Intuitive Surgical: Selling $2m da Vinci Robots | In Practise

Intuitive Surgical: Selling $2m da Vinci Robots

Former Area Sales Manager at Intuitive Surgical

Learning outcomes

  • IDN vs community hospital customer segmentation
  • What surgeons really care about and how to pitch da Vinci robots
  • Power dynamics within a hospital
  • Negotiating with hospital administrations when selling da Vinci’s
  • Hospital economics when purchasing a da Vinci versus open / lap surgery
  • How the capital and instrumentation price has changed across generations
  • Risks from J&J entering and potential pricing pressure

Executive profile

Joahn Ginsberg

Former Area Sales Manager at Intuitive Surgical

Joahn is a Former Area Sales Manager at Intuitive Surgical where she was responsible for capital sales of over 10 systems per quarter to both IDN’s and community hospitals. She worked closely with surgeons and clinical sales reps to deliver patient value and improve hospital performance with da Vinci robots. Prior to Intuitive, Joahn was a sales rep at Stryker Endoscopy where she was responsible for finding, negotiating, and closing capital deals. Read more

Disclaimer: This interview is for informational purposes only and should not be relied upon as a basis for investment decisions. In Practise is an independent publisher and all opinions expressed by guests are solely their own opinions and do not reflect the opinion of In Practise.

Joahn, can you please start with a brief introduction to your background and role at Intuitive?

I’m Joahn Ginsburg and I started as a sales person at Intuitive Surgical. Before that, my background was in sales at another medical device company. I started out as an area sales manager and within that role, you have a geographic terrain and you are responsible for getting robots into hospitals, however you need to do it. A number of people worked for me and with me, but I was in charge of making sure we sold those robots. I did that for a number of years, had great success and it was a lot of fun. Then I got promoted up the chain and, eventually, was the sales director of the West Coast, where I had sales managers working for me.

How does the team split between the capital sales team and the clinical sales team?

You can definitely delineate between the two sales forces. The capital sales team, area sales managers and then the clinical sales team, clinical sales managers, clinical sales reps. The capital sales team, called the area sales managers, are responsible for selling capital equipment. They go to hospitals and sell the actual surgical robots and they are also responsible for upgrading the current systems. They start new programs and then they upgrade systems at current programs. They work very closely with the clinical sales team because, once a robot is installed, the clinical sales team are responsible for making sure that that robot gets utilized. Their job is to get the surgeons, in the hospital, and teach them how to use it, get them on the system, visit their offices. They may say, hey, I see you have a patient coming up Friday; let’s try that on the robot. They are also responsible for introducing new surgical disposable equipment. They are really the boots on the ground, once the system is installed.

So clinical salespeople are actually working at the hospital and you are managing the territory?

Yes. Usually, the area sales manager has a couple of hundred miles of geographic terrain and then the clinical sales managers, the clinical sales reps, have a smaller area; maybe four or five hospitals and sometimes 10, depending on the rep. They are responsible for that smaller area and making sure they utilize the robot. They are also support in case there is a doctor that says, I have a big case coming up Friday and would love you in the room to show me your thoughts on a certain technology. Sometimes they are just supporting cases, as well. But really, their role is to grow that current system and to utilize that current robot as much as possible.

Don’t other companies have similar roles and sales people on the ground in the hospital, almost directly competing to use their equipment for certain procedures?

The answer is yes. The best way to look at it is to think that there are many people trying to get a surgeon to utilize their equipment. The clinical sales reps for Intuitive are trying to get them to do it on the robot and they are trying to remind them, hey, when you do your cases on the robot, it’s a shorter hospital stay, you can see better, you can visualize better. This patient on Friday looks like a tough case so let’s try the new, single-port trocar, for example. At the same time, there are other reps, such as Stryker, who do minimally invasive surgery, such as laparoscopic surgery. They might be in the surgeon’s ear saying, we have single port now. You don’t have to use a robot. You can use our single-port technology because it is minimally invasive, as well. You’ve been doing laparoscopic surgery for 20 years; let’s just keep it simple and do this laparoscopic case on my equipment.

Sometimes, you even have two or three reps in the room, for different equipment. For example, the surgeon might say, I want to use the robot, but I want to try the Infravision technology from Stryker. I’m going to do it on the robot, but both of you come into the room. You, Stryker rep, show me how to use your Infravision in here, as well. There is always competition in that room and there is always competition in the territory which is why, for Intuitive, it’s so important to put clinical sales reps in those accounts, so they always have their finger on the pulse and they are keeping the surgeon interested in their technology, as well as getting new surgeons to use the technology.

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Intuitive Surgical: Selling $2m da Vinci Robots

February 1, 2021

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