Alyssa Huffman, Regional Sales Director of Scendia Biologics, proves that she is a Med Tech Guru when she discusses the need for reading that noncompete agreement in Episode #8
Alyssa describes her background growing up, she lived all over the world and experienced many different cultures. Alyssa is a self-described “air force brat” as her Father was a flight surgeon and F-111 pilot.
Prior to the episode #8 that was published Alyssa and I had recorded an episode, then something dramatic happened. One of the companies she was working with had presented her a non-compete agreement that was so restrictive she had to leave the company.
Alyssa explains that the way the agreement was structured that if she signed this agreement and left the company, she would not be allowed to sell anything for another company. This might have included even selling products outside the med tech industry.
This all started when she was asked to lead a started ups sales effort as Vice President of Sales & Marketing. The company was exciting, and the people were great. The direction of the company was terrific, and Alyssa felt the strategic direction was solid.
Alyssa was presented with a non-compete and she brought it to her attorney’s attention. Upon review her attorney found some significant issues. According to her attorney is was restrictive to the point that she couldn’t even sell a car.
Alyssa explains that selling is our livelihood. If something happens within the company, then a salesperson must be able to go out and find a way to pay their bills the only way they know how. If the company is not willing to modify their non-compete and non-solicitation agreements to something that is reasonable, then they company has to understand it will be time to part ways. No matter how great the opportunity is you have to be protective of your own ability to perform your duties and pay your own bills.
Alyssa explains it was an unfortunate circumstance and she learned a lot and wishes them well. Alyssa had to take a step back and focus on another opportunity she had.
What advice would you have for our GURUs out there regarding a situation like a non-compete?
Number 1, get your attorney involved right from the get-go. Alyssa and her attorney went back and forth several times with the company and their lawyer. Every few weeks they would say that they would modify the agreement to meet reasonable expectations. The company would then take the draft agreement back to their attorneys. After review they would come back with “Everyone else in the company has signed this agreement”, “We can’t modify it for this one individual!”
Alyssa stated that one can understand that philosophy but everyone else in the company is not in sales. They had people in IT, they had physicians, people that didn’t have to deal with these issues on a daily basis. So, they could not understand the legitimacy and the reasoning to a true extent of how important these non-solicitation agreements are. They can be upheld, and she has seen them upheld.
Before anyone gets themselves in a “sticky situation” please review them, because you never know how these arrangements are going to work out. You have to expect the worst and hope for the best. So, based on that anytime such an agreement is put in front of you, you HAVE to go to your attorney.
It is worth $250-$500 to have a professional review this document to potentially save yourself hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal bills protecting yourself.
Expecting the worst and hoping for the best is worth underscoring.
Host Tom Hickey explained it is often not the original contracting person or company officer you deal with when you get into these situations. It is the S.O.B. that replaced them perhaps after a retirement, or an acquisition. It is worth the $250- $500 to have these agreements reviewed!
This all turned out to be a difficult choice for Alyssa as the company was good and the product was fun to work with. She put a great deal of time and resources into the company and they made some significant strides. Ultimately it just came down to the non-compete and the non-solicitation
Alyssa wants companies to understand, as well as the representative, that this is an agreement, this is a partnership. Let’s make this relationship beneficial for both parties, and should the ties sever ask “what’s reasonable, What TRULY reasonable”. Having non-competes and non-solicitations through out the country are not reasonable, however they still go to court.”
Many times when these disputes go to court, they are not up held because they are so broad. However, they still go to court, and how pays for those attorney fees? Each side does! The big companies have their own attorney’s, it’s the little guy in this that ends up paying.
So focusing on the positives can you tell us about a company that did some things right in launching the medical technology?
Alyssa stated that she was really fortunate early in her career to be associated with a team the REALLy did it right. You take it for granted when you are new to the industry, you think everyone including the billion dollar companies will do it right every time! But that isn’t necessarily true.
In Alyssa’s example this company secured strong patents, then new their space. They knew the competition inside and out. When you know the competition like this and you have talked to the users you can derive from that what you need to really over-come and make a big bang in the market place.
Then in addition to that you LISTEN and LISTEN intently on solving all of the problems and all of the foreseeable problems and issues. This company did this and to this day, 12 years later this is still a top technology and doing it better than anyone else.
It is exciting to be on the forefront of such a company and technology. This company received many awards and accolades No only this but, they made it fun and challenging for the salesforce. To have something that 12 years later that is still the gold standard with no one having a similar product. This is pretty revolutionary
Know your competition inside and out!
Tom added know not only your competition, but more importantly how they are going to sell against you. That’s almost more important than knowing your own features and benefits. This will help you be able to compare and contrast the different technologies for your customer.
Alyssa went on to point out that she was a relatively new rep with only a couple of years of seniority and they actually listened to her! Even though she had a small territory in the Midwest, they cared. She had immediate access to the product manager. The product managers listened to her they ahd her be part of the clinical trial process. It was exciting to be part of the clinical trial process while she was such a minuet portion of the country.
Alyssa stated by not only listening to the big urban center hospitals and their clinicians but to the smaller market hospitals and their clinicians can really provide a key benefit to the company. Meaning that if you understand the models of the big hospitals, the small hospitals and the in-between, then you are really setting yourself up for great success with new product launches. 15:14
Tom is a 35 year veteran in the Med Tech space. Having personally worked with dozens of new technologies. It is Tom's passion to enhance patient outcome by bringing new concepts and technologies that will help clinical performance.