Medical Sales Job Interviews: What Hiring Managers Really Think About What You Wear

Listen to this conversation between two former medical sales managers Chris Norris (formerly with GE, CCS, Bayer) and Kraig McKee (formerly with Ventana Medical, Transgenomic, Bayer/Chiron) chat about what to wear to the interview and how to think about it–for both men and women:

Hear about how to buy a suit, all the details about what’s appropriate in terms of attire, jewelry, hair, and more.  And get the inside scoop about what all those details tell the hiring manager about you in your job interview.

For additional information, check out this survey of what hiring managers expect you to wear in the job interview.

If you have a topic that you would like a manager’s perspective on, let us know in the comments below.

Ask a Medical Sales Manager: ABC’s of Field Travel and Training (Part 2 of 3)

So, your boss calls and says she wants to field travel with you in two weeks. Now what?

As a medical sales rep, your boss will always be evaluating you, looking for how you handle issues and approach problems, and expecting constant improvement.  During the call is when you go into action.

First, ask him/her for the dates being considered.  If he/she only gives you one option, that means he/she wants to travel then, so make it happen.  The only possible valid reasons to inquire if you can schedule another date are scheduled surgery, a death in your family, vacation or you being out of your territory.  Their schedule is more complicated than yours most times, so they might not have much flexibility with the dates, even if they would like to.

Find out if they would like hotel suggestions from you.  Before you give them a suggestion, call their assistant and ask what kind of hotels they like.  Keep in mind that your manager’s needs for a hotel are kind of specific, so suggesting the cheapest isn’t always a win.  They most likely aren’t going to have a car, so their hotel needs a restaurant in house or nearby and probably a decent workout room.  Sometimes they need a suite-type hotel because they are interviewing or need additional work space.  Choices are often determined by the company travel policy, but most are OK with mid-range hotels like Marriott Courtyards or Hampton Inns.

If you are offering hotel suggestions, do it within a couple of hours.  Your boss is probably in the process of laying out her schedule for the next few weeks, so getting the info to her sooner makes it easier to finalize and confirm her plans, which might even involve trying to coordinate travel with an event or show or field travel with another rep.  Respond with an email within 2 hours with the name and address of the hotel closest to you.  Pasting the info from the website is a nice touch—directions, numbers etc. at your boss’s fingertips.

Show that you pay attention to detail.  The hotel is probably near your house, so you stop by in the afternoon in business attire and ask to speak to the manager.  Be nice and explain that your boss is coming to travel with you and you wondered if the manager of the hotel could take some special care with your boss.  That can mean anything from a nicer room to a goodie basket in the room to just greeting them by name.  A $10.00 Starbucks gift card and a pleasant demeanor can go a long way to enlisting the hotel manager’s help.  Maybe your boss is a runner.  Is there a nice health club nearby that you could get her a guest pass to?

Wait a minute, you say:  Did I sign on as a host or a sales rep?  Remember that you should always use the same skills internally as you externally.  And the difference between good and great is only 10%.  Don’t both of those apply here?  Your boss is going to be helping you be successful, so why wouldn’t you want to make her life as easy as possible as it pertains to traveling with you?  By doing these small things and having an awareness, doesn’t it position you as a winner?  History says yes.

These same skills–asking the right questions, doing the research, going the extra mile, and making life easy for the manager who can make your life better are the same ones you need to help you get a job within medical sales.  All of these skills will help you stand out as a great candidate who gets the job and a sales rep who continues to make a fantastic impression on your boss.

–Kraig McKee, Senior Recruiter, PHC Consulting

PS – Don’t miss the ABC’s of Field Travel and Training Part 1

Sales Forecasting: Use the Rule of 78

Everyone knows what their annual goal is, but how do you calculate how much you need to close each month if you missed your goal for the first 3 months of the year?  The Rule of 78 to the rescue.

Sales goal planning needs more than a crystal ball.

The Rule of 78 is used in the diagnostic industry to calculate how much new business you need to close to hit your annual sales goal. It allows you to recalculate that increment or growth as the year unfolds.

You say, “Why do I need to recalculate, I have a sales budget that breaks down my goal by the month?

I say “That’s great, tell me what new business you have to close for the remaining 9 months of the year if you missed your goal and didn’t sell enough in the first quarter.

That’s why you need the Rule of 78.  It allows you to calculate how much new business you need to close to hit your growth budget based on where you are at that time.

This tool is very valuable for reps formulating tactics to help them achieve their goals. It is also very helpful for managers to help reps realize that there is a point of no return, i.e., a point in the year that they cannot “catch up”, even if they get a big order. The reason being, there aren’t enough selling opportunities in the year.

Before we work through an example, consider these facts:

1) The Rule of 78 (Ro78) assumes that you maintain your base business.

2) The “increment” is the amount of new business you need to sell to add to your base business to hit your sales goal.

Base business + New Business (growth or increment) = Your sales goal for the year.

3) The Ro78 allows you to calculate in “real time”.

How much will you have to close to make up for an account that you lost in March?

Let’s look at some simple examples now:

Your sales goal for the year is $122,000 and your territory finished at $100,000 last year…so, $22,000 is your growth or increment.

The company wants you to grow your territory $22,000 larger than it was last year.

$100,000 + $22,000 = $122,000
Base Growth/increment Annual Sales Goal

$100,000-your total last year’s production.

It seems like you need to sell $10,166.67 (base +increment/growth) per month, starting in January (122,000 / 12 = $10,166.67)

That seems simple enough—but hold that thought.

This is where they get The Rule of 78.

January 12

February 11

March 10

April 9

May 8

June 7

July 6

August 5

September 4

October 3

November 2

December 1

The numbers to the right represent the number of selling opportunities in a year. You start in January with 12; February has 11, March 10 etc.

That equals 78 selling opportunities.

Now to the fun part.

It is the end of March and you have only sold $2,000 and you should have sold $30,499.98. ($122,000/12=$10,166.67 per month. $10,166.67x 3 = $30,499.98)

Tell me how much new business you need to close every month for the rest of the year to achieve your sales goal?

First, I need to calculate how many selling opportunities I have left in the year.

78 Total Selling Opportunities in a full year

-33 (Selling opportunities lost-Jan-12, Feb-11, March-10=33)

45 Remaining selling opportunities

Your annual growth budget divided by the remaining selling opportunities equals the new increment or growth that you need to sell each month for the remainder of the year.

$22,000(annual sales growth goal)-$2,000(your actual sales for that period) / 45 = $444.44

Since you sold only $2,000 in January, February and March, your increment/growth went from $282.05 per month (total growth goal for the year / 78) to $444.44. That means that you can still hit your annual sales goal if you maintain your base business and add $444.44 of new business each month for the remainder of the year.

Try one yourself:

Use the same annual sales growth goal of $22,000.

You sold $8,000 worth of new business by June.

How much new business (while maintaining your base) do you need each month to hit your annual sales growth goal of $22,000?

1) Calculate the selling opportunities left in the year after June.

78-57(12-11-10-9-8-7) =21

2) Subtract the new business that you have done through June from your annual sales growth goal ($22,000-$8,000=$14,000) to derive the amount of new business you need to add each month for the last six months of the year ($14,000).

3) Divide $14,000 by the remaining selling opportunities (21) to get your new growth/increment-$666.66.

What does the $666.66 represent in this example?

That represents the amount of new business you need to add each month, beginning in July to hit your annual sales goal of $122,000 while maintaining your base business.

It assumes that you sold $8,000 through June, when you needed to sell $11,000 to be on track to hit your annual growth budget of $22,000.

So, if you maintain your base business and add $666.66 of new business per month beginning in July, you will hit your annual sales goal. Did you notice that your increment more than doubled because you missed you goal for the first six months of the year?

This example is a little misleading, because technically, the rep could close a big order in December and hit his growth goal—but that’s a big gamble. I kept the numbers small to make the math easier. Realistic growth goals in today’s diagnostic market are somewhere between 8-30% and make the “Point of No Return” in June or July.

This model only applies to reoccurring consumables and doesn’t apply to capital sales.

Here is a visual representation of The Rule of 78 based on needing to generate $22,000 growth for the year:  Click here to view the Rule of 78 Chart

Your thoughts? Questions?  Put them in the comments or email me at:

Kraig McKee
Snr Recruiter

Ask a Medical Sales Manager: ABC’s of Field Travel and Training (Part 1 of 3)

January 21, 2012 · Posted in Ask a Medical Sales Manager, HealthCare Sales, HealthCare Sales Jobs, Imaging Sales, Laboratory Sales, Medical Sales, Medical Sales Job Search, Medical Sales Recruiting, Medical Sales Recruitment, Pathology Sales Jobs, Pharmaceutical Sales, Sales Advice · Comments Off on Ask a Medical Sales Manager: ABC’s of Field Travel and Training (Part 1 of 3) 

Are you a seeker?

When managers travel with new medical sales reps, their focus is not just on what they know.  They’re trying to help identify what you need to be successful and point you in that direction, and evaluating how you take charge on your own of pursuing the information and the resources you need to be successful.

In other words, they want to know if you are you a seeker.  Do you have the info I need? Do you know who might be able to help?  How do you take steps to resolve issues or needs?  Sometimes it’s a complex customer problem, but sometimes it’s as simple as:  How do I get my car fixed?  How often can I get it washed?  Am I allowed to take customer to lunch?  How do I sign up for direct deposit?  How do I buy a plane ticket for a customer?

Being a “seeker” is one of the key attributes that is always present in winners.

If you’re not a seeker, it shows up like this:  When you’re questioned about your actions, it is someone else’s fault:  “Why is your car so dirty?”  You answer:  “No one told me how often we could get it washed.”  A seeker would have asked.

One of my favorite dirty car stories:

Our organization had just gone through the J.M.O. (Junior Military Officer) phase and hired a training class full of JMO’s.  The new hires went through 90 days of in-house training and were sent to their territories.  The sales trainer then field traveled with them in their territory.  One new hire was an ex-Army helicopter pilot and a really pleasant guy.

He shows up at the airport to pick up the trainer (who flew from Boston to the Northwest to travel with this guy) and sees him at the curb.  We’ll call the trainer Bob.  Bob sees the newbie, waves and heads for the car.  He opens the door, sticks his head in the guy’s car and says:  “Take this car and have it washed and the interior cleaned and then come pick me up.  I’ll stay here and make calls.

Ninety minutes later the newbie is back at the airport and picks up Bob.  Bob gets in the car and tells the newbie, “If you ever have your car that filthy again when someone from the organization comes to travel with you, it could mean losing your job.  It goes without saying that you should never have a customer in a car that filthy.”

The newbie was rattled, but tried to pull it together for the rest of field travel.

What is the end of the story?  The trainer reported that the newbie would struggle and was ill-suited to a selling role.  The manager said she didn’t sense that the newbie was pursuing (doesn’t that mean the same as seeking?) the info and resources he needed.  He seemed to be in a bit of paralysis.

Well, this newbie resigned about 60 days later.  When he resigned, he told his manager, “Everyday out there is like a war”. “Out there” was defined as selling in his territory for an internationally known diagnostic company! Really nice guy that had been very successful in the Army, but just wasn’t right for sales.  He was not a seeker!

A seeker understands that the end responsibility to acquire/identify information, resources or services he/she needs to be successful is theirs.  They understand that if they are unsuccessful in the efforts to acquire that information or resource, they are ultimately responsible for the outcome.  They apply that same logic to sales success in the field and they are focused on eliminating barriers to success.  Not just identifying them and whining about them.  Eliminating them.  When the task/what needs to occur are beyond their position, they sell their manager on the concept and then solicit support from management.  They actively seek the resources they need.

The “seeker” attitude that’s going to help you be successful as a medical sales rep is also what’s going to help you land a job in medical sales in the first place:  You have to be aggressive and go after the things that you need to succeed.  You solicit support, you tap resources, and you focus on identifying and eliminating the barriers in the way of your goal.

–Kraig McKee, Senior Recruiter, PHC Consulting

Top 3 Social Media Tips for the Medical Sales Job Search

A social media presence is a big part of your online personal brand, and a necessary part of any job search–especially a medical sales one.

But if I boil it down to the 3 essential things you need to know, it would be these:

  1. Be there.  You must utilize social media.  The safest thing would be to say the more sites the merrier, but for those in a time crunch or just wanting the most bang for their buck, concentrate on the big 3:  LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter (although Google+ is coming on strong).  Not only does it help you actively search, it also helps you shape what potential hiring managers will see when they Google you.  You have tremendous power here to control their perception of you as a candidate.  Use it.
  2. Post a professional photo–preferably, the same photo for all your profiles.  Many job seekers shy away from this one, but it will hurt you if you don’t have a photo.  If you want more details than that, check out this post on LinkedIn photos.
  3. Use your social media resources to skip HR and contact hiring managers.  Take advantage of the networking you’ve got here.  Going straight to hiring managers will get you way more interviews than going through HR applications ever will.

Want more in depth info on this subject?  Click to go to this video post on The Secret to Standing Out in Your Medical Sales Job Search.

Medical Sales Training Programs: Career Investment or Waste of Money?

If you’re trying to break into medical sales, chances are you want in pretty bad.  As a former laboratory rep myself, I understand.  But don’t let your ambition and enthusiasm cause you to get suckered into the kinds of medical sales schools, certification, or training programs that tell you you MUST have them in order to get a job, or that guarantee you a job.  I have never seen training programs be the deciding factor.  (Here’s my LinkedIn discussion on training programs.)

Here’s the truth:  I’ve worked with hundreds of medical sales hiring managers and been one myself.  They like candidates who (1) have some sort of medical or scientific background (not necessarily a complete degree); and (2) someone who’s proven they can SELL.  (I’ve placed many candidates with only one of those two.)  I’ve never had one ask for a training certificate.

Prove your sales skills through your results at other jobs (see backgrounds that can lead to medical sales jobs).  If you’re a science geek with little sales background, you can turn yourself into an attractive candidate by job shadowing, reading sales books, watching YouTube, writing a great resume and polishing your interview skills (the interview is a sales call–you’re selling yourself).

Right here on this blog are over 700 articles FULL of fantastic tips from a very experienced medical sales recruiter.  If you feel that you must have training (don’t get me wrong, I can see why you would), I have 4 options for you:

  1. Right on my PHC Consulting home page, you can get a free 2-hour audio conference full of tips and insights on getting a medical sales job.
  2. Sign up for a FREE training webinar that will give you lots of insight into How to Land a Medical Sales Job.
  3. Get my How to Get Into Medical Sales Kit.  You do have to pay for this one, but it’s hundreds (and maybe thousands) of dollars less than a typical training program–and it’s got a full one-year money back GUARANTEE.  How many certification programs offer that?
  4. Set up an appointment with me.  I’ve been placing candidates for over 12 years.  You can hire me as a career coach, and I will waste no time telling you exactly what you need to do to appeal to medical sales hiring managers.

Get more tips for landing a medical sales job.

Ask a Medical Sales Manager: How will my boss measure my success after my first 90 days as a medical sales rep?

Are you trying to break into medical sales?  We talk a lot about preparing for your medical sales interview with a 30/60/90-Day Sales Plan.  A well-done plan is your blueprint for the first 3 months on the job–but what about after that?  How will your performance be assessed once you’re “on your own”?  Well, the stakes get a little higher.  “On your own” means the performance meter is running and your evaluation and scrutiny will increase.

Life after the first 90 days as a medical sales rep

Welcome to the big leagues!  By now, you better be very familiar with your company’s CRM program (e.g. and used to the constant conference calls and/or Facetime calls.  If you own or have a company-issued Iphone or Ipad, your regional manager is likely to use that as a tool to update the region’s forecast.  What does that mean to you?  Don’t be sitting in your jammies at the time the call is scheduled and always have your information and your office area organized.

You’ll probably have very little in-person time with your manager (maybe once a quarter field travel plus national meeting time), so the time you do have with him or her counts.  Your manager probably didn’t get to be the manager of your team by not being observant and judgmental, so when you are around your manager, the recorder is running:  evaluating your words, actions, and presence.  When he/she gets good data and feedback, your life and how your manager deals with you will get better.

Perceptions are reality, so make sure your manager’s perceptions of you create the reality you want.  A painting is composed of many brushstrokes, and every interaction is a brushstroke to your manager.  Always remember to use the same skills internally as you do externally.

Your hiring manager’s perceptions of you have a big impact on your reality–your life on the job.  Some of the rules he has to implement are dictated to him by the company, but on a lot of other stuff, he has discretion on enforcing.  For instance, in my experience as a sales manager/director, the rule was that everyone starts out even and everyone does everything for the first 90 days.  If you were at or above plan at the end of the 90 days, you got some reprieve based on your performance and compliance.  That meant that you had longer to turn in your forecast, your pick of check-in times, your choice of projects to lead, etc.

Will you be a top medical sales rep?

Influence your hiring manager’s positive view of you

Your attitude and interactions have a big impact on your manager’s perceptions of you, too.  (Brushstrokes, remember?)  In my 20 years of managing sales reps, I noticed that players always like to have attention and contact.  Top reps enjoy chatting with the manager and gaining his or her perspective.  Because they’re good, they most often have thought through their situations and have already formed a plan of action, but they believe “two heads are better than one” and are interested in the manager’s input.  Reps that are scarcity-based don’t like working in a team environment and rebel at authority.   They will have a very difficult life in the corporate world.  It doesn’t mean they’re bad, it just means that maybe they’re an entrepreneur and don’t know it yet.

How will your boss measure your success?

My rule was always “Constant Improvement,” and that’s likely to be your manager’s rule, too.  As a new rep, that means you should constantly be making strides toward meeting or exceeding your sales goals.  So this month is better than last month, and the month after will be better than this one.  If you are doing the right things, the right things will happen to get you to that goal.

There are always exceptions and it’s true that if you took over a territory at 65% of plan and after two quarters in the field you’re at 70%, your manager is not likely to be pleased.  An improvement of only 5% in 6 months just isn’t fast enough.  At that rate, it would take almost 3 years to turn around a poor-performing territory–and if it takes that long, your manager will not likely survive.

10 critical checkpoints to help you stay on track:

1.  Have you made face-to-face calls for all of your Best Few prospects in your sales funnel?

a.  Have you documented the status of these accounts in your CRM records?

b.  Is the sale on track to close?  By definition, a Best Few prospect is a 90/90 prospect, meaning 90% is will happen and 90% it will happen in the specified time frame.

c.  If it’s off track, have you developed a plan for correction and gained your boss’s input?

2.  Have you met all the thought leaders in your territory?

3.  Are there any special events/shows planned in your territory?  If not, what do you need to do to get one?

4.  Have you called Marketing and asked for one of the product managers to field travel with you?

5.  Have you corrected any customer satisfaction issues?  If it’s a longer-range issue, do you have a plan in place with the buy-in of your boss and the service/technical organization?

6.  Have you identified who you can develop as a positive reference/demo site in your territory?

7.  Have you met your service engineers and taken them to lunch/breakfast?

8.  Are you using a “blown up day” to use as your office day to set appointments?  (You haven’t set a particular day like Monday or Friday as your office day every week, have you?  You shouldn’t.)

9.  You are focusing on accomplishment instead of activity, aren’t you?

10. Are you being a seeker?  (Seeking those with information you need.)

Keep a great attitude

Don’t associate/commiserate/communicate with team members that are always negative and complaining.

90% of selling is mental and the rest is in your head.

–Kraig McKee, Senior Recruiter, PHC Consulting

PS – Got questions that only a medical sales manager can answer?  Put them in the comments section below.

How To Answer 5 Medical Sales Job Interview Questions

Here’s a quick guide to answering 5 common (but tricky) job interview questions within medical and health care sales.  Click the link for the answer.

Don't make a mistake in your medical sales job interview!

1.  “Tell me about yourself.”

2.  “What’s your greatest weakness?”

3.  “Are you a team player?”

4. “What’s your sales style?”

5.  “Can you sell me this pen?”

Perfecting your answers to these typical questions will go a long way toward helping you with what you have to prove in the interview to get the medical sales job you want.

Get an inside track with my free training webinar:  How to Land a Medical Sales Job

Medical Device Jobs: Should you leap at a job with Stryker or run far, far away?

Medical device maker Stryker sure does seem to inspire strong feelings, doesn’t it?  Synthes isn’t too fond of them at the moment, and I’ve even written myself about why you should never work for Stryker.  On the other hand, it seems like everyone wants to work for Stryker and they made MedReps list of Best Places to Work 2011.  So what’s the deal?

As always, there are two sides to every story and one job seeker (Jason) asked me just the other day to help him figure it out.  He found himself in a Stryker job interview and wanted to know if it was worth pursuing.  Listen to the audio below for what I see as the pros and cons involved in working for Stryker:


Pssst….If you are in a medical sales job search, I’d like to invite you to my free training webinar that will give you tons of information and tips to get the job you want faster: How to Get Into Medical Sales

Top 3 Tips for Your Medical Sales Job Search in 2012

Happy New Year 2012! 

If you’re in a medical sales job search, you’ve got your work cut out for you…but I’ve got 3 ideas that will get you rolling in the right direction:

  1. Take advantage of free training.  Register for this free webinar:  How to Land a Job in Medical Sales.  Whether you’re an experienced sales rep or a brand-new rookie, you will benefit from the tips you’ll learn in this discussion.
  2. Learn how to find medical sales hiring managers.  Going straight to the source is the most likely way you’ll find a spot before everyone else hears about it.  Hiring managers appreciate an aggressive go-getter.  Here are some ideas for how to find hiring managers.
  3. Learn to write a 30/60/90-Day Plan.  Not everyone does this, because they’re a lot of work…but I would never go into a medical sales interview without one of these babies if I really wanted the job.  It’s the key to what you have to prove in the interview.

Bonus Tip:  Don’t forget to sharpen up your resume and submit it to PHC Consulting!

Best of luck!