1. January 2005 05:00
What was good about pharma sales? “For me it was the initial training programme that the companies put you through.” Geran recalled; “It is organised, structured and thoroughly professional. Pharma gave me the platform and skills to go out there and develop as a sales person.” Paul told us; “Pharma sales exposed me to many different people in the healthcare industry - admin staff, GP’s, nurses and consultants. This really did help develop my communication skills, adapt my pitches and presentations.” Why did you consider moving? “Clinical decisions were being taken out of GP’s and consultants’ hands and the responsibility given to fewer people who work in the PCT.” Explained Paul. A similar sense of remoteness and detachment was echoed by Geran; “In pharma sales it was very difficult to pinpoint what impact you were making on the area you were working, particularly if you were working with other reps in that area. You may see a GP 3 times in 6 months and still not be 100% sure if he is prescribing your product. In the same 6 months, a team member may have seen that GP only once but you didn’t know who was responsible directly for that sale! There were days where I became disillusioned with my job because the GP’s were rarely interested in the products I was selling and this often led me to believe that I was not welcome within a doctor’s surgery.” What did you know about medical device industry? “Initially, not a great deal.” Paul admitted. “My brother, a radiographer, told me about his role. Then a couple of potential employers were presented to me by a recruitment agency and I did some research.” “I was aware that medical device sales enabled you to focus on account management and selling something that is tangible as opposed to detail selling and chasing numbers.” said Geran. How did you go about finding more information? “I had a friend who had started out in pharma sales and switched to medical devices.” said Geran. “He recommended I made the same switch. “I also went to a number of recruitment agencies that specialised in medical device sales.” Paul’s research was encouraging. “Once potential jobs arose I began to research the industry. I came to the conclusion that this was a field I really wanted to become involved in. I took the opportunity to meet with two surgeons to discuss the orthopaedic implant industry. All the feedback I received was positive and the jobs looked really appealing.” What job do you do now? “I work as a Product Specialist for UK Medical selling devices in interventional radiology.” Geran told us, an emerging field involving minimally invasive treatments performed with the assistance of medical devices. Paul often finds himself at the ‘sharp end’ of product sales. “I work in the Spinal Division of Synthes, as a Spine Sales Consultant. This involves dealing with neuro and orthopaedic surgeons treating different areas of the spine. An exciting and interesting part of my job is to be present in the theatre during operations. If the surgeon and/or nurses are new to the equipment, I deal with any problems or queries that arise during the op.” What was it like initially? “There are a lot of products, different systems for operations and it is vital to know each one. You never know what questions you are going to be asked during an operation. I am still on this learning curve but that’s what makes the job interesting and varied.” said Paul. Geran too faced a learning curve. “Part of the training for the job involved going out to the hospitals, sitting in on procedures and seeing first hand how the products that I would be selling were actually used in practice.” What is it like now? Paul and Geran seem re-energised by the challenges and opportunities medical device sales offers. Geran said; “Having been in the job for nearly six months and starting to get a feel for the role, I am very happy. I am still learning and there is a long way for me to go but the good thing for me is that I enjoy getting up in the morning and going to work.” Paul’s relationship with his customers is a particular source of satisfaction. “Now I know my customers, I am comfortable with the operating equipment and used to the theatre setting, the job has become easier. You can be present with your customers in operations for up to eight hours at a time. You become part of the team during the procedure so you do really get to know your surgeons and nurses. As a result the relationships you build are more solid and deep.” What are the differences? “The main difference is that I feel part of a team in the hospitals; the relationship you build is stronger, more of a partnership. I feel more responsible for my territory. I have a larger area, fewer customers and it is a lot easier for me to make a difference.” Paul considered. “Another big benefit is when you make a sale you know about it because you will generally be in the theatre the following week during the operation!” Geran too cites improved customer relationships. “It’s a joy to go out and see customers that are genuinely pleased to see you. It is far more motivational to sell a product that is tangible and to know who, where and when you are selling your products.” What advice would you give someone who is interested but hesitant about making this move? “Look around, find something that appeals to you, something you are interested in. Research the job in detail. Change! If it doesn’t work out you can always move back into the pharma industry.” Paul advises. Geran agrees that research is the first step. “If your not happy in your role as a pharma sales rep and considering device sales, then the least you can do is carry out some research. Contact a specialised recruitment agency such as SSc and ask any questions you may have. If you think it’s for you then go for it. Everyone I know who has made the move from pharma to device sales have only good things to say about their new job.”
|If you are interested in a move into medical device sales, you may like to take a look at SSc’s advertisement in the recruitment section.