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Why Leadership Development is Critical for Salespeople in Healthcare

Picture this: You’re a sales rep for a product that hospitals use, whether a device, a drug, or a piece of equipment. You believe in the product. You believe that it works better than the other products in the market. You’ve seen lives changed by this product. You’re proud of it.

You’ve been successful in this position – enough to be paid very well for bringing in such terrific results. Your company recognizes you with big rewards, such as trips with other successful salespeople to exciting places and, of course, great bonuses.

You’ve sold a lot of product.

To do that, you’ve cultivated relationships at hospitals. You know the people — from surgeons to nurses to the Guy in Procurement. They know and trust you. But that’s just the public part. Behind the scenes is all the analysis you do. Spreadsheets. Trends. Forecasts. Proposals. You can develop an Excel pivot table like nobody’s business. You can see the larger picture that will affect your sales in the next quarter — or even the next year. You are good at your job.

But it has been a few years, and you think it might be time for a new challenge. Or maybe your manager mentions that it’s time to think about working toward a promotion. She assigns you a team of salespeople.

That's when the rug gets pulled out from under you. In slow motion.

Sales Leaders have to make the profound shift from achieving results individually to delivering through other people. Every skill you’ve honed, hospital relationship you’ve nurtured, eye-popping presentation you’ve created, and pivot table you’ve crafted now takes a back seat to what you need to do to deliver results in a new way: not on your own but through others.

At Insight Experience, we have learned that delivering through others is especially difficult for talented salespeople. Successful sales people are typically high achievers, goal-oriented, scorecard-driven, and accustomed to succeeding on their own merits. And it’s even more difficult in healthcare, because healthcare (yes, even American healthcare) is such a personal business. The stakes seem higher because these salespeople really do believe that their product helps people. They really do want it to help as many people as possible.

A leader of salespeople must learn not only the new skills of being a manager but also the new mindset of achieving results through their team, not directly through their own talents and skills. This means letting go of a controlling things mentality and embracing a piloting people mentality.


Notice that the Piloting People column is more complicated, less direct, longer-term, and more nuanced -- a shock to the system for many new Sales Leaders. These activities do not fit into pivot tables. The behaviors that made someone successful in Sales are not the behaviors that will create a sales team with strong performance and longevity. But the temptation to revert to those behaviors, when results aren’t what they should be, can be almost overwhelming.


The new Sales Leader can prepare herself and her team by committing time on her calendar to those Piloting People activities.  

Let’s talk about how your high potential salespeople, nearing promotion, can get a jump start on the “piloting” column. We can craft a delivery cadence that works for your schedule. We’ve even had participants, wearing their scrubs, dial in from the hallway outside a surgical suite!

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Kristin Leydig Bryant
Kristin Leydig Bryant
Kristin Leydig Bryant is an expert facilitator with Insight Experience, a Boston-based firm delivering contextually rich business simulations and learning experiences to accelerate and integrate leadership, business acumen, and strategy execution.