Q: If I'm hired, what kind of training can I expect?
A: You can expect training that is a combination of charm school and university studying. It's very vigorous and intense. You'll be learning every aspect of the product you'll be selling, from the underlying anatomy and physiology to competitor products. You will be bonding with your associates and hopefully form life-long friendships (or at least career-long friendships).
You'll also be taking a course in sales. You will likely be sent to another city for your training, but don't count on having any extra time for sightseeing or meeting with friends.
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The training usually has two or three segments. The first segment may consist of home study. Your manager will give you scientific training manuals to read and learn. You may be required to stay at a hotel so that you don't have any distractions.
You can expect to be tested on the materials that you are studying. If you will be selling something complicated like an antibiotic or a anti-hypertensive agent, the home study can last for weeks. AND the passing grade is usually 90% (no curves).
There is the possibility that you can flunk out, so make sure that you take this segment seriously.
The second part of training may be with a field-trainer in the field trainer's territory. You will shadow the field trainer for a couple of weeks depending on what product you will be selling. For the first few days, you will just observe.
Your trainer will pick you up early in the morning and go over what you have learned during the home study portion of your training. He will probably quiz you to make sure that you are comfortable with the product knowledge, you know what color the pills are, you know how much the medicine costs, etc.
He will teach you how to use the company software for logging sales calls, how to do an expense report, how to take inventory of your samples, how to pack your trunk, what to do if your car breaks down, how to use the gasoline card, etc. He may take you to a hospital (if he has one in his territory) and show you the basics of working a hospital.
Your trainer will also teach you basic selling skills, like how to ask questions (which we call probes) and how to do presentations and how to close the sale.
After a week or so, he will hand you the bag of drug samples and presentation materials and you will do the job while he observes you. (I still remember the day that my trainer handed me the reins - I was shaking like a leaf during the presentation). Your trainer will offer you feedback to perfect your sales calls. Your confidence level will build during this phase.
Usually, the field trainers are people who are on the management track and they are real sharp. You will develop a bond with your trainer that may last for your entire career.
The third segment of training is formal classroom training. You will go to the company home office for sales school along with a group of people in the same boat as you.
There you will meet people from all across the nation. It reminds me of being a delegate in the U.N. because it is set up like a big council meeting room, like the seats in an amphitheater. There are all sorts of high-tech audio-visual equipment. You will feel special; your company will treat you like gold because you are their most important asset.
In sales school there are more tests, nightly study sessions and mock sales presentations that are videotaped. You will be exposed to the corporate culture of your company. And please don't goof around, because you are living in a fish bowl.
Oh, there's another thing: lots of coffee breaks with doughnuts, coffee, cappuccino, tea, hot chocolate, ice cream, yogurt coated raisins, doughy pretzels with mustard, soda, etc.
All of your meals are covered. (For some reason, drug company people have to be fed every two hours. Most people wind up gaining a few pounds so don't over do it. You don't want to take up two chairs at the end of sales school.
After training you will be pumped and transformed into a mean, lean, drug selling machine.
Then you graduate and they ship you back to your territory and you begin your career.
At this point you will work with your manager on a regular basis until you retire.
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