Creating Effective Sales Training for Medical Device Reps

By April 8, 2024LTEN Focus On Training


DESIGN TRAINING – By Lynette Kramer

Selling skills need to grow with the global market

Between now and 2032, medical science as a field is expected to grow faster than the national average growth rate – 10% (according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics). Combine that with the expected compound annual growth rate of 7.1% in medical devices by 2027 (BBC Research), and one can see healthy growth in both demand and supply for life-altering medical devices.

While these developments offer great opportunities to train professionals who market, promote and sell medical devices, there are subtle aspects of such training that are lacking. Read on to learn more about what it takes to train medical device sales representatives.

Medical Device Training Done Right

Research shows that the global market for medical devices will top $950 billion by 2027. The increasing number of healthcare professionals (HCPs), higher life expectancies and increased levels of spending on healthcare have spurred the demand for such devices. And with that comes a greater need for doctors, physicians, surgeons, nurses and other HCPs to be aware of the potential, along with being well-versed in the proper use of those devices.

To meet those objectives, it’s vital to deliver medical device training correctly. And for that, device manufacturers and marketers need sales reps and marketing technicians to focus on:

  • Market – so sales reps may project and promote their devices among medical practitioners.
  • Sell – to ensure sales reps effectively close deals.
  • Negotiate – so company reps get the best deal possible.
  • Operate – to demonstrate the best use of the device to a diverse set of HCPs.

A comprehensive medical device training program is the first step in ensuring that such training is effective, so sales representatives and device marketing specialists can, in turn, provide requisite knowledge and training to the end-users –healthcare professionals.

Key Components of Training Programs

Medical device sales teams require a broad-based training approach that empowers them with several sets of skills. These skills may be delivered through training programs that include the following highlights:

  • Listening skills: Medical devices typically form just part of the solution to a broader healthcare problem. Understanding that problem in its entirety helps sales reps position their products in the appropriate context and aids in devising product differentiation tactics. The first step in building that understanding is to train sales reps to listen. This training must include not just listening to what’s being said, but also that which is left unsaid and that which is implied.
  • Selling skills: The old days of befriending an HCP to sell a device are long gone. Marketing and sales teams today need to make strong business cases for their devices. Training in this domain must cover a range of topics, including understanding decision-maker psychology, interpreting buyer body language and the ability to switch (or match) sales tactics to the way a buyer prefers to buy.
  • Anticipation skills: Sometimes, even the most seasoned device salespeople find themselves awkward when faced with unanticipated demands. For instance, sound training programs train sales reps to anticipate hard-hitting questions from HCPs about the device. Training must also provide sales teams with the skills to not only expect valid objections to their (the sales reps’) proposals but also equip them with strategies on how to address/overcome such objections.
  • Client/prospect interaction skills: A crucial element of the soft skills required to become a successful sales rep is the ability to interact amiably –yet professionally – with HCPs and decision-makers. Some customers might prefer reps who only “talk numbers”; others warm to device sellers who mix extensive anecdotal references with hard facts. A sound training program equips sales staff with the skills required to not only build elaborate customer profiles but also tailor their client interactions based on those profiles.
  • Mastering the device: The heart of any medical device training program is imparting sales reps with the skills to master the operation and use of the device. Device-specific elements of a strong training program must empower sales staff to:
    • Provide HCPs an overview of the features, functionality and capabilities of the device.
    • Show device operators how to make interactive choices using device features.
    • Enable users to tailor treatment options based on patient profiles.
    • Simulate the treatment process using various settings and device calibrations.
    • Facilitate decision-making using device-generated data or on-screen feedback on patient vitals.

Mastery Matters

Because this is the most critical aspect of any medical device salesperson’s job, the training program must focus on it to the extent that sales teams become masters of the device. Upon completing this part of the training, sales reps should know the device as intimately (if not more!) than any HCP who may be already using similar (competing) devices.

To accomplish that:

  • Use patient case studies (with personal data anonymized) to develop realistic simulations.
  • Leverage multi-player gaming techniques to train entire teams of HCPs that might use various elements of the device simultaneously during a procedure.
  • Incorporate elearning modules to add interactivity to the training.  These elements work well to help device salesforces review complex device features and train them on proper handling, use and best practice applications.
  • Expand traditional training content to include practice simulations and gamification to increase the comfort levels of the sales team in using the devices. This will help them better demonstrate the devices’ capabilities when supporting intricate procedures such as device implants.
  • Utilize microlearning, a method of breaking down complex topics into easily digestible chunks. This approach is particularly valuable for medical device salespeople who need rapid assimilation of extensive information. These bite-sized modules also serve as convenient on-the-job aids, delivering training precisely when and where it’s needed – even during an ongoing device demonstration or presentation.
  • Recognizing that medical device sales representatives are often on the move, it’s essential to provide training accessible from anywhere. Mobile learning facilitates access to training materials on smartphones or tablets, enabling salespeople to learn seamlessly while on the go.
  • Establish virtual reality (VR) and augmented VR labs to assist salespeople in practicing the use and demonstration of device features and capabilities. This innovative approach allows for repetitive practice in a safe and cost-effective environment, without compromising patient safety.
  • Acknowledge the integral role of software components in modern medical devices, and create interactive, step-by-step training content. This content should comprehensively address the proper use of the software’s features and functionality, ensuring sales teams are adept in maximizing the potential of these critical components.

When done right, this level of detailed training will prepare sales reps by providing real-life understanding of what HCPs are likely to experience in situations requiring the devices’ use. Repeated practice of various scenarios will also give reps the confidence to demonstrate unique device functionality, as well as to differentiate their device against their competitors.

Often Forgotten, Yet Critical

One element of training that’s often forgotten is that of device service and support. Decisionmakers are keen to understand how their device manufacturer or marketer will support them once they purchase the device. Training must, therefore, enable sales reps to address topics such as:

  • Terms of service and support
  • Financing options (if applicable)
  • Installation support
  • Maintenance
  • Warranty
  • Service-level agreements
  • Replacement policy
  • Policy on offering temporary devices during service
  • The need for on-site maintenance spares and supplies
  • Ongoing software upgrades
  • Ongoing consulting services

And why is this aspect of medical device training important? Often, although the one-time cost of medical devices might be high, device manufacturers and sellers earn much more – over the device’s lifetime – on maintenance and support. Empowering sales reps with intimate knowledge about such programs allows them to offer clear insight to decision-makers about expected service and support. It also enables them to sell value-added services – like extended warranties and ongoing consulting – to device users.

Parting Thoughts

Medical device sales representatives need to stay up to date with the latest developments in the field to be effective in their roles. Providing regular training sessions can help ensure that sales reps are always learning and improving. This can include training on new products, new sales techniques and new industry trends. By providing ongoing training, medical device sales representatives can stay ahead of the competition and provide better service to their customers.

Finally, it’s important to measure the effectiveness of the training program to ensure that it is achieving its goals. Do this through assessments, surveys and other feedback mechanisms.

By measuring the effectiveness of the training, you can identify areas for improvement and make changes to the program as needed. This can help ensure that the training meets the needs of the sales representatives and helps them to be more effective in their roles.

Lynette Kramer is senior director, learning design & development, for KDG InterActive. Email her at or connect through



About LTEN

The Life Sciences Trainers & Educators Network ( is the only global 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization specializing in meeting the needs of life sciences learning professionals. LTEN shares the knowledge of industry leaders, provides insight into new technologies, offers innovative solutions and communities of practice that grow careers and organizational capabilities. Founded in 1971, LTEN has grown to more than 3,200 individual members who work in pharmaceutical, biotech, medical device and diagnostic companies, and industry partners who support the life sciences training departments.

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