Career Blog updated 2/20/2015: A question that is always asked of me, “How do I break into medical sales without the experience everyone is asking for?”. There is a way to get into medical sales, but depending where you are in your career, you have to decide if you are willing to perhaps take a different direction or even a step back (if you are 5 years out of college) to attain a medical device or medical disposable sales position.
My area of expertise is in Medical Device Sales and Medical Disposable Sales. I made the leap many years ago, about 3 years out of college after selling (I like to think of it as Marketing floor covering, after-all that was my title…Marketing Representative…ok, I was hawking floor covering with Armstrong World Industries, a mere sales representative in the wrong industry for me). Talk about a leap! I jumped from selling kitchen floors to floor covering retailers and flooring installers to medical sales in a time when they really didn’t want to hire women. If I can do it, so can you. Here is the path.
OK, you want to get out of your industry, sick of calling on whoever you are calling upon then let’s see if you can handle the hurdles (or want to). First of all to get into Medical sales you need a solid 4 year college degree and obtained it within a 5 year window (even if you worked your way through school). If you have that, then let’s move on! Now you need to prove that you are a sales warrior selling a high pressure, product type sale with a company that ranks your performance monthly and yearly with National Sales Awards. If your toes are curling at this point, well perhaps a different career path is for you. If not, then let’s keep going!
Now is the time to let me share with you the avenue to getting into medical device sales. Medical device companies love people that have walked over the hot coals of a difficult product (not service) sales job that involves high cold calling, and an economic sales component to “the sales pitch” and survived the high rejection rate that accompanies this type of sale. Are you still with me? Toes still relaxed? Then let’s get that medical sales job!
The type of sale I just described is considered B2B “business to business” sales. I updated this article to rank them in order of preference. Copier sales has fallen down the list and payroll service sales is no. 1 now.
- Payroll service companies have become the top dog in desired backgrounds for medical device sales companies to hire from the past 4 years, perhaps over copier sales (may be due to copiers really being considered a product of the past). Two excellent companies to choose from is either PayChex or ADP. ADP is the bigger stronger company and I probably prefer that over PayChex, but both provide excellent professional selling training and get ready for cold calling, building a territory and the possibility of strong recognition through sales rankings and annual top award trips! When you see a medical sales job requiring B2B sales with top awards; a ADP or PayChex top award winning sales person is the charm!
- Uniform Sales is a also a valued place to get B2B sales background. In general, Cintas is considered the best in training and provides the sales recognition and awards. Aramark is another uniform company, if you can't get into Cintas, I would select Aramark as your second choice.
- Enterprise Car Rental is another company that his looked at IF you are in their sales department that repackages their used cars and cuts deals selling them to re-sellers or organizations. I usually only suggest going to Enterprise Car Rental if you are fresh out of college and cannot get a job from companies that are centered upon building a strong B2B sales forces (mentioned above). Enterprise is known for having an excellent training program by weeding out those that are not dedicated and willing to do the grunt work and put in the enormous hours necessary to be successful within their company. Typically people start out at the desk, running cars around and there is opportunity for advancement within and between office locations. Some get promoted into that sought after car-resell part of their business, most seem to get slotted to managing people and a branch. That's nice, but give me a true outside sales person who has managed a sales territory and knows how to make a sale selling services with a little base and/or straight commission.
- Copier sale job falls into this category (you may want to check out Pitney Bowes). Yes, copier sales can be unsavory. Yes, brutal. Yes, low base and almost all commission. Yes, feast or famine. Yes, rank and file pressure. YES, if you do well….no not just well, but stellar with top national year end sales awards and a minimum of 3 years tenure, then a medical sales job is waiting for you! There are entry medical device companies that hire from this pool of candidates and will salivate at the opportunity to hire you!
- Selling products to Retail Stores is even lower on the totem pole, but good companies like Gallo Wine are recognized as having excellent Sales Training Programs. All must have documented top sales national sales awards, the awards that send you on a wonderful National Sales Award Trip, not a divisional or awards trip to the local resort for a massage and an overnight! You know what I mean, the big time trip award at your company! No Most Improved Awards! Save that one for the Little League! Gallo Wine or companies who sell into grocery stores hire hard workers, but after a period time calling upon grocery store managers, the sales people seem to adapt to a culture of calling upon a group of people who are often not college educated with products that merely require pushing for space and promotions on the shelf. Be careful not to stay too long. We tend to find long term grocery sales representatives not to exude the polish and sophistication we need for calling upon surgeons and other medical specialties who are highly educated with technical products.
- An earlier article I suggest your read as to why companies want B2B sales over pharma for medical device sales may help you as well: Why Companies Want B2B Sales Background and NOT pharma
I didn’t say it would be easy and really down right difficult for those of you maybe 5 to 10 years out of college. You are on a different career path and it is like digging a ditch, it is real hard to pick up a shovel and start digging a new hole after you have already entrenched yourself in the one you are in. If you are currently entrenched in a non-medical sales position and you have top sales performance making a good income currently, you may need to examine why you want to go into medical sales. Ask yourself if you are willing to make the sacrifices and make the gamble; I did many years ago and thank God, I hated retail sales. It was a risk worth taking, now you need to decide if it is right for you!
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