An Interview with a Regional Sales Manager

An Interview with a Regional Sales Manager

Welcome to installment #7 of our Interview Series titled “And Interview with….”where we interview professionals from every level of the pharmaceutical industry.  This time we have hit the jackpot and scored an interview with a Regional Sales Manager who has been in the industry for over 16 years.  As is always the case, our interviewees remain anonymous to uncover the most honest information that we can.  The purpose being to get great insight into the industry that many of you already work in and some of you wish to work, in the future.  We keep striving to bring you more and we believe we have done so with this insightful interview….enjoy!! You have over 16 years of experience as a Pharmaceutical professional and currently as a Regional Sales Manager for a contract organization you have a large geographic area and a great many representatives that you are responsible for.  I am sure you have seen quite a bit in your career.  What are some of the major changes that you have seen in the pharma industry over the past 16 years?
Regional Sales Manager: It really is amazing how much this industry has changed during my career. Those things that impact us as representatives are with physician access, PhRMA guidelines, and of course, the impact that managed care has on prescribing.  Lately in the world of Pharmaceuticals there has been a tremendous amount of consolidation.  Companies are merging or being acquired creating very large organizations.  The impact that this has had on the professionals in the industry has varied.  Some have lost their jobs and yet others have found increased opportunity.  What are your thoughts on this consolidation?
Regional Sales Manager:   As an industry, the mentality was that the more “voice” you had, the more often a clinician would hear your message which would increase the chances of prescribing your product. Unfortunately, that led to an overabundance of representatives in physician offices. Over the past few years, companies have attempted to reduce their sales forces to more realistic levels due to the impact of managed care and customer access. Some companies have managed that well, others have not. As with all market corrections, equilibrium will be reached (hopefully soon), and the industry will feel a bit more stable. One thing it has done has increased opportunities at contract companies since manufacturers are turning to these organizations to manage their sales forces. Over the years you have surely seen a tremendous amount of representatives with varying styles.  Is there a quality or are there qualities that you believe sets some apart from the others?
Regional Sales Manager: I’ve been very fortunate to have worked with some amazing people during my career. The things that I admire and typically see in those highly successful professionals are integrity, drive, determination, a positive attitude, and an ability to adapt to constant change.  When we read articles in periodicals or watch television, the Millennial generation is characterized as having a sense of “entitlement”.  What has been your experience with millennials that you have managed in pharma sales?  Have they brought good qualities or bad qualities to the workforce in your opinion?  Is the stigma correct in your opinion or overblown?
Regional Sales Manager:  While there is some validity to the stereotype, a sense of entitlement isn’t limited only to the millennial generation. With one or two exceptions, I was fortunate to have had a fantastic group of people to manage and work with. The benefit to having millennials on your team was the energy level, their eagerness to learn, their ability to accept coaching, as well as as mastering the technology platforms we use very quickly.
Additionally, they “didn’t know what they didn’t know”. It amazed me to see them gain access to formerly impenetrable clinics simply because they didn’t know they “couldn’t”. They simply didn’t have the preconceived notions of what couldn’t be done. The issues arose when they did face challenges, a majority hadn’t learned to deal with them effectively and this tended to lead to frustration and decreased motivation. Overall, it was a very positive experience.  As someone who has had a long career as a Pharmaceutical professional, where do you see the industry going in the next 5 to 10 years?
Regional Sales Manager: It’s really anyone’s guess. I can remember being told 15 years ago that these jobs would be gone within five years and clearly that wasn’t the case. It really comes down to the long-term impact of the Affordable Care Act, and who wins the White House. I think the next five years will be the determining factor for the longevity of this industry. My belief is that we’ll see an increase in contract sales force use by manufacturers which we’re already seeing take place.  If you could go back and so it all over again, would you choose this industry again and why (or why not)?  If you could be or do anything else what would it be?
Regional Sales Manager: Overall, the pharmaceutical industry has been very kind to me. I’ve met some amazing people and learned an enormous amount. I feel very fortunate to have worked here. If there comes a time when I leave the industry, it will be to either open a micro-brewery or a high-end bicycle shop. I think there would still be stress, but it’s the type of stress I think I can manage with a smile.

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