There is tons of information on the Internet about how to get INTO pharmaceutical sales. What do you do if you want to get OUT? If you Google pharmaceutical sales or any topic related to pharmaceutical sales there is an endless (seemingly) list of websites, videos, articles and advice that will attempt to help you accomplish this. However, if you are like so many current pharmaceutical sales representatives, you are looking for a way OUT of pharmaceutical sales. The industry is declining quickly; a decline which started approximately 10+ years ago when all the Big Pharma companies started rapidly expanding their sales forces to increase “Share of Voice”. And, whose voice would that be, by the way? They surely never listened to the “voice” of their reps as they tried to explain that access was declining because too many reps were in the field. Now, the industry finds itself in a place of managed care challenges, limited to no access, and disgruntled and dissatisfied reps who are looking for a way out (that is, if their company has not already provided one by “realigning”, “rightsizing” or “reorganizing”). If you are currently working in the field, it is important to keep doing what you’re doing. Do not do anything that would raise any red flags about your dedication to the company or your position. Always be positive; stay current on assignments, projects and reports; and communicate with your manager on a regular basis.
The first step to get out of pharmaceutical sales is somewhat obvious: Figure out what else you want to do. Would you like to go back to school, embark on a new career, start your own business or become a stay-at-home parent? If you would like to go back to school figure out what area you would like to pursue. Maybe you want to stay in business and pursue an MBA or maybe you have decided to go the clinical route to capitalize on your pharmaceutical sales experience. You could even pursue a Ph.D, if you are interested in higher education or research. Your options are endless. If you would like to embark on a new career there are tons of FREE online career assessments available. I would suggest you take one; along with taking an inventory of your hobbies, what you enjoy most, your gifts and skills, as well as asking family members and close friends what area they think you might excel in. If you have been thinking/dreaming about starting your own business, explore your options. One perk of pharmaceutical sales is the ability to have a flexible schedule. There are many businesses you can start while still working in pharmaceutical sales, such as an online or internet business. Note to self: Be careful and be smart. If you have recently had children and would like to stay at home with them full time (many fathers are choosing to be stay-at-home parents these days) start looking at your household budget to see if this is feasible and if not, determine what adjustments need to be made to make this option a reality.
Step 2: Develop a plan to move toward your new goal. If you have decided to go back to school your plan should include researching various programs, schools and funding/scholarship options. It would also make sense to attend information sessions at various schools once you narrow down your choices. If you have decided to pursue a new career your plan might include updating your resume to fit the new career you are seeking, drafting a cover letter to briefly highlight your reason for making a change and what you have to offer, brushing up on your interviewing skills and searching for a new job. There are several great job search engines and don’t forget LinkedIn. If you have decided to start your own business your plan may include researching how to start a business, any licenses you may need or if you need to incorporate, and others who are currently operating the type of business you would like to start to gather additional intelligence or to possibly become a mentor for you. If you have decided to become a stay-at-home parent your plan may include creating a new family budget, researching benefit options (if you have been the primary breadwinner), selling household items for additional income and most importantly, saving.
Step 3: Work your plan. It is important to have goals and deadlines for any plan. Put a timeline in place and work your plan until you reach that goal.
Do not give up! Ask for help from others if/when you need it. Anything worth having will take some effort, but you can do it. If you had what it took to get INTO pharmaceutical sales, then you certainly have what it takes to get OUT.