What experience do I need for a field sales job in the aesthetics industry?


13 September 2016

Aesthetics industry field sales rep driving

If you like the idea of having new scenery every day, not being tied to a desk or a treatment room, and the chance to use your sales skills to earn a very healthy income, then working in field sales may appeal to you. If you don’t mind being on the road for a good part of your working day, and have the confidence and aptitude to present products and information accurately and appealingly to senior medical professionals and business owners, then field sales could be the career for you. But, what do employers look for when hiring sales reps in aesthetics?

Maybe you are an experienced sales person looking to move into a different industry, or a different area of aesthetics. Or perhaps you’re working in a clinic and are keen to make a career change, but one where you can use your industry knowledge gained from your current role. Either way, you need to consider your skills and experience, and which roles may be the best match. Driving the length of the country lugging about a hefty laser device, and closing a sale of £40,000 with a surgeon is different to demonstrating a facial treatment in a medispa and closing a sale of £4,000 worth of skincare products. Both roles require a particular set of skills and attributes, so it often isn’t possible to group these jobs together and consider the same candidates across all areas of field sales.

Each employer will have different requirements when recruiting. Some companies are open to interviewing sales executives from different industries, or candidates who have industry experience but have not yet had a field-based or business-to-business sales job. Some companies will only entertain the idea of meeting sales people who already work within the industry, headhunting from similar companies. Most companies will make clear their minimum requirements when they advertise their vacancy, so do read the details.

 

Field sales – the basics

 

Sales jobs are all about results. You may be a fantastic communicator who enthrals clients at meetings, a highly knowledgable person who can answer the most complex medical or technical questions, and a dedicated employee who strives to be accurate and efficient at all times, but if you can’t close a deal and hit targets, you won’t have a successful sales career. The knowledge and presence to inform and persuade, the ability to keep yourself organised whilst working autonomously, and the confidence to close a sale, are all essential attributes for a successful sales career.

Field sales jobs are usually salaried positions with a commission structure attached. Sales executives are rewarded for results, so salaries may not be that high, but commission structures allow for the best sales people to earn a very good income. Field sales roles can be time intensive, and involve a good deal of mental and physical effort, but the effort can be worth it if you are keen to earn more and you enjoy the thrill of making a sale.

 

Business (B2B) or consumer (B2C) sales experience

 

Field sales involves selling to businesses, not consumers, so many product and equipment companies will look for business-to-business (B2B) sales experience in their potential employees. An advert may state a certain number of years of sales experience as the minimum requirement, and you may think you meet the criteria, but if your sales experience has been gained from a customer-facing role, it may not be a perfect match for some employers.

That isn’t to say that all consumer sales experience is irrelevant, but think carefully about how you present that information. If you’re applying for a sales role, sell your skills to potential employers with your CV. Don’t just mention that you had experience of selling treatments or products, say how good you were at selling with some details on your successes. If you always hit your targets, or were the top seller in your team, or made any other positive contributions that helped increase sales for your previous employers, say so, and give figures where possible. If an employer can see the signs of a good sales person, you may stand more of a chance of getting an interview.

 

Experience of being based in the field

 

Field sales representatives spend the majority of their time out on the road, driving to meetings with potential and existing clients at various locations across their territory. There will be some time spent on researching, planning and forecasting, perhaps some time cold-calling and setting meetings, and time spent reporting for management and completing client administration. There will also be meetings with team managers, but sales reps can generally expect to spend a good deal of their working week alone, or working independently without colleagues to interact with.

Working as a field sales rep requires you to have the self-motivation necessary to plan and manage your own workload effectively, and to get the work done without having a colleague to badger you. It can also be lonely, and perhaps not the best in terms of work/life balance. If you’re a busy rep covering a large territory, you may be working many hours outside of a nine-to-five schedule, so this kind of work won’t suit everyone, particularly if you can’t or don’t want to cut down on your time with family or friends.

These considerations are why many employers like to see previous field sales experience from a potential new sales person. Many trainee reps drop out when they realise the commitment involved, so some companies play on the safe side and prioritise those who are already aware of what is involved. If you have not been based out in the field before but fully understand and accept what is involved, it won’t hurt to mention that in your covering letter.

 

Sales of cosmeceutical skincare products

 

Cosmeceutical skincare products such as cleansers, exfoliators, specialist serums and moisturisers are stocked by aesthetics clinics both for retailing to customers, and for use in treatments. Cosmeceutical products may be sold over the counter in clinics, as with other retail outlets, but if they are also used in treatments then reps may be required to demonstrate those as part of the sales process, so sales experience alone may not be enough to get you an interview with some companies. If you are a qualified aesthetic therapist or a nurse qualified in aesthetic treatments, and you have a good record in sales, then your skills may be in demand by suppliers of cosmeceuticals, either to become a sales rep, or a client trainer.

 

Sales of pharmaceutical-grade toxins and dermal fillers

 

Injectable products are medical-grade supplies used for cosmetic purposes, so sales people need to have knowledge of medical practice and of aesthetic application. Selling injectables into a private clinic is different to selling diabetes medication to an NHS GP practice, so being an ABPI qualified pharmaceutical rep doesn’t mean you can transition straight into a role in aesthetics.

Toxins such as Botox are prescription-only pharmaceutical products, so to sell these and comply with regulations, you will need to sit the ABPI exam, but this can be completed in your first year of working as a pharmaceutical rep, so not all employers will require you to have this first. A good working knowledge of the aesthetics industry, and an existing network of contacts may be as attractive to suppliers of aesthetic dermatology products as experience of selling pharmaceutical products outside of this industry. Whatever your background, to sell injectable products you will need to have very good understanding of medical and pharmaceutical terminology, and anatomy and physiology, with some employers requiring applicants to have a science qualification.

 

Sales of aesthetic devices – laser, IPL, radiofrequency, ultrasound

 

Aesthetic devices are often large, high-value pieces of equipment, using technology such as laser, IPL, radio-frequency and ultrasound. Some suppliers favour sales reps who have previous clinical experience, so they have first-hand knowledge of how to use such a device, while some insist on previous experience of selling high-value capital equipment, even if from another industry. Many companies will employ trainers to demonstrate devices, so sales reps selling aesthetic devices do not necessarily need to be able to use the machine in question for a treatment, but will need to understand and communicate the technology, and promote the potential revenue gain from purchasing the device.

Aesthetic devices are sold to clinics and hospitals, and spas and beauty salons, with the majority of equipment being at a price that will involve a considerable investment for a business. Closing a high-value sale with senior medical professionals or business owners involves a certain level of confidence and professionalism, and each sale is likely to take more time and effort than the sale of a low-value item, so you will need to have the motivation to push on when you aren’t celebrating making a sale every week.

 

Promoting your skills in the right way

 

All successful sales people should be able to give examples of their achievements, because sales results are measurable, and performance can be measured objectively rather than subjectively. In other words, if you’ve done a good job as a sales rep, you should have access to statistics that state how many products you sold, how much revenue was made, and where these figures were in relation to your given targets. If you have figures that demonstrate your achievements, make sure you add these to your CV. Employers will look for evidence of sales success, and if you don’t add this, you may not get the chance to talk about your sales prowess at interview, either.

If you don’t appear to meet the minimum requirements for any field sales jobs you’ve seen, then think about what other experience you could gain to help get you there, how you could change your approach, or whether other sales roles may suit you better. If you think your skills are easily transferrable to an aesthetics role but you’ve been unsuccessful in your applications, it could be that you need to revisit your CV to better highlight key points, or revisit the minimum requirements on the advert to check you really did meet all the ‘essentials’. If you’re stuck for ideas, contact a recruitment consultant who deals with the kind of jobs you want and ask them for advice. Recruiters will have a good idea of the varying requirements across the industry, and will be able to give you a realistic idea of what you could be considered for.

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