Random Ramblings about stuff I see going on in biotech, internet and the stuff I read.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


WTDW = What to do with... but I am too lazy to type more.

As I spelled out here, I would say more about sales. Here goes.

Sales people are not who you think they are. I mean, they are, but there is so much more that you probably haven't seen.

If you are still in lab, then you only know of the reagent sales people. Quiagen, Invitrogen etc... Those sales reps are one breed, and they are generally looked down on upon by the "high end" sales rep. The "high end" rep is someone who sells gear that academics, in general, can't afford. I worked with these folks at my last job, where all deals were over $1Million. We did NOT 'walk the halls' or any such thing. We only went places where we had defined meetings and the people were talking to wanted to talk to us. A demo/talk would be given and discussions would ensue. We would be back many times (over, generally, the course of 6-9 months), and would develop a friendly relationship with the people. We didn't hand out hats, or pens, or any of that. We were generally talking to VP's in Pharma, so these are senior people.

All of that is to lay down the idea that there are many different kinds of sales people. You have probably only ever seen the reagent sales people. There are some that you don't mind, and some that you can't stand. The point is that you probably try and palm them off on someone else in the lab and want to be left alone!

I could NEVER be a reagent sales rep, as the rejection is too much to take. However, they make good money. They have to work their butts off to earn it though. In this job, a Ph.D. is helpful in that you will be able to quickly cross the bridge to understanding what the customer wants and giving them that. Many of the reagent sales reps are not that technical, and they make do. Many are, and I am biased in to thinking that they are better. It is key to point out that the Ph.D. helps you push product, but that you can not pretend you are a scientist any more. Getting defensive about "when I was in lab" or any such thing is generally a turn off and doesn't help. You also have to be a sales rep NOT a scientist, and that is a switch that is hard to turn. They are not the same, and in fact the Ph.D. can get in the way of being a sales rep.

The high end sales reps get there slowly. Most come up through informatics companies or instrument companies. I don't know how you break in to this, but it is a high stress job. You have to be able to call people and get appointments to see them, as you will never get in to anywhere by just showing up. You will never get to see anyone who can actually buy your instrument/sofware/whatever by just wandering around, so these folks are masters of the phone call.

The point of all this is, that really most lab people have no idea what a sales rep does. Seriously, you don't. For the person with a Ph.D. who wants to move in to sales, you probably want to go through the Application Scientist route, as that will get you the exposure and the start of a network that will serve you in good form later.

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