During my many years as a medical sales recruiter, and in my current role as Founder/CEO of GorillaMed.com, a leading job board for medical sales opportunities, I have been asked this question more than any question I can recall. While there is no sure-fire method of preparing to secure a job in medical device sales or pharmaceutical sales, there is a very popular entry method which has proved successful for thousands of individuals over the years.
First, you will need a minimum of two years of outside sales experience, selling a tangible product or service, in which your success is measured by your performance versus your sales quota. In other words, how effective were you in achieving sales success versus the sales success expected by your employer?
The types of products/services which medical companies covet in their potential sales candidates are such tangible items as office equipment, copiers, and office supplies. Such companies as Xerox, Canon, Toshiba, IKON, Pitney Bowes, Wallace, etc., are examples of the type of sales background which medical companies find attractive.
In addition, such industries as credit-card processing and consumer products are also in demand as target backgrounds for medical companies. Companies such as Cintas, Paychex, Coke, Pepsi, Gallo Wine, Hersheys, etc. are also a great background for making the transition into medical sales.
However, to really increase your odds of being able to land a job in medical sales, you must have a history of documented success in exceeding your sales quota and performing in the top 20% of your respective sales force within your company. Medical companies want only the very best non-medical sales representatives, and your sales history in your current occupation will be critical to landing a medical sales job.
So, if you are serious about entering the world of medical sales, I suggest you consider making a two-year investment in your career by selling one of the product-types listed above. Consider this an â€œapprenticeshipâ€ towards achieving your ultimate goal of becoming a medical sales representative.
However, some of the better recruiters have developed long-standing relationships with companies, or with individuals within the companies that allows them to gain an exclusive job order. This means that every candidate considered for interview must come through the one recruiter who has been granted that job order.
As a job-seeker, if you can identify recruiters who have exclusive job orders with companies, your chances of getting an interview are greatly enhanced.
NEXT: â€œRecruiters do not work for you, they work for the hiring companiesâ€
Medical sales recruiters understand that most of their hiring managers prefer to hire a great sales rep away from another company.Â So, when they are evaluating potential candidates to interview for a sales opening, they tend to favor those candidates who are currently employed.Â Therefore, if a recruiter has been given only three interviewing slots by the hiring company, an unemployed candidate may be left out of the process in favor of one who is employed.
This phenomenon has been somewhat diminished in importance by the large number of high quality sales individuals who have been down-sized because of the economy.Â However, make no mistake about it, most hiring managers are psychologically tuned to hiring a sales rep away from another company, rather than one who is currently unemployed.
The lesson here is that you should start your job search for a new sales position while you are still employed, if at all possible.Â Never leave an unhappy situation to seek greener pastures without understanding that you may be reducing your opportunities for gaining a better position by being unemployed.
NEXT:Â Â Â Try to use a Recruiter who has an Exclusive Job Order from a Company
One method being hyped is â€œemail blastingâ€.Â Job seekers pay a fee to have their resume sent via email to hundreds, or even thousands of recruiters and potential employers.Â Sounds like a winner, right?Â To the contrary, this method is actually a waste of time and money.
Why?Â First, recruiters and companies receive literally hundreds (or even thousands) of new candidate resumes daily.Â They have become so inundated with emailed resumes filling their in-boxes each morning that most merely delete those emails without ever reading them.Â Email blasting is a veritable â€œblack holeâ€!
Secondly, recruiters spend their time attempting to find a perfect match candidate for a specific job profile, in a specific location.Â They do not have the time to browse through hundreds of unsolicited resumes with the slim chance that one of them may be a match.Â Instead, they post their job specifications on reputable job boards, and wait for qualified candidates to respond to that posting with their resume.
So, save your money spent on email blasting, and spend it registering for one of the â€œpay-to-playâ€ medical sales job boards, like www.gorillamed.com.Â You will be investing wisely in your job search efforts.
NEXT:Â Â Â â€œThe best medical sales candidates are already employedâ€
Furthermore, as in real estate sales, the old 80/20 rule certainly applies to medical sales recruiting.Â That is, 80% of the medical sales positions are filled by 20% of the recruiters.Â Why?Â It is because the medical sales recruiters who are successful, stay in the business for many years, and slowly build their credibility and professional relationships with industry personnel over time.Â It is very difficult for a new recruiter to get job orders from sales managers who have developed a long-term relationship with an established recruiter, and may be reluctant to compromise that relationship.
This fact is very important to the job seeker, since choosing who will represent you in your job search may be the difference in finding a new job or not. One quick barometer of evaluating a recruiter with whom you might consider engaging is to ask that recruiter how long he/she has been in business.Â You may also want to secure a sample list of client companies which that recruiter has represented in the past.
In summary, when choosing a recruiter for your quest to find a job in medical sales, do your homework.Â Ask colleagues and seasoned sales managers to recommend several high-quality recruiters with whom they have utilized in the past.Â Choose two or three of these recruiters, and start developing a relationship with them.Â Even if you are currently not seeking a new job, it always pays to have a close working relationship with a few quality recruiters.Â Make this a priority as part of your overall career-building strategy.
NEXT TOPIC:Â Â â€œWhy Email Blasting Your Resume is a Waste of Timeâ€
Here is a great way to prepare for a medical device sales interview which utilizes behavioral techniques.
Finally, an hour before the interview, review your resume.Â Most interviewers focus on things you have stated on your resume.Â By re-reading your resume, you will be able to remember your achievements, and will not be surprised by a question asked about something you may have written on your resume many months earlier.
During the interview, listen carefully to each question.Â Before rushing to answer, mull over in your mind what behavior the interviewer might be attempting to uncover.Â Then, pull an example out of your pool of prepared â€œanswersâ€ that provides an appropriate description of how you demonstrated the desired behavior in your job as a medical device sales representative.Â With practice, you will be able to tailor a finite set of prepared answers to almost any question answered.Â Finally, do not forget to always answer your questions using the SAR technique.
1)Â Â Â Tell me about a situation in which you made a physician upset during your sales presentation.
2)Â Â Â Describe a time which you alienated a co-worker by your actions, and how you resolved this conflict.
3)Â Â Â Tell me about a time when you withheld information requested by your sales manager, or company co-workers.
4)Â Â Â Describe a situation when you used creative ways to make your sales quota.
5)Â Â Â Tell me about a time when you had to â€œfireâ€ a friend or subordinate
6)Â Â Â Give me an example of how you solved a brewing conflict with your sales manager.
Next:Â Â The Day of the Interview
1)Â Â Â Describe a situation in which you were able to use persuasion to successfully convince someone to see things your way.
2)Â Â Â Give me a specific example of a time when you used good judgment and logic in solving a problem.
3)Â Â Â Describe a time when you were faced with a stressful situation which demonstrated your coping skills.
4)Â Â Â Give me an example of a time when you set a goal, and were able to meet it.
5)Â Â Â Tell me about a time when you had to use your presentation skills to influence someoneâ€™s opinion.
6)Â Â Â Give me a specific example of a time which you had to conform to a policy with which you did not agree.
7)Â Â Â What is your typical way of dealing with conflict?Â Give me an example.
8)Â Â Â Tell me about a time when you successfully delegated a project.
9)Â Â Â Describe a time when you set your sights to high (or too low).
10)Â Â Â Give me an example of a time when something you tried failed.
NEXT:Â Â Sample Behavioral Medical Sales Questions
1)Â Â Â Situation (or task, or problem)
2)Â Â Â Action
3)Â Â Â Result (outcome)
Below is a great way to prepare your answers:
1)Â Â Â Identify 6 to 8 examples from your past experience where you demonstrated top behaviors and skills that employers typically seek.Â Think of examples which will exploit your top selling points.
2)Â Â Â Half of these 6-8 examples should be positive in nature, such as accomplishments or meeting sales goals.
3)Â Â Â The other half should be situations that started out negatively but rather ended positively, or you made a bad situation better.
4)Â Â Â Vary your examples.Â Do not take them all from just one area of your life.Â Do not be afraid to use examples from your personal life, as well as your business life.
5)Â Â Â Use fairly recent examples.Â If you are a recent college graduate, examples from high school may be too long ago.Â If at all possible, use examples which happened during the past couple of years.
6)Â Â Â Always give your answers in story form, without being verbose, but utilizing the SAR Method.
7)Â Â Â Always review your resume immediately prior to the interview, since most interviewers will focus on specifics contained in your resume.Â If you have not examined what you have included on your resume in quite sometime, you may give answers which may conflict, or contradict with what is written on your resume.
NEXT:Â Â Sample Behavioral Interview Questions for Medical Sales
While it is difficult to predict the exact questions which will be asked during your interview, you can arm yourself with a group of well-rehearsed SAR answers which are flexible enough to adapt to many types of questions.Â It is helpful to think of your responses as stories, with you becoming a great storyteller as you give your response using the SAR technique.
Possible story scenarios which you will want to rehearse in advance may include examples of how you handled conflict with a fellow employee, your sales manager, or a client.Â They might also include answers to questions about why you made the choices that you made throughout your life, even going back to your college experiences.Â Interviewers are attempting to evaluate the logic which you have demonstrated in the past to structure your life.
These prepared-in-advance answers you will construct may include examples from internships, classes or school projects, hobbies and work experiencesâ€¦â€¦â€¦anything, really, which demonstrates your behavior during past situations.Â Please remember, behavioral interviewing is all about what you actually did during a given situation, not what you would do if presented with a situation.
Many behavioral questions try to get at how you responded to negative situations in your past; so you will need to have examples of negative experiences ready.Â However, try to choose negative experiences that you made the best of, or, better yet, those that had a positive outcome.
NEXT:Â Â Specific Tasks to Utilize When Preparing for Your Interview