December 29, 2014

Prepping for Medical/Pharma Sales Part 1

Part 1 of a 3-Part Series

Prepping for a career in Medical/Pharmaceutical Sales

When I was in college, I had big dreams of doing my internship with MTV and then pursuing a career in Medical or Pharmaceutical Sales.  I wonder how many people apply for an internship at MTV?  I was naive enough to think at that time, that my Bachelor’s Degree was all it took to get in those industries.    After working for a staffing agency for several years that did lots of work in Medical and Pharmaceutical sales recruiting, I quickly learned just how complicated that career progression really is.  There is a science to getting in those industries.

Doing what it takes—It is important to remember, that if you are really wanting a career in these industries, that you are going to have to build a strong track record in outside business to business sales in some very AGGRESSIVE selling roles to transition to these industries. If you are not comfortable cold calling, developing new business, and being out in front of people to do so, then these industries are not going to be a fit for you because these backgrounds are required by Medical and Pharmaceutical Companies. You really must build a strong successful track record to get in those industries and that means doing what it takes to get there. If you want to run a marathon, you must train for it.  I tell people that if they don’t want to sell copiers or wireless products to businesses (these are just a few examples), then they are probably not going to be a fit for these companies.

It has also been my experience that a class in Pharmaceutical Selling, or a healthcare background with your Degree, is not enough to get in these industries.

Bachelors Degree—It is correct in saying in 2015, that the very FIRST step to getting into these industries is obtaining your Bachelor’s Degree.  While many moons ago, these companies would hire people without a Bachelor’s Degree., in 2015 your Bachelor’s Degree is a requirement.  Some companies do specify a science related degree and most often, they also require a high GPA.

Record—It is imperative that you don’t have any DUI’s or criminal/felonies convictions on your record. There is usually a company car so a clean driving record is a must.

Athletics—If you have any form of athletics while in college or high school, this too can be an asset to getting into these industries.

# of Jobs out of College—You will want to watch the number of jobs you have out of college. Here is something that many people don’t know— the more jobs you have had out of college, the further you get away from a career in these industries. There is a 3/5 rule. Sometimes these companies will specify no more than 3 jobs in 5 years. You will also want to make sure that your progression of jobs out of college has been what they are seeking.  A good position in outside business to business selling and then going to an inside telemarketing role or retail role is not going to be the kind of career progression they are seeking.

Please keep in mind, that if you do not have the backgrounds discussed in this 3-part blog, that I am not saying you can’t get into these industries selling pharmaceuticals or medical products. I am merely telling you what these companies are seeking from recruiters or headhunters, and what my experience has been in recruiting for these companies for a number of years. Once in a great while a candidate will cross my desk that has gotten in these industries and does not have any of the backgrounds I have and will mention in this blog.  Most often times they have gotten into these companies on their own and not through a search firm.

In Part 2, I will discuss the good transition positions (sales backgrounds) for these particular industries.

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