Sales positions are a great entry to the lucrative field of pharmaceuticals and medical devices and can lead to other great positions as you move up the ladder. However, one of the hesitations of getting into sales is that you will be stuck in that niche for the rest of your career. There are a few ways to make sure that’s not the case and getting the right mentor is one of them.
Studies show many who succeed have a mentor and this is especially true in moving forward with your sales career. Your mentor could be your sales manager, training manager or a co-worker. Pick someone whose sales skills you admire and who has something to teach you.
If you are feeling the pressure, remember this isn’t a life long choice, your mentors should change throughout your career. Once you’re 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 that area.
It is important to note that not every important relationship in your career has to be with a mentor, relationships with co-workers can also have an impact on your 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.
Here’s a quick overview of some of the jobs that are accessible as you move out of sales to get you thinking.
Field sales trainers – When successful sales representatives are promoted they are often asked to take on new recruits and turn them into performing sales people. If you like the idea of teaching, or becoming a mentor yourself this might be a good way to go. Even better, there’s lots of room for further promotion within the field of training. If you are interested in going 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 and has the sales skills to bring on the new talent. This job entails searching, interviewing and making recommendations on who the company should hire. Career growth includes moving into the corporate office in the Human Resources department.
Account Management – These positions focus on large regional or national accounts that have many 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 good promotion for sales representative who have 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.
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Lindsey McCoy MPA, is an Executive Medical Recruiter and former CEO in the not for profit sector.