On The Job

4 Tips to Remain Confident Over Pharmaceutical Sales Stereotypes

Stereotypes are alive and real in the pharmaceutical sales industry. We’ve all heard them — especially recently. Or maybe you’ve even thought them about pharmaceutical sales peers. 

They’re only in it for the money. 

Big pharma is in control of everything. 

Their relationships and gift-giving to doctors have accelerated the opioid crisis. 

These are just three common stereotypes. Pharmaceutical sales reps, like yourself, are faced with this type of negative criticism every single day. When negativity infiltrates your life via social media, the news, the office, and even at personal events, the results can be severe. Your confidence and morale are at risk as others assume they know the full details of your role. 

In reality, there’s no end to pharmaceutical sales stereotypes. Will the scandals keep coming? Yes. Will people continue assuming they understand your job? Absolutely. 

However, by understanding how to best face and handle these annoying stereotypes from the start, you’ll have the power to continue walking forward with confidence and grace.  

Here’s where you need to start today: 

Focus on your passions

You chose your medical sales career path for a reason. Maybe money was part of it but that wasn’t the only deciding factor. Dig down to your roots. Focus on the reasons you started this career and why you continue moving forward. 

Did it all begin in your childhood when you felt the pull to help people? Or maybe a doctor discussed a patient who is now thriving thanks to your product. 

Whatever your reason, hold onto it to remain confident. Keep a sticky note with your reasons on your desk and in your car to remember why you’re in this field. With those tiny yet significant reminders, the criticism and stereotypes will begin to seem less significant.  

Realize you don’t have to win everyone over

Most of us want to feel supported and liked. It’s an innate desire. Especially in a field like pharmaceutical sales, you want others to recognize the positive work you’re doing. Unfortunately, fighting for everyone’s approval will leave you exhausted. 

Not everyone will understand or approve of your role — and that’s OK. When someone cracks a joke about the ease of your ‘daily coffees’ with doctors or calls out ‘Big pharma,’ flip your point of view. Rather than focusing on what their criticisms tell you about yourself, consider what they say about the person giving the feedback. 

  • Why would they feel bitter about my career? 
  • What don’t they understand about the pharmaceutical sales industry? 
  • Where could they be getting their information? 

Don’t put your energy into setting the record straight. Acknowledge that adversaries will be a constant in your life, but don’t give them control over your emotions. Instead, use your analysis to improve your sales and relationships. 

For example, dig into where critics are learning about your industry. Perform your own research to assess what information customers and end-users are receiving. Then, create educational materials to place the correct details in their hands, allowing them to make the best-informed decisions regarding care. 

Find a company you want to stand behind

Let’s face it — not every pharmaceutical sales company has it ‘right.’ You may agree with some critics when it comes to other pharmaceutical sales company happenings.

So, if deep-down you actually believe the stereotypes coming your way, it’ll be challenging to keep your confidence and morale high. Re-evaluate your current career situation. Determine if the company you’re working for has a mission, values, products, and a development-focused future you truly believe in. 

Get your facts straight — and have them ready

Criticism should never be met with anger. Approaching ridicule like it’s a battle only adds fuel to bullies’ fires. 

Having your company’s facts straight will help you approach situations in a calm and collected manner. Know where your company stands on various important issues. Have success rate statistics ready to share. Discuss the type of people your product helps on an everyday basis. Give specific details on what those people get with your company’s help. Also, don’t forget about the people behind your company. Know what your CEOs stand for and how they live that out through the company. 



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