Ed Bradey: Scheining Star

Edition: May 2002 - Vol 10 Number 05
Article#: 1232
Author: Repertoire

Henry Schein CEO Stanley Bergman points out that the company's goal is not to have the biggest sales force, but the most productive one. That being the case, Ed Bradey may be Exhibit No. 1.

Bradey has been the Henry Schein Rep of the Year since the inception of the award five years ago, and has been the top rep at Caligor for about twice that long. Over the past 11 years, he has grown his sales region from $418,000 in 1990 to $9 million today.

Bradey, who will turn 44 in June, sold diagnostic kits prior to joining Caligor 11 years ago. ''I was well aware that the manufacturer/distributor relationship was an important one,'' he says. ''I believe that look at sales from both sides has given me an edge.''

Repertoire spoke with Bradey about the life and times of a sales rep.

Why'd you get into sales?

I met a top sales rep for a ''Fortune 500'' healthcare company at a college function. He impressed several things upon me, the most important of which was the luxury of maintaining long-term relationships with clients, and getting their repeat sales. I was also very attracted to healthcare technology and the challenges it presented.

Describe your territory when you started at Caligor, and what it is today. Also, who is your client base?

My primary clients are physicians and ambulatory surgery centers.

When I started, my territory was the eastern part of Long Island. At the time, Caligor had 10 sales reps (it now has 80), and there was very little territory crossover. By reading news articles and attending medical functions at local hospitals, I quickly identified those clients whom I thought would increase their business as the medical economy evolved.

During this period, HMOs were growing rapidly. I was fully aware that doctors would group together. I kept close tabs on those who were most likely to be catalysts in this evolving industry. Inevitably, they formed large practices or outpatient treatment and surgery centers. I have personally been involved in some of some of the Northeast area's ''firsts,'' including the first ambulatory surgery center, the first birthing center, and the formation of the area's biggest groups.

Today, I maintain 90 percent of the accounts I started to do business with 10 years ago. Your customer can choose many other companies to deal with. If they choose you, consider it an honor. Don't disappoint them, and never let them down.

According to H.R. Chally Group – which produces the Physicians' Office World Class Sales Survey – the four most important traits of a successful sales rep are: 1) the ability to provide single-contact satisfaction; 2) the ability to solve problems; 3) the willingness to act as a customer advocate or ''champion''; and 4) a commitment to keep customers up to date (in terms of what's going on with competitors, market trends, regulations, legal cases, etc). Which of these describes you best?

While I strongly agree with all four, the last one separates me from the competition. By keeping my clients informed on Medicare reimbursement and diagnostic treatment and technology, I became not a salesman, but a part of the practice. Once you win their respect, you don't sell as much as guide the customer.

Chally also listed several traits of the ''star performing rep.'' Two of them are: 1) penetrates accounts (that is, develops a sales plan for each customer and works to increase use of products and services); and 2) demonstrates goal orientation (that is, he or she is disciplined and systematic in building customer relationships; maintains personal control over those factors identified as priorities; and concentrates full energy and attention on accomplishing key tasks.) Which of these describes you?

Number 1 describes me from Day One. I size up the account and identify a need and try to fulfill it. Each account may be different and/or varied. Some may need help in revenue generation or cutting costs, some may need help to streamline orders. Find the need, identify it, and fill it.

What's the difference between selling supplies and selling equipment? Which do you enjoy more?

I am always especially ''turned on'' or driven by the big equipment sale. To me closing a $70,000+ sale makes that month more interesting. But let's not forget the band-aids and table paper; they pay the bills. But once you become close enough with the account to close a big sale, the rest usually follows.

Do you have a favorite sales-related book? What is it? By whom?

''How to Win Customers and Keep them for Life,'' by Michael LeBoeuf. This book says it all, and I think it's especially relevant to the service-oriented business we are in.

How did you learn to be a successful sales rep?

My success is based on working for a winning company and management team. From Caligor's inception to its current flagship, Henry Schein, their goal has been to nurture productivity and be receptive to customer needs. A successful rep also learns to work closely with management. Without the support of a good company and management team, it is very hard to be receptive to customers' evolving needs. Never let your ego fool you; you are good because of the team. Follow the leaders; watch the movers and shakers, both on the supply and demand side; ask questions, get to know them, learn from them. Success breeds success.

I would be remiss not to include an honorable mention of my direct supervisor, Arthur Moran, vice president of sales at Henry Schein. Rarely can an individual combine the skills of good leadership, excellent foresight and an ability to keep motivating under any condition with the lost art of being a human being, confidant and friend. In the very beginning, my maverick attitude was not well received. It was only through Arthur Moran's continued support, advice and friendship that I was able to sand down the rough edges to realize my true potential. He continues to meet me on the fields of battle to ultimately succeed in a very tough economic and competitive market.