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.”

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.

What Are the Different Kinds of Healthcare Sales Representatives?

In most industries, a sales representative is a sales representative is a sales representative. If you understand the basic principles of what a successful sales professional does in auto sales, for example, you understand what others will be doing in that industry the majority of the time. It may come as a surprise, then, that sales representatives in the medical and biotech fields have the capacity to become a completely different kind of strategic partner for the clients they work with. Set aside any mental image you might have of stereotypical door-to-door salesmen or Heather Locklear’s character on Scrubs!

The first thing to realize is there’s a great diversity of positions for sales representatives throughout the healthcare and biotech industries. The different areas of sales are distinct enough that they require their own strategies and a mature understanding of the market segment the sales professional works in.

Some representatives specialize in one area and can develop a rich and satisfying career that way. However, with increasing competition in the medical space comes a growing expectation that professionals will have knowledge in multiple areas.

Here are a few of the areas in the medical industry that require sales expertise:

Capital Sales:

Capital sales represent large investments that align with the long-term strategy of a given hospital or other medical facility. For example, a new MRI machine would fall under this heading.

Sales representatives focused on these “big ticket” items have a unique challenge. On one hand, organizations wish to demonstrate to patients and employees that they provide the latest technology. On the other, replacing existing capital equipment before the end of its useful life is a challenging proposition.

As a result, a sales professional will have to be aware not only of the product catalog that he or she services, but also of the existing equipment stock, long-term needs, and overall advertising strategy of every major client.

Disposables

Disposable items are things like surgical gloves and scrubs that must be used on a daily basis and thrown out when their work is done. Although they fall into the least expensive class of purchase that an institution makes, they are a necessity that cannot be allowed to run low.

As a result, hospitals will tend to have an ongoing agreement with a supplier for these vital items. Sales representatives who focus on disposable items will often find themselves in competition with a more established supplier. Since the features of most disposable items are nearly identical, sellers will have to aggressively negotiate agreements that best satisfy the client’s desired price point.

Medical Devices

Medical devices make up one of the broadest categories in medical sales. Everything from the stint that may be used in a patient’s heart to a completely artificial heart itself is considered a medical device.

Sales representatives in medical devices are often said to have the most challenging jobs. They must interact with the client on the deep level required in capital sales, but still do their best to negotiate on both features and price. Likewise, the competition among medical device manufacturers who have similar offerings is fierce, due to the extreme bottom line value and enduring nature of medical device contracts. In medical device sales, one must be aware of the complete regulatory landscape and use it to achieve advantage.

The differences in these three areas should provide some clues as to the related sales skill sets that one could cultivate to transition into a healthcare sales role. All healthcare sales representatives should expect to have certain traits in common: The most important may be the ability to keep track of medical developments and changing market conditions. This is complemented by an ability to do the necessary research, in cooperation with a client, in order to truly understand their needs.

Once these basic skills have been acquired and honed, the path diverges a bit depending on one’s area of expertise.

Sales representatives can transition easily into capital sales from any background where they were responsible for large contracts — especially contracts of a technical nature that required working with experts in a field. Winning respect from medical professionals by demonstrating knowledge of the problems they face is key, and provides the negotiating power needed to make major sales.

Sales professionals with a logistics background — those who are knowledgeable about the importance of “continuous improvement” in areas like material cost — are well suited to focus attention on disposables. Such professionals should also be prepared to evangelize their service record or other features in comparison to the competition.

Finally, sales representatives who have transitioned from a medical background are in the best position to explore medical device sales. These sales often hinge on the salesperson’s ability to perceive a client institution’s needs and discuss them in precise medical detail.

4 Great Pharmaceutical Sales Tips!

You may not be 100% sure on how to figure out which direction is best in your Biotechnology Career. You can think about getting a Pharmaceutical Doctorate but recently you may have thought about becoming a sales rep. Both careers have good base salaries and schedules but if you are not sure on what would be a more realistic goal, here are some tips about working as a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative:

  • You should have good personality, good communication skills and the power to attract people towards you.
  • Companies seem to be moving towards a more cut throat representative, someone who gets in the face of a doctor and really goes for the kill when it comes to selling. If you ask the Doctors, they will throw out any rep who ever cops an attitude with them and you’ll never get a prescription! However, a soft rep will always get blasted by their manager for just being “friendly”.
  • The sales side is largely personality based. For example: If one is highly clinical, kind of an introvert and motivated more by tasks than goals, than the PharmD idea would probably be best? However, if you’re an outgoing, highly driven and goal oriented individual, than sales may be better for you.
  • Pharmaceutical Sales requires a combined skill set of technical, communication, interpersonal and sales. You really need to master all areas to succeed in this industry. In any sales position, it comes down to knowing your product, followed by the ability to understand the customers needs. We are really consultants who help our customers resolve problems. If you’r promoting a class of drugs that involves multiple competitors,you also need to thoroughly understand their products so you can effectively explain the features of yours and how it will benefit your customer.