Amy Annis is grateful for what sales – and the people in it – have taught her
If you need to be reminded why medical sales is a great career, talk to Amy Annis, account manager for CME (formerly Claflin Medical Equipment). She is the beneficiary of some good training in the matter, and she has put it to good use.
“It’s a great window into life,” she says of the profession.
Born and raised in Simi Valley, California, Annis thought about going into veterinary medicine. Logical, for someone with a deep love for animals. But after graduating from UCLA, she decided to pursue a medical-related field, and in 1991 became an alternate-site sales rep for BD in Los Angeles. In 1995, she was promoted to manager of distributor sales for BD, and moved to the corporate office in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey. In 1998, she relocated to Largo, Florida, where she became sales manager for the Dermagraft® specialty sales force within Smith & Nephew Wound Management.
It was at BD, reporting to Stan Britton, that she got early lessons in successful selling. A great educator, Britton would challenge the young saleswoman when she got stumped. “He would ask questions that forced me to find a totally different solution,” she says. “He made me examine how I was looking at problems, and think through all the options.” He also taught her to “hire smarter than you are, and make sure each new hire is better than the last. You will be successful as a manager because your good people will make you look good.”
After three years on the East Coast, Annis was anxious to return to California. At the time, Cindy Juhas, a customer with General Medical, then McKesson Medical-Surgical, had acquired a small distributor called Hospital Associates in Anaheim, and asked Annis to join her. “The location was good, the boss was good, and I knew something about distribution,” says Annis. “It seemed like it would work, and it would certainly be a challenge.” She joined Juhas in February 1999, and the two continue to work together today. (Hospital Associates was acquired by Claflin Medical Equipment, now CME, in 2015.)
“Cindy taught me to think creatively and take risks,” says Annis. “She believes in finding out what the customer needs, and then figuring out how we can build it and create a competitive advantage. Cindy is great at empowering people. If you have an idea, she is more than behind it, and she lets you run with it.”
For Annis, medical sales is a continual learning experience. Of course, education is in her blood. Her mom, Diane, was a teacher for 35 years, and her father, Art, was a clinical psychologist who practiced organizational psychology and taught at Pepperdine University School of Business.
About working as a sales professional she says, “You get people skills. You learn how to handle objections. You learn how to work independently. You are accountable. You learn time management; you learn how to plan, forecast, think strategically, prioritize. You certainly learn persistence, but you learn when to ‘fold ‘em,’ too.
“Every job has some element of sales to it,” she adds. “Sales allows you to see all different aspects of any business – production, operations, supply chain, marketing.” And being a salesperson brings you places one might not otherwise go. “It allows you to get out there and see a huge amount of landscape.
“If you’re results-oriented and hard-working, sales is one of the few professions that allows you to have an income commensurate with your ability to deliver.”
When she’s not working, Annis very likely is riding one of her three horses. Her love of animals is in her DNA, she says. Growing up in Simi Valley, the family had loads of pets – chickens, too. Even today, she has three horses, two tortoises and two dogs.
She has been riding horses since she was four, and today, competes in six to eight horse shows – jumping competitions – a year. “It’s part of who I am.”