Editor’s note: Kevin Schimelfenig is managing partner at in Cary.

CARY, N.C. – The Triangle is a microcosm of what is happening nationally in the MedTech industry. Just as in other parts of America, there are many companies here who are eager to learn the best way to take their products to market, either on a local or national scale, as well as emerging growth MedTech companies who want to build themselves to a level that encourage investor financing or acquisition.

The difficulty many of them are facing is that they are placing too much emphasis on researching the products and not enough on exploring the potential revenues of those products and how they can increase the value of their company, particularly through the development and prototyping of an effective sales team. That is wasting companies millions of dollars as well as time.

I pointed this out at the AdvaMed 2010 conference I attended in Washington, D.C. last week as a presenter in a half-day boot camp on “Entrepreneurship in the Medical Device Industry.” AdvaMed is the leading annual conference in North America bringing together everyone from CEOs to start-ups for networking and partnering, and it offers the best chance for smaller medtech companies to establish and cultivate relationships with major organizations.

At the conference I stressed the strategic imperative for MedTech companies should be to accelerate their valuation growth to a profitable liquidity event or exit. In order for this goal to be reached by your company, you must address three specific areas: what kind of product are you creating, what channels do you plan to use to promote it, and what kind of sales skill sets will you use to sell it. For example, MedTech products fall into disruptive technology, capital equipment or consumable/disposable categories, and sales channels range from direct to independent representatives.

Once you determine the answers to these three questions, you need to prototype your sales process in order to take your products to market effectively. The sales process prototype should be small and manageable in scope, with a set time frame and fixed cost; it also should be directly scalable and encompass strategically representative territories. When properly implemented, this process will not only bring a medical device to market in an affordable manner, but it also will create a small sales team that can be absorbed or disbanded much more easily than a big one if a firm is acquired by a bigger organization. In fact, a big sales team could dissuade investors from financing your product.

Another MedTech challenge that the conference confirmed to me is the need to improve the efficiency and consistency of the premarket review process among regulatory agencies, particularly the FDA. The FDA currently is reviewing more than 60 proposed changes to the 510(k) process with the best of intentions, but some of the requirements can handicap early stage companies for reaching maturation if approved. As one CEO stated, “We don’t know what the rules of engagement are.”

In terms of trends in the industry, diagnostics is a major growth area. This is due to the focus of accommodating the medical device needs for the baby boomers as they grow older.

The biggest takeaway from the conference I would impart is that it confirmed how vibrant the MedTech industry is, based on my schedule alone. The AdvaMed conference included small rooms where we could network for half-hour conferences with clients. I was in meetings from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every 30 minutes each day. I barely had a chance to come up for air. The companies who sought assistance in D.C. are the same kinds that exist here in the Triangle, from multimillion dollar companies to independent start-ups.

That reflects how intense the drive and desire exists in MedTech. It bodes well for the Triangle’s efforts to establish itself as a leader in this thriving industry.

We at SalesForce4Hire® want to help with this success. In that spirit, we would be more than happy to participate in a pro bono executive boot camp for interested Triangle MedTech clients as we did at AdvaMed under the leadership of Christian Haller, general manager of MPR Associates in Virginia at . Please contact us if you are interested.

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