Pharmaceutical Sales Secrets Revealed
by Pat Riley

How do I get into Pharmaceutical Sales?

As a 6-year veteran of pharmaceutical sales recruiting, I hear this question at least 77 times a day.

Breaking into pharmaceutical sales is hard work. Throughout life, you learn "life rules" like "respect your elders" and "wear a shirt at the dinner table". Likewise, there are pharmaceutical job-hunting rules…secrets. Only nobody has told you them. However, I'm going to tell you a couple of my secrets, but not all of them, because I still want to earn a living in my industry of choice.

  1. Speaking with a pharmaceutical sales representative or district manager is probably the best way to break into the industry. You want to build a relationship with existing pharmaceutical sales representatives and district managers for several reasons. The referral usually carries more weight than a resume from any other source. Second, they know the industry and might be able to provide you with a list of contact names (i.e., other sales representatives, hiring managers, or recruiters. Working through recruiters and career jobs boards should also be fully utilized to maximize your job search efforts.

  2. Accomplishments are crucial to a great resume because they articulate your professional performance or results. Hiring managers use your past performance as a key indicator to predict your future performance (i.e., if you were a quota buster in your last position, you will most likely be a quota buster in your next position). Accomplishments should be objective, quantitative, and measurable. Hiring managers like to see "dollars, numbers, and percents" on your resume. Also, use bullet points to set off your accomplishments. Do not bury your accomplishments in paragraph form.

  3. A pharmaceutical sales interview is like no other type of interview. You must be prepared for the SITUATION, ACTION AND OUTCOME type of interview questions. Situational questions will be asked and your answers must include the actions taken and the outcome of your actions.

For example:
How did you turn around a "hostile" relationship into a sale?

I inherited an account that had our equipment in it ten years ago. The equipment, billing process, and the sales representative were horrible and now the clients will not return my calls. He said he would never buy another piece of " X " equipment.

First of all, I did not take it personally but listened, and let him know I understood his ill will toward our company. Over the next several months, he opened up to exploring how our company had changed for the better. He allowed me to explore his account's needs and demonstrate our solutions.

Ten months after taking over the account, I sold $$ worth of equipment to this client.

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Pat Riley is the president of 10 Abbott Street L.L.C.
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