Sales positions are a great gateway into the lucrative world of pharmaceuticals and medical devices. However, one of the hesitations of getting into sales is that you will be stuck in that niche for the rest of your career. But fear not, in addition to paying well at the entry level, sales can also be the first step towards a number of different career paths.
There are two different paths new sales recruits can take to get on the road to other career options: mentoring and leadership training. Choosing which path is right for you will depend on the your career aspirations. This article will look at mentoring and where it can take you, while the next article in the series will focus on leadership training.
Studies show most people who succeed have a mentor, this is especially true in sales. Your mentor could be your sales manager, training manager or a co-worker. Pick someone whose skill you admire, whose advice you respect and who has something to teach you.
Your mentors should change throughout your career. Once you are ready to move out of sales, start talking to people in other divisions to find out what’s the best fit for your skills and interests and work to develop a relationship with a mentor in an area you choose.
It is important to note that not every important relationship in your career has to be with a mentor, getting to know co-workers can have a big impact on career choices. As you learn more about their day to day duties and you might decide you’d enjoy working in a division you’d never considered before.
Some of the career advancement that can take place through the mentoring process includes moving into training, recruiting, account management and managed care sales. Here’s a quick overview of those job descriptions to get you thinking.
Field sales trainers – Successful sales representatives are often promoted and asked to take on new recruits and turn them into performing sales people. If you like the idea of teaching, mentoring and helping others get their start while still keeping a hand in sales this might be a good way to go. There is lots of room for expansion in the field of training. If you are interested in this route, make sure the companies you are applying to conduct their training in house.
Field sales recruiter – Successful sales representative are often recruited into the role of field sales recruiter, this person knows what to look for in a talented sales representative. They take on the role of assisting the talent acquisition team in hiring new sales representatives. This entails searching, interviewing and making recommendations on who to hire. Career growth includes moving into the corporate office in the Human Resources department.
Account Management – This position typically focuses on large regional or national accounts that have many facets and departments that refer business. The account manager acts as a liaison between sales and the account. They manage the current sales and up sell new business. There is lots of room for growth into national accounts and national account management.
Managed Care Account Executive – This is a promotion for the sales representative who has called on payers and HMO’s. In this role the person meets with decision makers in the health plans who put products on formulary and make contracting decisions. In this role you can stay in field and move into Regional and National roles. You can also get promoted into the corporate office and work in payer strategy.
Government Accounts – This is considered another higher level sales position. It is also referred to as Federal Accounts. In this role the sales person calls on VA Hospitals and other federally funded organizations. Candidates must understand the rules and contracting decisions around the Federal system.
Although some people quite happily stay in sales and move up that ladder, there are plenty of directions once your foot is in the door.