We have started a new interview series where we will be speaking one on one with the senior leaders in our industry. We hope that this will make OSN a think tank and a place where you can get real opinion on companies and their products from the leaders themselves. We hope you enjoy our first in the series. If you want to watch the interview on video, please go back to the homepage and you will see the video on the right hand side of the page.
OSN – Ok we are here with Greg Rainey, Founder of CCI Performance. Greg, thank you for joining us today.
Greg– Good to be here Josh
OSN – Greg, tell us a little about your background and professional experience.
Greg – I have been in the medical device industry since 1975. I did a lot of corporate stuff until about 8 years ago. My last corporate job was VP of Sales for Stryker Orthopedics here in the United States. In 2004 I started my own consulting business, CCI Performance Group.
OSN – So what drove you to start your own consulting business?
Greg – You know some of its setting goals for what you want to do with your life and one of my goals was to run a large medical device sales organization. That’s what I set out for in my career and once I achieved that with Stryker, I didn’t feel like I wanted to go do it over again. I was also in a stage in my life and my career where I thought maybe it was time to start giving back a little bit. So I started my business with the concept of helping those new leaders, helping those sales leaders who had similar challenges that I had in my 30+ years in the industry. So that’s why I created CCI Performance Group.
OSN – And that leads me into the next question, so you named your company CCI Performance, what do the initials CCI stand for?
Greg – Well its kind of funny, when you start thinking what you’re going to call your company you’ve got a lot of things that run through your mind. The original name of the company was going to be YellowDog Management. My wife kind of vetoed that because she thought that didn’t sound professional. She said, “so what are we going to do when the dog dies?” and I said “then I’ll call it dead dog consulting” but actually CCI stands for Character, Commitment and Integrity. These are 3 values that I feel very strongly about. I feel that everyone in an organization should carry those values, regardless of their stature. Whether it is the CEO or a sales person the sales manager or the person that works in the warehouse if a company works with those values, they will succeed. So that’s what the initials stand for. Performance is part of the name because my entire career has been based upon making the number, doing what organizations needs to do, providing share holder value so performance was the logical thing to put in with Character, Commitment and Integrity. So CCI Performance, that’s what I’ve always been about and I figured it made sense to carry it into the business as well.
OSN- Sounds good, so what changes have you seen in your career as it pertains to leadership, buying groups, the customer, sales reps, kind of take it from there.
Greg – You know if I look at changes in the customer base. If you turn back the clock especially over the past 10-15 years there has been massive changes particularly in the ability of buying groups to influence purchasing decisions, and its not just because the purchasing groups are big. It has to do with the change of the structure in their organizations as well. If you go back as much as 10 years ago, I think the latest data shows that 15% of the surgeons that we call on were employees of the hospital. Now that number is over 60%. So where before you had that strong salesman/surgeon bond, now you may still have a strong salesman/surgeon bond, but that surgeon is only one voice out of many that makes the decision of what product is used and brought into the hospital. So if that’s the customer change, that means the salesman had to change as well. We all know the story of the great sales guy that has the best friend doctor that he’s developed these terrific relationships with. Only today, the sales rep has to go further in the hospital community to make sure that everyone’s involved in the decision. Whether it’s the purchasing person, whether its an OR staff nurse or an OR supervisor, or even one of the multitude of committees that have shown themselves to be in every hospital and buying institution that we call on now. So that’s, if you talk about the customer is changing, the sales rep is changing. I think the biggest change I’ve seen in my tenure in leadership department is if you turn the clock back to the late 70s, into the 80s and 90s you had 3 distinctive leaders in the orthopedic community in John Brown, Dane Miller and Ray Elliott. All 3 of these guys had one characteristic, in my opinion, that was very similar, and that is they made a declarative statement, “this is where we are going to take the organization.” We all know about John Brown’s famous 20%, we know about Ray Elliott’s drive to make MIS part of orthopedics and we know about Dane Miller’s approach to making the surgeon customer feel like he was the only company dealing with Biomet. When we talk about those guys, they drew a line in the sand. The management today in the medical device industry, because the markets have changed, they’re not as declarative in their statements. They don’t say, we are going to take our company and put it in this location. We are not going to drive to 20% anymore, we are just going to try and stay at market. So the biggest change that I see, in my opinion, if you look in the industry, there is no individual that you would call the “sage” of the industry. So those are big changes.
OSN – Definitely, so as you’ve mentioned, over the last even 5 years there has been dramatic change in the industry. As you see it, what is the biggest challenge for company’s sales and leadership teams today?
Greg – Um, you know last week I was talking to a young guy inside of a company, a successful company, and he is successful with them. He said, “in the last 5 years, I have seen the birth of a bureaucracy within my company”. I think that is one of the challenges for selling organizations today. They fight 2 bureaucracies. They fight the bureaucracy that has built up in the hospitals with more committees, less surgeon influence, vendor credentialing companies who now have a say of whether you can even get into a hospital. So they fight that bureaucracy. Additionally, they fight the bureaucracies within their own companies. As the federal government has required more and more information back from the companies. Especially those bigger companies that had DOJ situations taken care of. They have a lot more paperwork. Compliance is a huge issue and consequently companies have built up big bureaucracies to ensure that all of the compliances are there. If I think back to 1984, even 1994 ok, we’ll take George Orwell out of the equation. If you think back to 1994, the mantra of the industry was pretty standard. We were going to do what is right for the business and the surgeon customer and the patient. I don’t think that has changed so much today, but it has been muted by the effect that instead of the businessman makeing the determination of whether an account gets sold to it could be the finance guy or a legal person or the HR person on whether someone gets hired. There’s less and less influence of the business person involved in the organizations decisions anymore as it pertains to the sales environment. Does that make sense?
OSN – Yes, absolutely. How do you see technology influencing or playing in today’s marketplace? Does it make it easier or more difficult?
Greg – In some ways it makes it easier. A perfect example is this conversation we are having today. In the fact that I can look at you and talk to you and you can look back at me, I think that’s a great thing. In the fact that we already know each other, that kind of helps the conversational aspect of the technology. Where I think that technology gets in the way of the selling environment is that more and more “sales people” if you ask them a question like, “did you contact this person” they will respond with “I sent them an email” or “I sent them a text”. You know these funny little boxes that everyone looks at like walking computers. You can talk into them and people will talk back to you. So I find that there is a huge move to use technology to try and take the shortcuts instead of getting in the car driving the 30 minutes, showing the energy to go in and see that customer and say, “I understand you have a problem, let’s try to fix it” or “I’m really glad you are still around because I wanted to talk to you about something else”. As opposed to, and this is where the negative side of technology comes in, “I’m going to send them a text” or “I am going to send an email with a link to it”. Those things are great, but only in small instances I think.
OSN – Yeah, I can definitely see what you are talking about. The old way of doing things, the face-to-face contact, the calling someone when a problem arises is still a very much appreciated. Sometimes we think that condensing the information and sending a quick email is what people want, but they want to hear a voice sometimes.
Greg – About 10 years ago, there was a great commercial by United Airlines and it was back in the time when everyone wore a suit and tie. So they are all in their suit and ties and he goes in the room and talks about where the company is. And how they’ve lost the touch contact with their customers and that right now they were going back to basics or whatever you want to call it. And he started handing out airline tickets and said, “ok you are going to see this guy, and you are going to see this guy.” Then someone said what are you going to do? He pulled out his own airline ticket and said “I’m going to see the first customer this company ever had because we lost them today.” That’s a technology thing. Technology is supposed to make everyone a better communicators but its really not. It doesn’t replace the handshake, the physical presence of the sales rep. There is a reason that the sales rep wants to be with the surgeon during the procedure. It’s to make sure they are adding value to the whole customer experience, making sure the patient is being well taken care of in relation to the implants or whatever. You wouldn’t text that it, you wouldn’t email that information in. You want to be there for that and you should be there for other aspects of the call as well. I think people just try to take the shortcut with email and texts. But that’s just this old guy talking.
OSN – Lastly, I have heard that you are putting together a conference called CIMDA, can you tell us really quickly about that?
Greg – It’s pretty interesting, CIMDA and it stands for Current Issues for Medical Device Agents. Back in September, I hold a charity golf tournament and each year we do different charities and they are always revolved around kids. 95% of the participants are all from the Orthopedic and Spine industry. We are very lucky to be in this good industry and it’s a big give back thing. Well there was a lot of conversation about market changes, etc. It became apparent to me that independent agents don’t have a resource that they can go to and try to pick up independent information. They know what the companies tell them and if they have time to read or hear about. But there has never been a forum, to my knowledge, where they can pick the experts brains. So I got this idea for CIMDA and started canvassing a lot of agents to see if they would think it would be beneficial, what some of the topics are, etc. So as of right now, the date is October 30th, that’s a Tuesday in Chicago. Right now the hotel is the Westin O’Hare is where were are going to hold it. Unless things fall out of bed, which I wouldn’t expect them to, we should be all set for that date.
OSN – Is there a website that has the information?
Greg – The website is being built right now and we should go online with it in the next week or two. And then of course they will be able to find the website link on OrthoSpineNews because we are certainly going to advertise it on this publication as well.
OSN – Sounds great, Sounds great. Well Greg thank you so much for spending time with us and we are going to include your contact information in case anyone has any questions.
Greg – Thanks Josh, have a good day!
If you would like to speak with Greg Rainey, Founder of CCI Performance, please follow this link to his website http://www.cciperformance.com. Or you can always click the link to CCI Performance from our homepage at www.orthospinenews.com.