There is no one way when it comes to medical sales. It is ripe with opportunities along with a variety of paths. One of those is sports medicine. How do you break into this field as a medical sales representative and succeed? As we celebrate International Men’s Day, Samuel Adeyinka interviews Jordan Rawlins about the world of orthopedics, namely sports medicine. What are you selling? What are the different roles in sports medicine medical sales and what do you need to prepare to ensure success in this space? What are the pitfalls to avoid? Jordan answers these questions and more. Plus, he takes us into his journey into medical device sales, the opportunities he found, and why he fell in love with the field. Whether you are still figuring out if this is the path for you or already on your way, this episode with Jordan is full of wisdom that will have you not only navigate sports medicine medical sales but also thrive!
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What Is Sports Medicine Medical Sales With Jordan Rawlins
In this episode, we have with us another special guest. He goes by the name of Jordan Rawlins. I’m excited because in this interview, you’re going to hear Jordan break down his field in orthopedics, namely sports medicine. We talked to a lot of people that are looking to get into the industry and transition from different roles who are looking for their place. Sports medicine comes up often and it’s nice to have a guest who is going to shed some light on what that means.
One thing I do want to mention now is the fact that it’s International Men’s Day. I’m willing to gamble that a lion share of you out there reading have never heard of International Men’s Day. Yes, there is an International Men’s Day. It’s global awareness day for the many issues that men face. It revolves around six pillars and I’m going to go ahead and share them with you. To promote positive male role models, to celebrate men’s positive contributions to society, community, family, marriage, childcare, and the environment.
To focus on men’s health and well-being, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual. To highlight discrimination against men in the areas of social services, social attitudes, expectations, and law. To improve gender relations and promote gender equality. To create a safer and better world where people can be safe and grow to reach their full potential. I just learned about this and I love the fact there’s an International Men’s Day. It’s something I’m absolutely going to celebrate, and I encourage you to do the same.
In the spirit of International Men’s Day, look to your fellow man in all of your circles and give a few words of encouragement. Maybe they’re working on a project or they are doing something nice. Maybe there’s nothing going on at all, but I would like you to give them a few words of encouragement. As always, we do our best to bring your guests that are doing things differently in the medical sales space. I do hope you enjoyed this episode and truly enjoy this interview.
Jordan, how are you doing?
I’m good. How are you, Samuel?
No complaints. I’m doing fantastic. Why don’t you tell everyone who you are and what you do?
My name is Jordan Rawlins. I work for an orthopedics company. What I do is I’m in charge of talent for our teams, structure, and stability to go out and get our goals. Also, to drive revenue and growth for the orthopedic portfolio for the division that I worked in.
There is a lot going on in orthopedics. It’s going to do our readers a solid if you explain specifically what you do in orthopedics and maybe speak more to your direct reports. What are they selling? Who are they calling on? What’s going on?
Orthopedics is a very broad spectrum of product and call points. Ours specifically lives predominantly in sports med. Our orthopedic division is divided into four main sectors. We have the sports med procedure-specific products that are implants and instrumentation used in shoulders and knee applications. Usually, those products are surgeon-preferred and surgeon-specific. We also have the sports med tissue and biologics that correlate to those same procedures.
We are partnered with a company with phenomenal top-of-the-line tissue product. We also have powered instrumentation. The drills that are used in these cases, those funnel over into large joints or total joint space, which is a capital selling product. We have disposable blades that go with those drills being used. We also have arthroscopic capital. It’s the visualization systems that are used in arthroscopic procedures.
To put it into a 30,000-foot view term for people that are in these cases, in arthroscopic procedures, you need a screen for the docs to see those cases and the access windows that they’re going into. We sell the video technology for that and then the instrumentation is correlated to those arthroscopic procedures.
Those are the four main buckets that we play in. It’s unique in a sense that I’ve never been a part of a company that has such a broad portfolio of product. There are so many products for reps to chase in and out of their accounts and within their surgeon contacts, which can be a catch-22. It’s a lot of opportunity, but it takes a lot of planning and defined approaches to go out there and make an impact. You can get caught in that space where you’re good at a lot of stuff but you’re not great at anything. Condensing the focus and knowing your packets of your region and where your opportunity is how people succeed in our division.It takes a lot of planning and defined approaches to go out there and make an impact. Click To Tweet
Tell us what the team makeup looks like.
I have eight full line reps. Each team is an umbrella where they’ll have a regional manager like myself and you’ll have reps that carry the full bag. Underneath each rep, there may be a few territory associates. Some of these sports med cases take so much time and energy. They take a lot of dependence of having somebody in and servicing those cases. That’s where it makes sense to drop in TAs in certain territories. We also have something that we implemented over the last few months called a capital specialist. That’s to go out and sell our power instruments. That part of our business is growing so fast. There’s so much opportunity there. The hard part of all that is sports med takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of energy.
These capital conversions that you’re going in and you’re trying to convert, having somebody that’s specifically dialed in that segment of the business helps tremendously. You’ll see some packets where it makes sense to have a capital specialist as well. My team in specific covers that Tri-state region around Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and predominantly outside Philadelphia where we have eight full-line reps and two TAs. We also have a capital specialist.
Give us the 30,000-foot view. What is the role of one of your direct reports, like a full-line rep, and how does that role compare to the role of the TA?
It’s probably answered differently dependent on the leader. How we want that to look and where it’s at might be two different things now. For the most part, what a full-line rep looks like is you’re running your own franchise. I like to use that term here because it’s a very independent role. You’re doing your own contracts. You’re working through your pricing. You’re mastering all of your accounts and what they use.
You are looking at penetration reports to see opportunity on where we do have product and where we can get product into. Also, managing those relationships all over the board from the scrub techs in the ORs, the surgeons, and to the C-Suite positions within the hospital. As a full-line rep, you’re running that business, that franchise, from A to Z.
The TAs are on a micro scale what a full-line rep looks like. We are transitioning them into becoming more business-minded and getting into the business side of what we do a lot sooner. That makes them more valuable as somebody that can come off the bench, take over, and open territory down the road. They’re really learning to science and the service end of it from the ground up. Also, working with some of our busier accounts that need more support, learning procedures, and learning our technology and our products in conjunction with working with their rep and myself to be mentored on what it takes to be a full-line rep and learning a business side of what we do.
With the capital specialist, is it an aspiration for a full-line rep to be capital specialist or is it a lateral position when you compare the two and they work together?
It will be customized based on the region and what those needs are. That’s a lateral position. The way we look at it and the way I orchestrate it is, for that to work, there needs to be dual accountability. What I mean by that is if we have a power number or a capital number that we’re going after in a certain territory, anyone that’s dealing with that product segment needs to have that in their number. It needs to have that that dual accountability where my quota has that same power number in it as my counterpart does.
They work in tune as a partnership and a level ground. It’s just that the capital person will have a little bit bigger of a geography. Our capital rep covers for full-line rep geographies. She will handle all the power in those because she doesn’t have the full bag. Because of that condensed focus, it gives us the ability to allocate her to further geography and work on some of these bigger deals in conjunction with the full-line reps who have a more condensed geography but a more broad focus as far as products.
Let’s get a little bit into what it means to perform in these roles. Let’s start with the full-line rep. Give us three things that you believe a full-line rep needs to be able to bring to that position.
Number one is confidence. What I mean by that is you have to be confident with your product to have success in this space. If you’re not confident, you will be exposed quickly in those situations. You have surgeons that are going to depend on you for product knowledge. They’re going to expect you to become a part of their team. Have confidence in who you are and what you do.
Number two is you have to be organized. What I mean by that is how you plan your days and what you do with your time is so important to your success. Our days change all the time and our focus can go from one thing to another. You have to have a mapped out plan and you have to have a plan of attack in order to accomplish the goals that are needed at the level that they’re going to be expected.
The last thing that I always look for is be passionate about what you do. There are a lot of reps out there. It’s a flooded market space. The reps, in my eyes, the ones that stand out the most are the ones that it comes off as genuine passion for what they’re doing and what they’re accomplishing with their accounts. The ones that are doing that stand out and lead at the top of the pack. There is no doubt.
Confidence, organization, and passion are what makes an exemplary full-line rep. What about the TA? What do they need to bring?
All three things. Those three things mirror because when I look at a TA, I’m not looking for a TA. I’m looking for a full-line rep down the road that just might not have the experience or might be a little bit green. A lot of companies look for different patterns and characteristics, but what are we trying to do? We’re trying to bring people in to build those pipelines of talent up and to mentor them through.
Organizations that look at that are going to be successful for a long time. I don’t differ for what I look in characteristic-wise in a TA versus a full-line rep. The age and experience might differ a little bit, but what you’re made of, what you embody, and the values you present in the interview process shouldn’t change. That’s an important difference in organizations that have a successful culture where people grow from within versus ones that have people that bounce around from that TA position. If you’re not doing that, I always say you’re training TAs to go against you and work for your competitors.
On that note, what are some of the pitfalls that full-line rep should be mindful of as far as making sure you’re getting in front of the things that can set you up for failure? What do they need to make sure they’re always getting in front of when they go out and do their work?
Something that I’m obviously passionate about as a leader is having a proactive mindset. When you look at your business, I’m big on business planning. If people would say, “What is Jordan’s chemical makeup as a leader? What do you think the most important thing is?” most of my reps would say the business planning aspect of it because it is that important. It’s knowing your customers and knowing your accounts every in and out and every single way.
What I mean by that is any product that we can deliver on an orthopedic standpoint, you better know what each account is using for that category and why. If you don’t know that, it’s going to be hard for you to be consistent and to be sustainable in this business. We are in a high growth atmosphere in our company. We expect double digit growth each and every year and you have to be on top of that part.
It’s one thing to know the product knowledge. It’s one thing to have the relationships. I have seen a lot of talent out there that has good relationships and has unbelievable product knowledge. They could probably walk circles around me in product knowledge or has enough product knowledge where they could battle any surgeon on most topics, but they fail in that business planning aspect, how they’re going to present their business, and how they’re going to make that a consistent and sustainable business over a long period of time.
As a leader, it’s something I’m so passionate about because I want to keep talent. If you work for me, I want you to be here for a long period of time, but I’m not a micromanager. I expect you to take ownership. If we’re going to give you the flexibility and independence to run your own franchises, you better know how to plan. You got to get good around that. If you’re not good at that, it’s going to be hard for you to be consistent with your success with any organization.
You nailed it right there. Let me ask you this. Would you say that with the influx of representatives and newer companies like distributorships and other companies that there’s almost this lack of preparation around planning for a lot of newer sales reps in the field?
Yes. It’s funny because science is a huge part about what we do. I don’t want people to think I’m discounting that. You got to understand the project. That goes without said. Understanding opportunity and learning how to plan your business is equally if not more important. A lot of companies get that backwards where it’s tough. It’s an interesting cycle because when there’s an open territory, it usually means there’s business.
If you don’t have a rep there, most of people in my seat and above are stressed about missing that number because nobody is there. The reality is someone has to be there. When you get somebody, the urgency is to get them trained up on a product. “Who are our top customers? Make sure that those top customers are okay. Get them trained on that product and put them out there. We’ll figure out the rest as we go.”
The problem is you lose that honeymoon stage of just programming in the right habits. When you don’t take the time early on to mentor people coming into this business on the business planning side and understanding how to effectively strategically plan, you lose that window. What happens? You sink them back in there with product knowledge. They get in there. They get overly dependent on those same people that the prior rep was and they get in the cycle of, “We’ll figure that out as we go,” and the cycle goes on and on.
If you have a program and you have a training focus right from the beginning where you understand the numbers, understand what’s expected of you, and understand where we are at, where we need to be, and how we are going to get there, and you then build those fundamentals out, you’re going to be set up for success a lot more consistently than somebody who doesn’t understand that from the beginning. I’ve seen reps that have been a part of this business for 15 to 20 years that still don’t business plan the way they need to. They’ve had a lot of stressful years. It grinds on you. If you look at their track record, they’re not consistently hitting their numbers.
That is exactly what the solution is, which is to have that business planning. To your point, I also agree that it’s one of the most important things about running a business in any medical sales profession. The science, clinical understanding, and understanding your customers have to be there. However, if you cannot set a proper foundation for how you’re going to operate the business, get new business, and continue growing the previous business, nothing else will matter.
It sounds simple, but we’re all given a quota. In our business, we have consumables, disposables, and capital. You’re given a number at the beginning of the year. There’s a base run rate going into that year. You then have your quota and your gap between what your business is running at and when you’re supposed to get there. You got to break that down. In anything I do in life, I break down big goals into micro goals.
A lot of reps in this time of year, when they get this number, they’re like, “This can’t be right. I can’t believe they put this growth on me.” Even for mental clarity, for you to perform your job at a higher level, business planning helps solve that too. It’s because you’re able to break a big number into micro goals. All of a sudden, you are like, “This isn’t that bad. My gap isn’t as big as I thought it was. If I get a little bit here and if I sprinkle a little bit here, I don’t need that big deal over here to get home that I think I have to and then it sets in.”
It allowed you to control your space a little bit more and control how you’re going to succeed during that year and manifest what you’re going to go out and do. It helps not only to be consistent and sustainable on a number standpoint, but in a mental standpoint, it helps you be clearer. Going back to confidence, passion, and energy that you have, if you’re bottled up, trying to crunch numbers, and chase, your accounts pick up on that and your customers. Everyone around you picks up on that energy. Anything you can do to have that calm sense of being present, being proactive, and having that positive confidence sense of energy, I’m all for. Business planning also takes care of that.
Create the process, make it efficient, and execute. You then bring your full self to the job every day. I love it. We’re going to switch gears a little bit and we’re going to take it back to before you learned all this invaluable information. From everything that you’ve shared so far, the people who are working for you should consider themselves lucky because you’re mentoring them on these absolutely important facts, but you also learn this from experience. Let’s go back to college. Did you want to be a regional manager coming out of your senior year?
I didn’t know what I want to do. I know wanted to make money. I wanted to have fun and I didn’t want to sit in office. Back in college, you can tell probably I have a lot of energy. I was a two-sport college athlete. I played track and football. I needed to stay busy so I would stay out of trouble, as my mom would always say.
What did you do in track?
I was a sprinter. I was the 100, 200, and 400.
I was a 400 runner too. What was your best time?
I ran a 48.7.
That’s fast. What position did you play in football?
I was a running back, which was funny. You never guess it now because I’m 175 soaking wet, but that’s my natural weight. If I didn’t play college football, I probably would have been a 400 or 800 meter guy, but because I had to bulk up, my playing weight in college was 202 or 201. I would never get down into 400 meter shape until the last couple of weeks of the year.
You’re a two-time athlete in your senior year. What’s the plan?
Fast energy. I knew I wanted to get in business. I was a Business major, but I love people. Energy feeds energy. I know I wanted to be out in the field dealing with as many people as I could. Sales is always going to be a natural fit for me. How I started my career was you go to the most demanding market of all time, which is New York City. I had a mentor of mine tell me that if you could sell in Downtown Manhattan, you can sell anywhere in the world.
This story that I’m talking about, I’ve used it in every interview process. A lot of your life experiences define who you are as a person. When I grew up in rural Pennsylvania, I didn’t have a lot of experience with New York City. A lot of it was going to see the Christmas tree during holidays. Other than that, not a lot of experience. I threw myself into the mix. I started with ADP or Automatic Data Processing selling payroll and tax services for small businesses.A lot of your life experiences define who you are as a person. Click To Tweet
My territory was a walking territory in Union Square. It’s part of New York City. I rode the subways from the office to my territory. I knocked on doors and chase business. You mentioned it and I’ll let you know. That’s where I learned how to set micro-goals and a business plan because I had this territory. There’s nothing more overwhelming than a kid from Northeast Pennsylvania getting thrown into Downtown Manhattan having a walking territory where there are hundreds and thousands of accounts. Where do you go?
I quickly formed a system with small business bankers at Chase Bank that we partnered with. There’s something that they had a position called a small business relationship manager. Any new account or any new business in that area would open up a bank account because they need payroll. They would go to this person. I formed partnerships with them and I had one in each corner my territory. I assigned them not formally but on my own micro goals.
I took my quota. I was like, “I need this many accounts from this small business relationship. I need this from this many.” That’s how I broke up my number. I would work smarter not harder. I would sit down and have coffee with them once a week and go over their leads. Any new businesses through my travels that I would uncover and say, “I need to check out this person. They’re opening a new business,” we pass leads back and forth. That’s how I had sustainable and consistent success with ADP. I quickly learned how beneficial it is to form strategic relationships and break down a big quota into micro-goals.
What was the introduction to medical sales?
I realized, “This is fun. I’m in the city, but I don’t want to be in a city for a long-term. I got my experience.” You quickly start hearing about, “What have other ADP alum done after ADP?” Medical device sales was the buzzword. “Get to Stryker.” It was the utopia. If you could become a Stryker med device sales rep, that’s the gold standard. I was like, “Interesting. I’ll try to get there.” We talked about this before. The pushback that I was getting was, “You’re great. We like you, but you don’t have experience.”
Our organization wasn’t around back then so we couldn’t even have helped you.
It’s like, “I’m hungry. I’m young. I’m energetic. I feel like I’m talented.” If someone gives me this opportunity, I know I can crush it, but no one was giving me the opportunity. The market was tough then. It was right after the crash. The budgets were tight. The appetite for risk of bringing in somebody without experience was being told from the top that you can’t do it. A lot of people didn’t have that mindset where talent is talent.
I don’t care what your resume says. Find a way to show them your life experiences, the things that Jordan Rawlins went through and the things that I do methodically. Find a way to parallel to how I can be a successful medical device sales rep. All I needed was an opportunity for somebody to see that. My dad and stepmom live out in Northeast Ohio below Cleveland and there was a role there for an orthopedic recon rep covering total joints, upper extremities, and biologics.
I was in New York City, but I’m like, “If I can get Cleveland Clinic on my resume and I can work in that market. It was an underperforming market. I’ve done it before. I don’t have any relationships, but I believe in myself.” The one thing I’ll tell you is I’ll be consistent with what I did and what I ask of reps. The first question you ask me is confidence. I’m confident in myself. I said, “I can go out and do this. I don’t need relationships because I can make relationships. I don’t have any bad habits.”
They gave me the opportunity. Ed Evans and Jim Greer changed my life because they brought me into medical device sales. They gave me that opportunity. They saw Jordan Rawlins for who he was. They saw the character that I had. They took a risk on me. The idea was that I could train with some design surgeons first before I got into my territory. It was supposed to be a 4 to 6-month program where I would float around, which is pretty cool for somebody who doesn’t have the experience where I could work with an experienced rep.
I could work with a design surgeon, understand a product, and the schematics of the OR. Samuel, I’ll tell you a side story. Before I got hired to take on that that program, I had never been in a freaking hospital or OR setting in my life. They took a risk on me. I didn’t even know like, “Do I need to put on scrubs?” and the whole nine yards. I had no clue. The first place I got sent to was to spend some time with Jansen Cole was the rep and Dr. Lowry Barnes in Little Rock, Arkansas. He was a phenomenal surgeon. He is a cool guy. He wrote me recommendation letters that are in my portfolio to this day.
I remember going in the first day. It’s 6:00 AM. You get there early. You set everything up. Before I go into the OR, I felt that same sense in the stomach before a kick off of a football game when it’s about the kick off. You get the butterflies. The skin breaks and the bone started going and you get in your element. I remember it like yesterday. I didn’t have any experience. I spent three weeks down in Little Rock and then rolled out to Salt Lake City for another 2 to 3 weeks.
I was picking up. I was avid about it. I was reading as many articles as I could. I was asking all the right questions and preparing strategic questions. I’m not just asking questions to ask questions but to understand what was happening. I was playing with the sets after hours and trying to make sure I became a master of my craft. I excelled enough where, after six weeks, I got sent back into Ohio to take on my own territory and there I go. I sold total joints, upper extremity products, and biologics. I still wasn’t at Stryker yet.
I want to backtrack because you spent some time at this pharmaceutical company. That’s pharma life or was it pharma life?
It was like me being young. It was biologic pharma. It was insulin injectable. My stepdad has been in pharmaceutical and biopharm for most of his career. He knew I wanted to get in med device. Those terms were interchangeable. Some people are like, “True med device.” At that time, I knew the hardcore med device and stuff. It what I was looking for, but I took a position with this pharmaceutical company for a little bit and quickly found that it wasn’t for me.
It’s a great career path for many, but there’s a fine line between what we do now in orthopedics and what they do. For me, I want to be paid and I want to be held accountable uncapped for my own performance and what I do for better or for worse. That atmosphere wasn’t my cup of tea. I quickly knew that about myself. Self-awareness in everything you do in life is key. I quickly knew, “This wasn’t a fit.” That’s when I got over to this medical device company.Self-awareness in everything you do in life is key. Click To Tweet
You went to these medical device companies and then the big leagues. You left this medical device company to go to this other company because that would get you closer to this big company or you left this company to go to that company because of an opportunity and somehow you end up in in this huge company? How did it happen?
It was skipping stone to get where you need to be. You start looking at packets of different surgical products and areas of expertise. I quickly learned that capital selling not only makes you a lot of money, but it’s a fun place to be in. It’s high pressure. It’s more how I’m wired. Total implant for joint for me as a rep got a little monotonous of going in and out and doing the same hip and knee every single day. The room for expansion, business craft, and all that was a little bit less because once you get a couple heavy hitters for total joints, that’s where your time goes.
Also, I quickly learned the Stryker instrument guys aren’t on call. They’re not surgeon-defendant. When I’m doing total hips, there were a couple hip fractures where we’re loading up for family weekend and you get a call. “So and so has a hip surgery going.” That’s a different cup of tea as well. I knew I ultimately had Stryker instruments and surgical on my radar from doing the drills in those cases with Wright Medical.
I’ll tell you. I was in Northeast Ohio at the time. A recruiter called me and said, “Jordan, it’s the big one. It’s Stryker surgical position.” I’m like, “That’s awesome. When is the interview?” “It’s tomorrow.” I’m like, “Where is it at?” “In Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.” “What time?” “At 11:00 AM.” This is at 4:00 PM the day before. “They’re far along the process but I think you’re a great fit. I caught your resume and your experience. Let’s try to get you in.” They are like, “How far of a drive is that for you?” I’m like, “It’s eight and a half hours.”
My wife and I weren’t married at the time, but we were engaged. Our goal was to get back closer to the East Coast. I said, “I got good news. I got an opportunity that could possibly get us back East. The bad news is I have to wake up at about 2:00 AM to get there.” You talk about passion. We talked about going after what you want. I can tell you, Samuel, that got me the job. I’ll never forget it. I drove to that interview. I got there at 11:00 AM.
There was Bill Varrichio, who is now the VP of Sales for Stryker Power Division. I remember him asking me, “You drove here from Cleveland?” I’m like, “Yes.” When you know what you want and you are hungry for it, you got to show up. You can’t be afraid of going above and beyond. That separates you from the rest.
After working for this huge medical device company, you went on to another company. You spent six years at your previous company. That’s a good chunk of time. What prompted out to go to this other company?
It’s network. You build a network in this industry. It’s a small world. I always tell people to never burn a bridge and value your network more than anything in your career because you never know what opportunity might open up. Some people I knew at my previous company went over to this company. They were starting new division in aesthetic lasers. They were looking for people that were wired the correct way.
Also, people that could bring the energy, the passion, and the motivation to build a culture within that new division. I got acquainted through a prior network to go after an opportunity to take over a region as a regional leader. It was my first true leadership role where I was taking on that aspect of my career and it’s something that I ultimately wanted to get into.
It was a network that I trusted. It was a company that I believed in just as much as I do as my previous company. It was something that I wanted to do. When those boxes are checked, never be scared to go after that. Opportunity is everything in life. You want to make sure that you’re being loyal with the companies and true to who you are. Never be afraid of knowing what you’re worth is and going after opportunity.
That’s what brought me to this company. It was a short stint and it took me ultimately into a different stratosphere that I never thought I would go into. The aesthetic space was unique. It’s a different space. Some of us that came over from this company to this company quickly found that it wasn’t the best fit for what we do and what we were talented at as leaders.
The reality in life is when you take risk and you put yourself out there, you’re willing to take on more. It’s funny how that works. I left this big company. My plan in my head when I left was, “I want to stay here for a long term.” I didn’t plan to leave. The opportunity with this company comes up. When that’s not working out, my wife and I relocated down to the Southeast. We’re outside Jacksonville, Florida. We already moved. We took on that risk. Our kids we’re not in school yet.
My cousin and his wife started a women’s jewelry company several years ago based out in Laguna Beach, California. I watched them start the company when I was a senior in college. I did an internship and live with them for the summer in 2004 when I started a company. I saw the blood, sweat, tears, and the passion that went behind that. That moves me. That’s how I’m wired. To know what that takes and to see passion involved in going after your goals and not being scared of that is cool.
We made a pact like, “If it ever got to the point one day where I can come in and help them drive the business and grow the business, we will look for an opportunity.” Timing is everything in life. Sure enough, when I knew the aesthetic laser space wasn’t for me, we were on a family trip with my cousin, his wife, and their kids in in Cabo, Mexico. It might have been too many Margaritas at the bar at the hotel that day, but it is what it is.
We always stayed in tune with how the business was doing, what would take them to the next level, and what they needed. We sat at the bar in Cabo. We’re going over some business planning, where I was at, if I was happy, and what I was looking for. We got into what they needed. I helped him write a job description for VP of sales because they feel like they needed a VP of sales to take them to the next level. By the end of that conversation, we looked at each other and we said, “What if you do this?”
We left that trip with a lot of questions of, “This needs to strategically fit. I want to meet with the team. I want to make sure that I could bring value.” The number one thing that I look for in my career is can I bring value? What are you guys trying to do? What do you need? Am I confident in myself? Do I feel like I could bring value to that proposition? I knew I could. I look at this and I generally mean it when I say that. If you’re successful in medical device sales, the chemical makeup of those people and the characteristics are the type of people that are going to be predominantly be successful in anything they do in life. I firmly believe that.
I believe that in myself. It’s ultra-independence. It’s self-driven. It’s being strategic, reliable, and hardworking, all the things that you need to be successful in anything you didn’t like. I want to test that. I want to see, “What did I learn in all of my experience? Can I go into a foreign land, build a sales team, and have success doing it? Do some of the things that I learned from my mentors and some of the things that I lived upon to that point, would they parallel into building a company elsewhere in a different space?”
They did. We had a lot of success. I did that for about four years through COVID. I could tell you that there’s nothing more stressful than being responsible for sales during a global pandemic. I learned so much, Samuel. Sometimes it’s not about the companies you work for or the space you’re in but more of the experience that you’re part of. I say that because, and we go back to what kept me out of medical device sales for numerous years, people tell me I didn’t have experience. I could tell you that me stepping away and helping run my cousin’s company on a sales aspect or being responsible for running a sales, I learned so much from him.
I learned so much about myself that I didn’t know, but I also knew how much I had to get better in certain areas with business planning. As good as I thought I was, you have to get better at making tougher decisions faster because they impact the business the longer you delay them. There are so many different things like being able to look on the inside of a company on a profitability standpoint and knowing why some of these top-level decisions are made.
Sometimes sales reps don’t always understand that, but being on the other side of that makes me a stronger leader to come back and lead sales rep. I learned so much during that process, but life happens. Ultimately, I can tell you that I’m wired for medical device sales. That’s who I am. I appreciate the time I had helping my cousin grow his company and watching them have the success they have. They’re a tremendous success. They’ve opened over 40 retail stores across the country.
I’m guessing they are going well. I’ll keep it confidential with what they’re doing, but let’s say that they’ve grown five times forward over the last few years. It’s a tremendous success story. To be a part of that and to help shape that and scale out on a micro-level what they’re doing is something I’ll always hold near and dear to my heart with whatever I do with my career. It’s made me a better person.
My wife and I got pregnant with our third. It is hard being that far away from family and having a seven and nine year old and a baby girl in the way. My wife is from Northeast, Pennsylvania as well. We felt like it was time to get back home. The company that my cousin and Bill founded was based in California. Although we predominantly work remotely, we feel like it was the best interest for me to get back into the med device space if I wanted to move back. It’s a perfect story for us to part ways and do our own thing. That’s what led me to this company.
One question I have is this. Does your cousin’s company have a VP of sales? Did they replace you with a VP of sales?
They restructured some things. They have a VP of retail now which, before, when I was there, we had wholesale. We had eComm. We had retail sales. All those are funneled underneath me, and as we were growing, we needed a VP of eComm. It went out of my umbrella, but then wholesale and retail stayed underneath me. As I transitioned out, retail became their sole focus. There’s so much it goes into the retail organization, the brick and mortars, the layouts, the contract, and lease agreements where they have a VP of retail now. I don’t think they officially have a VP of sales yet.
You did your part. This helps as segue into the next thing I want to get into, which is family and being a medical sales professional. There are a lot of assumptions and realities around what it means to be a medical sales professional and have a family depending on which field you’re in. Talk to us about the working space with two kids and a baby on the way. How has your family supported you in being the leader you are, or has it been a lot of compromise in your part for them to be patient with you to be the leader you are? What’s the dynamic there? How have you been able to execute it?
That’s always an interesting dynamic. The family dynamic is something that everyone has to be in on, in my opinion. It’s a unique lifestyle. I’ve had so many friends and close acquaintances be envious of the lifestyle that we have where we don’t go to an office. I have a home office, but it took a lot of time for the family to know, “Just because dad’s home doesn’t mean dad’s going to be play in the backyard. Dad has to get work done.”
Also, there’s the other time commitment where when we’re trialing new products within the hospital organizations, it’s like, “See you in two weeks, Babe.” It’s because as a rep, you have to live it and eat it. You have to become a member of that team when you’re trialing that product. That’s how you are successful in these trials. That’s very physically and time consuming, mentally-demanding work. You’re in the OR from 6:00 AM to 6:00 PM depending on what you’re trialing.
There has to be that understanding there between the family, but it’s a beautiful thing. I can tell you this. All managers, cover your ears, but if you’re doing things right, you should have the flexibility on some days where if you need to be home at 2:30, you could be home at 2:30. We’ve earned that right. It’s not every day. As I said, I’m not a micro-manager, but if you find a way for you to bake that in and you can hit your numbers, we don’t have a problem. If you’re not hitting your numbers and you’re home with 2:30, we are going to have a problem.
It is a pretty cool thing where you are around and you don’t have a home office. It’s how you make of it and how you approach what you do with your time. I made a commitment first to be a fantastic husband and then to be the best father I can be to my kids. I don’t like missing anything family-wise. I’ve gotten disciplined with time management and what buckets I put my time and energy into. It’s family. It’s work. It’s myself. I like taking care of myself.
I like working out and making sure that I’m doing everything I can to be at my best. Also, rest and sleep. You have to put that in. If I’m not getting my sleep, I’m not good at anything. If you catch me with lack of sleep, you don’t want to be around me. It is putting my time and energy into those buckets. If you’re going to take time out of those buckets, you better be making my life better or you better be bringing something of value that’s going to make my life better.
You have to stay disciplined to that. There’s a balance there about the time I allot for work. I have to be efficient with that time. What does that go back to? It goes back to what we’ve been talking about this whole time. It’s business planning, strategic approach, and being proactive. You have to be efficient with that. You have to be a master at what you do with your time and when you’re going into cases. You’re not just there for the case, but you have an agenda of what you need to do to make sure that you’re setting yourself up for success on a business standpoint so when you do a personal time, you’re present.
In those moments, you can put your phone down. You can decompress and decompartmentalize the two. The people that got a whack with who aren’t organized and they aren’t disciplined with their time and efficient with their time have a hard time balancing the work-life balance. It’s because they get intertwined a lot and you have to be very disciplined with what you do with your time and your approach.
Jordan, you nailed that one again. I was going to ask what your life philosophy is and you spelled it out for us. It’s being efficient with your time and managing that to the best of your abilities. It sounds like if you can conquer that, it will spill over into every avenue of your life. I 100% agree with that.
Samuel, it’s not even medical device sales. I would say to be successful in anything, to be happy, and to give your full effort. My goal and I’ll tell you. It’s still a concept. I don’t have it perfect and it’s a constant fight, but in life, you have to be able to admit that. It’s something that I always work for each and every day. You have to be able to fully give yourself to what’s in front of you, to be the father I want to be, and to be the husband I want to be.You have to be able to fully give yourself to what's in front of you. Click To Tweet
You have to be able to mentally and physically give yourself 100% in that area. To be a top medical device sales rep, you can’t be worried about what’s happening at home or what’s going on here or there. You have to be focused in the moment. When you’re in these cases, those teams are counting on you to be in the moment, to be present, and to know what’s going on at any given point. If you get cloudy in those areas, it’s hard to accomplish what you need to and it’s hard to be 100% present and excelling 100% at maximum level if you’re not organizing your time and you’re being efficient with it.
On that note, we’re going to bring this to a close. I’m going to give you a lightning round and you’re going to have a very short amount of time to answer four questions. In the last few months, what is the best book you’ve read?
It’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It’s one book that I read every single year and I just finished it again. I would say that it’s impactful enough that I read it once a year.
You’ve inspired me. I read that book 2 or 3 times, but I don’t have a yearly address to that book. I’m going to have to try that. That book is so explicit in what you are supposed to do to manage your time wisely. You’ve been talking about it this whole episode so I’m definitely going to try that.
I got your props to someone over at the previous company I worked for. He was on a neurospine-ENT side. He was one of recommend that book.
Did he say to read it every year?
Not every year but he told me to read it. He had a goal for one year. He read a book once a month. That was one of his resolutions. That was one of the books that he had recommended.
What is the best TV show or movie you’ve seen in the last few months?
It’s Ted Lasso.
I haven’t seen it, but everybody keeps talking about Ted Lasso.
If you want to laugh, cry, get motivated, and get a perspective in life, it’s a brilliant series. My wife and I adore it. It’s great.
What is the best meal you’ve had in the last few months?
I am a pure homemade Italian guy. We had homemade lasagna and meatballs.
Did you make them?
My wife and I do. I do the meatballs and she does the lasagna. It’s a team effort.
The last question is what is the best experience you’ve had in the last few months?
It has to be watching my boys form a relationship with their little sister. It’s a powerful thing. When you bring another human into the planet, there’s no higher, greater, and better experience than that. You think you can’t love more than you do with the kids that you have. When you bring another one in and you watch those two, how much they love their little sister, and you watch her learning things from them and following them around already, it’s a powerful thing. If I need a little pep in my step or motivation to my why, “Why I do what I do and why I push myself?” it is those three and to make sure that they continue that bond and I’m leading by example.
Jordan, it was a pleasure spending time with you. We’re going to be looking out to see all the wonderful things you’re about to be doing. Thank you for being on the show.
It’s my pleasure. I love what you guys are doing. I firmly believe in your organization and you guys creating pathways for people who want to get into this industry because it’s so special. I owe everything to medical device sales and how it’s formulated who I am as a person. The fact that you guys are built around doing that and providing avenues for people to experience it is a cool thing.
That was Jordan Rawlins breaking down orthopedics sports medicine. I know for a fact a number of you read this episode and say to yourselves, “This is it. This is what I want to do. I want to do what Jordan Rawlins is doing.” Fill up the application and schedule some time. Have a discussion with one of our account executives and let’s get you into a role. For those of you that are reading that maybe it’s not what Jordan’s doing, but you know for certain you want to be in medical sales in some capacity in any field, or you want to be in the field but have no idea which field to start in, fill up the application, schedule some time, and have a discussion with one of our account executives.
Let’s see if the Medical Sales Career Builder Program is going to be your next opportunity to get the position you’ve been dreaming, thinking, wishing and even trying about but still don’t have. Here is the last thing I want to leave you all with in the spirit of the International Men’s Day. The men reading this episode, I want you to go back to the six pillars. One of the pillars says to create a safer, better world where people can be safe and grow to reach their full potential.
I already know some of you out there reading this and you’ve been reading these episodes. You know that whatever you’re doing now, as wonderful as it is, it’s not where you feel you’re supposed to be. There’s a level of untapped potential that is waiting for you in medical sales and you just haven’t made the leap yet. You haven’t quite settled on the conviction to do it.
That’s okay, but I want you to use that feeling and act. The only action I’m asking you to take is to visit EvolveYourSuccess.com, fill out an application, schedule some time, and talk to one of our account executives. Let’s see if they can help you close the gap between where you are now and where you ultimately want to be. For you women out there reading, in addition to sharing words of encouragement with your fellow men, I’m going to say the same thing to you. This industry, the medical sales space, needs more women. It needs more diversity.
There’s a lot that it needs, but that’s not what I’m here to discuss. I’m here to invite you to take action. Men and women, take action. Stop wondering. Stop wishing. Stop hoping. Let’s get you to where you want to be. As always, we do our best to bring your guests that are doing things differently in the medical sales space, and I do hope you come back next episode.
About Jordan Rawlins
Jordan has 17+ years of sales success for organizations as a leader and an individual contributor across a wide variety of med device specialties. He currently manages the Northeast region for ConMed Orthopedics, which is near and dear to his heart personally and professionally, as he was born and raised in Northeast PA and successfully sold competitive products across the PA/NJ regions for most of my career.
Jordan started his journey with ADP (Automatic Data Processing) in a walking territory across New York City where he quickly learned how to work efficiently and effectively. He then worked into med device sales starting with Wright Medical Technology which led to joining Stryker within their surgical and NSE divisions, giving Jordan in depth experience in selling orthopedic implants, biologics, disposables, and capital equipment.
After 10+years of carrying the bag, Jordan knew he had a passion to coach, lead, and help develop teams and sought after the opportunity to do just that. Most recently, as an executive sales leader, he helped launch a company into being a nationally recognized brand by building out the sales teams and implementing their sales culture. His philosophy is simple; bring high energy, passion, and a positive attitude every day!
Jordan and his wife, Gwen, have been married for 11 years, they have two boys- Graeme 9 and Henry 7, and welcomed a baby girl, Charlotte, to the world last April. He was a two sport collegiate athlete, football and track, and has a passion for healthy living, fitness, and doing anything to promote longevity to his life. You will never hear anyone say that Jordan lacks energy!
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