In order to help you better understand the Pharma industry and ultimately help you land a sales career within the industry, we recently conducted an online Q&A with a seasoned pharmaceutical sales executive (Rodney H.).
See questions and answers below.
Q. How did you get introduced to the Pharma industry?
A. working at a Retail Pharmacy
Q. Have you worked in other industries? If so, how do they compare?
A. Retail Store Management, Luxury New Car Sales 6 months, Internship-Home Healthcare Marketing Manager
Q. Why did you choose Pharmaceutical sales?
A. I met a lot of Pharmaceutical Reps that encouraged me to pursue this field, along with an influential Manager at an Eckerd drug store.
Q. How long have you worked in the Pharmaceutical industry?
A. 27 years
Q. What types of clients did you work with?
A. Physicians (All Specialties), Hospitals, Home Healtcare, Nurses, PA, NP, MHMR Clinics
Q. What were common challenges/objections that you faced while selling your product?
A. Hospital Formularies and DRG’s, Managed Healthcare Formularies, Price Issues, Low Program Attendance, Call Frequency and Call Reach.
Q. Is now a good time to enter into Pharmaceutical sales?
A. Yes, but be ready for cycles of hiring and downsizing–make sure that you are producing sales, relationships and at the top of your game every year. You can’t hide when the numbers comes out on paper.
Q. How should someone prepare for the interview process with a pharmaceutical company?
Know everything about the company–products you will sell (at least names), how company is performing, always close for next round (why, why not), ask interviewer what they are looking for-then turn it around with your strengths and accomplishments, answer questions in situations, Task, Action and Results–but continue by stating how this will make you the resounding candidate and what it would mean for this company, territory, product.
Q. What type(s) of products did you sell?
A. Ventolin, Beclovent, Beconase, Vicon C, Corticaine Cream, Nucofed, Fastin, Amoxil, Ticar, Zinacef, Fortaz, Zantac, Trandate, Advair, Flonase, Serevent, Flovent, Imitrex, Boniva, VESIcare, Valtrex, Zyprexa, Symbyax, Cymbalta, Wellbutrin XL
Q. Was their competition within your company? How was the competition with your competitors?
A. Competition is tough inside due to near number of sales representatives and lots of ego’s that drives everyone to race for the top. With competitors–Most played fair–but those that broke the rules were the tough ones to compete against due to I wasn’t about to break the rules. Merck, Pfizer, AZ and Schering had my respect because if you didn’t make the sale–they would.
Q. In your opinion, How important is a brag book? What information should be included?
A. I am not a fan of the brag book. Every candidate I interviewed and HIRED had strengths and weaknesses (areas of need). I liked Annual Performance Reviews that gave me direction where the candidate and their manager were heading in terms of development. This gave me an idea of where I would need resources to continue to develop the career of the one I hired. Rankings are another one that I liked especially if you could show me a baseline and how you improved rankings, earnings and so forth
Q. What advice would you like to share with people looking to start in the industry?
A. Expect to be hired in 2 years. Know every product that you could possible sell before the interview. Network with physicians you know personally to find out there best representatives. Hand out resume’ at Physician office buildings and Hospitals–as reps come in offer to buy them a cup of coffee and a chance to meet the DSM. Attend local Pharma Reps Associations in your city–if available. .
Be enthusiastic, Be courageous, Be respectful during the interview! Dress for success–image carries you a long way and it is hard to get over initial perceptions. Join Linkedin! I am currently interviewing and actually looked up person that is going to make the hiring decisions as well as found his representative to find out his likes-dislikes. Don’t walk in blind to the detail and gather as much knowledge as you can. Practice potential answers and make strong statements that you can back up. Remember the next candidate behind you is probably just as good as you are so YOU need to STAND OUT of the crowd. They interview 4 per day and I thought the first and last positions were the best. If you are doing a Job Fair the same rule applies–unless there is truly a STAR in the middle–they won’t be remembered by the end of the day unless they had 2 DSM’s interviewing them or multiple interviews. If you go to a Job Fair or Screening Day with 4-5 DSM’s or recruiters working it.
We hope this information was helpful, and remember interviewing is a performance.