How do I get a pharmaceutical distribution

From pharmaceutical representative to project manager in pharmaceutical sales

An experience report by Florian Krainhöfner, B.Sc. Studied biology, joined Careforce GmbH in 2014 as a pharmaceutical representative, and was promoted to project manager in 2018.

After my moderately successful “career” as a track and field athlete at school, it was clear that there would be no money to be made with it in the future. So I decided on my second big preference, the natural sciences.

Since my grandfather was a chemist, he often took me to the laboratory as a child and my fascination with experiments was aroused early on. I was particularly interested in the smallest parts of life. So after my community service I started studying biology with the firm intention of specializing in molecular life science or genetics and then doing research.

After the first few semesters, I finally got my money's worth, when biochemistry, microbiology and genetics were deepened. Now I was in my element and also enjoyed the precise work in the laboratory. I was often asked what was so exciting about it: "You can't even see what's going on in the test tubes ...". Not that, but that was the fascination. Only a small thing changes that we can perceive with our senses, and something significant has happened in the test tube, you only know what exactly if you understand the background. That was a very exciting experience that needed to be deepened.

Especially during my specialization during my studies, I got to know more and more of the framework conditions in research. Fixed-term employment contracts for only a few months, 50 percent jobs with 60+ hours per week, but a rather low salary paired with not exactly modern hierarchical structures and a high failure rate in the laboratory.

Into the economy

I quickly realized that this is not for me. Not for a lifetime! So my plan matured, which was very simple: Get out of university, into business! “You can't achieve anything with a bachelor's degree anyway and you won't find a job.” These words have always been preached in this way and similar. I didn't want to admit it and saw it as a challenge, wanted to prove that it can work! I found: "That fits perfectly: I can use the basics I learned in my studies in a meaningful way, can work independently, have a lot of contact with people and, in addition to good pay, also get a great company car."

As a newcomer to the pharmaceutical industry, the easiest and most typical route is through a service provider.

Without anticipating too much, everything happened exactly. With my B.Sc. in biology I received the approval of the expertise according to §75 AMG, which is a prerequisite for being allowed to work in the field as a pharmaceutical representative. As a newcomer to the pharmaceutical industry, the easiest and most typical route is through a service provider.

After doing some internet research, I quickly decided on Careforce, a company that is active in the field of personnel and sales services for the pharmaceutical industry. With my rudimentary to nonexistent sales experience from the ice cream parlor and my temporary work at McPaper, I threw myself into the job interview ... with success. I was hired through Careforce and worked on their behalf for a leading global pharmaceutical research company. I was quickly integrated there and learned how to sell professionally.

Convincing the doctor

On a day-to-day basis, I planned my visits to general practitioners and internists according to their potential, prepared the contents of the conversation as required and carried them out. It was always a feeling of joy when I could do enough convincing to the doctor so that a patient could immediately get a new drug that would make him feel better, and at the same time the goal of my company had been achieved.

In this work, which is strongly characterized by communication, combined with specific medical expertise, I blossomed completely. In the team, I quickly took on additional functions such as the role of a tutor for medical studies. I received regular training from both the pharmaceutical company and Careforce so that I could be successful in my day-to-day work.

I was happy to have learned how to deal with studies during my studies - a huge advantage of the natural scientist in this work.

After this successful start, a position in the clinic field service became available. With the scientific background, I saw my opportunity. After a successful assessment center, I was able to assert myself against some very experienced competitors and from then on I was allowed to visit highly paid chief physicians, as well as the senior physicians, ward physicians and, in some cases, the associated pharmacists. From now on I was in account management and the conversations were clearly more academic. Details from medical studies were often crucial. At this point I was happy to have learned how to deal with studies during my studies - a huge advantage of the natural scientist in this work.

In addition to the "training on the job", I was able to complete further training to become a key account manager with an IHK degree. At that time, the takeover took place and I was signed directly to the pharmaceutical company, around 18 months after I started in the industry.

Internal and external training

I was in the field until mid-2018, discussing various medications with resident specialists and in clinics - usually new products. The pharmaceutical company also offered many internal and, in some cases, external training courses. Also a speaker training, which was very beneficial for the own presentation tasks.

In addition to day-to-day business, I organized a lot of advanced training for doctors and clinic as well as practice staff. In about 50 percent these were just organized, in the other half I presented or carried out the training.

Now that I had very good insights into various roles in pharmaceutical sales, the next step was again at Careforce, the pharmaceutical service provider where I started my career. I have been working here as a project manager in the back office since mid-2018, which means that I am the contact person both for pharmaceutical companies when they bring new drugs to the market and need new employees for their sales, as well as for the employees themselves that we employ or mediate. This results in a very varied activity from recruitment and business contacts to employee management. I depend on structured teamwork in everyday life - always with the knowledge in mind: If the responsibility is not clearly clear, it is me.

As interesting as it was back then in the laboratory, I would never want to go back and follow the same path again. There are so many exciting jobs to come by when you leave your typical academic career.