8 Things to Know When Targeting Pharmaceutical Sales

Pharmaceutical sales remains a popular and intriguing career that not only attracts people with sales and/or healthcare experience, but even people with no experience in either area. People are drawn to pharmaceutical sales for a variety of reasons – a good pay scale, opportunity for travel and promotion. Pharmaceutical sales roles attract folks from all walks of life. Thousands of people apply for pharmaceutical sales positions each week; at the same time, there are only limited jobs available. This means competition is tough – very tough! – for these roles, and companies are looking to hire only those applicants with the best possible credentials.

With this in mind, I have put together a list of 8 things to be aware of if you’re looking to obtain a position in pharmaceutical sales.

1. Keep Your Nose Clean.
Companies today regularly do background checks, and pharmaceutical firms are no exception. You can expect not only a review of your employment background, but also your Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts, your references, and even your driver’s license. Remember, things you do today can stick around in the Internet for years. Think ahead!

2. Sales Cycle Management. Pharmaceutical sales is very different than traditional product sales, because in many instances you are more focused on marketing products and educating physicians about products than you are on selling the actual product. You will often be required to bring the product to someone’s attention, set up conferences and seminars for doctors and their staff, and then convince the person to switch from whatever competitor product they are using to the one you are selling. This could take weeks or even months. In pharmaceutical sales, patience is a virtue, and the ability to build relationships, make friends, and put people at ease is as important as negotiation skills.

3. High Energy and Self-Motivation. Long hours, evening and weekend appointments, travel, meetings – it isn’t easy being a pharmaceutical rep. Companies are looking for individuals who can motivate themselves, especially in positions where nine-to-five is a schedule reserved for office staff only. Companies will expect you to hustle for new business while increasing prescriptions from existing accounts. If you’re the type of person who struggles to get to work on time, enjoys having a regular schedule, and does their best work when it is assigned rather than creating your own projects, pharmaceutical sales probably isn’t the best career path for you.

4. Education Is Essential. Pharmaceutical sales position consistently state that a Bachelor’s degree is required. Occasionally a company is willing to overlook a lack of degree when a person has years of experience in sales, but this is very rare. So if you are thinking of moving into the field of pharmaceutical or healthcare sales and you haven’t finished your undergraduate degree, it might make sense to complete the degree before you start applying for jobs.

5. Stable Employees Wanted. Pharmaceutical companies put a lot of effort and money into training their sales teams. The last thing they want is someone who works for a few months and then decides to switch companies or career paths, or decides it’s time to move again. So you can be sure that they’ll look at your previous work history to see if you are a ‘job hopper’ or if you have a history of staying with a company for several years.

6. Enjoy Being On The Move.
Many pharmaceutical positions require travel and/or relocation. A person who is readily available for travel or relocation definitely stands a better chance of being considered for positions.

7. Not All Sales Positions Are Created Equal. In pharmaceutical sales, there are different types of positions. Direct sales, where a person is promoting the products directly to a physician or group of physicians. This is often the entry level or basic position in the sales hierarchy, and frequently deals with popular, mass-market products. Then there are specialty sales, where a sales person is selling within a specific category, such as cardiac or antivirals, and will frequently target specialists within the healthcare sector, for example cardiac surgeons or internists. Finally, there are hospital sales, which is just what you might guess from the title. These representatives will often be targeting large medical departments and hospital pharmacies, promoting entire catalogs of products. On top of this, you have regional managers, district managers, trainers and training managers – with so many different levels of sales, it is important that a person applies for the correct position in order to be considered.

8. Understand The Bottom Line. Remember, when a company is looking to fill a position, they are not just looking to fill a position. They are looking for their next ‘Number One’ salesperson. Pharmaceutical companies want people who will consistently excel in their position; people with a drive to outdo the competition, build profitable relationships, and ideally break sales records. People who will do everything in their power to deliver sales. If you aren’t sure if you have that drive, then odds are you don’t, and pharmaceutical sales isn’t for you.

However, if you are a person who is focused on success and thrives in a position where stability, regular schedules, and low pressure situations are most definitely not the norm, then maybe it’s time to start getting your resume in order and start applying!

Teena Rose is the author of Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales.”

7 Steps to Breaking into the Pharmaceutical Industry

Pharmaceuticals are always a hot consumer sector, and with the aging baby boomers coming online, it’s a sector sure to continue growing. But gaining employment into the industry isn’t easy. Competition is fierce and companies can choose from the cream of the crop. So, how do you become part of that creamy crop?

1. College Graduates Wanted

There was a time when pharma reps completed their degrees in chemistry or biology and landed a well-paying job before the ink was dry on their diplomas. Not so, any more. Larger drug makers rarely, if ever, hire individuals who only have two-year degrees. Why? Because there are so many viable applicants with Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate degrees, they don’t have to.

Pharmaceutical companies want the highest calibre representatives. These men and women are the face of the company — and a Bachelor’s degree represents company quality better than an Associate’s in liberal arts. So, step one to breaking into this lucrative profession – get an education. Get lots of education, so you become more desirable within this highly specialized industry.

2. Consider an Internship

If you’ve got the credentials but lack the experience, consider signing on as an intern for one of the larger pharmaceuticals. Big pharmaceutical companies, such as GlaxoSmithKline, Amgen, and Lilly Pharmaceutical, also offer intern programs. It’s a great way to learn the industry, an even better way to make valuable contacts.

3. Consider an Associated Sales Position

If your goal is to represent a pharmaceutical company, you may want to gain related experience with another company – for example a medical supply company or possibly work a part-time job at a doctor’s office. Being on that side of the “fence” can expose you to medical terminology, jargon, and put you in the position to witness what pharmaceutical reps could/do face on a daily basis.

It’s highly unlikely that a drug manufacturer will hire a rep without some sales or sales-related experience (customer service, marketing, customer relationship building). Yes, they’re looking for credentialed reps, too, but they also want you to have some sales aptitude behind you too. So, if you can land a job with a company that provides goods and services peripheral to the field, you’ll be gaining valuable and sought-after business-to-business experience.

4. Prepare a Killer Resume — Even if You Don’t Have Sales Experience

Your resume must be right on target, even if you don’t have any sales background to speak of. That’s why most serious sales professionals, whether account managers, new business development, regional/national/international sales, hire a professional resume writer to design a resume that stands out from the rest. Professional writers can open doors not opened otherwise. What jobseekers fail to understand is that a great resume is an investment into a great future. Without a top-notch resume, you’re dooming your career to flounder.

Not to discourage you, but Internet job postings for pharmaceutical reps are rumored to generate 1,000s of responses, each with a resume attached. Would your resume stand out? If you can’t answer, yes, you’re not going anywhere.

5. Network

It’s always easier to land a position with an in-house referral, so meet with professionals who are already doing the work. But what if you don’t know any reps? Utilize online networks, such as MedZilla to align with people who are already within the pharmaceutical industry. Here is a quick snapshot of pharmaceutical sales reps on MedZilla. Delicately and professionally send unobtrusive emails to pharmaceutical reps working in your area to converse electronically and potentially set up a face-to-face appointment to chat.

You can also ask your doctor or pharmacist for professional recommendations. These medical insiders work with reps and will usually have a drawer full of business cards they’ll share with an up-and-comer. Important note: Many reps are inundated with requests for information from people just like you – strangers. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear back. That’s why you’ll have better success if you send out personalized and targeted letters to a well-researched list of those in the industry.

6. Apply Strategically

Start with an Internet search. You’ll discover that there are sites that list job openings across the country, like MedZilla.com. Most drug makers also post openings on their individual company sites, so add these sites to your favorites list and check back often. Get subscriptions to a professional publications on drug discovery and development, pharmacology, and other industry news. Taking this extra step, you can remain current on trends and happenings within the industry. To break through, you absolutely must keep abreast of industry trends, issues, and activities.

7. Be Persistent

Persistence is a positive characteristic in any sales position. Pharmaceutical sales is no exception. So, don’t worry about being a bother. If you don’t land job #1, move on to job #2 and #3 and #4. It may take time, but if you stick to the playbook, you’ll find yourself in a position of responsibility and prestige.

There are no shortcuts. The competition is simply too overwhelming. There are too many applicants chasing after too few jobs. So, earn your credentials, attend the seminars, and conferences. Hook up with someone in the industry and find a mentor, either through contacts at your present position, online, or through a personal referral. Also, deliver a great resume, do your homework for the interview, and dress for success. You may have the degree, but the industry doesn’t want the academic look – they want sharp, smart, professional reps. And that’s you, isn’t it?

Teena Rose is the author of Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales.”

Transition from Business Manager to a Pharma Manager Job

Demographic changes in the United States mean pharma manager jobs will continue to grow in pay and prestige. More members of the “Baby Boomer” generation are retiring and finding themselves challenged by medical costs and expenses. The pharmaceutical industry must adapt to a growing market that is filled with increased competition from generic brands and smaller biotech firms. Professionals with a strong sales background will be well-positioned to transition into healthcare jobs, but must show they can adapt to the unique demands of the industry. Preparing for healthcare or biotechnology jobs from another field also means strengthening one’s healthcare credentials.

Although pharma manager jobs require a working knowledge of healthcare products — from one’s own firm, their competitors, and from cutting edge research labs — they often rely on core business management skills for the ability to get things done. Most senior pharmaceutical managers do not deal with direct, front line sales. While they may be the “responsibility owners” for certain major accounts, they spend much of their time working on top level market analysis and strategy. To leverage a sales or business administration background into a healthcare jobs transition, build and emphasize these skills:

Project Management: Project leadership is a huge part of pharmaceutical management roles and is an area traditionally associated with business. If you demonstrate the ability to lead and coordinate multiple teams, you can easily contribute to the kind of multi-faceted projects that are common in the pharmaceutical industry — such as new product launches, rebranding, and multinational strategic shifts in response to competitors.

International Leadership: Although we think of healthcare jobs as a domestic industry, pharma manager jobs are distinctly international. The legal status of any medical product is constantly in flux across dozens of emerging and developing markets. Likewise, consumers in different jurisdictions react differently to marketing and sales initiatives. Prior expertise juggling multinational expectations is enormously valuable.

Government and “B2B” Experience: Although face-to-face sales experience isn’t always necessary, business-to-business sales skills translate easily into the strategic planning and lobbying you’ll have to do when dealing with a variety of regulatory bodies and influential stakeholders. Fundraising experience can also help — since it involves a similar sort of relationship management.

Versatile business leaders can penetrate pharmaceutical management in a variety of ways. Neither direct sales experience nor a thorough medical background is indispensable. Core business skills are the backbone of a career switch.

Interviewing for a Pharmaceutical Sales Job

Congratulations, you have landed that interview with one of the biggest pharmaceutical sales companies in the country, and all you have to do now is ace the interview. While this might seem like an impossibility, especially if you’re faced with some tough competition, there are ways that you can walk into your interview with confidence, even if you do feel nervous. In order to really impress your prospective employers, however, projecting confidence isn’t enough, especially if you’re interviewing for a major corporation who has to make absolutely sure that you will be right fit for their pharmaceutical sales team.

You have probably heard the expression about first impressions being important, and it could not be truer. Before you even speak, how you look will have a major impact on your interview, so it’s important that you know how to dress. Women should dress conservatively and avoid wearing jewelry that is chunky or makes noise (such as bangle bracelets). While a whiff of perfume is a nice touch, wearing too much will overshadow your skill and knowledge, especially if the person interviewing you has a sensitive nose. For men, a dark, well-pressed suit is a great way to show your would-be employer that you know how to dress in order to impress them and any clients that you would be meeting. Barring a tie-tack, a nice watch, or a wedding ring, men should avoid wearing jewelry completely. While that ear stud may not represent you as a person, it might make the wrong impression on a conservative employer.

Once you’ve dressed for success, the next step in acing that interview for your dream pharmaceutical sales job is to know as much as you can about the company before your interview. This isn’t to say that you should memorize their sales catalogue, but knowing what this major company sells, how they sell it, and the kind of clients they deal with can help you answer questions during the interview process. The more you know, the more interest you appear to have in the company, which tells the interview team that you’re eager to sell for them. In a way, you’re selling your skills as a salesman during this interview, and the best evidence of that skill will be the company’s desire to add you to their team. Interviewing for a major pharmaceutical sales company can be nerve wracking, but if you believe in yourself and your personal assets and skills, so will the people who are looking to hire you.

Nursing with a Criminal Record

You may have made a mistake in your past. It happens to all of us. But with a Felony conviction on your record, you may be wondering if you’re able to pursue a Nursing Career. Here is information you should have:

Has your record been expunged? If not, you should come clean to a potential school’s admissions board. However, be prepared to be treated differently than other students if you choose to share that information with those in charge at the program.

Unfortunately, most States will not license persons with felony convictions to be a Nurse [RN,LPN,CNA] and many will not even license persons convicted of misdemeanor crimes related to lying, cheating or stealing. Contact the states Attorneys office in the State where the conviction went on the court record and ask for an “expungement and sealing” information packet. This packet well give you the guidelines for what can or cannot be expunged or sealed and also a list of attorneys who have expertise in this area of law. Expungement and sealing laws differ from State to State and you must get reliable information from the States Attorneys office where the conviction went on the court record.

Your main concern will be acquiring the state license. Get in touch with the state licensing board where you plan to practice nursing, tell them about your felony to see if this would prohibit you from qualifying for the nursing license. You also have to make sure that your felony conviction doesn’t violate Federal or State laws pertaining to health care workers. Some of these laws are onerous, but it varies from state to state. In fact, they may have a list of convictions that would prohibit you from becoming a health care worker.

While a felony or even misdemeanor conviction could present additional hurdles, there are legal steps you can take to minimize your exposure and make sure that potential schools, employers and licensing boards see you as the Nursing Career hopeful that you are, not any sins of the past.

Passing the CCRP Exam for a Biotech Career

To get a great career in Biotechnology, you’ll need certifications. One of the most important is the CCRP exam, given by SoCRA. Biotech Insider has a great collection of tips and tricks to help you do great on the exam.

  • The exam asks basic information and give you a case to look for mistakes – like “the consent form was not signed before a study intervention.” There are some multiple choice questions like ___ number of members for an IRB, or True/false – one member of an IRB must be a lay person. It is a very basic exam, if you have been monitoring for a year or took any research courses you should do fine.
  • The examiners allow a calculator, so be sure to take one for drug compliance.
  • Become a member of SOCRA so that you will start receiving their magazine SOCRA Source. SOCRA Souce is very well written and has a large volume of useful information. Within SOCRA Source is the Self Study section that always contains 10 questions with an answer key in the back. While preparing to take my certification I found these questions to be more helpful than any other guide.
  • Study every single chance you get. Read the FDA Information Sheets, ICH Guidelines, GCP, Declaration of Helzinki, etc. You should also the NIH’s online certfiication/exam for human research subject protections. Any additional information helps. Read the definitions of key terms a million times. The test requires you to apply your knowledge and a lot of questions are tricky.
  • Abstracting Information from Medical Records: what you need to know how to do is to look at a patient’s medical history, cross the t’s, dot the i’s, make connections. Which medication was prescribed for which indication? When? Why? Do the scans, lab results, etc match diagnoses? It is important that the patient underwent cosmetic surgery to remove a lump on the thigh, or was the lamonectomy important and if so, why? What was wrong with the patient that required the procedure? Is that diagnosis in the chart?
  • Give yourself time to prepare so that you don’t have to cram everything last minute. Most of the questions are from the SoCRA study guide. Do read the section on FDA Information sheets, many questions were from that. Also if you have access to RAN Flash cards, they help to re-enforce your concepts.

By following these steps, you should be able to do well on this test and be on your way to a Biotechnology Career!

 

How to Break In to the Biotech Industry

Biotechnology is a rapidly growing industry that is redefining the boundaries of science. When it comes time to land a job, certain steps can be taken to increase your chances of breaking into the biotech industry and becoming a sales representative.

Prior to seeking employment in the biotech industry or as a sales representative, you first need to determine which of the three broad classes you are interested in. Those broad classes are medical, agricultural, or industrial biotechnology. The type of field you select will guide you in planning your future so that you can prepare yourself for getting the very best education that you can.

Stand Out From the Basic Education
Your education is the one of, if not the most important factor in finding employment after you have finished school. Knowing what type and field of study you will pursue when entering in to the study of biotechnology will clarify which prerequisites are required, as well as what deeper learning will be essential to your career. Medical, agricultural and industrial technology each have specialized knowledge and skill sets that are needed and having a solid background in these specialized areas is vital. Sales skills are a necessary attribute for a sales representative.

In addition to specialized education, you will need a firm grounding in basic biology. You will also need to have an understanding of recombinant DNA technologies, cell and molecular biology, biochemistry as well as other common sciences.

Once you are clear about the course of study you will pursue you will have a good idea on just how long your education will take. A rough estimate is, 4-6 years for a senior research scientist in a university to obtain a PH.D. This is then followed by a few years for a post-doctorate. Another route is 3-4 years for an associate technician with a Bachelor’s and then an additional 2-3 years for a master’s degree.

Be in High Demand for a Great Job
In addition to your all-around education, you will want to add some additional skills to make you an irresistible catch for a sales representative position in the biotech industry. Adding these to your list of accomplishments will likely ensure that you will be get noticed and considered for a job. You will want to show an aptitude for mathematics, possess certain computer skills, and have some management skills and marketing skills as well.

Membership in Professional Organizations
When it comes to seeking a new job, who you know is always the best policy. Join professional organizations so that you can meet other group members and leaders among the industry. Aim to develop a respectful relationship with targeted members in the organization and seek out leaders to mentor you and give you job seeking advice. The organization most likely will issue a newsletter where jobs may be advertised, available grants disclosed, workshops listed and industry
conferences and updates announced. It should also contain the name of a sales representative that you could contact for more information. The main reason for joining is that this will greatly help you with networking since you can meet other fellow members by attending the meetings and conferences that are arranged by the organization. Having an extensive contact list is always a plus.

Network
Attend all available conferences that are in your nearby area, this will help expand your list of contacts so you will quickly develop more professional relationships. Having a sales representative as an ally is also a smart move. At the conferences, there will be many biotech companies and associated employers that you will be able to communicate with and learn more about the company and what they expect of their potential employees. This is an excellent opportunity to speak to someone inside the company and develop rapport. The companies are usually hiring and this
gives you the opportunity to meet the employers face to face and possibly get considered for the job. You should collect contact information from all companies you may be interested in working with and plan out a strategy to stay in touch so that the employer will remember you when a job does become available.

Internship/Summer Jobs
If you are currently a college student, you should find out if your university offers internships or summer jobs available. Take action on finding out this information early as these positions are in high demand and the positions can be filled very quickly. You might not receive pay for these jobs but you will gain valuable experience, and experience is what the employers are looking for. Reach out to your professors and speak with your school adviser or Dean to see if they know where you could possibly be hired as an intern. There are also some biotech companies that offer short term project work during the summer and most likely will pay a small stipend.

Modern Technology
Believe it or not, the Google search engine can be conducted to locate many available jobs. The internet is a very resourceful tool that you can use to find work to start your career in biotechnology. For those in nursing jobs, healthcare jobs, science jobs, as well as pharmacy will generally find themselves in a good position to pursue a career in biotechnology. A sales representative may also discover that biotechnology is a good fit as well.

Network Your Way to a Biotech Career

TERMINATION. The word itself has different meanings depending on the context. In the situation where it is used to describe the end of one’s employment, there is but one interpretation; he or she will be unemployed and finding a new job will not be easy. With a larger percentage of corporations in America undergoing reorganization or “downsizing”, a greater number of employees, including biotechnology engineers and scientists, will see themselves in this unfortunate position. Once the initial shock of “termination” wears off, it is often replaced with a feeling of panic; ‘How do I find a new Biotech job?’ Relax. There is a very effective method that can be used to conduct a successful job search. It is known as NETWORKING. If used effectively, networking can be a rewarding experience which will often result in a better position in terms of job satisfaction and salary.

Where does one begin? First and foremost, it is important to understand what networking is all about. For many people in the biotechnology community it involves an entirely new or different philosophy for conducting a job search. It means researching a company to determine if that firm would have interest in your background. It means contacting a knowledgeable person who may be aware of biotech career opportunities, and finally, it involves speaking to that person with the primary intention of obtaining advice. This is one of the key points pertaining to networking; you are contacting a prospective employer not for a job, but for advice. By writing that person, you are telling him or her that you value their opinion and you are requesting their advice in seeking companies which may have interest in your background.

In the last few years I have had the opportunity to speak with many people who work in biotech. In most cases, when asked how they planned to undertake their job search, the response I received often sounded something like this: “check the newspapers, respond to ads and contact recruiters”. Six months later, when their job search was stalled and a feeling of hopelessness had set in, they realized that something was drastically wrong.

A recent study conducted by the American Society for Metals (ASM) revealed that the majority of biotechnology jobs are placed through referrals. Networking is your best opportunity for finding a job in Biotechnology, and by relying on the most common methods, you can expect minimal results. Perhaps the following will offer further clarification. Assume you see an advertisement in your local Sunday paper for a position which you consider to be applicable to your expertise and interests. You respond with a cover letter and attach a copy of your resume.

Consider the following scenario at the company which placed the ad. The person responsible for opening the resumes may be a secretary or receptionist. Assume this person has been given guidelines and instructed to make three piles; yes, no, and maybe. The following profile describes the number of resumes received on a particular day:

        Day 1 – 15 resumes
        Day 2 – 25 resumes
        Day 3 – 50 resumes
        Day 4 – 35 resumes
        Day 5 – 25 resumes

On the subject of recruiters there is a range of possibilities. In most cases they will not be interested in you unless they have a “job order” for which you could be a candidate. A recruiter I know who specializes in civil engineers told me he receives 100 or more unsolicited resumes a week. Most firms consist of a couple of people with minimum staff support. Therefore, they rarely have the time to review every resume that comes across their desk.

Chances are that you have been contacted by a recruiter in the past. Why? Recruiters are networking experts. When they receive a “job order”, they contact people who they know within the biotech industry to obtain new leads. If you had contact with a recruiter in the past, he may have called you about a particular job he had in mind. If you were not interested, chances are he asked you if could “suggest” someone he could contact. This is networking.

Before you begin your job search, you will obviously need a resume. In addition, you will need to develop letter writing skills that match your personality and style. The primary purpose of a networking letter is to convey a message that you value that person’s opinion, and hence perhaps he or she could assist you as you conduct your job search. Keep in mind that you are not asking your contact for a job; you are requesting their help in locating names of individuals or companies which may have interest in someone with your background. Who should you choose to write to within a particular firm? That depends on many factors; the size of the firm , the “accessibility” of your contact, the nature of their business, etc. If you feel more comfortable approaching the VP of Biotechnology rather than a Biotechnology Supervisor, write to the former. Try and contact the person responsible for hiring someone with your expertise.

Once you have mailed your letter, wait a week or two before following up. It typically takes a few phone calls to finally contact the person. It is critical that you do not give up; the leads that person gives you could be considerable. The worst that can happen is that the person tells you your letter was received, but they cannot offer any advice. Thank him for his time and go on to the next contact. In the event he or she can suggest leads, make sure you carefully note the information provided, and act upon the suggestions or leads. In other words, the process starts over again. Finally, if the person has been considerate and taken the time to assist you, I strongly recommend you write and thank them. Not only do you appreciate their help, you show them what type of person you are!

As you repeat the networking process over and over again, you realize several things. To begin with you are progressing in your job search every day. You are controlling where your resume is circulated, and you have a “hands-on” approach to contacting potential employers. Note how this compares to answering advertisements or using recruiters. Sooner or later you begin to speak with people who are interested in your qualifications, and will want to meet with you to discuss employment.

Networking can be a very rewarding experience and for those who have found new positions via this technique, no other method compares. It takes time to develop your letter writing skills, to feel comfortable telephoning the person you have written, and following up on the suggestions given. Networking is a full time job – yet the rewards may very possibly offer more Biotechnology opportunities than you had at your previous position.