Actually, the first question should be: CAN med techs or other laboratory people transition from a technical role into a sales role? The answer is: it depends.

The odds are low, but for those who can beat the odds, they'll likely be fantastic sales reps. It tends to be a love it/hate it proposition. Why is that? It's because the laboratory is a black-or-white world. There are absolutes and definites. In the sales world, there are many more variables, many more maybes, and much more fluidity inherently involved in dealing with people. The laboratory person who has good people skills coupled with that extensive technical background and who can deal with the uncertainty and constant change will be very successful.

So, if you've got the technical background necessary for success in laboratory sales, how do you make the leap?

* Before you do anything else, go for a ride-along with a few sales reps. See what it's like on the other side of the fence. Ask questions about the pros and cons of the job, ask what a typical day is like, and find out how to be competitive in the job search and in the field. The logical way to find a sales rep willing to let you job shadow him would be to get names from labs they sell to. If you'd like to keep this on the down low for a while, find a lab where you're not known to ask for a few contacts.

* Use the job shadowing experience to beef up your resume with keywords that will get it flagged by computerized tracking systems. You'll have to revamp your resume to give it a sales focus while still highlighting your technical background.

* Find out everything you can about how to get into medical sales. There are hundreds of articles available right here on this blog.

* Expand your professional network. If you haven't done it already, set up a profile on LinkedIn. Join sales groups to find out what's going on and make more contacts.

* Shore up your sales skills. Research sales skills and sales call best practices online. Read books on sales techniques. Watch YouTube videos for job search advice.

* Seriously consider hiring a career coach to help with your medical sales job interview preparation. On the face of it, it looks like an expensive option when you could do all this research yourself, but in reality, it's a time- and money-saver: if you want to get hired faster, you consult an expert who already knows the territory and can give you a map of the best way to get where you want to go. It will keep you from making some completely avoidable mistakes and show you how to put your best foot forward.

* Get good at handling phone interviews. Almost all your initial contacts with recruiters and hiring managers will be by phone. Making a good impression there will be the key to landing the face-to-face interview.

* Learn how to write a 30/60/90-day plan. Use all of the research you've done on the sales process, and then research the specific company you'd like to interview with. Write an outline of what you'd be doing in the first 30 days, the first 60 days, and the first 90 days on the job. That's usually things like training (find out how they do that ahead of time) in the first 30 days, initial field work and customer introduction in the first 60 days (find out who their customers are), and going after new accounts in the first 90 days (think about who that might be). The 30/60/90-day plan will make you stand out as a person who knows how to be successful in this new role, and help the hiring manager see you in the job--which is half the battle.

* Polish your interview skills (this is a given). Practice answers to difficult but common interview questions, know how to answer behavioral interview questions, dress appropriately for a sales rep role, watch your body language, ask questions of your own, project confidence, know how to ask for the job, and don't forget the thank you note.

This is all a lot to remember, and it's certainly a lot of work. But if you're ready to transition out of the lab, the rewards will be worth it.

Author's Bio: 

Peggy McKee has over 15 years of experience in sales, management, and recruiting. She is the CEO of PHC Consulting, a nationally-known medical sales recruiting firm. See her website and blog for more on medical sales and jobs available at

She offers powerful tools and tips for resumes, LinkedIn, 30/60/90-day plans, brag books, and more about how to get into medical sales that will help you succeed in your job search at