Linda Hertz Group

My Medical Device Sales Career

What To Do? Want Medical Sales but My B2B Sales Application was Rejected!

Hi Linda,

I am so happy to find that there is someone that can provide me some guidance to breaking barriers of getting in pharmaceutical/medical sales industry.

Recently I have been on various career sites seeking for a position in the pharm/med sales industry.  Although I believe I am a qualified candidate "Summa Cum Laude" BSN graduate that is experienced in real estate sales and community outreach, I find myself in a bind because I do not have B2B sales experience.  

I was fortunate enough to speak with one recruiter from one of the well known independent medical sales recruiters and that was only because a friend made the introduction via phone. The recruiter informed me that the best way to get in industry is to pursue a B2B sales career.  When I explained that community outreach is along the lines of B2B (because it involves me selling communities on company's proposed development plans, which is intangible and probably more challenging to do) that it should be considered.  Unfortunately for me, he disagreed with me.  


I took his recommendation and applied for a sales position at ADP and to my surprise they did not consider me to come in for an interview.  How do I get in for an interview when my resume clearly states my qualifications such as, Summa Cum Laude, BSN,  fluent in both Spanish and English with experience in outside sales?


I could really use your guidance here.

Thank you in advance for taking the time to read through this and your feedback.


Maria A


Hello Maria, First of all, I agree with the recruiter you spoke to (you did provide the name of the firm to me privately and they are respected in the industry).  Any type of "influencer role" selling concepts to communities or fund raisers or even real-estate sales do not provide the work experience that the medical device sales industry values. Their are a host of reasons why they are not valued and that would warrant a separate article on that alone and perhaps I will write as a stand alone piece for a future article (I will provide a link to that article when written). Now to address the meat of your question and one that really struck a cord with me; How does one get a B2B sales job?  

Many medical device recruiters flippantly advise the unqualified for our industry to get a B2B sales job; we assume that is an easy thing to do!  In addition, we almost always direct them to ADP as our first company of choice out of the entire list of B2B companies for a number of reasons, like intense sales training and extreme pressure to sell by being held accountable via monthly sales rankings and yearly top sales award programs.  So let's examine the possible reasons why you may not have been invited for even a first interview, especially given your smarts, four year nursing degree and current community experience.

One reason is coming to mind right away; you are a nurse (a BSN with top academic honors to boot!) applying for a B2B sales job; ADP must know by now the medical industry loves to pick off their top sales people after a few of years of experience!  So perhaps they are onto a nurse applying for one of their sales roles.  One cannot negate that possibility and I don't think there is a way to counter that except applying to other less valued, but still very solid B2B sales companies as outlined in my older, yet still very pertinent blog, titled How To Break Into Medical Device Sales.   That said, there may be some other reasons your job application was not selected for interviewing. Let me explain further.

I just visited ADP's career page on their website to review all their open jobs nationally to get a scope of the type of sales positions offered (at least currently open) and the requirements for each.  My findings were quite eye opening since they offer many types of sales openings that require different levels of experience.  This may not be all the different levels of sales openings they have, but enough were posted to give us an idea.

ADP Sales Position Levels-Job Requirements

  1. Strategic Account Executive: BA Degree with 5 years of B2B outside sales experience
  2. Outside Sales Executive: BA Degree or equivalent with 2 years of outside sales experience
  3. Associate District Manager: BA Degree
  4. Sales Apprentice: Minimum 2 years completed within a 4 year college degree program

I had not been to their career site in some time and it was an interesting exercise for me to see this array of sales positions. They may change the link over time, but their current ADP USA wide sales openings should help you perform this search for yourself from time to time. I do encourage you to look at ALL their job opportunities beyond just sales openings, sometimes getting into one department at ADP could help you transcend into the sales department as an "internal candidate" vs. an outside applicant off the street.

Given the above, I suggest the following strategy to still "break into B2B sales" (so funny, first time I have used that phrase!):  

  • Do check the level of sales position (title) of the ADP job you applied.  From the job description, it would appear you would qualify for the Associate District Manager or "perhaps" Outside Sales Executive" level position.
  • Again, highly suggest reading through my earlier article How To Break Into Medical Device Sales to find the other B2B sales companies to apply to open positions via their website.
  • Do use this same process I used with ADP to uncover ALL level of sales positions in other B2B Sales companies and apply to the position you would be deemed a best profile fit.
  • Do utilize LinkedIn to approach an ADP or B2B company's current employee or hiring manager directly to gain visibility vs. just applying on line (ADP does offer finder fees to employee's for people hired as an added incentive for this method to work too).

You did not mention if you are currently employed as a nurse full or part-time, but you may want to review my most recent Ask Linda Article that addresses Jennifer V.'s (an OR nurse) question:

I'm A Nurse, How Do I Break Into Pharmaceutical or Medical Device S...

Lastly Maria, if breaking into medical sales is truly something you desire, then keep going. "Keep knocking on doors", as I use to tell my sales team when I was a District Sales Manager. Choose your doors wisely and the more you knock, the more likely someone will answer the door and let you in when you least expect it. The fortitude of a true sales person is to keep going after rejection and altering ones approach until you "get to yes."  

All you need is one "yes" to get to where you want to be, don't stop at one job application, keep going!  


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Tags: Ask Linda, B2B Sales, break into medical device sales, nurse


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Started by Devin Hanson in Ask Linda Jun 14, 2020. 0 Replies


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