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Recent Articles

PhRMA Code Part Deux (or PhRMA's Economic Stimulus Plan For Recession-Proofing The U.S. Retail Office Supply Sector)

Lunch and Lunacy

You on Paper -- Resumes, Cover Letters, and Thank-you Letters

No, Henny Penny, The Sky Isn't Really Falling

How To Make The Management Field Ride Work For You

How Corporate Credit Cards Work

Holiday Gifts for the Boss -- Yes or No?

The First Cut Is The Deepest

Your Image Matters: Appropriate Attire For Women in Pharmaceutical Sales

Things To Do In Anticipation of Entering The Pharmaceutical Industry


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PhRMA Code Part Deux (or PhRMA's Economic Stimulus Plan For Recession-Proofing The U.S. Retail Office Supply Sector)
In 2002, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) instituted the PhRMA Code on Interactions with Healthcare Professionals, commonly called The PhRMA Code. This voluntary code set forth guidelines for pharmaceutical industry interactions with members of the healthcare community. Just a few days ago, PhRMA released PhRMA Code v2.0, which will be effective January 2009, in response to growing concern that doctors might be swayed to prescribe inappropriate or expensive medications in return for a travel coffee mug and a super-cool pen. I am simplifying it somewhat. The biggest change brought about by PhRMA Code - The Sequel is that companies voluntarily complying with the Code will no longer supply pens, note pads, coffee mugs, or other reminder items of nominal value that benefit the doctor or the practice but do not directly benefit the patient. My initial reaction after hearing this was a yawn, but then I realized that this New! Improved! PhRMA Code will have a significant impact on t . . .
 
Lunch and Lunacy
Some of the most entertaining pharmaceutical sales stories revolve around the 'lunch and learn'. It's a necessary evil...most pharma reps despise catering lunch to medical offices but realize that it's sometimes the only way to get any time with a prescriber. Some of my favorite stories:Years ago I had scheduled lunch many months in advance with a key office. There were two physicians and assorted staff, and I called the day before to confirm that both physicians would be there. I was assured that they would be. The next day I arrived at the office, food in hand, only to be told that Dr. A was on vacation (suddenly?) and Dr. B had a staff meeting at the hospital (those are scheduled well in advance)...but that I should go ahead and leave the food. Instead, I breezily said, 'Oh, no...don't worry about it. I'll give you a call to reschedule.’ And I sailed back out the door with my lunch and drove to a nearby office where the physician didn't require lunches . . .
 
You on Paper -- Resumes, Cover Letters, and Thank-you Letters
If you're serious about finding a job, you need to be equally serious about making sure that you present yourself impeccably and appropriately on paper. The first impression of you that a prospective employer gets will most likely come from your resume and cover letter, so they need to be perfect. So let's talk about how you should present yourself on paper -- resumes, cover letters, and thank-you letters.RESUMES Every job seeker knows that a great resume is essential. What isn't quite as clear to many people, however, is what a great resume should look like.Old-style resumes list your previous jobs and describe all the responsibilities you held. You managed something, or filed things, or submitted reports, or kept track of whatever it was. The problem with this is that it tells the prospective employer what you were hired to do. BORING. They really want to know what you accomplished, not all the minutiae that made up your typical workday.This is especially important in landing a sales p . . .
 
No, Henny Penny, The Sky Isn't Really Falling
As I keep an eye on the MedZilla pharmaceutical sales forums, I've noticed a steady increase in the frequency of questions from concerned job-seekers asking whether this industry will be around in five or ten years and whether it's even worth it to try to break in.The pharma industry isn't going anywhere. The business model has changed before (albeit slightly) in pharma and will again – and it must. While pharma is broadening its horizons and trying different, nontraditional ways to drive sales – DTC campaigns, internet initiatives and teledetailing to name a few – I don't foresee that the personal touch of outside sales reps will be going away any time soon.Yes, there are challenges to that business model. We know that physician access and the cost of catering lunch to physicians and their staffs (and anyone even remotely affiliated with the office) are problems. There are additional challenges all the time in the form of medical centers and healthcare systems banning re . . .
 
How To Make The Management Field Ride Work For You
Someone recently asked me to write about what makes for a successful management field ride in pharmaceutical sales. The question is a good one because most pharmaceutical sales reps treat their manager's time in the field with them as something to be endured. A smart rep realizes that their manager must have done something right in order to be promoted out of field sales, and there may be a thing or two to learn from him or her.The most basic thing to remember is that you need to make your manager feel welcome. But she's not welcome, and you want her to go far away, right? Okay, you're entitled. It's just not smart, though, to let your manager know that you feel that way. Managers are people too, and they don't appreciate being made to feel like an imposition. If you had guests in your home you wouldn't dream of letting on that the timing of their visit is inconvenient or that they're getting in your way. You certainly wouldn't let them know that you don't l . . .
 
How Corporate Credit Cards Work
Corporate credit cards are a topic of great interest to prospective pharmaceutical sales representatives. Many are dismayed to learn that a personal credit check is part of the hiring process. Companies in most industries now run credit checks on all prospective hires. Originally this was to make sure that employees who handle the company's or its customers' money or accounts, or who have the authority to incur debts in the company's name, have a clean financial history. The practice has now extended to include employees who may not have any financial authority on the company's behalf. The reason generally given by employers is that if the employee lacks the responsibility to take proper care of his or her own finances, he or she probably lacks the general responsibility that the company looks for in its employees.How do corporate credit cards work? Your company will have a corporate card program, almost always through American Express. The company requires that you apply for the car . . .
 
Holiday Gifts for the Boss -- Yes or No?
Ah, the holidays. The most wonderful time of the year...hot buttered rum in front of a cozy fire, friends and neighbors dropping by for cookies and caroling...it's just like a made-for-TV movie. Except that your last nerve is wearing thin because you're worrying about whether or not to give your district manager a holiday gift.The short answer: don't give your boss a gift. The traditional etiquette rule on gifts between boss and subordinate is that you gift down, not up. This means that it's ok if your DM gives you a gift (gifting down), but it's not appropriate for you to give your DM a gift (gifting up). According to the Emily Post Institute, giving your boss a gift could be construed as trying to win favor. Do send a holiday card, and play it safe...if you don't know for a fact whether your boss observes Christmas or Hanukkah, send a 'season's greetings' card.However, you still need to take into consideration the customs of your workplace. In pharmaceuti . . .
 
The First Cut Is The Deepest
Sales force cutbacks are nothing new in pharmaceuticals. Although the industry as a whole has traditionally been quite stable, the individual companies within it are much more volatile. The nature of the beast is that its companies' sales forces expand and contract in a cyclical fashion, almost like it's breathing.Last week, Pfizer announced that it will downsize its U.S. sales force by 20% by the end of this month. This will directly affect approximately 2,200 Pfizer sales representatives and managers. But what about the indirect effect on the rest of the industry and on job-seekers who are trying to get into the pharmaceutical industry?Clearly the most direct impact will be to the individuals who make up Pfizer's sales force. Although companies that are downsizing never make public the exact criteria they use to decide who stays and who goes, they usually use some combination of tenure, sales rankings, and ratings from annual reviews. But speculating about the exact formula Pfizer will . . .
 
Your Image Matters: Appropriate Attire For Women in Pharmaceutical Sales
There are four ways, and only four ways, in which we have contact with the world. We are evaluated and classified by these four contacts: what we do, how we look, what we say, and how we say it. -- Dale CarnegieIt's a fact of life that the way you present yourself to others may not make your career, but can certainly break it. Landing a good job is difficult under the best of circumstances, and for each job opening there will be only one winner. It's of critical importance, then, that you control every variable that you possibly can. One of those, of course, is your choice of business attire.For now I'll focus on appropriate business attire for women. I'd love to hear from men who have been in the pharmaceutical industry, particularly sales managers, regarding attire for men.FOR INTERVIEWS You must wear a very well-cut, expensive looking business suit. Expensive looking does not have to be expensive, but it won't be cheap either. I think pants suits look more current and just as . . .
 
Things To Do In Anticipation of Entering The Pharmaceutical Industry
The pharmaceutical industry is well known for being very difficult to get into, especially if you don't have prior pharmaceutical sales experience or at least outside B2B sales experience. It's very hard to get attention from recruiters and employers. Then, once you start getting calls, it's hard to get that first face to face interview. Getting through a company's interview process can be grueling, and it's crushingly disappointing to get all the way through the process and learn that you didn't get the job.It's even more heartbreaking to get that contingent job offer and then have it rescinded because you didn't pass the background check, the pre-employment drug screen, the reference check, or the driving record check. There are a few things you can do in advance, however, to avoid these problems.It sounds obvious, but Nancy Reagan's message bears repeating: Just Say No. If you never use illegal drugs, you won't have to worry about the drug screen.Howe . . .
 
Brag Books
You've got the perfect 'serious suit' and your expensive, tasteful shoes have been shined. Your professionally-written resume is suitable for framing. You find yourself answering in STAR format when your spouse asks what you'd like for dinner. You're all set to interview for your dream pharmaceutical sales job, right? Not so fast. Not until you have a brag book.WHAT IS A BRAG BOOK?A brag book is a collection of material that supports your claim that you're an achiever with a history of success. It should contain documents such as previous ranking reports (if you've been in sales before), awards you've won, evidence of participation in professional organizations, college transcripts, and anything else you think will make you stand out at your interview.There are as many opinions on what a brag book should look like as there are pharmaceutical reps, so don't worry about whether yours is right. Some people like to bring several copies of their brag book to an i . . .
 
30-60-90 Day Business Plans
You thought you were all set. There you were, armed and dangerous, with your professionally-written resume posted in all the right places, your rehearsed answers in STAR format, a brand-new 'serious suit', and your brag book fine-tuned to perfection. And then a recruiter turned your world inside-out by casually mentioning that you'll need to bring a 30-60-90 day business plan to your interview.A 30-60-90 day business plan is exactly what it sounds like. It's a written plan outlining what you plan to do in the first 30, 60, and 90 days on the job. Potential employers like to see that you have done enough research on the company and the position to have a reasonably clear idea of what you will need to do in order to be successful. They also like to see that you have drive and initiative. The 30-60-90 is a good way to show them what you're made of.There's no 'right' way to write your 30-60-90. It doesn't have to be lengthy or complex. One really simple, straig . . .
 
Getting Through Pharmaceutical Sales Training with Your Career Intact
Pharmaceutical sales training is challenging. However, despite the urban legends about people being sent home shamed and unemployed for mispronouncing one word, it's really not that bad. For most people, the most difficult part of training is getting through it without any career-limiting faux pas. If you just keep a few common-sense rules in mind, you should emerge from training relatively unscathed.Go into it with a positive attitude, and even if your attitude slips at some point, keep it to yourself. If your colleagues are complaining about one of the trainers over dinner, keep your mouth shut and at some point find a way to say something positive in a way that won't brand you a suckup. The complaints always find their way back to the subject of them, and if you've gone on record with something positive you're less likely to be included in the list of gripers.Do everything they tell you, participate enthusiastically and freely but not TOO freely, and think before you open your mout . . .
 
The Role of Recruiters in Your Job Search
The role that recruiters play in a job search is a bit of a mystery to most people. Just as you need to know whose side a real estate agent is on when you're buying a house, it's essential that you understand whom recruiters work for and where they fit into your job search.It's a very common misconception that recruiters work for job seekers. In fact, recruiters work for the employer. They are retained by the employer to deliver a pool of qualified candidates from which the employer may – or may not – hire. There are various payment arrangements between employers and recruiters, but typically the recruiter will be paid a percentage of the new hire's base salary. Reputable recruiters never require the job seeker to pay a fee.In this age of online job searches, a recruiter's geographic location has become unimportant. A company in New Jersey might retain a recruiter in California to fill an open position in Texas. Recruiters find most of their candidates these days th . . .
 
Welcome To My Blog
Hi MedZillians! Welcome to my new blog. For those of you who are new to MedZilla and to my blog, let me introduce myself.Like you, I'm fascinated by the world of pharmaceutical sales. I have enjoyed many successful years in pharma working for a number of companies ranging from big pharma behemoths to small startups. I've worked in both primary care and specialty sales (in a number of therapeutic areas), I've done hospital sales at large teaching hospitals, the VA Hospital system, and tiny community hospitals. I've been there, done that, and have the t-shirts from the launch meetings.I've also ventured out of pharma into the world of B2B sales. Yes, I admit it...I cheated on pharma. My work in B2B sales has given me valuable experience in what many consider real sales, and my success then led to sales management positions in which I had the opportunity to interview and hire (and sometimes, unfortunately, fire) sales reps and support staff.Between pharma and B2B, I've enjoy . . .
 

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