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I am interested in a career in pharmaceutical sales. While I know that you do not have to be a pharmacist for this career path, I am wondering if maybe there is a niche for pharmacists to go into pharmaceutical sales? I obviously don't want to start out with only $50k/year when I can make much more in retail, but I am willing to start in like the $80k/year range and work my way into a career. I just want to know if anyone has taken the career path and how you did so?
PS I should mention that I will graduate in May, so I know not having experience will likely be a problem. I don't mind traveling a lot and even moving where ever I have to. What do you suggest?
 
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PharmFarmed

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Can you fit on the cover of GQ magazine? Would a guy look at you and say, "damn, no-homo"? If not, think again.
 
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Saiyo

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Can you fit on the cover of GQ magazine? Would a guy look at you and say, "damn, no-homo"? If not, think again.

Is this really true though? None of the drug reps I've ever seen have been particularly attractive.
 
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Modest_anteater

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Addressed elsewhere in the threads, but not joking, you really need to be personally attractive as well as being able to easily socialize (and not by pharmacy standards, by NY standards).
I agree 100% if by attractive you mean large breasts and a good hip to waist ratio and a willingness to lead lonely/horny MDs on. The three successful pharm reps I know all fit this demographic.
 
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ornithoptor

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Big component of my job is to work with the drug reps, and I have seen hundreds of them.
I have worked at large cities in Midwest, East Coast and the South.
Based on my observations, not all are attractive but none are ugly though. It is very company dependent.
In fact, I would say 75% are pretty average. That could because most have passed their prime.
Two reps I work with from biggest manufacture in the world are bald and fat.
In fact, I struggled the most with young attractive reps who think they can get away with their looks or free lunches.
I have kicked someone out for wearing super short skirt.
I do agree that looks can get you foot in the door, but they do not last.
Most of the successful reps I meet are great listeners and who can deliver.

I know a few reps who are pharmacists but many are with nursing background. Luck plays part in pay, some of them bring home 200K easy. I know a new rep who was given great product and territory by chance and rake in huge bonuses. Your PharmD degree may not be a factor in early salary determination. Your will have base pay and bonus is dependent on your sales performance.

Is there a niche for pharmacist to work in pharmaceutical sales? Your degree may not entitle you anything special from the get go. You won't have a upper hand compared to nurses connecting with providers and nursing at clinics. If you are in acute care sales, you may expect little bit of professional courtesy from pharmacy, but our decision making will not be influenced by that. However, when you hit mid career, your degree may help you moving into the office or leadership role. Still, your sales figure and territory growth will be the gauge of your success and pay.

As for employment, timing is everything, not necessary experience. Having connections helps. If you have already identify specific company you want to work for, email me, perhaps I can share some name and contacts with you if South East is the territory.

It is risky career path with great rewards. Be prepare for frequent lay offs and buyouts. However, once you build a solid territory and steady sales, you could just coasting with great work life balance. Provided you are not asked to move.

Because of the uncertainty in nature, you may not be reap what you sow. It can be adventurous and glamorous but you have less degree of control of your destiny. Whereas staffing in retail or hospital pharmacy is more steady and solid pathway. Please keep in mind that pharmacist who graduate before 2010 may have the luxury to change their career early in life. Please make sure you have options available when this does not work out.

Good Luck.
 
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To answer all of your questions, I am a 24 year old female. I look good enough to do sales. But I am looking for information. Who are the best companies to look for? Specific positions? Does it help that I also have an MBA?
 
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Addressed elsewhere in the threads, but not joking, you really need to be personally attractive as well as being able to easily socialize (and not by pharmacy standards, by NY standards).
I'm pretty sure I have that down pat. I also have a very business-oriented mind. I will be graduating with my MBA as well. I just need more information about how to get started and where to look.
 

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Then use the initiative and look at the previous posts on this subject. Times have not changed here about that market and how to break in. If you have direct questions, post them, but a general question like this, you can do the legwork.
 
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lord999

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I agree 100% if by attractive you mean large breasts and a good hip to waist ratio and a willingness to lead lonely/horny MDs on. The three successful pharm reps I know all fit this demographic.

It's not quite that bad (it certainly doesn't work in MN where that's a fairly trivial thing where everyone's in good shape), but it's more as a signaling matter. The long-term pharmaceutical sales reps that are successful women are ones who can depersonalize themselves the best (courtier training helps). The most successful males are the ones who are perceptive enough to make the client desire what the sales rep has. I think men have it easier when they are older (young male reps do not have it easy), and women have this implicit age glass ceiling unless they are adept at being magnetic and charismatic enough to lead as a trendsetter.
 
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Then use the initiative and look at the previous posts on this subject. Times have not changed here about that market and how to break in. If you have direct questions, post them, but a general question like this, you can do the legwork.
Are you in a career with pharmaceutical sales? I have done a lot of legwork thus far. There is a large forum on here called Pharmaceutical Industry 101. Unfortunately, that was mostly written in 2007. I am not looking to do a residency or fellowship, which is most of what the forum was talking about. I have reached out and analyzed the websites of pharmaceutical industries such as GSK. I'm also very new to SDN so I haven't figured out how to use it most efficiently yet.

So back to my original question in this post, which is pretty specific, "Has anyone taken this career path and how did you do so?" Did anyone do this straight out of pharmacy school? Are there better career paths in the industry that just sales for a pharmacist, such as regulatory affairs? I haven't been able to network with people in the industry yet because my focus before was not on industry, so this is me taking the initiative to network and get more answers. Please feel free to answer any of those specific questions above.
 
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Jbrl

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Yes, you can do this straight out of school, and no, you don't need to be ungodly attractive to do it (though it helps). It looks like you have a limited pharma experience and a limited network so it'll be harder to get looks from resume drops, so here's what you do:

1. Read up on pharma sales online so you know what you're talking about re:work, lifestyle (if you haven't already)
2. Contact recruiting agencies like Apex and Aerotek to see whether there are opportunities
3. Reach out to sales reps on LinkedIn (PharmDs particularly - affinity bias - but try all) - make sure to write a brief message expressing interest in speaking to them about their career paths, then you can additionally inquire about advice and potential opportunities at their company or elsewhere
4. Attend a pharma conference that has attendees from sales
5. Join a pharma sales organization like NAPSRx and actively utilize its resources

As to whether it helps you have your MBA: marginally. It might help you pass some resume screens but it's no replacement for work experience or connections. The best company is the one that hires you. Decide only when you have options - before then, blanket everything.

Your last post seems to show that you're not too familiar with industry in general - pharmacists have opportunities everywhere in pharma. The easiest route to entry would be med info or drug safety. Commercial, R&D and regulatory are harder because they're outside our educational scope and/or require specialized knowledge (so people do fellowships to enter). Sales is easiest for an entry level commercial side position and people who start there often branch out into marketing or commercial strategy after some years.
 
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Yes, you can do this straight out of school, and no, you don't need to be ungodly attractive to do it (though it helps). It looks like you have a limited pharma experience and a limited network so it'll be harder to get looks from resume drops, so here's what you do:

1. Read up on pharma sales online so you know what you're talking about re:work, lifestyle (if you haven't already)
2. Contact recruiting agencies like Apex and Aerotek to see whether there are opportunities
3. Reach out to sales reps on LinkedIn (PharmDs particularly - affinity bias - but try all) - make sure to write a brief message expressing interest in speaking to them about their career paths, then you can additionally inquire about advice and potential opportunities at their company or elsewhere
4. Attend a pharma conference that has attendees from sales
5. Join a pharma sales organization like NAPSRx and actively utilize its resources

As to whether it helps you have your MBA: marginally. It might help you pass some resume screens but it's no replacement for work experience or connections. The best company is the one that hires you. Decide only when you have options - before then, blanket everything.

Your last post seems to show that you're not too familiar with industry in general - pharmacists have opportunities everywhere in pharma. The easiest route to entry would be med info or drug safety. Commercial, R&D and regulatory are harder because they're outside our educational scope and/or require specialized knowledge (so people do fellowships to enter). Sales is easiest for an entry level commercial side position and people who start there often branch out into marketing or commercial strategy after some years.
Thank you, this helps a lot!! I unfortunately didn't think to pursue this until after I applied for acute care PGY1s, so I didn't apply for any fellowships (nor do I really want to do one honestly). Med information and pharmacovigilance don't really appeal to me, but I am willing to work hard to move up in sales. But those are great options to keep in mind.
 

PharmFarmed

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I'm pretty sure I have that down pat. I also have a very business-oriented mind. I will be graduating with my MBA as well. I just need more information about how to get started and where to look.
The MBA is completely useless. Might as well have a background in woodworking.
 
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CynicalIntern

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You are allowed your opinion, but if you aren't going to be helpful, how about just stop commenting on the thread. Thank you!
Just because it doesn't mesh with what your ideal response would be doesn't mean it's not helpful. An MBA is 100% useless with a sales job, unless you've had one for 5+ years and a collection of Presidents Cup Trophies, at which case maybe it helps you get into sales middle management.
 
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Just because it doesn't mesh with what your ideal response would be doesn't mean it's not helpful. An MBA is 100% useless with a sales job, unless you've had one for 5+ years and a collection of Presidents Cup Trophies, at which case maybe it helps you get into sales middle management.

An MBA is semi-useless, especially going into sales entry level. That's the person who wears too much cologne on the elevator. Why so much and only demand $80k??

You still need a good amount of job training. 4+ years for any of it to mean anything and honestly would be better of in some sort of commercialization/market strategy postdoctoral fellowship. Otherwise, follow a few recruiters on linkedin and you will get a sense of the types of sales jobs. You made no mention of therapeutic areas, small or large molecules?
 

Jbrl

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Thank you, this helps a lot!! I unfortunately didn't think to pursue this until after I applied for acute care PGY1s, so I didn't apply for any fellowships (nor do I really want to do one honestly). Med information and pharmacovigilance don't really appeal to me, but I am willing to work hard to move up in sales. But those are great options to keep in mind.
No problem.

Take what you can get. You'll have your first choices, but counterbalance that with the idea that most people don't break into non-trad routes without having to make some concessions. I had a friend who was so focused on having it all that he passed up on nearly every opportunity I recommended him to get his dream job in the dream location with the dream salary in F500 pharma. By the time he woke up the timing was no longer right with companies freezing hiring pipelines; he was left in the lurch and I certainly wasn't going to expend more time for him.

With that said, I'd cast my net with people in all 3 areas and see who bites. Goes back to making your decision only when you truly have options to mull between.

One more thing: if you're going to pursue a commercial sector (or any sector besides R&D TBH) pharma position, fix your resume. Scientist and medical professional resumes are generally very responsibility-focused as opposed to results-driven, and 5 page CV-style as opposed to a 1 pager (with maybe an extra page for pubs). That could be the difference between you getting an interview or not because someone thinks you "get it." Get it?
 
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ExpressMaiL

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Sales is the original and bona fide way to make a decent amount of money by not having any special degree or "advanced" training. As mentioned, it's very volatile. You can be laid off in an instant, even if you're performing. If you're not meeting quota or expected sales, you're gone.

MBA can go both ways for helping you get a job. Some MBA individuals that I've met are very people-savvy and combined with their degree, make a great combination. Others are the opposite and will probably not survive in a competitive position/job market. Unless you can produce results, advertising that you have an MBA will probably hurt you. Remember that in sales, you may be competing with a college dropout who has perfected his or her art of speaking/listening to people for the past 10 years while you were in school.

I used to work in sales and can tell you a few things - sales is one of the most transferable skills you can ever have. Also, you don't need to know much about the product you're selling... especially in pharmaceuticals. Going on a forum for advice/information is a good start to read and see different opinions, but ultimately you'll need to just get out there and do something instead of trying to predict the future or best position possible.
 
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fauxden

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the whole needing to be a 10/10 in the looks department doesn't seem to fit my experience. Since we are an Indy we have a few reps drop by on the regular. Most are dudes in their 50s or so, dad bods. Nothing special. I have had 2 account reps with different buying groups, on the other hand, that were mid 20s and quite attractive females. So there is my anecdotal experience. Also have a friend whose father-in-law was drug salesman for big pharma. Layoff and fear of layoff were constant, and were ultimately realized a few years ago. Now in a different industry, but still in sales.
 

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My friend's dad was a pharmaceutical salesman. He told me the top salesman for his company was a pharmacist.
 
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ornithoptor

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To OP,
I have responded to your inquiry, please check your inbox.

Also, I have asked a few drug reps and couple of them shared this website with me.
Pharmaceutical Sales | Pharmaceutical Sales Jobs | Pharma Sales Reps

Please reach out to me, I have some insights to share with you that may better help you assessing your goals and objectives. I have worked in many non-traditional position, and will be able to help you think outside of box. With my niche in the last five years, for every job I applied, I was offered interviews, and 60% of the jobs.


Sent from my iPad using SDN mobile
 

Mister Significant

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If you are really serious about doing this, then you will most likely have to go back to square one and get an entry-level sales position. I did sales for 6 months and kept a constant eye out for pharmaceutical sales positions, but each one had the requirement of a minimum of 2 years B2B quota-based selling experience with proof of this (your number of sales throughout the years). Being a pharmacy graduate will probably help you with the technical area of pharmaceuticals. Contrary to what most think, the best sales people are not necessarily the best looking or most extroverted. They are good listeners and are experts on the product, and can predict which problems/ questions may arise during their pitch. You got to be ferocious and be able to turn a no into a yes.
 
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