David Dobson

The Art of the Cold Call

A couple of years ago I was on the corporate side of the equation.  After 16 years in consulting, I took a gig with a California based, consumer electronic, laptop and smartphone accessory company.  In this role I was responsible for certain functions of product development, including managing the Industrial Design team.  Because of this, I was often on the receiving end of cold calls made from a myriad of design and engineering firms who wanted to work with us on the many interesting products we created each year.

It took me quite a while to learn how to effectively and quickly evaluate whether the caller and his or her firm, had the ability to add value to what we were doing in our business.  It was important not to ignore and dismiss these mysterious callers because some of the reps who called me actually had something important to offer.  Something that might help my business gain an advantage with innovation and meaningful differentiation.  The challenge was to develop the ability to quickly identify and weed out the generic firms from those who possessed something specialsomething I couldn’t get anywhere else.

I realized after hearing many calls and pitches, that I needed to ask a couple of key questions that would help me and the person on the other end come to a quick conclusion as to whether or not what they offered was of real value to our product development needs.  The simple questions I asked were….“what makes you different from your competitors?” and ”how is this relevant to what we are doing as a business?” (the second question also revealed whether they had done some basic homework or not before making the call).  If the caller stumbled in providing good answers to these two questions, then I knew that neither they nor the business they represented had probably thought through the competitive landscape of consulting firms and had not put an effort into creating a compelling value proposition that would be of tangible benefit to my company.

Now that I’m on the other side of the table, back in the world of consulting, I remember very well those cold calls from a couple of years ago.  I remember them each day, because as Director of Business Development for a really great medical device development consulting firm, I need to engage in these types of cold calls on a regular basis.  I, like those who got in touch with me a couple of years back, need to call on a regular basis, potential customers and within a very short period of time describe to them, in a compelling way, why our firm is the best choice for product development partnering.

So, with that in mind, let’s pretend for a moment that I’m calling you on the phone and you are the Vice President responsible for making decisions on how and with whom you will develop your next critical medical device or piece of sophisticated lab equipment.

Here goes…

”Starfish Medical is not merely a company that can provide nice looking designs or novel technologies…we are a group of highly experienced problem solvers who can identify gaps, determine a path forwardand implement solutions that meet real needs.

We help develop/further the technology of your productnot just its physical appearance.  We understand medical device technologies (imaging/ultrasound, diagnostics, optics etc.,) and have the ability to determine, design and implement the most appropriate solution for a given need.

Through user research and ‘work flow analysis’ we help identify the best physical embodiment for your device.  Our researchers and designers have spent many hours and days in operating rooms, clinical settings and labs.  We know how to map out a procedure and determine when and how to introduce a new event and device….in order to maximize efficiency and effectiveness.

Not only can we develop entire products, we have the ability to guide you through regulatory hurdles and bring your medical device to market quickly and competently through our ISO 13485 certified internal manufacturing facility.

In short, Starfish Medical can help medical device manufacturers in the product development process to determine the ‘right product’ that should be developed for a given procedure.  We can also make this a reality with a combination of research, development and manufacturing.  All of this can be accomplished with one companywhich means we take seriously our accountability.”

How does that sound?   Do you want to get together to hear moreand possibly review a couple of case studies?  : )

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