Thanks to the Wireless Executive Recruiter for this video.
Q: Is a medical sales rep job sexy?
A: No. Some people have an image of medical sales reps spending their days in sharp suits, taking doctors to lunch, and generally socializing their way through the day. What they’re missing is parking garages, FDC regulations that prevent you from taking them to the really nice restaurants, and doctors who are too busy to meet with you. In reality, medical sales (including laboratory sales, medical device sales, imaging sales, pathology sales, and more) is hard work. You have to hustle to make the sale, because the competition is fierce. You have to keep up with medical and technological advancements to be knowledgeable about the marketplace and what the doctor needs (so he won’t dismiss you as ignorant and not talk to you anymore). And, you have to juggle multiple accounts that are all at different places in the sales cycle.
Q: Once you get a job in medical sales, isn’t your career set?
A: Uh, no. (See the aforementioned competition.)
Q: If medical sales jobs are so difficult, why would anybody want one?
A: Medical sales jobs are challenging, but they are also rewarding.
- Medical technology and advancements are fascinating and dynamic, with something new constantly to keep things interesting.
- Medical sales reps contribute to patient outcomes–not directly, like a doctor does, but by providing that doctor with the best equipment, tests, and technology available to do her job well.
- Medical sales jobs aren’t tied to the economy–everyone needs health care, which means that recessions don’t affect the medical sales arena as strongly as other industries (pharmaceutical sales reps are the exception).
- The medical sales job market is competitive, but it is for a reason: they are great jobs.
For more information on the jobs available in a variety of areas in medical sales, see PHC Consulting’s job opportunities.
Competition for jobs in medical sales can be fierce. Health care is a fascinating field, and the work environment for medical sales reps is exciting, lucrative, and rewarding for those who want to really make a difference. However, sales interviews are difficult, and interviews for jobs in medical device sales, laboratory sales, biotech sales, imaging sales, or other health care sales are demanding. That means that you’re going to have to work a little harder to set yourself apart from the competition and win the job. If your background and experience are up to snuff, all that’s left is the interview. Here are six things you can do that absolutely will work to make the most of the time you have in your interview to impress the hiring manager and boost your chances of landing the job:
1. Research the company. In other words, do your homework. There’s no excuse for not knowing what the company does, what its current issues are, what its goals are, where its products fit in the marketplace, and who the competition is. Your job is to take in this information and use it to figure out how you can help them reach their goals….and then frame your answers to interview questions accordingly.
2. Know what kinds of questions to expect from a medical sales interview, like “Can you travel?” or, “How will you build your market?” Have answers prepared for tough (but popular) interview questions such as, “What’s your greatest weakness?” (definitely use a real weakness that helps you be a great sales rep–but not perfectionism) or “Why should we hire you?” Especially be ready for behavioral interview questions focused on tough situations you’ve had to deal with, or goals you’ve achieved and how you did it. Quantify your answers whenever possible. Hiring managers want sales reps who know their job is to ring the cash register.
3. Dress appropriately, and watch your body language. Dressing appropriately means dressing conservatively (see how to buy a suit for men) with no flashy jewelry or strong perfume. If you’re not sure about your job interview body language, find a book to study, or research body language online. Try making a video of yourself and get a friend to help you critique it.
4. Create a 30/60/90-day sales plan, which is a short, 1-3 page outline of your first 3 months on the job–how you will get your training, how you will get up to speed on current accounts, how you will bring in new customers, and so on. It’s impressive because it is evidence of how much you want this job, and how hard you’re willing to work, before you even get the job. It shows the hiring manager that you understand the company, and you understand how to be successful in the job. A 30/60/90-day plan helps the hiring manager to see you in the job, which then makes it easier to make the decision to hire you. It also helps you guide the direction of the interview so that you are sure to get your points across, and it turns the interview into a conversation rather than a question-and-answer session. You can certainly make a 30-60-90-day plan yourself from scratch, but if you want to make your life easier, you can download samples and a template with video coaching from the Sales Recruiter.
5. Bring your brag book. A 30/60/90-day plan shows the hiring manager what you will do, but a brag book shows the hiring manager what you have done. It’s the evidence to back up what you say you can do. It should include your sales stats, performance reviews, “good job” notes or emails, resume, certifications, PowerPoint presentations you’ve created, brochures you’ve done, and what types of products or equipment you’ve marketed. A really thick brag book with a few critical things highlighted (that you show the hiring manager) is especially effective.
6. Know how to close the interview. If you’re in sales, you know how to close the sale. A job interview is the same process, except that the product you’re selling is yourself. This is one of the most important sales calls of your life. Don’t leave without asking for the job. Whether you ask for it directly or you use an assumptive close by asking about the next step, it’s important that you uncover any objections the hiring manager might have while you’re right there to answer them.
Being well-prepared for the interview will boost your confidence, present you as a better candidate, and help you smoothly navigate the interview toward getting the job offer.
Get a comprehensive guide to preparing for any interview with this free Job Interview Prep Kit.
It’s hard to land a job completely on your own. That’s why the phrase “it’s all in who you know” is such a cliché. Finding a job through someone you know is still the number one way that candidates find jobs. That’s why networking is so important for your career. And what better person to include in your network than a medical sales recruiter?
You might say, “I don’t need a recruiter. I have a great network of professionals as a resource, and these days, everything’s online anyway. I can find all the jobs I want and apply that way.” OK, let’s talk about that.
First of all–yes, you can apply for jobs online. However, most online applications are a time-wasting black hole for a medical sales job hunt. They take forever to fill out, and if you’ve seen it online, a thousand others have, too. So unless you’re PERFECT for that job, your resume is never going to make it past the Human Resources screening process (which is keyword-based) and make it to the hiring manager. Your odds are not good. Endlessly applying for jobs you don’t get is a morale-killer that’s hard on your confidence, which eventually affects how you present yourself as a candidate.
Now–your network. I absolutely believe that maintaining a great professional network is critical for you and your career. But what I want to ask you is this: How many of the professionals in your network make their living from knowing where the medical sales jobs are? As a medical sales recruiter, I do. What’s more, many of the jobs recruiters fill are never advertised. Simply because of that, your odds go up because fewer candidates will be considered. And then, your odds increase even more because a recruiter will submit you for jobs you have a good chance of getting. They match you with the company and the job: by industry, skill-level, opportunity for advancement, and geography (where in the country you want to work). That’s a timesaver for you because you’re not wasting time applying for 50 jobs you aren’t suited for and won’t get.
And here’s the icing on the cake: Once a recruiter submits you for a job, they have a vested interest in seeing that you get hired. Recruiters don’t get paid unless their candidate gets hired. So, the recruiter becomes your advocate in the job search process and will give you the inside scoop on what the hiring manager’s looking for, what the company culture is like, how to tweak your resume, what to say to stand out in the interview, what to bring to the interview that will blow the hiring manager away, and what the hiring manager REALLY thought of you.
I’m not saying that a recruiter is your only option in your job search. You should use your network, your LinkedIn profile, and the tricks I teach candidates on how to contact hiring managers directly. If you’re really having trouble finding a job, consider hiring a career coach to help you.
Working with a recruiter is a no-brainer. You can’t lose. It doesn’t cost you anything, because recruiters don’t charge candidates, they charge employers. (Fine print: The only thing you have to remember is that a recruiter won’t work with you to get a job you’ve already applied for, because the recruiter won’t get paid unless they were the first person to submit the candidate.)
The bottom line is, if you know there’s an industry expert whose business it is to know where the jobs are in medical sales, wouldn’t you be crazy not to take advantage of that resource? Contact a recruiter today.
“What’s your greatest weakness?” is one of those typical but tough job interview questions. We all hate it, but you know you’re going to get asked, so be prepared. It’s trickier than it seems on the surface, and there’s an art to answering it well. Do you give your real weakness and how you’ve overcome it? Or do you pinpoint a quality that contributes to your success in medical sales or health care sales? See what the medical sales recruiter has to say about how to answer that question truthfully, while still promoting yourself as the best candidate for the job.
Get ready for your interview with my free Job Interview Prep kit.
If you are a nurse who is thinking about a career change, you’re not alone. There’s a recent ANM Health Care survey that says over 40% of nurses are seeking a career change. Job satisfaction for nurses is low, for a lot of reasons: the hours, the pay, and a lack of respect from doctors are a few of them. Or maybe you just need a change. That’s not unusual. Many people make several major career changes over their lifetimes, just because their current job no longer fits into the life they want.
But if you got into nursing because you like science and you love helping people by making a difference in one of the most important areas of their lives and you’re not ready to make a 180-degree turn into show business or basket-weaving, what will you do? How can you transition the skills you’ve learned as a nurse into another career? What kinds of careers can utilize your particular skill set? Medical sales. Medical sales reps often have high job satisfaction, generous pay and benefits, and a more varied wardrobe (no more scrubs for you).
Nurses can often make a smooth, natural transition into medical sales jobs: medical device sales, hospital equipment sales, imaging sales, pharma sales, pathology sales, biotech sales, laboratory sales, or clinical diagnostics. Why?
- You have a science background–a must for anyone getting into medical sales. You need to understand what you’re selling and how it can meet the needs of your customers.
- You probably have practical, on-the-job experience with the products you’d sell. What better way to be able to demonstrate how your customer can benefit from your product than by having been in their shoes?
- You already know how to deal with difficult doctors. (Enough said.)
However, landing a job in medical sales can be difficult because there’s a lot of competition–because it’s a fantastic career. So what do you need to do to place yourself in the best possible position as a candidate? Even though you have an advantage because of your background, you’re not in the clear yet. You need to do some research on how to land a medical sales job, and make sure you can present yourself as a strong job candidate. Here’s a quick outline of steps you can take:
- Read sales books and get some sales training…there are medical sales training programs, but they’re only one option.
- Job shadow someone in the specific product area you’re interested in. That way, you’ll get a feel for a typical day, and furnish yourself with a resource for your 30/60/90-day plan and your interview conversation.
- Conduct informational interviews with medical sales reps and medical sales managers. It will give you tremendous insight into the job, and make you a more informed candidate.
- Establish a LinkedIn profile that will introduce you as a professional, and find sales-related groups to join so that you can network–get your name out there, and gather industry information.
- Write a killer resume. Hire it out if you need to, and include your job shadowing and sales training on it.
- Polish your interview skills. This is critical. Interviews for sales candidates are difficult, so you must be prepared.
- Learn how to write a 30/60/90-day sales plan to present to the hiring manager. It’s a written outline of what you’ll do in the first 3 months on the job. A 30/60/90-day plan shows the hiring manager that you understand the job, and aren’t going in cold. Plus, it spotlights your initiative, drive, and energy (all desirable qualities for a sales rep).
- Submit your resume to a medical sales recruiter.
- Consider getting custom coaching. A recruiter doesn’t have time to really help you get the job, but a career coach can show you what you need, role play interview questions, fine-tune your resume, and guide you through all the details.
What will the best-prepared candidate bring to the interview?
You bring what it takes to show the hiring manager who you are, what you’ve done, and what you can do for him.
For jobs in medical sales, health care sales, laboratory sales, medical device sales, pharmaceutical sales, imaging sales, or clinical sales, that means you should bring your resume, your brag book, and your 30/60/90-day plan. In this video, I’ll tell you why those things speak to your job skills and qualifications, and I’ll give you tips and ideas for interview preparation and attitude so that you can show the hiring manager why he should hire you.
What do you think? Will pharma sales reps have a strong role in the medical sales industry in the future, or will the shrinking job market for pharma sales reps make them an endangered species?
(PHC Consulting commissioned this cartoon–we’d love for you to pass it on, but we want credit if you do.)
What does it take to set yourself apart from the competition in the job search? Is it a killer resume, a brag book, a 30/60/90-day plan, a great LinkedIn profile, smooth interview skills, or how well you prepare for the interview? Yes, it’s all those things. AND, it’s more. It’s how you position yourself in relation to your competition. Who is the hiring manager comparing you with? How do you stack up? What do you have to offer? In this video, I’ll give you a breakdown of the thought process you need to be able to stand out in a job interview in medical sales, medical device sales, laboratory sales, clinical diagnostics, imaging sales, healthcare IT, or pharmaceutical sales.
- How to analyze your competition
- How to use your recruiter or the hiring manager as a resource
- How to use this information to position yourself as a stand-out candidate
The term “medical sales” covers a lot of area: medical device sales, laboratory sales, clinical diagnostics sales, biotechnology sales, imaging sales, pathology sales, pharmaceutical sales, and tons of other niche areas of health care sales. Even though there are strong differences in style (capital vs. consumable sales, for instance), there are several basic, bedrock things you need to know if you’re going to land a job in one of these areas. They all have to do with background, experience, and candidate preparation.
Ideally, you need a science degree. There are people who will tell you that you don’t need a science degree to be successful in medical sales, but that’s only partially true. In some cases, candidates with very strong sales backgrounds have gotten by with it, but they almost always have science classes under their belts (beyond just the minimum they needed to graduate). You have to know what you’re talking about in order to sell with credibility and confidence–so if you want to be successful selling medicine, science, and technology, you have to know medicine, science, and technology. Medical sales training programs can be helpful (in the way that all training is valuable), but won’t help an otherwise bad candidate.
- You need sales experience and sales skills in order to land a job in medical sales. However, you don’t necessarily have to have medical sales experience. What you must be able to do is demonstrate how the sales process you’re good at will translate into your desired area of health care sales.
- Complete a field preceptorship (job shadowing). It shows that you’re willing to do something that you won’t get paid for in order to land this job. It demonstrates your initiative, determination, and strategic thinking. If you’re short on experience, it helps fill in some of the weak areas. It’s great for your resume, because it furnishes you with handy keywords that will get your resume noticed.
- Read sales books and get sales training. These will help you in the interview, and if you can communicate that you’ve done these things, it will highlight your commitment to getting into medical sales.
- Find medical sales reps or managers who will give you an informational interview. It’s a fine line to walk, because you don’t want to take advantage and turn it into asking for a job, but a good informational interview will give you tremendous insight into the field.
Presenting yourself as a top-quality candidate
- Use your network. Work the network you already have, and establish a profile on LinkedIn. Join groups that are relevant to the medical sales areas you’re interested in, and participate. Follow influential recruiters on Twitter.
- Pay attention to your resume. Go beyond the basics of having an attractive, easy-to-read, professional resume. You must have the right keywords on your resume (that will get picked up by the Applicant Tracking Systems of medical sales recruiters), as well as a strong resume objective. Highlight your technical degree, if you have one.
- Improve your interview skills. Polish your interview skills. Be ready for behavioral interview questions by having stories ready that highlight your skills. Do your homework before the interview so that you have questions of your own to ask, dress appropriately and watch your body language, and use your sales skills to close the interview for the job.
- Write a 30/60/90-Day Plan. Prepare a 30/60/90-Day Plan to show your interviewer that you know what it takes to be successful at this job. A 30/60/90-Day plan requires that you analyze the job as well as the company, and set goals for success. Its an outline for what you will do when you start the job. This kind of effort before you even get the job impresses hiring managers. You become less of a risk to hire, because they can see that you will be able to hit the ground running as an asset to the company.
- Consider hiring a medical sales recruiter for custom consulting. It’s the quickest way available for you to find out what it is that you need to do to land a medical sales job. This kind of career coaching will also show you how to highlight your best assets, and how to deal with potential drawbacks (or even turn them into an advantage).