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sales rep


I am thinking about leaving bedside nursing because of the stress and the way managers treat nurses. I was thinking about sales. Anyone here in sales? Can you tell me about this and do you like it?

I live in eastern pa area and would like to maybe go into pharmaceuticals or medical products.

KelRN215, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pedi. Has 10 years experience.

I was most recently a nurse liaison for a home infusion pharmacy. It was a clinical role when I accepted it, focused on pre-discharge education, managed by a clinician but then the company restructured and put us all under sales and it was AWFUL. Being managed by a salesperson was the worst- these people are focused only on numbers and money and not on doing what is right for the patient.

When I was leaving this job/interviewing elsewhere I told the story a lot of a child I had a referral for who I advocated against going home on IV antibiotics multiple times because her parents couldn't grasp the teaching needed and, for several weeks, refused to participate in it. It was also clear that they didn't understand what was going on with her. The child was found to have abdominal TB and Infectious Disease was clear that she needed a full 9 months of anti-TB therapy. One day, I was waiting to go in to do teaching with the parents and the ID team was in the room explaining to them, at length, why she needed anti-TB meds. After they finished, the first thing the father asked me when I went in the room was "would you give her these medications if she was your kid?" She remained in the hospital for several weeks because the Case Manager and I said that there wasn't a safe discharge plan and, therefore, she couldn't go home. She eventually went home on maybe 2 weeks of IV antibiotics but I had to do 6 teaches with the parents. My boss would have looked at this situation and said "why did you waste so much time and do 6 teaches when we only got 2 weeks of IV antibiotics out of it?" He also would have been pissed if he had known that I advocated against her going home for several weeks because those extra days in the hospital could have been extra income for the company. (Though, as my closest nursing friend pointed out recently, had she gone home when the surgeons first wanted to discharge her, she would have quickly bounced back so it's not like the company would have had that revenue anyway- actually, they would have lost money on drug that was mixed/delivered but not used if she was readmitted.) But, anyway, salespeople just want to check the box that they met their sales goals/quotas at any and all costs.

I will never work for a for-profit company again after this experience (unless I have no other choice).

I did sales support for a medical products company for 15 years. I accompanied a sales exec to all calls. I was supposed to be the product expert. The sales rep was the deal closer.

You should consider sales support. You would have one foot in the clinical world and one in the sales world. It's a good way to learn how to sell.

Here's how sales worked at the company I worked for.

The sales exec and the sales support person carried a quota. The company had an idea of how much your annual compensation package should be.

The sales rep would receive a base salary that was 40% of that amount. They were expected to make the other 60% in commissions from their sales.

The sales support person's base salary was 60% of their expected annual compensation. They were expected to make the other 40% in commissions.

The sales exec's total compensation package was higher than the sales support person's if both made quota. The sales exec had a higher risk but also a higher reward.

In sales you have 2 responsibilities - sell the product and keep the customer happy. Nothing else matters.

There was tremendous pressure on the sales exec to make quota. If you didn't make quota, you would be "returned to the community" (fired).

The sales support person didn't have to worry as much about getting fired for failing to make quota. Failing to keep your sales exec happy could get you fired pretty fast.

Your quota went up every year.

The sales exec had to forecast how much business they would close on the weekly sales call. At our company you had to forecast on a quarterly basis. If you didn't close that business when you said you would, you would have a very uncomfortable conversation with your manager. If you missed your forecast very often, you would be "returned to the community." These forecasts are communicated up the management chain and used by the company to forecast the company's earnings to the stock market. Missing your forecast negatively affects the stock price, so these sales forecasts are really important.

If you asked the company, they would probably say that the sales team's top priority was keeping the customer happy. It costs the company a lot of money to get a new customer. They want new customers, but it's even more important to keep the ones you have.

Each customer received an annual customer satisfaction survey. A huge part of your annual performance appraisal was based on that survey. Not only were you responsible for making sure that that the customers were thrilled with the company, but you were also responsible for making sure that all your customers returned the survey.

Everything is the sales team's responsibility. If the customer has a problem with their bill, they call the sales team. The sales exec then has to track down the right person in the huge organization to fix it. If that person doesn't follow up after you track them down, it's still the sales exec's responsibility. If the customer doesn't receive their order, they call the sales team. If the customer is not happy with their product, they call the sales team. If their equipment breaks, they call the sales team.

You have a lot of flexibility in your work schedule ... as long as you are making your quota and the customer is happy. You work lots of hours because your salary depends on your closing deals. My normal work week was 16 hours a day M-Thur, 10 hours Friday, 4 hours Sunday.

The sales execs want to exceed their quota, because the accelerators kick in once you get over 100% of quota. For example, when you are at 1-20% of quota, you might get .001% commission on sales. For 20-40%, you get .002%. For 40-60%, you get .005%. Etc. When you get to 101% of quota, your commission really jumps. You get another huge bump when you hit 115%.

Sales execs also qualified for "club" when they got to 115% of quota. "Club" was a week long trip with their significant other to someplace like Hawaii or Jamaica - a five star resort.

You carry your cell phone and laptop everywhere including vacations. You must keep your customers happy, so you must be reachable. If your customer has a problem, it doesn't matter that you are on vacation. You make calls and send emails to resolve that problem. You're also always trying to close business. If a deal starts to get hot while you are on vacation, you don't want to miss it.

You need to understand accounting and finance. What's your customer's fiscal year? Differences in operating and capital money. SEC regulations. Accounting rules. Healthcare is one of the most heavily regulated industries. You need to understand what you can legally offer in the deal. Reporting requirements. Whether you can take a customer out to dinner. The company I worked for provided constant training on this.

Most people think of sales people as sleazy individuals who will do anything to make a sale. I found that the best were honest, hardworking individuals who were trying to do the right thing for the customer. They wanted to make a sale, but it was more important to them to sell the customer the right solution. If you sell them something that isn't what they need, you risk losing them as a customer. A good sales exec wants to be a trusted adviser to the customer, so that the customer keeps buying from them. They love what they do, really believe in what they are selling, and truly enjoy interacting with their customers.

CharleeFoxtrot, ADN, RN

Has 7 years experience.

Wow, I want to thank the above posters for a glimpse into a part of our field I am unfamiliar with.