How to get an Entry-Level Job in Pharmaceutical Sales
As recruiters for the pharmaceutical sales industry, we work with individuals that are trying to get a job in pharmaceutical sales or simply trying to expand their current career in pharmaceutical sales. Although, companies have gotten a bit leaner in hiring, there are still jobs for those that are willing to put time and effort into their search for a job.
There are several key areas to consider once you have decided to look for a job in pharmaceutical sales. Do you have sales experience? Most pharmaceutical companies today are seeking individuals with some type of outside sales experience, whether that be in business to business sales or some type of sales role held during college.
Companies will train their sales representatives in their product lines, however, they are less willing to train individuals on the actual sales process. Some individuals believe that sales can be an inherent ability given to us at birth. That may be true in some instances, but most companies are not willing to bet on it without a proven track record from previous sales positions. You may think you can sell any product out there, but most pharmaceutical hiring managers want to see proof.
What do you do if you don’t have sales experience (entry-level)?
We believe it is important to start by learning the language. If you are not familiar with the sales process or how to close business, it would be important to spend time learning more about sales. There are many selling techniques used today, (i.e., SPIN selling, features/benefits, consultative approach etc.) Your local bookstore may have valuable information to help you get started. Typically an entry-level pharmaceutical sales position will usually require a Bachelor’s Degree from an accredited college and at least 1-2 years of successful selling experience. Without this experience, it is extremely difficult to get an interview.
Here are some areas to consider:
If you are a clinical person trying to enter pharmaceutical sales, you will also need to learn more about sales in order to sell yourself and your skills at an interview. While having an understanding of pharmacodynamics is important, it will be equally important to the company hiring you that you have the skills necessary to detail a physician and most importantly get the physician to prescribe your medication to a patient.
The second area to consider is your resume. Do you sell your abilities on your resume? If you can’t sell your abilities and catch the hiring manager’s attention quickly, it is likely that your resume will be overlooked. Bullets are a great way to accent your accomplishments. If you are a recent college graduate, add accomplishments like your high grade point average or any leadership roles you have had in sororities or fraternities on campus. If you had a part-time job during college, add accomplishments for this position.
The third area to consider is your ability to interview. When interviewing it is important to note that your enthusiasm and passion come into play when interviewing. Good eye contact, a professional image and an overall ability to communicate will make you a strong contender for most pharmaceutical sales jobs. Let the interviewer know that you want the position. Don’t be afraid to ask the hiring manager for the position. This is considered a sales skill, “asking for the next step” or “closing” the sale. If you don’t ask for the next step in the interview process, the manager may assume you were not that interested.
Of equal importance is making interviewing a priority. If a recruiter or hiring manager contacts you to do an interview on a certain time and day, you should make all efforts to accommodate their schedule. It should not be the other way around. Telling a recruiter that you need to coach a Little League Game and can’t go at that time may end your chances of interviewing for the position. If the Little League Game is important to you, then it may be worth it, but if you can make the interview you might get the job. It is all about setting priorities. Being courteous and respectful and prioritizing a hiring manager’s time is crucial. It will set you apart from other candidates.