With hopes of avoiding putting themselves in a corner, or casting as wide a net as possible, many on the hunt for pharma or device sales jobs resist the notion of creating a list of companies to target.
While the inclination is natural, I suggest job seekers looking for sales roles approach their job search in the same way they build a sales funnel when looking to sell their product or device.
Similar to when building a sales funnel, creating a list of prospects (in this case companies) to target can help you identify those who aren’t the greatest fit for your skills and goals.
Equally important, and similar to when targeting physicians or healthcare system decision-makers, you can use the list you’ve developed to help figure out how best to go about getting in the door. Use who you know and learn who you need to know to give you the inside track.
These 6 steps can help you develop a targeted pipeline and use it to its fullest potential:
1. Hone In with a Focus
Although many pharma, device or capital equipment sales professionals recognize and believe they can sell across different disease states and/or call on a variety of specialty physicians, even more are open to moving geographically for the right opportunity.
When it comes to crafting a list of targeted companies, however, it is beneficial to narrow down the scope — ideally, to one or two cities/states, one or two medical specialties and/or disease states.
In my experience, those at the top of their game in the medical device world recognize that shifting specialties is exceptionally challenging, and thus tend not to stray when looking to make their next move. In these cases, their focus on sales jobs is already perfectly honed.
2. Identify Companies
“Best Of” lists are readily available through internet searches and informative online publications, like MedReps, and can help you identify players based on the focus dialed in during Step #1.
If you are already established in the field, it is natural to include your company’s competitors as part of your list.
3. Get the Scoop to See if You Can Picture Yourself There
This is the time to glean as much intel as you can about the companies identified in Step #2 — from their history to financial picture.
It’s also important to learn as much as you can about their “bread and butter” products, those that have gotten them some negative media coverage, and those that are viewed as cutting edge.
I recommend setting up brief informational interviews to chat with people employed at the companies on your list to get a sense for what it is like to work there and if you could picture yourself there.
Be sure to check out company reviews on websites like Glassdoor, Mass Device or Pharmaceutical Business Review. In addition, most corporate websites feature “About Us” pages that aim to convey their corporate values and mission.
Another place to explore what it might be like to work for a company are the feeds and the comments of public social media profiles. Some things to look out for include genuine displays of employee recognition and appreciation, charitable endeavors, efforts to achieve diversity, and level of employee engagement.
4. Mobilize Your Network
Connections can be a good friend, a friend of someone close to you, or even someone who graduated from the same school as you. I also recommend researching company pages on LinkedIn to see if any of your first or second-degree connections work there in sales jobs.
If so, here’s some sample language to help you reach out:
I’m looking to connect with XYZ Company to learn about their corporate culture and current hiring practices. A quick LinkedIn search showed me you’re connected with [Person’s Name] who works there as (Name of Position). If you could introduce us, I’d appreciate it!
Thanks so much!
5. Expand Your Network
Once you’ve identified your list of personal connections, the next step is to figure out who you need to know that can get your foot in the door.
While often the most challenging part for many job seekers, those in medical sales jobs find this a natural extension of the skills they use day in and day out when building networks within healthcare systems to get past gatekeepers.
In addition, look to other social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. Facebook is famous for its private and public groups organized by those who have worked at a certain company or industry, and many on Twitter include the name of their employer as part of their short bio.
Alumni databases at colleges and universities can offer a gold mine of information. To learn more, consider contacting your alma mater’s career services or alumni office and/or conduct a brief LinkedIn search of current alumni.
Struggling with what to say when reaching out? This sample language may help:
My name is XXX and I am a XXX at XXX company. Your name came up as I was scrolling through LinkedIn — I hope you don’t mind me connecting!
I see you have in-depth experience in XXX, and I’m very interested in learning more about that space.
I’d be grateful for the chance to run some questions by you and hear your advice for career success in the XXX industry.
Recognizing you are super busy — I understand it might be tough to respond in depth. If you have even 5 minutes to chat, I’d appreciate it. If not — no worries!
6. Make the Ask
It’s important to be direct when reaching out to those you know, and be clear on 1) what you are asking for AND 2) what you are targeting. It’s also perfectly acceptable to share that you are trying to learn a bit about what the company is like from a cultural perspective.
Nebulous requests for assistance like “if you hear of anything about sales jobs let me know” probably won’t yield a strong ROI.
Instead, consider these three approaches:
- Ask if they can connect you with a hiring manager.
- Ask them to provide you with the names of 3 people who would be helpful to speak with.
- Ask them to submit your resume through their company’s online portal.
Here’s some sample language to get you started:
Hope you are well! I wanted to reach out as I’m looking to make my next move and would like to focus on cardio medical device sales. My resume is attached and outlines my successes to date.
I am asking people in my network to help me identify possible employers that might be a good fit for someone who has turned around struggling territories and earned President’s Club status on more than one occasion.
If you know of perhaps 3 or 4 people, including sales recruiters, that I should contact to explore an opportunity, I’d appreciate the referral!
# # #
– By Virginia Franco, NCRW, CPRW