Because medical device sales is considered such a desirable career path, I often receive emails like this one:
My name is [X] and am interested in pursuing a medical sales career. I am very interested in breaking into medical dales because I am very driven, outgoing and have great people skills. The question that I have for you is, do I have to take the [X] and [X] training? I am very confused on everything I am reading online because some people say these programs are a waste of time. Can you please give me guidance on how to get into the industry since you have the ins and outs?
Looking in from the outside, it can be very confusing about how to break into the industry. After thousands of hours of conversations with hiring managers over the past few years, there are a few truisms I’ve learned that will help anyone’s chances of getting into the industry.
Going through expensive industry training is not one of them. If you don’t have the right sales skills and a strong track record, such training may end up being a very expensive shortcut to nowhere. Here are the essentials you must have to break into medical device sales:
- A bachelor’s degree.
- Three or more years of outside B2B sales experience at a minimum. It is best to gain your experience with a well-known company with a great training program. You should also make the switch into medical device sales before you get too entrenched in your current industry. Keep your work history clean by sticking with your jobs for three to five years instead of hopping around every 18 months.
- A consistent track record of meeting and exceeding your quota, awards and a great brag book to document it all.
- You should be a true sales professional who is constantly learning and improving your sales skills. Your knowledge of the sales process, ability to handle objections, prospect, manage your territory and close will be assessed during the interview process.
- You should have a clean driving record and be able to pass a criminal background check. Medical device companies need reps to be safe drivers and good citizens who can meet hospital standards.
If you don’t have these essentials, you’ll find it very difficult, if not impossible, to break in. Yes, there are exceptions, but if you’re serious about a career in medical device sales, your time and energy would be better spent accomplishing these things than fighting an uphill battle.
Add to this list lots of intelligence, drive, passion, the ability to build relationships with sophisticated customers and a number of other intangibles. Such intangibles are subjective and sometimes in the eye of the beholder (i.e. the hiring manager). If you are solid on the fundamentals, and learn to interview well, then you will eventually meet a company and manager you mesh with if you are persistent enough.
One caveat: If you have these essential qualifications and experience, then yes, maybe one of the industry training programs could help you land a job in the industry more quickly. Too often though, I have noticed people with poor work histories, few accomplishments and not enough sales experience plunk down their cash on such programs in the hope that it will make up for the deficits on their resumes.
Sorry, it just doesn’t work that way. Employers still want to know they are hiring a dedicated employee who strives to excel. A stable work history with documented accomplishments is the best way to demonstrate that.
So take care of your career, make thoughtful choices and put up the best numbers you can. As eager as you may be to break in, patience and hard work will pay off with the right opportunity in the end.
There are not shortcuts to any place worth going. — Beverly Sills
Lisa McCallister specializes in recruiting for medical device sales and marketing positions with an operating room focus, such as orthopedics, electrosurgery, endoscopy and a wide range of surgical specialties. She has recruited two Rookie of the Year award winners. Connect with her on LinkedIn or check out her blog, MyJobScope.com.