It can be a major challenge for college students and early-career professionals to land a B2B sales position in a complex industry like health technology, or medical devices. The healthcare industry is rapidly evolving, and Philips is looking to help shape healthcare for future generations. The skillsets of sales professionals have to keep up with the pace of innovation. Evolving your in-market sales approach to be more solutions-based instead of selling product features and benefits is a desirable skillset to have for employers like Philips. Some medical device sales jobs may also require a very specific type of niche technology experience that you do not have. Herein lies the age-old question up-and-coming sales professionals ask who are interested in breaking into the health technology space — how do you get experience selling health technology or medical devices if no one will hire you without it?
I have personally interviewed hundreds of sales professionals over the years in this exact situation. Here are seven tips on how college students and early-career professionals can improve their approach to breaking into a complex industry like health technology:
1. Find an entry-level B2B sales role that has a strong sales training program
As a medical device sales recruiter, this is where it’s good to see that not only did you secure a position with a reputable organization, but that you have survived and ideally had great success within your first few years in sales. This first job should require a lot of business development and prospecting activity. You will learn the art of rejection and perseverance, or “grit”, as I like to call it. A company with a formal training program can help kick-start your sales career in the right direction.
2. Try and avoid job-hopping
An entry-level role in B2B sales can be a hard job, but don’t give up and change jobs too fast. A stable sales resume sends a positive signal to a recruiter that you will not run when the going gets tough. Medical device sales is a challenging field regardless of tenure, but it can be an incredibly rewarding experience professionally, even personally. Here is a story of one of our employees who although she does not work in sales, is a first-hand example of how fulfilling this line of work can be.
3. Polish up your information
Recruiters will check out your LinkedIn profile, so have your experience updated on your personal page. Update your resume with data to support your achievements. A recruiter or hiring manager wants to understand your rankings, sales, and awards you may have received. They also want to know that you have the potential to both learn and retain complex clinical information, work independently in the field, and leverage your internal team where applicable. Add examples of these accomplishments into your resume where you can.
4. Create a list of medical device companies that have an appealing value-proposition
After you have a few solid years of B2B sales and a “brag book” in tow, you should now attempt breaking into this complex field. Be strategic about your approach. Research companies with cutting-edge technologies that can maximize your sales potential. This will also position you to have a runway for future growth opportunities. Then set up 2-3 automated job searches on sites like Indeed and LinkedIn so you are sent new opportunities daily that meet your criteria.
5. Avoid job-spamming
It’s OK that you don’t have 10 years of experience. Recognize it and use whatever experience you have to your advantage by applying for appropriate positions so you are efficient with your time. Applying to every role that peaks your interest actually does not increase your chances of being contacted for an interview. Job-spamming activity may actually signal to a recruiter that the job description they took time (sometimes a lot of time) to put together was not carefully read, so you are not very interested in the job.
6. Respond quickly if contacted about a job
Think about it: if this were a customer calling you, how long would it take you to return the call? Apply the same time frame with your job search. If a recruiter reaches out to you about a position you applied to, make sure to respond as soon as you possibly can. In medical device sales, your response time is critical with customers, and it’s no different with recruiters.
7. Prepare, prepare, prepare
Once the phone interview is scheduled, begin your research. Re-review the job description and practice verbally connecting your experience in previous roles to what this role is asking of you. Be ready to answer questions about your motivations for applying. Why are you interested in medical device sales? Why are you looking to leave your current industry? If you follow this advice you will better set yourself up for success during your interview.
If you do all of the above and still do not get the job just remember every opportunity to sit down with someone in a company you are interested in is never time wasted. Many times, there are factors outside of your control that may prevent you from receiving an offer. However, good recruiters remember good candidates. The first place I go when a new opportunity opens is to my silver medalist list from past positions. When that next opportunity opens up (which is only a matter of time) and I need to fill it fast I know exactly who to contact. Making a career transition into medical device sales may take time, but be patient, persistent and you will increase your chances for breaking into a company like Philips.
Written by Janine Corridoni, Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant, Philips. This article was originally published by Philips. Reprinted with permission.