3 Things to Consider When Choosing a Pharma Company
1-PIPELINE, PIPELINE, PIPELINE – Choose a company with a promising pipeline.
What is a pipeline you may ask? In the pharmaceutical industry a drug pipeline consists of the drugs that a company has under development. A company’s pipeline is crucial to its survival. A drug pipeline includes completely new drugs, variations of existing drugs and new versions of existing drugs. The pipeline starts with new drug discoveries. It is important to assess a company’s ability to discover new drugs as well push new drugs through the pipeline from chemical entity to commercialization. In addition, the early stage of the pipeline needs to be refilled as drugs progress through it. Good Research and Development is crucial to this effort as well.
Why is joining a company with a robust pipeline important? This is crucial because without new drugs every 3-5 years, your company will not be able to survive in today’s environment. More importantly without a drug to sell you won’t have a job!
Pharmaceutical products are also subject to patent expiration which ups the ante. Each product has a patent expiration date. Patent expiration is when a product loses its exclusivity on the drug market. Once a company’s patent expires, generic versions of the product can now be marketed by competitors. We all know that once a drug “goes generic” the price often plummets because competition enters the picture. That is why pharmaceutical companies attempt to wring all the profits they can out of drugs before they reach patent expiration. Make sure the company you are looking to join has a strong pipeline if you intend to have a long term career with that particular company.
KEY TAKEAWAY: Ask your interviewer to show you a diagram of the company’s pipeline. The pipelines of most Big Pharma companies are public information. (Notice the pipeline for Novartis Pharmaceuticals to the right). But you are also testing to see how open and confident the company is in their future prospects via their pipeline.
2-TERRITORY SALES SUCCESS IN THE TERRITORY – Winning begets winning. Would you rather join a territory with a documented history of success or one with a dismal history of success. When I speak of success I am specifically referring to historical sales rankings and goal achievement for the territory. For example the Westchester, NY territory for a particular big pharma company has achieved greater than 100% sales quota attainment for 4 out of the last 5 years, while the Boston, MA territory has exceeded 100% of sales quota just 1 out of the past 5 years. Which territory would you rather sell in?
Most pharmaceutical sales reps would choose the territory with more documented sales success. Some will choose the lower performing territory, and I understand the rationale for that as well. For the latter, the sales professional determines that if they can turn around an underperforming territory, their achievements will appear all the more impressive. They have a point. If I had a choice, I recommend choosing the territory with a prior history of sales success.
Just like with the concept of behavioral interviewing, where the logic goes, if a person has behaved a certain way when presented with a certain situation in the past, chances are presented with the same situation in the future, they will behave in the same manner. The same rule tends to apply to pharmaceutical sales territories in my experience. Yes, there may be some outliers or exceptions to the rule from time to time, but typically, past success predicts future success.
3-WHO’S YOUR MANAGER? -- Have you read the “How to Win Friends and Influence People?” This book is a must read because it cuts to the core of human relations. In the book Carnegie details how to not just get along with anyone, but how to make people like you. This is what you need to do with your manager. If you and your manager don’t get along, your work life can be made a lot more difficult. Sniffing this out in the interview process is the best time to determine of you are a good match with your manager and vice versa. Can you see yourself working with and for this individual? What is their management style? How do they manage when faced with pressure from above? All of these questions are critical to ask during the interview process before you take the job.
WHAT ARE YOUR KEY TAKEAWAYS? I hope you found this post informative and helpful. As always I want you to comment and get involved in the conversation. Let me know if you agree or disagree with me. PS: It’s okay if you disagree with me, I enjoy healthy debate!