Life has been tough for pharmaceutical reps for the last few years. Massive layoffs and changing sales practices by Big Pharma companies have resulted in a flood of sales reps in the job market.

But life gets even tougher for them when they run into job postings with “pharma reps need not apply” or “we won’t consider candidates with a pharmaceutical background” right in the description! So is that the end of the road for them? Does that mean you can’t even look at that job if you’re a laid-off pharma rep? Of course not!

First of all, don’t send your application through that particular process, and knock yourself out trying to fight your way through that obstacle. It’s not going to happen. They’ve told you they’re going to eliminate you as soon as HR sees “pharma sales” in your job history.

You’re going to have to put on your sales hat and try a different approach. In a real sales event, we don’t let the receptionist stop us by saying they’re not interested in our product, do we? We find another way to get to the buyer, another way to present the opportunity so we can try to get their business.

So think about this: They say they don’t want pharmaceutical sales reps, and maybe they don’t. But what if you’re different? What if you have a B2B background farther back in your job history? What if you’re a spectacular sales rep who just hasn’t had a chance to work in a different kind of role? Even though you haven’t yet worked in an individually-based sales process where you’re required to close the deal yourself, doesn’t mean you can’t.

What you CAN do is to get to the hiring manager. He’s the buyer. Get to him, communicate in a very positive way, and use your sales skills. He’ll see them in action (because you’re selling yourself as the product he needs). If he’s open at all, he will consider you for the job even though HR says they’re not interested.

When you get into the interview, if you’re still facing that objection, you can ask, “Mr. Sales Manager, have you ever hired someone with a pharmaceutical sales background who did succeed?” Chances are very good that they have. I can name many, many instances of pharma sales reps transferring into surgical sales, clinical laboratory, medical device, and more and been very successful at it. There’s no reason you can’t do that, too.

Author's Bio: 

Pharma sales are different from other areas of medical sales. Learn the essential skills you need to transition straight from The Medical Sales Recruiter! Peggy McKee offers a FREE training webinar, “How to Land a Medical Sales Job” where she answers the top 10 questions most folks have about breaking into medical sales, and teaches the 6 essential steps to landing the job!
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