This post was updated to bring you the most current tips in September 2020.
Are you trying to break into medical sales without medical sales experience?
Here’s a bit of good news: Many companies can overlook your lack of background in the industry as long as you have other qualifications in your favor. In fact, the most significant selling point on your resume — outside of industry experience — would be a few years of business to business (B2B) sales instead.
Why B2B? Someone with B2B sales experience has already learned what it takes to get in front of a buyer and close the sale, a skill they must possess to be successful in a medical sales career.
Many larger companies put their sales force through extensive sales training programs, and medical companies enjoy reaping the benefits by recruiting “graduates” of those programs. For many hiring managers and medical device sales recruiters, B2B sales experience is non-negotiable.
If you’re lacking a medical sales background, you must have a solid track record of success in B2B sales. Here are some of the benefits of gaining B2B sales experience before jumping into medical sales:
Firm understanding of the basics
The fundamentals of sales are the same, no matter if you’re selling a product, service, or something in between. By starting in the B2B sales environment, you’ll learn the most transferable skills to help you transition into medical sales later.
For example, you’ll learn how to build and maintain relationships, as well as how to conduct competitive research and use it to accomplish your goals.
In B2B sales, you will also learn how to identify your target customer, position your brand and your product, develop and leverage key messaging, and influence prospective customers. These are critical components of the sales process you will bring with you into medical sales.
Proven track record in sales
Even in entry-level medical sales jobs, companies are looking for reps to have a solid history of exceeding sales targets. It’s essential to keep track of your biggest successes throughout your career, as they will be important additions to your resume.
For example, highlight how much you increased your sales profits month over month. You can also note how many new customers you landed for your company or how you made your team more efficient.
No matter what you accomplish, use actual numbers when you call these things out in your resume. By what percent did sales increase? How much money did you bring in? Be specific. Job seekers without tangible examples of past success will have a tough time breaking into the industry.
If you are still early in your career, get started by putting in some time selling copiers or other office supplies or services. Once you have a documented history of success in B2B sales, you will be a prime candidate for medical device sales recruiters.
Of course, if you don’t have time to make that kind of detour in pursuit of a medical sales career, you aren’t entirely out of luck. There are exceptions to every rule. You will simply have to work that much harder to get in front of hiring managers and prove you have what it takes.