Pharmaceutical Sales Interviews -
How To Get!
Pharmaceutical sales interviews are very difficult to obtain; candidates can spend months hoping, yearning and dreaming of an interview that will catapult them into a pharmaceutical sales career.
As an interview consultant with pharmaceutical sales recruiting experience, my coaching clients find it odd when I don’t recommend utilizing recruiters to obtain pharmaceutical sales interviews. Why? Because networking with pharmaceutical reps is far easier and far more effective in landing pharmaceutical sales interviews!
And let’s face it, if a manager can hire a sales pro recommended by his/her rep at a much cheaper fee than through a recruiter, which candidate do you think the manager will choose? Not only will it save the manager money, but it’s been reported by many managers that candidates recommended directly by reps tend to stay longer, produce more, and are more likely to progress through the ranks into specialty or management positions.
Although networking seems to be feared by many first time pharma sales candidates, it has become increasingly easier to do over the last few years. Why? Sheer numbers, my friend…with over 100,000 pharmaceutical reps in the United States alone, chances are high that someone in your network of friends or acquaintances is a pharmaceutical rep, or at least knows one. Therefore, networking to gain pharmaceutical sales interviews really isn't as difficult as you may think!
As a pharmaceutical sales career coach, I’ve found that only the strong survive a career search in pharmaceutical sales. To put it bluntly, gaining a 1st job in pharmaceutical sales is not for the faint of heart. [Case in point - check out these interview catastrophes and learn how to avoid them in your pharmaceutical sales interviews.] For success in gaining pharmaceutical sales interviews, you must be willing to “put yourself out there” and not be timid about utilizing your network of friends and family or approaching pharmaceutical reps that you do not know.
Get Pharmaceutical Sales Interviews in 7 Easy Steps!
The first step I advise my clients to take is to send out networking letters to everyone in your circle of family and friends. Inform them of your fervent desire to win a job in pharmaceutical sales, and ask for further networking contacts. This is one of the most powerful and efficient networking strategies of gaining pharmaceutical sales interviews, yet it is often overlooked because of its simplicity. You may utilize a “form letter”, but remember to write a message on each letter in order to personalize the letter, as this will elicit a better response rate! After 7-10 days, follow-up the letter with a phone call, if you haven’t yet received a response.
The second step is simply to develop a tracking system of who you’ve spoken with, the results of the conversation and when follow up is required. This is important to begin right away, as you will soon have so many contacts it will be difficult to keep track of your next step.
The third step is to make a list of your physician/physician assistant contacts. Your children’s pediatrician, your personal doctor, a family friend who is also a physician - all of these are perfect networking contacts. Contact these individuals via phone, or write an informal note and leave it for them at their place of business. Again, explain your situation and ask for his/her help in providing names/numbers of pharmaceutical reps they trust to provide you with good information about this career.
The fourth step - if you have a comfortable relationship with the office personnel or receptionist in a local medical clinic, then utilize that relationship to provide networking contacts as well. Often medical clinics will have a posting from a local rep association, which lists pharmaceutical reps in the area, along with their associated companies and contact numbers. Ask for a copy of the list, or at the very least for the names of 3-4 reps that the office personnel really like and trust.
Tip: Make sure you’re adding to your network tracking forms and conducting follow-ups, as needed, to gain those pharmaceutical sales interviews.
The fifth step is to visit your local pharmacy and ask the pharmacist for the business cards of reps that frequent the pharmacy. Again, asking for the local rep association list is an option, as pharmacy’s often post the list as well.
Tip: As you are networking with physicians, physician assistants, office staff and pharmacists, always show your sincerity and willingness to view each source as an expert. Ask their opinions, ask for their help, and illustrate how passionate you are about getting into this industry. You’ll be surprised at how quickly the “doors will open" to you!
Tip: To be a successful pharmaceutical sales rep, you must be a creative, “outside the box thinker”…hmmmm shouldn’t that creative thinking also be applied to your job search process? When your networking isn’t proceeding as planned, don’t just give up. If you do, then this job is not for you!
The sixth step - start thinking like a pharmaceutical rep! For example, do you know of a popular lunch place in town that delivers? Chances are, pharma reps are utilizing this very same restaurant for “lunch and learns”; therefore, the manager probably has a hefty supply of pharmaceutical reps’ business cards!
The seventh step - what about camping out in a busy medical clinic all day, dressed in your finest? Speaking of appearance, you must be “dressed to the nines”- meaning that without professional attire, pharma reps will rarely take you seriously. Don’t be shy about approaching pharmaceutical reps as they make their way out of the clinic. Before you say anything about your job search, ask the pharmaceutical rep if he/she has one minute to spare, in addition to asking for his/her business card. Always respect their time, and you’ll be given that same respect. Only take one minute of their time, as previously promised, by quickly providing a 45 second “infommercial” of your history that qualifies you as a “contender” for pharmaceutical sales careers. Finally, ask if you may contact them at a future time that is convenient for them.
A few last tips for gaining pharmaceutical sales interviews:
- Don’t make the mistake of giving your resume to everyone you meet. This may be annoying to many, especially to reps. Only provide a resume when it is requested by a pharmaceutical rep.
- Every person that takes the time to converse with you must be given a thank-you note. You won’t believe how much this will help in the long run, if you just follow this simple advice. People don’t often take the time to do this, and you will position yourself as an elite professional, if you do.
- Effective follow up is the number 1 key to this entire networking system. Following up with your contacts to discover new openings, tracking your progress, and developing positive relationships will make or break your career search. Consider it practice for the pharmaceutical sales job you’ll soon have; organizational skills and repoire-building skills are imperative to career success.
- Don’t give up; remember…pharmaceutical sales is not an easy career; it is fraught with many challenges. Today’s challenge of networking your way into an interview will seem petty, once you obtain a pharmaceutical sales job. Keep this challenge in perspective, and refuse to give up. I’ve had clients waiting in medical clinic parking lots, ready to approach pharmaceutical reps as they get into their car…are you willing to be that determined? Chances are…your competition will be!
Still Not Gaining Pharmaceutical Sales Interviews? Then Read This...
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