Most reps feel committed to their careers

November 1, 1998

Pharmaceutical Representative

Pharmaceutical companies may fret about competitors hiring away their sales representatives, but the majority of Pharmaceutical Representative's reader advisory panel feel loyal both to their companies and careers, according to our recent survey.

Pharmaceutical companies may fret about competitors hiring away their sales representatives, but the majority of Pharmaceutical Representative's reader advisory panel feel loyal both to their companies and careers, according to our recent survey.

In a survey that was mailed to 150 sales reps, 57 respondents indicated that they planned to spend their career in pharmaceutical sales. Only 23 saw their position as a pharmaceutical sales rep as "a stepping stone in the pharmaceutical industry."

A remarkable 80% of respondents said they had only worked for one or two pharmaceutical companies. Thirty-six percent of respondents said they worked for the same employer for 10 or more years; 29% said they had been with the same employer for six to nine years; 15% said three to five years and 13% said one to two years. Only 8% had been with their current employer for less than a year. Of the 80 sales reps who responded to the survey, 71 had been sales reps for more than six years. Forty-eight of those sales reps indicated they had been selling for 10 or more years.

Overall, respondents proved to be a steadfast, loyal bunch. When asked what would be important enough to lure them from their present employer, only 25% mentioned salary. Another 25% said corporate culture would influence their decision. However, only 34% said something other than salary, benefits, bonus or corporate culture could make them leave their sales jobs, and nine percent didn't even answer the question.

"Illness," wrote one sales rep on his survey. "I can't think of any other reason [to leave], except for being fired."

Others appeared to have their eyes on the horizon, and saw only retirement or death as a reason to change jobs. One sales rep stated bluntly: "I would not consider [leaving]."

Other sales reps cited changes in personal relationships at work or home as influences. One sales rep said staying home with children was an incentive; and others said the departure of a manager or mentor would give them reason to reconsider.

Being an ambitious bunch, many reps said they were interested in promotions within their companies. Forty percent said they were interested in becoming a sales trainer, and 36% said they were interested in becoming a district manager.

However, their companies need to do a better job of educating them about career development and promotions, according to those surveyed. Of the 40% who said they were interested in becoming trainers, only 28% said they understood their companies' evaluation process for promotion to sales training "very well." Those interested in becoming district managers fared better, with 45% indicating they understood their companies' promotion process "very well."

Sales reps are hungry for more information, according to the survey. Nearly 90% said they were "very interested" or "somewhat interested" in information on career management and professional development. PR

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