Q&A with Micheal Cheetham, Director at Tenacity Sales Training

Q&A with Michael Cheetham, Founder of Tenacity Sales Training

Recently we sat down with Michael Cheetham from medical sales training providers Tenacity.

Michael launched Tenacity in 2020 after a 25-year sales career that included more than a decade-and-a-half with Stryker and eight years within pharmaceuticals. 

Over the past two years Tenacity have worked with a broad range of MedTech clients including CONMED, Abbott Laboratories and BoneSupport and we talked to him about the importance of sales training, implementing a growth mindset and why businesses should adopt a continuous learning approach.

Thanks for talking with us, Michael. Tell us why you launched Tenacity and what issue you were trying to solve.

“During my career in sales I had weeks and weeks of product training, but probably only two or three days of sales training. The training was very wooden, felt boring, scripted and a tick box exercise people felt they were forced to do and this didn’t resonate with me.

“Selling is an incredible thing and when done well it should be like watching a perfectly choreographed dance or listening to a beautiful piece of music that is enjoyable and a wonderful experience for both parties.

“It should be a true understanding of the person, their needs and what they are trying to achieve. You don’t sell the product you sell the person. If you understand their wants, their desires, fears and concerns you should have a pretty good idea of what the problem is they are trying to solve. And only when you understand that can you present what you have to offer and see if it’s a good fit. From that was born Tenacity.”

Of all the qualities required to sell successfully, do you believe tenacity to be the most important one? 

“The number of deals closed on the first call is only two per cent. If you know that, you must persist. The number of salespeople who typically make three calls or more with a customer is only 12 per cent. But the research shows that 80 per cent of business is between the fifth and the 12th call. 

“Your best indication of after sales service is how you present yourself, your commitment, resilience and ability to keep going before you have won the business.

“We tell people on our courses that the fortune is in the follow-up. Sales is very front loaded with the effort, the graft, the commitment at the front, and somewhere down the line is where the reward gets presented to you. 

But a lot of people never get to that point. The customer – whether a clinician, someone in procurement or a Hospital Director – isn’t saying, ‘show me how you’re the same as everyone else’, they want to know how you’re different. So if you want to stand out, then you have to persist.”

What are the most common misconceptions or barriers to success you encounter?

“People fresh to medical selling often think they can’t be effective for 12 – 18 months (after they have got to know their territory and their customers). They are already setting themselves up to fail. This is just crazy. 

“I don’t believe people fail because they can’t be bothered, it’s because they don’t know how. If you invest in people and give them the skills they start to see the potential inside themselves. Their confidence goes up, they’re happier and they engage more.

“Can anyone sell? Absolutely. Selling has steps and if you break the cycle down to those steps and learn them really well and repeat them in the correct order, practice, rehearse and drill it anyone can gain that.

“The best form of selling is selling authentically, in line with your true values, ethics and who you are. Proximity is power, and the biggest mistake I see week-in, week-out is people try and spread themselves way too thinly, covering 40, 50 or 60 customers and giving an average level of service to the masses rather than an exceptional level of service to a few.”

How has the selling landscape changed in recent years?

“The way in which we communicate, the touch points with our customers and how we stay close to them has changed. You would be a fool not to use the new tools at our disposal, and if you’re not utilising these as a touchpoint you are massively missing out.

“How you do that is different for everyone. You might use voice notes, or video messaging – if you can’t get in front of a customer, the next best thing is for them to see your face and hear your voice. As far as how you build rapport or handle an objection, the essence remains the same.” 

Is sales training important for distributors?

“Absolutely. We’ve worked with many distributors all over Europe. It’s really important for distributors to train their sales people to be world class because companies who outsource their work want a team that will bring even more value without compromising service.”

What are your goals for Tenacity as we look to 2023 and beyond?

“We are all about people, and the thing that lights me up is when you show someone the full potential they have inside of them. When you get people to see they have the potential and what they can deliver in the future it’s beautiful to see. That’s why we do it. We’re scaling up at the moment and are dedicated to spreading the message that sales people should be proud to sell.  We’re off to Australia in January, so we’re taking the Tenacity ethos worldwide and encouraging all those in medical sales to #bephenomenal.”

For more information on Tenacity, visit https://tenacitysalestraining.com/

Read our previous feature interview with Mark Foster, CEO & President of Trice Medical, here.