Medical sales is increasingly becoming an area of interest for veterans transitioning to civilian careers. Many would do exceptionally well because the nature of sales jobs entails being a good communicator, process-oriented, a team player, and perseverant, all of which are incorporated into military training. The issue that often arises for veterans is the lack of a strong professional network, required licenses for a job, and no clear pathway from the military to a mid-to-high-skill civilian job like medical sales. For example, they are not trained on how to speak about how their experience is an asset to them in the corporate world, which makes interviewing difficult. On top of that, there aren’t many resources at their disposal. Some companies invest in programs dedicated to training veterans into sales roles, one example being Johnson and Johnson. MVPvets chatted with Woody Page, National Account Manager at Emergent BioSolutions on how he overcame some of these barriers and progressed in his medical sales career.
How do you advance within the medical device sales industry?
Hierarchy. Start at the bottom. Learn as much as you can and show your value. Depending on the company, start as a District or Regional Account Manager, and then progress to National Account Manager, and finally National Sales Director for a team of account managers.
How did you prepare for the interview?
Building credibility. You’ll need to talk to doctors, medical providers, pharmacists, doctors, and nurses. Fill your knowledge gap to maintain those conversations.
What do you need to be successful in medical device sales?
Not all folks have degrees in medical sciences. There will be a learning curve. Biology-related, vaccinology, or epidemiology degrees may help you better know your product. Most biotech/pharma, require a four year undergraduate degree, big pharma especially. Be able to work in teams and know that it’s a competitive business to be in. Be results-oriented and continually competitive.
What advice do you have for folks without sales experience?
Ask a lot of questions. Sales isn’t for everyone and it suits certain personality types more than others. Really try to understand the relationship between sales and marketing. It’s also important to find the right company and product whether its pharma, vaccines, etc.
Think carefully about travel. If you see 50%, you’ll be traveling 75%, so it’s a much different rhythm than deployments. Pay close attention to the size of the territory that you will be working on.
During COVID-19, is this a growing industry?
Plenty of pharmaceutical companies are growing and vaccine sales are especially growing. This year everyone is in a foot race to develop a vaccine. People are being hired pretty quickly and on top of that flu season is right around the corner. An industry like this will continue to grow and see an uptick in revenue, as well as job openings.
If you would like to reach out to Woody and learn more about his career, check out his LinkedIn!
MVPvets is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to connecting life science companies with talented veterans ready to serve a purpose, with a broad bandwidth of skills, and an extraordinary focus on achieving goals. MVPvets’ network has grown to nearly 100 life science and medical device companies, hundreds of mentors, and thousands of veterans.
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