Henry Newkirk on Training That Goes into Selling Pharmaceutical Products
Becoming a pharmaceutical sales representative is no easy task. While having a knack for sales is part of it, extensive training in the medical field is also required.
Henry Newkirk is a pharmaceutical salesperson from Valparaiso, Indiana. He has worked with multiple big pharma companies and with his most recent role as an executive sales specialist in the neurology department with Shire. He provides his insight into the pharmaceutical sales training process.
Background and Experience
Many people find it hard to believe that you don’t actually need medical experience in order to become a pharmaceutical sales representative. Although it certainly doesn’t hurt, there is so much training offered to new hires by these companies, that they are willing to hire people who possess other skills and backgrounds.
Generally speaking, most pharmaceutical companies do require a college degree of some kind, but it is really only the companies selling industrial products that require a degree in science or engineering. Further, for some consumer products, the main concern for the company is whether the candidate has the personality, sales ability, and familiarity with the products to be an asset to the team. Personality and sales ability come naturally, while familiarity with the products can be researched independently prior to an interview. In Henry “Hank” Newkirk’s experience, the top priority for pharmaceutical companies is to find salespeople who are good at selling, regardless of if they have experience selling pharmaceuticals.
Pharmaceutical Sales Training Programs
Most pharmaceutical companies have in-house training programs. These programs are intense, with some lasting up to two years. There are a few different methods that companies use to train new sales representatives. Some receive formal training in a workplace classroom of sorts, while others are partnered with an experienced worker and shadow them while they conduct their sales calls. This allows them to gain more experience and familiarity with both the products and the type of people they are selling to. The responsibility given to new employees very gradually increases until they are eventually assigned their own territory.
Henry Newkirk asserts that even once your preliminary training is completed, pharmaceutical sales representatives are required to keep learning to stay up to date with the latest developments in their field. That is why these representatives will attend trade shows, conferences, and conventions where they learn about new product developments, as well as network with potential clients.
Henry Newkirk on Climbing the Pharmaceutical Sales Ladder
If you succeed at being a pharmaceutical sales representative, there are plenty of opportunities for growth. In this field, Henry Newkirk claims that promotions typically look like being assigned to a role that increases one’s responsibilities. This affords the representative opportunities to display and grow their talents, as well as their contributions to the company. Such promotions include sales training where you would be responsible for training new or seasoned employees on the bestselling techniques and any company policies and procedures.
There are endless opportunities to climb the ladder in pharmaceutical sales, such as advancement to a sales supervisor or manager position. These positions require both a strong sales record and excellent leadership skills, shares Henry Newkirk.