Crafting Your Resume for Pharmaceutical Sales
Primary traits for sales success
Self-confident. Above all, sales stars need to be able to handle the stream of rejections that come from physicians not having time to meet with them, not giving more than two or three minutes of attention where 10 or more would have been preferred, outright refusing to see them -- even after they've been waiting in the reception room, being short-tempered or cranky, or any number of other quite common circumstances around making those required 8 to 10 calls per day.
Persuasive. Since you will only have three or four minutes to make your pitch, every phrase needs to pull its weight in persuading the physician that your company's product is better than existing alternatives. Given how often you will be called upon to apply this trait, you should enjoy being persuasive and look forward to refining your presentation to achieve this end.
Self-starter. Remember, reps do not punch clocks and have no one overseeing when they start their day. You get up, get into your car, and make your calls. You might have to field a call or two from the cell phones of other team members covering your territory, but chances are they are also working to remain consistent in their work habits. This lack of structure requires that you be able to motivate yourself. Companies know that connection is important, and thus, arrange for continual training meetings to give people a chance to meet each other.
Action-oriented. You should have an instinct to act -- as opposed to say, deliberate -- and thus you will want to be continually out there, figuring out the best way to reach a difficult physician or refine a presentation. From ongoing actions, you can then learn what is working and what is not. With an action-orientation, your efforts will produce ample empirical field data and observations, which effectively become the basis on which in-house analysts will determine what is happening in the market.
Competitive. You should be perpetually conscious of how well you are doing relative to your peers and to an absolute goal and you should be energized, rather than stressed, by the presence of another competitive person entering your team. In fact, competition is a way of life, a way of seeing the world, with scores -- either in dollars or sports measures -- a way of letting you know how you are doing. If you come up short in a competitive contest and your attitude hovers around "I'll get there next time," then you'll probably get to Fridays with enough energy to enjoy your weekend. If, on the other hand, the same event craters your self-esteem and leaves you introspective, it's more likely the weekly drive to meet sales goals will create unrelenting stress.
Goal-directed. You measure achievement in highly concrete ways. That keeps you on track here, but ironically, can be frustrating in pharmaceuticals because of the way the selling process works. Sales people never actually exchange goods for money in the closing. Once they obtain a commitment from the physician, it can be up to three months before reps actually see their territory's sales data. That becomes delayed gratification, which, in turn, requires even more goal-directedness to make it to the next cycle.
Need to be heard. Also described as the ability to take charge, to be in command, to have one's point of view listened to and understood. Because face time with the customer (the physician) is so limited, top sales people need to have a strong urge to convey their information, whatever the obstacles. Note that pharmacists are also customers, and many reps arrange to make a couple of calls to pharmacists before going to see physicians, since the former has greater accessibility than the latter.