I found a Medical Sales post I liked about a nurse at a Toastmaster’s meeting inquiring about switching to a career in medical sales. Two things I liked most about this: Toastmasters is actually a good way to improve communication skills, obviously critical to a sales career (whether it is medical device sales, pharmaceutical sales, laboratory sales or biotech sales)… and, it was suggested that she actually meet and talk with some of the medical sales people who come into her hospital to get first hand information. I have also suggested several times that people interested in transferring to medical device, laboratory, or pharmaceutical sales do “ride-alongs” with medical sales people to get a more realistic idea of what’s involved in day-to-day operations.
Candidates: be aware that if you lie in your discussions with a recruiter and he/she figures it out…you are no longer a candidate. Our clients are looking to us to help them reduce hiring mistakes and maximize talent recruiting. PHC Consulting won’t pass a potential problem employee on to them. Talented medical salespeople should not lie…..whatever it might be about you or your past that you do not want us to know, you better deal with it up front. Don’t just say what you think we might want to hear, and remember to be prepared for any difficult question that might come up so that you don’t become tempted in the moment to cover up or gloss over some issue. FYI: Not actually working during the dates you give on your resume, quitting your job and not mentioning that you are no longer with the company that you have stated on your resume as “present”, etc….are lies. So be warned.
Developing good telephone etiquette is extremely helpful to a career in medical device, clinical or research laboratory sales…I found a guide for telephone etiquette that includes considering how you sound in conversation as well as how you sound and come across when recording greetings on your voicemail and leaving messages on others’. Speaking slowly and clearly, listening well, smiling while you talk, and being concise and on-topic will help you appear professional and intelligent and increase your chances of success.
How do you come across in interviews? On pharmaceutical and laboratory sales calls? What kind of vibes are you getting from your job interviewer or your medical device customer? Of all types of communication, the one that reveals and says the most is body language. This cool guide to body language I found shows you what to look for in others, and what to be conscious of in yourself…how to project confidence and competence…and how to not overdo it and freak people out.
A beautiful resume, the appropriate experience…..now, let’s see…is the candidate in the right location…..No address on the front page, no address on the bottom, no address on the back. (see resume basics) Why would she do that? It means that I have to hand her off to my assistant. She will have to call the number on the resume. Probably, she will leave a message. Then, maybe the candidate can call us back and tell us where she lives. Now, I know you are going to ask me why I can’t tell where she lives by the phone number. The cell phone era has introduced uncertainty in that area. A candidate yesterday had a Colorado number but lives in Dallas. He used to live in Denver. Also, companies issue cell phones with a number that is unrelated to where the employee lives. So…..can we skip all these steps and just have the address on the resume?
Check out this article on workplace e-mail etiquette…it covers how to keep your e-mail from being tagged as spam, what to pay attention to in content and length (like how to watch that your more relaxed social e-mail habits don’t show up in professional e-mails), and suggestions for how to name attached files (like resumes) so they won’t get lost in the shuffle. More and more, first contacts and impressions are being made online, so developing good e-mail communication skills is critical for anyone in the medical sales industry.
Dr. John Sullivan wrote an article on how to win the war in talent acquisition by improving interview processes, which involves really “selling” the job to the candidate and having hiring managers completely rearrange their interviewing schedules to better fit candidates’ available times–like conducting interviews on nights and weekends, and holding fewer face-to-face interviews in favor of possibly more convenient long-distance ones…and while I do agree that employers should point out the advantages and benefits that their particular open position has, I don’t think they should go to that extreme. Medical device, research, laboratory and pharmaceutical sales managers have incredible time pressures and already work late hours and weekends to keep up with the day to day tasks . They need to manage their time as best they can by having candidates fly to them whenever feasible, and interviewing during work hours and never on weekends (unless there is an amazing candidate who has such terrible time constraints that the interview absolutely cannot happen any other time). Also, the author recommends reducing the # of face-to-face interviews. Maybe for hourly employees, but for health care sales positions with an average pay between $75k and 150k total compensation, I think it is absolutely insane to make a buying decision without seeing the product in several venues and different days. I recommend 2-4 face-to-face interviews. It really does weed out the bad apples to a greater extent…
My last post was on the differences between pharmaceutical sales and medical device sales. Now let’s cover how clinical, biotech and research laboratory sales fit into this equation:
The skill sets to be successful in this area are the same: strong sales skills, follow-up, follow-through, and technical knowledge. It can be more helpful to have a science background in this area, but still not completely necessary.
Job stability is a little greater than in other areas: this area is not as tied to the economy. Patients continue to get sick and require tests even when the economy is slow. Also, there are fewer lab sales reps than pharma reps, so they stand out more in their companies.
Respect is a little higher: customers see the representative as a consultant and value the information the lab sales rep brings to them; doctors often have ego issues and don’t believe the pharma sales rep can add value. And to some extent they are correct.
One last piece of the puzzle is # of calls per day. Pharmaceutical sales requires ~ 8-12 calls per day, medical devices is a little less at around 6-9 calls per day and laboratory sales calls per day average between 3- 6. I hope all of this helps you when considering the different areas for your next sales position. Please be aware that our specialty at PHC Consulting is the research laboratory and biotech laboratory sales market.
If you’re at the PHC Consulting website or blog, you’re either looking for a new opportunity in your area of medical sales (pharma or medical device or laboratory sales), or maybe you’re looking to transition from one area to another. Maybe you’re unsure about the differences between them, and don’t know how to tell which would be the best fit for you. Vincent Ma, the author of Non Sterile (a blog focused on medical device sales) wrote an extremely informative guest column on http://www.pharmrepclinic.com/ that outlines the differences between pharma sales and medical device sales , sprinkled with examples from his own experiences, that you should read now. I can’t post the entire thing here, but here are some excerpts:
There are several similarities between pharmaceutical sales and medical device sales. In both professions, we are trying to educate doctors and other medical staff that the features and benefits of the products that we represent are better than that of our competitors. Both types of sales representatives provide lunches, samples, marketing tchotchkes and other forms of entertainment.
In both areas, you will be concerned with repeat business and purchasing groups, which Vincent covers. It gets more interesting when you start considering the differences:
The goal in pharmaceutical sales is to increase the number of prescriptions (”scripts”) written by physicians in your assigned geographical area. In medical devices sales, the goal is get the purchase order. In pharmaceutical sales, the results of your efforts are rarely instantaneous; weeks may pass before you know if the lunch you provided increased the writing habits for your drug at that particular office. With medical devices sales, you know at the end of the day if you did a good job, because you either got the purchase order or you didn’t. You don’t have to wait a month to see if your numbers go up.
Whereas pharmaceutical companies may provide their representatives with a targeted list of physicians, medical device representatives will spend much of their time prospecting for new hospitals, medical offices and clinics within their territory. With prospecting, there is a lot of cold calling. It is critical to network and ask for referrals in medical devices sales. The sales cycle is usually longer, and device representatives have to work harder to maintain relationships. Once a purchase is completed, a hospital may go five or ten years before they need to replace the equipment. This is especially true of capital equipment purchases. In pharmaceutical sales you follow a routing schedule and see many of the same physicians again and again. In device sales, you will usually cover a larger territory, but the bigger the territory, the greater the opportunity.
The differences are in selling styles and processes and in what your own personal risk/reward factors are. Vincent has a list of questions to ask yourself to help you pinpoint which area would be the best for you.
Whatever you decide, you need a plan of attack. Come to my free webinar, The Fastest Way to Get a Job.
I know that I have said this before, (see the post) but I need to say it again. The answer is not: silence, or education, or the fact that your cousin is a sales person therefore you thought you would be one!!!
The answer is:
1. I have read and actively absorbed the information in a great sales book that Neil Rackham, Zig Ziglar, Harvey Mackay, Tom Hopkins, etc…wrote. Reading these books will absolutely help you in the interview process and in the sales environment!!
2. I have done a “ride along” with a sales representative. See my other post about how to make this happen.
3. I have a mentor who is a sales manager or sales representative and has worked with me to develop the thought process or understanding that I need to be successful.
If you want me to take you seriously, I absolutely need to see evidence of active preparation for a job in medical sales!