A practical guide to succeeding in pharmaceutical sales explains why the U.S. is awash in drugs: the sales guys just don't quit.
Melfa, who has rejected sales candidates for not pursuing him aggresively enough in hotel lobbies, clearly outlines what it takes to make it in the cut-throat world of pharmaceutical sales. Much of what he covers here is standard sales tactics–getting past the gatekeeper, persisting, closing the deal. In a business wherein a sales manager receives 500 resumes per week and hiring mistakes are costly, Melfa's advice, though brutal, is right on point. He underscores the fact that many job candidates (as well as job-holders) lack the drive and industriousness to survive, and he offers simple tips that anyone can–but seldom do–follow: Read everything about a product, smile, be neat and well-organized, prepare for sales meetings, and never give up. He advocates the 80/20 rule (80% of sales will be generated by 20% of physicians) to ensure that reps not waste time on low prescribers, and he offers useful techniques for suggesting drugs to doctors: compare product features, symptoms, and patient types. According to Melfa, doctors should prescribe based on the credibility of the rep's presentation of the data–information often augmented by a sound-bite from the latest drug study: "Doctor, drug X has the longest half-life of all the drugs in its class, which means that, unlike all the other drugs in its class, which are BID dosing, your patient only has to take it once per day." Lay people may be surprised by the assertive sales mindset that seems to govern pharmaceutical sales today–though considering the pressure, assertiveness appears to be a required trait. He also advocates aggressive tactics like leaving extra samples behind for doctors and co-opting as much shelf space as possible in medical offices.
Nevertheless, for the serious job candidate in pharmaceutical sales, this is the book to read.