I have a pharmaceutical sales ride along, what course of action should I take? Sit back, be conservative, observe, and take good notes or be assertive and show I want to be involved? What’s the standard or is there one?
It’s important to remember that, for all practical purposes, the ride along (a.k.a. field preceptorship) is simply an extension of the interview. It serves two purposes. First, it gives the company a chance to see how you interact in the real world. Up to this point they have only heard you on the phone or seen you in the abnormal environment of an interview. The day to day aspect of a pharmaceutical sales job involves your interactions with many different [types] of people. Second, the ride along is also meant to give you a better idea if this job is for you. Like most jobs, it is very different from its outward appearance. The ride along gives you a look at the job from the inside. Be sure to be observant and try to picture yourself in the role. Then, be honest with yourself when it comes time to decide if this is really what you want to do. You (and everyone around you) will be much happier in the long term if you are honest with yourself in the short term.
If you want to know how you should act in a ride along, ask. Ask the rep during the ride along what would be comfortable for him/her. Priority ONE for the representative is to sell – you come second and you don’t want to do anything to change that.
These are a few more points to consider.
- If this ride-along is NOT part of an interviewing process, then you need to treat it as such and be on your best behavior. No off-the-wall jokes, no swearing, don’t talk about your dating/married life in any intimate details. Sounds like common sense, but you would be surprised about what reps hear on ride longs. DO NOT flirt with the rep if of the opposite sex and do not flirt with the office staff either. After all, it is the rep’s sales call and his/her reputation at stake. STAY PROFESSIONAL at all times.
- Not to beat a dead horse but remember this little bit of advice: the rep is essentially interviewing you during the ride along, whether the ride is part or not part of an actual interviewing process. He/she will make mental notes on the type of questions you ask, how you handle yourself in social situations, if you would be pleasant to work with, whether or not you would be a good team member and a dependable one, and if you have the drive, passion, and determination to be successful in this very competitive industry. The rep has the power to kill your candidacy with their company or provide a very strong referral to their manager. Never, ever underestimate the power of a ride along, whether or not it is actually a part of the interviewing process.
- If you are comfortable with the rep, it’s sometimes ok to bring up pay and benefits at some point during the ride along. Do not, however, make this the focal point. Most reps will not want to get into too much detail about this anyway, so keep this line of questions to a general, 50,000 foot level. “What is the typical starting salary for a rep with XYZ Pharmaceutical?” is ok. “So, what kind of bling do you pull?” is not.
- If you do lunch (and you will if it is an all day ride along), make sure you use your manners. Keep in mind that as a rep you will occasionally sponsor/participate in dinner speaker programs and provide lunches to the doctors and their staff. The rep will be analyzing your manners as well as your social graces. Do not order the most expensive thing on the menu, order items that you can use silverware (no finger food), do not order anything that could mess your clothes, and NO ALCOHOL no matter what!!
- Finally, be yourself. Be friendly, outgoing, ask pertinent questions relating to the job: how to be successful, doctors prescribing habits, the market research reps are provided, the training program, use of laptops, the management style of the DMs or RMs in the area, etc. Ask the rep what he/she has to do to prepare for their sales calls and what is required before hitting the road and the end of day paperwork. Ask what kind of special projects they have to do above their normal job duties. Find out what the career path options are and the typical timing involved in each. It’s also a good idea to try to learn a bit about the rep him/herself. A large part of the job is about the relationships you can build. Show the rep you are good at this. People buy from their friends. Make a friend on your ride along.
The ride-along is the single most important learning experience you will encounter regarding what the job of a pharmaceutical encompasses. Make sure to really take in everything and take some notes for yourself about what happened when you get home that evening. Note what docs you visited, how the sales call was handled, and what objections were raised during the sales presentations. If this is part of an interviewing process, it would not hurt to send the DM a summation of your day, how much you enjoyed it, and how you are more excited than ever to becoming a part of their team (if true, of course).
Also make sure to then put on your resume that you were involved in a ride-along (you do not need to name the company). It is always a good conversation vehicle in a job interview.
Finally, be prepared (interviewing process or not) to ask the rep who gave you the ride along for his referral to their manager (i.e. closing the business).
Good luck, have fun, and enjoy your day in the field. It is the greatest learning experience prior to the actual job. What you will see and experience in the field no book or website can teach or show you.
Originally posted by in the
If you find this site helpful, please send a link to your career services department so your fellow alumni know about PharmBoard too! I've already written the message for you. :)