It can be challenging to get into medical device sales. Plus, helpful advice is difficult to come by. To make things easier the team at Medical Sales Authority has put together a list of sixteen tips for how to break into medical sales.
A Guide To Breaking Into Medical Device Sales
1. Plan On It Taking 1-2 years
Remember the job search is a process. Breaking into medical device sales is not the type of thing that happens overnight. It takes preparation, many interviews, a lot of rejection, and a willingness to grind it all out. Do not get discouraged if things do not fall into place with the first company. Be patient and keep getting better.
2. Get B2B Sales Experience With Documentation Of Strong Performance
This is the most important piece of advice when considering how to break into medical sales. Get solid outside B2B sales experience. Find a company that offers credible sales training and work hard for 2 years. If you have a track record of prospecting, working hard, and closing business you will be in a good position to make the transition to medical.
Related: Medical Sales Rep Qualifications
3. Get Exposure To The Healthcare Setting
Hiring managers like to see candidates that are familiar with what healthcare is all about. This is because settings like the operating room are not for everyone! If you volunteered in a hospital one summer or worked as a CNA, make sure to play up this experience. It shows you know what you are getting into.
4. Interview Like Crazy To Break Into Medical Sales
Breaking into medical sales is a numbers game. Cast a broad net and interview like crazy! Even if you do not end up taking the position, the interview experience is very important. Once you get some industry experience, then you can get more selective. But if you are trying to get your initial break into medical sales from B2B stay open minded. Any pharma, surgical, or capital equipment role is a big step forward.
Related: Medical Device Interview Process
5. Learn From Interview Successes And Interview Failures
Some people are better at interviewing than others. But anyone can learn and get better. Regardless, not every interview is going to go your way. The key is learning from the mistakes and failures. Did you say the wrong thing, did you get nervous, or did you answer a certain question poorly. Who cares? Just make sure to learn from the experience and do better the next time.
6. Get Feedback On Resume From Those In The Industry
Please do not view the resume as a static document. This should be something you are always revising and improving as you get feedback through the interview process. I had one hiring manger start off by asking me if I was Pre-Med. Huh? I clearly had too much science and research stuff listed on my resume. Make the most of feedback like this. If you know someone in the industry, even better. Send over your resume and ask for feedback.
7. Reach Out To Other Reps On Linkedin To Break Into Medical Sales
I should have done more of this when I was interviewing. As you move through the interview process some companies will instruct you to reach out and talk to other reps on the team. You should do this even when not instructed. You would be amazed at how helpful some people can be. It can help provide insights on the position, the company, and the team culture. Plus, you can use this information during the interview to prove that you have done your homework.
8. Come Up With An Elevator Pitch
The interview process is not perfectly predictable. You will most likely have to engage with other reps at the company and think on your feet during conversations. It is helpful to have a thirty second pitch about who you are and what you are after. This avoids having to stumble through awkward conversations.
9. Review And Perfect The Standard Interview Questions
This is general advice relevant to any sales interview. It good to read up and practice answering generic sales interview questions. You would be surprised how often you will be asked some of these questions. Preparation is conducive to projecting confidence on the big day.
10. Demonstrate The Capacity To Communicate About Complex Medical Topics
In a medical sales role a rep will be interacting and selling to physicians on a daily basis. This requires a certain level of competence. While a rep may not need to be science genius, the job does require the ability to understand and communicate complex medical terminology. A rep needs to understand the product, the procedure, and the medical context around the product. During the interview process it important to show that you are a quick study and can grasp and articulate technical subject matter.
11. Identify Associate And Developmental Sales Roles
I highly recommend associates sales roles for candidates early in their careers (typically twenties and early thirties). With a couple of years of outside B2B experience a candidate get on with a top medical device company. The rep will spend 12-18 months supporting an established rep and learning the ropes of the business. After demonstrating the right capabilities in this position, a candidate will be able to transition into a full rep position. This is one way large companies have qualified and trained sales reps ready to go when territories open up.
12. Complete A Sales Leadership Program Out Of College
In terms of how to break into medical sales, this is the fast track. No doubt about it, sales leadership programs accelerate your path into the world of medical device sales. Unfortunately, there are typically only two career periods in which these programs are a feasible option. Straight out of undergrad or following the completion of an MBA program. These programs are highly competitive to gain acceptance. But for qualified applicants if provides a prestigious fast track into the industry.
13. Get Your MBA
This is not a requirement, but it can help. It demonstrates ambition and an interest to grow your career. Also, it provides the fundamental management skills they can be useful if you intend to move into a sales management position. Plus, there are many affordable and flexible online programs these days.
14. Be Able To Communicate A Formal Sales Process
I wish I had learned this earlier in my career. During an interview a hiring manager will try to understand and qualify your previous sales experience. They want to understand how your background and experience will translate into the new role. An ideal candidate has a background of successful sales training, along with documentation of high performance. The manger will still want to understand the specifics of the sales process and sales cycle. They want a rep that follows a formal process, not aimlessly makes calls hoping something will happen. Formal sales processes differ from company to company, but they are all quite similar. The give a vocabulary and structure to the process a rep knows intuitively.
15. Ask Good Questions At Every Step
Good questions accomplish a lot. First off, good question demonstrate intelligence. They show an interest in growth and learning. Also, they are how you learn more and stumble upon quality opportunities. Whether at an interview, a networking event, or out with friends never stop peppering those around you with impactful questions. I glean new career insights all the time from those around me.
16. Never Stop Networking To Break Into Medical Sales
Networking is not a one and done type of activity. It is not something that can be completed on command. It takes intention and effort over a long period of time. You never know when you may cross paths with someone at an airport or coffee shop and be in a position to expand your network. It takes an initiative to always be on the look out for new connections and opportunities. Make an effort to meet new people and always ask good questions. People like talking about their background, role, and experience. Whether you keep in touch over LinkedIn or email, the goal is to have a network that is always getting bigger.