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Career in international sales fly high

As an director of international distribution and sales development for Molecular Biometrics, Marianne Vivian frequently travels overseas to manage clients in 11 different countries, from Australia, Japan, and Italy, to Central and South America, Israel, and China. She has packing down to an art: she only carries two black suits, two sweater sets, two pairs of shoes, and wears jeans or chinos. Her days are filled with meetings, trade shows or training sessions, as well as a lot of schmoozing with distributors or reps. And dealing with jet lag is mind-over-manner, says Vivian, a veteran salesperson who has worked in the woman’s and reproductive health areas for over 15 years. “No matter what time it is, I adapt to the country where I’m at, instead of saying to myself, ‘it’s 1 a.m. back home and I should be in bed.’ ”

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Vivian, who works out of Molecular Biometric’s Norwood, Mass., office, represents their ViaMetrics-E product, a non-invasive procedure for assessing embryo viability in an IVF laboratory. The new technology is sold through distributors to clinicians, including embryologists and reproductive endocrinologists. Since the product is in the middle of a major release phase, Vivian spends a lot of time meeting with manufacturers, marketing and technical people as well as the legal and regulatory team, to work out the details before it hits the market.

Vivian started her sales and distribution career just after graduating from college with an English degree, when she decided she wanted a job that offered lots of personal contact and a challenge. She quickly learned that sales people need a thick skin – “you can’t take ‘no’ personally, because 99 percent of the time, it’s not about you.” Sales representatives like Vivian are considered by many to be recession-proof, because even in difficult economic times, a talented sales force can pull a company out of downturn.

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Q: How were you trained in this product? It’s highly complex proprietary technology.
A:
We have a research lab in New Haven, Conn., and I went down there and met with the research scientists and spectroscopists and did hands-on training with the instruments. You also need to do a tremendous amount of reading on the clinical data behind this procedure.
Q: How does it feel to be selling this, instead of say, auto parts?
A:
We all know someone who is dealing with the issue of infertility, so I personally feel like my job is making a difference in people’s lives. As I travel about, I’ve discovered that the desire for children is global, so it feels good to try to help build families.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who is interested in going into sales?
A:
Take an honest look at why you want to go into sales. It’s all about people and making connections and relationships. A good salesperson needs to have an open personality and mold yourself to who ever you’re selling to.
Q: And so, how big is your Rolodex?
A:
I had to throw away my Rolodex a few years ago. Now I keep my contact list in my Blackberry – I have about 600-700 names, but that is after 20 years. It’s my bible and I don’t go anywhere without it.
Q: What would you do if you lost all those listings?
A:
First I’d have a meltdown. Then I’d very quickly go to my paper copies, because I diligently back it up every once in a while. So my meltdown wouldn’t last too long.

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