Pharmaceutical sales is one of the most sought after sales jobs in the country. It comes with a high salary, great benefits, and a flexible schedule. It’s is also seen as a somewhat prestigious and very professional career.
The industry has grown nearly 300 percent in the last decade, and is still increasing due to longer life expectancies, aging baby boomers, and increased reliance on medication for improved quality of life. In fact, CNN Money predicts an additional 16.4 percent growth (nearly 400,000 more jobs) in pharmaceutical sales by 2022.
But, have you really stopped to think about what it will take to land a job in pharmaceutical sales? The competition for jobs is fierce, but there are some things you can do to set yourself apart even if you have no previous pharmaceutical sales experience.
1. Get some sales experience
Some of the larger pharmaceutical companies will hire recent college graduates with no sales experience, but most others will not.
You will improve your odds of landing an interview with some sales experience. Being able to show a track record of success will go a long way in proving you can do the job. Any previous sales experience where you learned to handle rejection and overcome objections is a great start to success as a pharmaceutical sales rep.
2. Network with pharma professionals
Who you know does play a role in helping you get a job in pharmaceutical sales.
There are a lot of places you can meet people in the industry including a local Pharmaceutical Representative Association. You can also ask your doctors or pharmacist about the reps that visit them regularly. They may have business cards to pass along.
It’s important to note that pharmaceutical sales reps may get a lot of calls from people they don’t know who are looking for a way into the industry. You’ll need to show determination and find a way to stand out so you make a lasting impression.
3. Do some research in the field
Once you have connected with a pharmaceutical sales rep, you’ll want to ask about doing a “preceptorship” with him or her.
A “preceptorship” is the industry way of saying you will spend a day shadowing a current pharmaceutical rep. Ask a lot of questions, and come prepared by doing research on the products beforehand. You’ll see what the typical sales call looks like, experience the average amount of time spent traveling, and understand the research involved in the job.
When you’re still considering if a pharmaceutical sales career is truly right for you, a preceptorship.
4. Set yourself apart with a pharmaceutical sales certification
As a pharmaceutical sales rep, you will play an important role in educating doctors about the products you sell.
Gaining a professional certification like the Pharmaceutical Representative Certification (PRC) from the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA) will show employers that you are serious about the profession.
Due to the recent opioid crisis, the pharma industry that is under close examination. As a result, professional certification is more important than ever.
A good pharmaceutical sales certification course will help you increase your knowledge of medicine as well as ethical practices and regulations you will face on the job. You should also look for a course that will help you understand common medical terminology and basic anatomy as you will be discussing these things daily with doctors, pharmacists, and their representatives.
5. Be prepared for your interview
With the information available online, there is no excuse for not doing your research before an interview.
You should know about the company, its products, its people and culture, its customers, and even about the person conducting your interview. It’s important to be at the top of your game for each interview, as you may be asked to review a product sheet and sell the product back to the interviewer.
Even if you don’t have any pharmaceutical sales experience, you may also want to have a portfolio ready in case the interviewer asks for examples of successes you’ve had in the past.
6. Understand the importance of persistence
The best pharmaceutical sales reps are persistent and determined.
You’ll need to keep going even if it takes a while to get your foot in the door. This will prepare you for the job ahead. Your persistence shows potential employers that you’re ready for a career in pharmaceutical sales.
Remember to follow up on every application you submit and personalize your cover letter and resume as much as possible. With confidence, a positive attitude and the ability to sell yourself, you can land a job in pharmaceutical sales.
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