead of time. You see images. You get an idea of what we’re trying to treat.

I’ve only been with the company for a few years. There are people who have been with this company for a lot longer than I am and know a lot more than I do. I’ll reach out in that pre-planning stage and try to get to where I’m as prepared as possible so that should something arise in the case unexpected, I’m there and I can provide that support for the doctor.

The most important thing is the welfare of the patient. That patient gets the best treatment and that’s the goal for every day and every procedure. Those are the different kinds of days. You’ve got some big cases that are pre-planned and then a day in the cath lab, you don’t have pre-planning because they’re going in there oftentimes to see what’s wrong with the patient. They don’t know what’s wrong sometimes until they go in there and do a diagnostic cath and then they realize that certain arteries are blocked. They execute, go ahead, and treat it.

In those situations, you are the one on the floor. Are your competitors also among them?

Every lab is different. Some labs have a calendar, for instance, and sign-up. If I’m coming in on this particular day, unless there’s an absolute need for another rep to be in there, for whatever reason that they’re using some of their equipment, then they need them in there for support, then yes, you’re going to run into other reps. There are some labs that aren’t as structured or don’t require that. For those types of labs, it’s not unusual to run into your competitors all the time.

If anything, for a while, because of COVID, no one was allowed in labs for a long time. As that subsided, a lot of the managers, at least in my area and my territory, got to the point where they saw the value a little bit in trying to minimize the amount of drop-ins. You want to be respectful of what they’re trying to do for the healthcare providers and you want to support them. The reps that get that and work with the managers and whatnot are the ones that have the most success.

When does the day end and when do you bring the work home? What happens?

In sales, you’re never not on call. There are some sales reps jobs out there that you are on call and they can call you at 2:00 in the morning and you’ve got to answer the bell. Technically, if I got a call that said, “We got an Embo case that came in or that’s coming in that’s emergent,” that would be an instance. That happens rarely. When my day is done, it can be at 5:00, 6:00, and then, sometimes, it’s earlier than that as well. Other than work and busy work-type stuff on the computer, answering emails, and whatnot, you have to have a work-life balance. You try to do the best you can.

Let’s dial it back a little bit. You’ve been with the company for a few years, but you came from Stryker.

I got into the medical device industry with Stryker. That was about 2010. I worked for Stryker Surgical for about eight years. Great company, great time with Stryker. At the time, I lived in the northeastern part of Indiana. My territory was Southern Michigan and Northeastern Indiana. Most of my family had relocated down to Wilmington, North Carolina.

In the back of my wife and I’s mind, we wanted to get down to North Carolina at some point. My son graduated high school in 2018 and went to college at Elon University in North Carolina. He wanted to go to school somewhere in North Carolina. We had that in the back of our minds, “We need to start looking to get down to North Carolina.” About in 2017, I started putting feelers out. I tried to stay with Stryker within the surgical division. I was hoping that something would open up down there and nothing did.

I cast a wider net. What brought me to North Carolina was Hologic. I got an opportunity to come work for the surgical division within Hologic. A lot of ex-Stryker folk had gone to Hologic, their leadership, and whatnot. I thought it would be a great fit. Hologic is a great company to work for, and I worked for them for about two years. While working for them, the opportunity came and when that opportunity came my way, for me, it was too good to pass up on. Hologic got me down to North Carolina and it was a great experience, but the job I have now is what I’m excited about. I am happy to have it for the last few years.

When you stepped into the interventional system space, did you know enough about that space already? “This is where I want to be.” Was it a completely new world that you wanted to dive into?

It was a completely new world. It was crazy. I had a lot of things going against me, in that I got my offer to join them the exact week that COVID started. If I’m not mistaken, March of 2020 is when they said, “Here’s your offer letter.” The next week, everything shut down. Here’s someone who knows little about the endovascular space. Initially, our training dates were in May. I had March and April to get into cases, follow people, shadow people, and learn as much as I could. May comes around and they cancel in-person training.

I’m not sure how much about the endovascular space, but wires, closure devices, and these things are real tactile things. To learn how to manipulate and whatnot and to not be in person learning about this stuff was a real detriment to my learning curve. They did a great job at doing online learning and our class was the first and only class that went through the entire training.

The company has an extensive training program, but ours was entirely virtual. As part of my region, I’m one of 8 or 9 guys and girls that make up my region. I don’t think I met anyone in person in my region for two years, other than my manager and the guy that’s in Raleigh-Durham. That was it. That was tough. I was thinking about that. The two years of COVID felt weird. I was in another world because I look back at it now and I felt like that went quickly. It was nuts. yeah, no, it

It was like The Twilight Zone for all.

Before I got the job, I was talking to people who worked for the company. I said, “Realistically, what does it take? How long does it take for you to figure out where you feel comfortable in what you’re doing?” Most of the people I spoke to said, “First of all, in this space, it’s always changing and there are technologies that are always changing. You’re always learning. There are new procedures and new techniques.” They said that it would take about a year to feel comfortable in normal times. Mine was double that, probably. It took me two years because of COVID. My learning curve messed up. It was quite an adventure, for sure.

MSP 154 | Endovascular Med Device Sales

Endovascular Med Device Sales: This space is always changing. Technologies are always changing, so you’re always learning.


Let’s define a couple of things for the audience. If someone’s thinking about getting into the vascular space, why should they? Let’s start with the cath lab. Go ahead and define cath lab for the green readers who have no idea what that is.

Cath lab, you have what you call interventional cardiologists. You’ve got cardiologists who’ll sometimes do a diagnostic. Let’s say someone goes in and, for whatever reason, they’re not feeling well. They have chest pains. Their test results show elevated levels of certain things, whatever that may be. They’re going to come in for a heart cath. A heart cath is they’re going to access your arteries, they’re going to go up with a diagnostic catheter, they’re going to shoot your right and left coronaries, and they’re going to see if there’s any blockages as simple as that. They’re going to get a picture of the flow dynamics of your heart and whatnot and check those things out to make sure everything’s okay.

There are certain doctors that only do diagnostic procedures, so they’re going to do that. Let’s say that they see something. They may pass that on to an interventional cardiologist. A lot of cardiologists who are working in the cath lab do both diagnostic and interventional cardiologists, but there are some that do diagnostic. Once they do that diagnostic shot through the catheter, let’s say they see your right coronary has a blockage or the flow is being restricted.

At that point, they’re going to then switch out catheters and they’re going to go into a catheter that’s used for interventions. It’s got more body to it because they’re going to be putting balloons and stents through that catheter. You want a catheter that’s able to handle those types of things and give you support to be able to push those things through.

They’re going to go ahead and treat the patient. Usually, in these procedures, depending on access and how complicated the lesion is, and if there are multiple lesions, it can take a few hours. The majority of the time, these cases are an hour or so long. It’s not super long cases, but that’s essentially what the cath lab has. Personally, I love it. It’s a fun environment. I’ve not gone into a cath lab yet where the people haven’t been awesome. The people, the patients, are thankful. That’s part of what I like about the endovascular space.

Whether you’re doing work in the cath lab or work with peripheral arterial disease, these patients who are diabetic, these patients who have been smokers their whole life, oftentimes, have poor circulation in their legs. As a result, wounds don’t heal. You need blood to heal your wounds. I’m often in cases where we use our products to get to the lesion, cross that lesion, and once they cross it, there are atherectomy devices that’ll go ahead and almost roto-root plaque or the calcium that’s in the leg, and then they sometimes balloon and stent and whatnot.

The neat thing about endovascular space, whether it’s the cath lab or whether it’s this, you see immediate results. It’s not like other procedures. When I was with Stryker, I sold the power tools and cut the saws, drills, and whatnot for total knees and hips. I know that they’re doing great things for that patient. As a rep, you see them do the work and when the case is over, you leave that patient pretty much. You don’t see the end result, whether it was a good surgery or whatnot.

In a Peripheral Artery Disease case, PAD case, they open up that SFA artery in your thigh, and all of a sudden, you get all this flow to your lower limb. You know that that patient, whatever it is, an ulcer, something that’s not healing, that’s going to heal. The patient can sometimes feel it right away. They’re like, “It feels different.” It’s pretty satisfying to be in those types of cases and see that immediate effect.

What are maybe the top three things you would say someone should consider about themselves or check if they have if they want to jump into the endovascular space like yourself?

Is this someone who’s already in the medical device world or, in general, jumping into that space, coming from outside medical device?

Coming from outside and wanting to be an associate. What do they need to make sure they have coming to the table?

I felt like when I joined the company, I went back to college. Honestly, you have to learn a ton of things. You have to learn the arterial system. It’s never-ending. You have to have that desire, that will, to know that you’re coming into something that you’re going to have to commit to learn. Coachability is huge and important in any medical device specialty you’re trying to get into. It almost goes without saying that you need to have that competitive fire because it is a competitive business. There are a lot of great companies out there.

With any medical device specialty that you're trying to get into, coachability is huge and important. Click To Tweet

I don’t think I’m being biased, but I do feel like I’ve been fortunate to work for one that provides the best products. They’re almost never the cheapest products. There are competitors out there that that’s their niche. They provide products that are a lot cheaper and that’s how they go. That’s their tactic in selling it. Do your homework. Go with a company that’s got a great reputation and any doctor will tell you straight up.

Before I took the job, I went and knew nothing about this space. I went to some vascular surgeons and said, “Do you mind if I work with you on some of these days? Do you mind if I could come into your case?” I asked them questions about the company and nothing but great things that they had to say. That feedback helped me make my decision. Do your homework as much as you can if you’re trying to get into this space. It is a great space to go into. There’s a lot of opportunity. This space is blowing up and growing from different atherectomy devices that are used that are out there to different types of companies that are being bought up by some of the big boys out there. It’s a great space to be in.

One thing that I don’t think is talked about enough is the work-life balance of a medical sales rep. It looks different depending on the field and the nuance. Let’s speak to your field. Do you have a family? Do you have kids and a wife at home? How do you make it all work?

I had a career before medical devices, so I’m a little bit older than some. We’re empty nesters, my wife and I. That’s nice from the fact that I don’t have to come home and get my kid to a soccer game or something like that. We did all that. When I was with Stryker, that was often the case. That was tough. Now, I’ve got a little bit more freedom from that perspective.

You still want to do things. I live in a beautiful community where I love to go out and fish. I love to go on the boat. I love to do those types of things. You’ve got to do those things because the medical advice world is competitive. It’s rewarding, but you have to make sure. The one thing I’ve always told myself garners back to this. There are a lot of athletes that are in the medical device world, and one thing that benefits that mindset is you never want to get too high and you never want to get too low.

As soon as that year is over and you made that quota, you may have one day to revel in that. The next day, you’ve got a new quota. You don’t have time to rest on your laurels and your competition’s certainly not doing that. That’s the important thing. You do have to have a good work-life balance so you don’t burn yourself out, but you’re always grinding.

You do have to have a good work life balance so you don't burn yourself out but you always have to grind as well. Click To Tweet

For those who want to get into this space that is already in medical sales, and maybe they’re coming from a different field, what would you say they should think about when coming to master their space?

We’re in our cars a lot, or at least I am. My territory, as I said, was geographically pretty large. You listen to a lot of podcasts or a lot of different people. I’ve heard of Dave Ramsey. He’s a guy who talks about money and making sure that your money and your life’s in order on that aspect. One of the guys that works for him talks about the proximity principle. It’s important that if you want to be in the endovascular space, if you’re in medical, even if you’re not in the medical device world, but you want to get in the medical device world and/or you are in the medical device world and want to go endovascular space, I believe in that proximity principle.

MSP 154 | Endovascular Med Device Sales

Endovascular Med Device Sales: If you want to be in the endovascular space, even if you’re not in the medical device, you may apply the proximity principle.


LinkedIn is a great tool and there are other tools, but reach out to people, ask questions, and befriend. I have met so many people who work for other companies or who have reached out to me. I haven’t met a person who won’t get on the phone with you for 5 or 10 minutes and talk. You’d be amazed at how many connections can be made.

If you see a job that you’re interested in, try to reach out to people who are working for that company. If you can make that connection, if you can reference someone who works for that company in your resumé or when you’re talking with that recruiter or whoever’s posting for that job, it goes a long way. Get with those people. Talk to them. It shows that you have a true interest and desire to join the company or to get whatever it is that you’re trying to do. It shows a lot. I would recommend that proximity. Surround yourself with those types of people and learn as much as you can.

Before we bring this to a close, we’re going to have a little bit of a lightning round and I’m going to ask you 4 questions with 10 seconds to answer. The best is to go with what first comes to mind. Are you ready?

This is where you get in trouble. Go ahead.

First question. What is the best book you’ve read in the last few months?

Probably the Abraham Lincoln book, a biography. What I mostly read are biographies and historical. I don’t do a lot of fiction. I’m a big history buff, so a book on Lincoln.

Any pearls from it you can share?

There were a lot of pearls that I learned and garnered from it. The fact that he was able to cobble together a team around him at such a time, that was a contentious time in our country’s history, took people that didn’t agree with him and pretty much hated him, but he still brought them onto his team because he wanted to hear all different opinions.

We probably could take a lesson out of that book about what White politics are. He didn’t care. He didn’t want yes men around him. He wanted people challenging him, people who didn’t believe in the things that he believed in. He surrounded himself with people who would challenge him. That was a great lesson I learned from it. If you’re a leader, you don’t want yes men. You want people that are going to challenge you. That’s what he did. That was pretty cool.

What is the best TV show or movie you’ve seen in the last few months?

The best movie of all time, in my opinion, is The Godfather. That’s on TV all the time. I have seen that on TV in the last few months, and that’s my favorite movie of all time. I’d have to say that. As far as a TV show goes, that’s a tough one. I’m a big fan of the whole Dutton trilogy that 1883, 1923, in the middle of that, or 1923 has one more episode. I love that series. That’s probably my favorite series right now.

Best meal you’ve had in the last few months?

I’m a self-proclaimed chef in my household. I cooked something that was pretty phenomenal. I have the benefit of getting fresh seafood here in Wilmington. It was a red coconut curry sauce that I made with mahi-mahi. I based the mahi-mahi on that. I served it over rice and there was some other stuff in there. It was good.

You’re going to have to make a YouTube video. Lastly, what’s the best experience you’ve had in the last few months?

My dad celebrated his 92nd birthday. We had an awesome birthday party where he’s still very healthy and still golfing and shoots his age for nine and a half. I come from a big family and we had it at our house. I cooked a big rack of lamb for everybody that night. It was a great night. It was fun to spend time. Any second I can spend with him, I do, and that was probably the best time I’ve had in the last few months.

Michael, it was a pleasure staying with us and talking to us a little bit about the endovascular space. Keep on doing amazing things. We’ll be watching you, and thank you for being on the show.

I appreciate it. It was great meeting you. Take care.

That was Michael Clark in the endovascular space. Fascinating space. He’s been making so many career strides in such a short amount of time, including working for Stryker and Hologic. Some of you are reading this right now and you’re thinking to yourselves, “How do I mimic a career like Michael? How do I even get to be a part of what he’s been able to be a part of? Companies like Stryker or Hologic, or working yourself in the endovascular space?”

If you tune in to this show for any amount of time, you already know what I’m going to say, but I’m going to say it again. If this field, medical sales, all of it, medical device, pharmaceutical, genetic, diagnostic, interests you, if you want to be a professional and be responsible for the sale of drugs and devices or the utilization of drugs and devices by healthcare providers, then you need to visit EvolveYourSuccess.com.

Don’t think about it anymore. Don’t ponder over it. Don’t say, “One day, maybe I’ll try. Just go to the site EvolveYourSuccess.com, fill out the application, have a conversation with one of our account specialists, and learn how your career might be the next one to find that career on a show. As always, we do our best to bring you guests who are doing things differently in the medical sales space. I hope you tune in next time for another episode.


Important Links


About Michael Clark

MSP 154 | Endovascular Med Device SalesMichael Clark is a territory manager with Terumo Interventional Systems. He has been with the company since March 2020 and serves the SE coastal communities of NC and SC. Prior to joining Terumo, Michael worked for Stryker Surgical and Hologic. He has a bachelor’s degree in Business, Marketing from Indiana University – Kelley School of Business.

Prior to Medical Device, Michael also has a 9-year professional soccer career, the majority of which was with the Columbus Crew of Major League Soccer. Upon retiring from MLS, he pursued a career in the finance sector.


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