Pharmaceutical sales requires a comprehensive understanding of the pharmaceutical employer's products and services. Interacting with hospitals, community health centres, private physicians and others in the pharmaceutical representative's territory requires outstanding interpersonal skills. The pharmaceutical representative explains how and why the employer's product or service benefits the medical professional's business and caseload. Prepare a business plan to outline the steps required to achieve sales management's goals for the territory. Inspire management's confidence in your ability to perform tasks required to achieve revenues and relationship goals.
- Skill level:
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Collect as much information as possible about the pharmaceutical company's territory under discussion. If the company plans a major sales campaign to introduce one or more new drugs, create a detailed comparison of the drug and any known competitive brands. Suppose your future employer wants to introduce a new allergy prescription medicine. Unlike existing competitive drugs, the new drug bypasses the liver and may be safer for older patients to use. Outline the differences between the new drug and the competition to the best of your ability.
Prepare a business plan summary. Suppose your future employer plans to roll out at least one major new drug in the next 12 months. Presenting a comprehensive business plan requires more in-depth information than you may have now. Start with an outline of the territory's goals and objectives as you understand them. Then, recap the steps required to execute 30-Day, 60-Day, and 90-Day Action Plans, suggests author Tom Ruff in "How to Break Into Pharmaceutical Sales: A Headhunter's Strategy." Your business plan summary demonstrates an understanding of each step necessary to achieve major goals. Present the business plan summary during the second or third interview. Make changes after your meeting to reflect input from your new management.
Present a sales-oriented comparison of the employer's new drug and the competition. Role play with your future employer: you're the sales rep and she's a doctor of a local hospital. Present mock or actual marketing materials for your brand and that of the competition. Your future employer understands you don't have all the facts about the competitive landscape. Once you're hired, you'll receive training and explore a sales presentation. However, your future manager will appreciate the opportunity to witness your sales skills in action. Author Frank A. Melfa recommends "Sell, don't tell!" the concepts outlined in your business plan.
Use technology to present your business plan summary. Your future employer provides each sales rep with a laptop. Each account in your new territory is loaded into your laptop. After completing a sales call, you make notes and transmit follow-up and next steps in that medium. To drive home your complete comfort with technology, use your laptop. Show management how you plan to prepare for a call as part of your plan summary. Provide copies of the presentation after shaking hands with your new management.
Tips and warnings
- Demonstrate your understanding of sales and marketing execution in every possible way when interviewing for a pharmaceutical representative's job. You've got lots of competition.
- Use a soft sell even when making a hard case for your candidacy. Pharmaceutical reps must develop relationships.
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- "How To Break Into Pharmaceutical Sales: A Headhunter's Strategy"; Tom Ruff; 2007
- "Insider's Guide to the World of Pharmaceutical Sales"; Jane Williams, Shelly Moore; 2008; Page 24
- "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Business Plans"; Gwen Moran, Sue Johnson; 2009
- "Cracking the Code to Pharmaceutical Sales"; Teena Rose; 2005
- "Selling Today: Creating Customer Value"; Gerald L. Manning, Barry L. Reece; 2007; Page 290: Presentation
- "Is a Pharmaceutical Sales Career Right For Me?" C. G. Schott; 2010; Page 31