All posts by Angela Spang

Swedish born entrepreneur and business leader with an exceptional talent to form strong and winning teams.

Why I Sacked the Sales Rep

Medical Device world is filled with them. Two categories, with the same goal: sell stuff. Either the seasoned professional who has been around since “the good old days when we could all go drinking together” or the new, slick, shiny looking rep determined to prove themselves in their first job. Measured to 90% on their sales results, they are quick in, eager to make a deal…and will move on within 18 months.

A sale is impersonal and fleeting. It doesn’t on its own create a consumer. A loyal customer believes in you, not only your product. The days when we did a sale and moved on are long gone, and we need to let go and take a new shape.

Read more on communication here

Nobody likes being “sold to”!

I have never met anyone who likes the phone sales people who hang up as soon as they realise you’re not buying. Ever been in the position when you’ve bought something you didn’t really need or want, and walked away with a bad taste in your mouth? Well, in medical device world it is coupled with moral.

How on earth can someone with a Marketing or Economics diploma tell a doctor how to use a medical device? Makes absolutely no sense (unless we consider 7 years of medical school a complete waste of time…?).

Don’t chase a sale and make sure you know your facts.

In the medical device world, it is absolutely crucial that we remember where the responsibility lies for each role. Pharma and medical device should inform about the facts of a product…and be 100% accurate.

The customer has the responsibility for what product they buy, but also for how that product is being used and what the outcome is for the patient. Don’t aim for making a sale, and never EVER attempt to treat a patient. Aim to inform and educate. Once you shift your focus, the entire process will transition into thinking for the future, not just for today.

Changing the thinking and approach ultimately drives ROI because cultivating repeat customers is less time-consuming and less expensive than creating new ones. Focusing on your customer experience in EVERY SINGLE INTERACTION increases the likelihood that people will come back. If you want a good ROI, spend as much time and money on improving the customer experience as you would on conversion.

Related: 4 Vital Lessons Sales Teams Should Take from Customer Service

What keeps a consumer coming back for more?

For medical device and pharma it is obviously all about patient outcomes — this translates to managing expectations in the customer so they know what to expect. The medical device is only as good as the customer is, so education and information plays an enormous role in the end result.  And then, whether it’s convenience (making it easy and reliable) or company culture (donating products to charity), customers need a compelling reason to choose you time after time. Be clear, honest and objective. Never push a sale, but focus on observing needs and match it with your offering. And that is exactly why I made the decision to completely eradicate our sales team. I don’t hire sales people anymore.

Focus on what’s most important: create trusting relationships. It is more relevant, more cost-effective, much easier and a lot more fun!

How I Run 3 companies and Work Part Time: 2 Lists

I run three fast growing organisations, with in total 12 employees. None of them have been around for longer than three years, and all of them are growing double- or triple digits. As you can imagine, life doesn’t stand still.

I work part time. Why? Because I firmly believe we all need balance.

My partner has a high profile job, and we have two lovely children, eight and two years old. I also spend time in Sweden to see my father as much as possible, and to help with his care (he is a prostate cancer fighter).

How? Simple. One simple but crucial rule… and the lists of things I do, and things I’ve decided to stop doing.  But first:

The Rule: No guilt. Ever. I am where I have chosen to be, and guilt has no place.

List of things I do:

  • Drop off and pick up at school most days
  • Uninterrupted playtime with kids between 17-19
  • Share 50/50 with the kids’ father (it is 2016. Par for the course. Come on.)
  • Mow the lawn every Sunday.
  • Hire people who are brilliant and let them do their jobs
  • Maintain responsibility for hiring, new product development, finance and strategy.
  • Start every day by thinking “What is the thing I can do to make the businesses more successful today?”. And then I ACT on it. Relentlessly. Every. Single. Day. I don’t have time to fiddle around.

Click here to read why I sacked the sales rep

Things I don’t do:

  • Cook
  • Clean
  • Laundry
  • Work in the evenings or on weekends
  • Micromanage my staff
  • Have a gym membership (I sneak in exercise with the kids. I do awesome cartwheels by now)
  • Watch TV (apart from BGT!)

I am the first to admit that despite my fairly straight forward plans, it is far from perfect. I get distracted and enthusiastic (a couple of weeks ago I spent over 10 HOURS on making an App. Completely stupid. Not ever a GOOD app….!) and sometimes I read emails during my sacred Kid-Time, and almost always at bedtime. But I have to be proud when I look at the overall picture, because I can see it works. I spend quality time with my kids every day, and I get more done during my limited office hours than most other people I speak to.

Someone told me I was really lucky. I both agree and disagree. I didn’t get here by chance, and it took a while, so luck had very little to do with it. That being said though: I tremendously appreciate what I have.

If you work long hours, perhaps I can inspire you to get a better balance by prioritising harder too? Or if you have something that works better, please add your advice to the comments? Thanks, and thank you for reading.

 

How Twitter Made Me A Better Leader

Communication is never easy, and I do all of mine in my second language. In addition, I employ several people who don’t have English as their mother tongue.

No wonder it can be a challenge sometimes.

There are many studies showing how different cultures communicate, and how that pattern change under pressure. One of my favourites showed a dramatic difference between Finnish and Italians who were told to give verbal instructions to a partner. The partner was instructed to “not understand”, at the same time as the time to complete the task was reduced to increase stress on the communicator.

The Finnish group made sentences shorter, and included silence. The Italian group increased both volume and words, coupled with hand gestures.

Twitter forces me to really think about what I want to say, and how to make it as succinctly as I can. It isn’t as easy for me to find the emotionally loaded words in English as it is in Swedish, so it makes for a great education.

I have discovered that the extra thinking that goes into that makes me better as a leader. I communicate clearer to my team. Perhaps Twitter forces that extra thinking time that we all need to be really good at what we do.

However….I am not suggesting we all become Finnish. The result of the study was that while there was a big difference in the method, the outcomes were largely the same between all groups.

 

Death of international scientific meetings

20 years ago international scientific meetings used to be a source of great learning for doctors and nurses, but also a lot of fun and a bit of a break from the daily routine.

The change in regulations made sponsoring less available (a good thing, for many reasons) so fewer people could afford to go. And of course, a trip half way around the world (in some cases), being gone for most of a week, with hotel fees and registration costs makes it a big investment. But…it was all worth it, and even necessary; This is where the greatest research was presented with the latest updates from the most experienced thought leaders.

Today the world doesn’t function like that anymore.

Social media and online news makes innovation and clinical data instantly available to anyone across the globe.

So why would doctors still fly around to meetings if there really isn’t anything new?

There is always a big win from meeting and discussing…but most international congresses are not designed that way. They are dinosaurs from the old times, when professors sit at podiums and a presenter stands at a podium and reads off data from a powerpoint presentation.

Health care professional attendee numbers are declining and so are sponsors. No manufacturer can spend a fortune paying for stand space, shipping expensive exhibition materials and paying company representatives to attend a 5 day meeting…especially not when so few of the customers are attending. And if they don’t  have anything new to launch (and why would they? Innovation cannot wait 7 months for the next international meeting), they are just showing the same things that they can show customers at home.

I believe we need to rethink the whole concept. Accept that the old days are gone, and so are the old ways.

Come on, brilliant marketing agencies and event organisers. Take us all into present time?!

Wow this is frustrating

I spend a lot of my time trying to improve healthcare for women.  Instead of chasing profits, I support unrelated independent medical research with donations. I give money to Cancer research. Instead of giving myself a salary, I decide to donate 10% of all product turnover for Galaxy to The Fistula Foundation. Instead of hiring a team of experienced sales reps, I have established a team of clinical services, whose job it is to present our products and tell trusts about the facts about them….. instead of doing a hard sell of something the hospital may not even need.

In general, I consider myself a good person.

Today I was targeted by someone who clearly painted me with a different brush. 7 emails, within a couple of hours, clearly not aimed for a positive and constructive conversation.

I could do what most larger corporations do and completely ignore it. But, I happen to think that there must be some good ideas and something positive coming out of collaborating, so I engaged.

Time will tell if this was the right approach or not, but today I just feel slightly exhausted. I work hard to do things right and not take the easy road, and having to defend myself to someone who has decided who I am and what I do without having even met or ever talked to me hurts my feelings.

 

 

Someone stole our control unit — we went guerilla marketing

Thursday morning. Call from E at the congress. Someone has stolen the control unit for one of our products. The box was sitting under a table at our stand with several other exhibitors in the same location, but we have no idea who else had access to the room.

First I got offended. How rude! And then, quickly….anger. Who isn’t playing fair!? Come on, competition is healthy and good, as long as there is moral and ethics as a foundation.

But then, as the team corralled and started looking for a solution (we needed another unit there asap — the congress was starting, and we needed SOMETHING to demonstrate our new launch product with!), I sat down and though about it.

We would turn it into a Big Win. lisa marie_Missing ball and chain

Marketing made posters with a “MISSING LISA MARIE” theme all over them, and we plastered them all over the venue. We spoke to everyone about it, and we emailed all attendees. Our product ended up being the most spoken about, and even now, a week after the event, people ask how it is going. (It hasn’t been found yet, but if you have any idea where it is located, please email lisamarieisnot@junemedical.com)

Do I have any idea where it may be? Yep. But I prefer to think people are good, and there is no point in making accusations that have no proof, even if there is motif. I will put my inner Sherlock to bed and move on.

 

 

How Lack Of Ego Drives Growth

It helps growth tremendously to not have to be right. I find it intersting that when new people join the team, it takes  a couple of months until they realise that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a different view than me.

It may be because I deliberately hire people who I think can do a better job than me. But if that is the case, I am either wrong about the individual (has happened, obviously) or they have worked for a long time without realising their full potential. So let’s for arguments sake say that everyone in the team has worked at 75% before they Image result for people growingcome here, and I employ 10 people. That is me theoretically adding 0.25 x 10 people to the team, just by making sure each person gets the space and support they need to spread their wings and fully contribute to the best of their abilities.

And the best thing? Those 2,5 extra people doesn’t cost me a thing — quite the opposite. Employees love not being told to swim in their lane, and the environment we have is tremendously encouraging. I couldn’t ask for a more dedicated team.

This is working really well for us, and I wonder what else I can do to further improve it? Any ideas or suggestions are welcome!