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  #1  
Old 12-21-2010, 10:51 AM
No Wikipedia Cites No Wikipedia Cites is offline
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Why are pharmaceutical sales staff all attractive women?

Ok word on the street is that young attractive women are the preferred choice for selling pharmaceuticals.

Ok, I give up: why? Why on earth? It can't be just because attractive women can sell things just by their own precious existence. The car salesmen aren't young women at the local dealerships, nor the circuit city types. Why just this one field? What is with pharmaceutical sales and hotties? I don't get it.

And how are they selling to female doctors, of which there are many?
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  #2  
Old 12-21-2010, 10:56 AM
UltraVires UltraVires is offline
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My WAG is that for all of the strides that women have made by entering the medical profession, it is still largely controlled by horny, male doctors whereas your electronics and car customers are more gender balanced.
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  #3  
Old 12-21-2010, 11:12 AM
Fotheringay-Phipps Fotheringay-Phipps is online now
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My wife used to work for a clothing importer and she said that attractive female saleswomen had a huge edge in that field as well.
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  #4  
Old 12-21-2010, 11:16 AM
Skald the Rhymer Skald the Rhymer is offline
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Not all pharmaceutical sales representatives are attractive women. A good number of them are attractive men. There are straight women and gay men working as physicians, after all.

I'm in a different sort of corporate sales, but I know a good number of pharm reps; at least four of my best people have been poached by the pharm industry. Prospective outside sales rep benefit from being hot for the some of the same reasons that actors do. There's always a few outliers, of course.
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  #5  
Old 12-21-2010, 11:17 AM
Earl Snake-Hips Tucker Earl Snake-Hips Tucker is online now
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Originally Posted by sassyfras View Post
It can't be just because attractive women can sell things just by their own precious existence.
Don't be so sure about that. Especially when the mark is a guy. When a babe is involved, we can be talked into just about anything. They can be really good ad separating us from our money.
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  #6  
Old 12-21-2010, 11:23 AM
Philster Philster is offline
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Biggest Problem: Pharm reps need docs to make time for them.

Solution: Hot babes as reps.

Bonus: All the the promo material, product benefits and all the do/don't and pros/cons are laid out already in the material.

How this works: For some reason, men make time for the hot babes.

If you are surprised: Really? Seriously?

Men selling Pharm to women docs and to get time from woman staffers: LUNCH. Bring in big lunches. Indirectly the staff is a customer, too.

.

Last edited by Philster; 12-21-2010 at 11:25 AM..
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  #7  
Old 12-21-2010, 11:23 AM
Skald the Rhymer Skald the Rhymer is offline
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Originally Posted by Fotheringay-Phipps View Post
My wife used to work for a clothing importer and she said that attractive female saleswomen had a huge edge in that field as well.
Are there male saleswomen?

Attractive people have an edge in several retail fields. In my 1990s retail sales manager incarnation, I saw several good-looking young girls leave to go work for jewelry stores, and I can recall two of them telling me that they were recruited specifically for their looks. "We want beautiful people to sell beautiful things," one of them quoted her hiring manager as saying. She had been an electronics salesperson before that, and I once overheard her talk a customer into a useless extended warranty by pointing out that she was required to sell them and that she would get in trouble if she missed any. As you might imagine, she had trouble with married couples.

I only worked at one car dealership, but all the female salespeople there were hot as well; the converse was not true of the male salespeople. The males were still the vast majority, though.

Last edited by Skald the Rhymer; 12-21-2010 at 11:25 AM..
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  #8  
Old 12-21-2010, 11:33 AM
Joey P Joey P is online now
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I met A LOT of drug reps (I'd guess over 200, I'd recognize (and they'd recognize me) 100-150 of them and I'm on friendly terms with probably somewhere between 20 and 40 of them. I can tell you that they are not all good looking, but I'd say better then 80% of them are. Most of the guys are good looking guys as well (come to think of them, a lot of them are quite tall as well). On top of that, they're probably the best dressed people that you see outside of a cocktail party.

Last edited by Joey P; 12-21-2010 at 11:38 AM..
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  #9  
Old 12-21-2010, 11:44 AM
Rigamarole Rigamarole is offline
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Originally Posted by sassyfras View Post
It can't be just because attractive women can sell things just by their own precious existence.
What are you, new? Have you really bought into the whole equality hogwash so deeply that you believe this?
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  #10  
Old 12-21-2010, 11:48 AM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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The thing to remember is that pharm sales reps don't sell directly. They get measured on how many prescriptions are written by the doctors in their area, but they don't take orders. So I suspect that besides the making time reason, if a doctor needs to choose from competing drugs, he or she might remember the one associated with the attractive person.
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  #11  
Old 12-21-2010, 11:50 AM
BlinkingDuck BlinkingDuck is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Philster View Post
Biggest Problem: Pharm reps need docs to make time for them.

Solution: Hot babes as reps.

Bonus: All the the promo material, product benefits and all the do/don't and pros/cons are laid out already in the material.

How this works: For some reason, men make time for the hot babes.

If you are surprised: Really? Seriously?

Men selling Pharm to women docs and to get time from woman staffers: LUNCH. Bring in big lunches. Indirectly the staff is a customer, too.

.
I have several Pharma clients. I asked them this question.

Most said pretty much the above. Most doctors are male and very busy. It is hard to get to see them. Being an extremely hot babe helps make the doctor find time for you.

As for attractive male sales...they exist. One Pharma client told me that the stereotype of the male horny doctor exists...but if you want to see someone TRUELY superficial...look at female doctors.

Last edited by BlinkingDuck; 12-21-2010 at 11:52 AM..
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  #12  
Old 12-21-2010, 12:09 PM
Duke Duke is offline
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Originally Posted by Joey P View Post
I met A LOT of drug reps (I'd guess over 200, I'd recognize (and they'd recognize me) 100-150 of them and I'm on friendly terms with probably somewhere between 20 and 40 of them. I can tell you that they are not all good looking, but I'd say better then 80% of them are. Most of the guys are good looking guys as well (come to think of them, a lot of them are quite tall as well). On top of that, they're probably the best dressed people that you see outside of a cocktail party.
Strangely, a co-worker of mine left this office to work as a drug rep...and he was a short, average-looking dude. He was well aware he was an anomaly in his new business, though.
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  #13  
Old 12-21-2010, 12:47 PM
Mops Mops is offline
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Originally Posted by BlinkingDuck View Post
...
Most said pretty much the above. Most doctors are male and very busy. It is hard to get to see them. Being an extremely hot babe helps make the doctor find time for you. ...
Given that the doctor has not seen the salesperson yet, how is her being hot going to help there?
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  #14  
Old 12-21-2010, 12:53 PM
PlainJain PlainJain is offline
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I was sitting in the waiting room of my pharmacy the other day and the most stunning woman I've ever seen walked in. Turns out she was a rep. I told a friend in the medical field about it and he confirmed it's the norm.

I bet a lot of it is that male docs are busy guys, it takes a lot to get their attention.

Last edited by PlainJain; 12-21-2010 at 12:53 PM..
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  #15  
Old 12-21-2010, 01:03 PM
Uncertain Uncertain is offline
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Originally Posted by Rigamarole View Post
What are you, new? Have you really bought into the whole equality hogwash so deeply that you believe this?
"Equality hogwash"?

Sassyfras wasn't asserting that hot women won't have an edge in sales. He/she clearly alluded to the fact that people in, for example, car sales are not disproportionately hot women.
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  #16  
Old 12-21-2010, 01:05 PM
Cheshire Human Cheshire Human is offline
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My mother has a chronic illness that requires lots of doctor visits. She can't drive, so I'm her driver. I spend quite a bit of time sitting in my car, parked right in front of the door in the gimp parking spaces. Although I see the occasional hottie, of the people who are idenifiable as pharm reps, the average seem, well, average.

Of course, it could well be a regional thing, and my region is just not representative.
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  #17  
Old 12-21-2010, 01:58 PM
Walton Firm Walton Firm is offline
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So far there have been a lot of posts pointing out that sex does indeed sell, but not so much explanation of why this would be especially true for pharmacy reps relative to other sales positions.

I would guess it's like this: being attractive is valuable for any customer-facing position, and attractive salespeople know this and are therefore able to negotiate higher salaries. This means that the hottest salespeople will go and work for the companies which are willing to pay the highest premium for attractiveness. Logically, you'd expect this to be the case in markets where there is a large profit margin on the product.

As Voyager pointed out, doctors don't pay out of their own pocket for the prescriptions they write, so they have no particular incentive to keep costs down. When you're buying something with your own money, you're more likely to look past the salesperson's cleavage and go for the cheaper product, rather than the one which needs to be sold as a higher price because the company which produces it has to spend extra money on sales staff.

When you're making buying decisions for someone else, you have no reason to go for the lowest price. So the optimal strategy for the pharma companies is apparently to sell at a high markup and then spend some of that extra money on hot salespeople.
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  #18  
Old 12-21-2010, 02:03 PM
Autolycus Autolycus is offline
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Originally Posted by Mops View Post
Given that the doctor has not seen the salesperson yet, how is her being hot going to help there?
Well, since most salesreps seem to be fashionable young women, the doctor probably expects it.
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  #19  
Old 12-21-2010, 02:04 PM
BlinkingDuck BlinkingDuck is offline
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Originally Posted by Mops View Post
Given that the doctor has not seen the salesperson yet, how is her being hot going to help there?
I believe that sales reps will see the same doctor more than once.
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  #20  
Old 12-21-2010, 02:12 PM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is online now
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Originally Posted by sassyfras View Post
Ok word on the street is that young attractive women are the preferred choice for selling pharmaceuticals.
On what street are you hanging out? "Pssst...them pharma babes are HOT!! Pass it on!!!"

Being a pathologist, I don't get to see drug reps, but there are lab equipment and supply reps occasionally passing through, few if any of whom could be considered especially attractive. Except maybe for that one woman who worked for the cytology company, and I'm not sure what advantage that would have provided the firm, seeing as how most cytotechnologists are women and pathologists are getting to be fairly evenly split between men and women.

Besides, if you're going to waste my time with sales come-ons, looks are insufficient. I just remembered that one firm the past couple of years has sent us a box of really good frosted cookies at Christmastime. Unfortunately for their marketing efforts, I can't remember who it is (and it's the hospital that makes the buying decisions anyway, not us).

Last edited by Jackmannii; 12-21-2010 at 02:13 PM.. Reason: Where are my freaking cookies?
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  #21  
Old 12-21-2010, 02:23 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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Originally Posted by Jackmannii View Post
On what street are you hanging out? "Pssst...them pharma babes are HOT!! Pass it on!!!"

Being a pathologist, I don't get to see drug reps, but there are lab equipment and supply reps occasionally passing through, few if any of whom could be considered especially attractive. Except maybe for that one woman who worked for the cytology company, and I'm not sure what advantage that would have provided the firm, seeing as how most cytotechnologists are women and pathologists are getting to be fairly evenly split between men and women.
But you buy the equipment, right? If the salesman job is to close deals, that skill is going to count for a lot more than looks. If the job is to get in the door and make you remember the product, then looks will count.
Like car dealers. People go to a car dealer because of the car, not because a hot saleswoman is standing on the lot. /
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  #22  
Old 12-21-2010, 02:23 PM
Joey P Joey P is online now
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Originally Posted by Mops View Post
Given that the doctor has not seen the salesperson yet, how is her being hot going to help there?
Most doctors and staff know the reps by name after a few visits.
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  #23  
Old 12-21-2010, 02:47 PM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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I wonder how much looks actually count for sales. I suppose they might have a slight edge, but I wonder if a lot of it is just "we want beautiful people selling beautiful things".
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  #24  
Old 12-21-2010, 06:43 PM
Martini Enfield Martini Enfield is offline
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Originally Posted by msmith537 View Post
I wonder how much looks actually count for sales. I suppose they might have a slight edge, but I wonder if a lot of it is just "we want beautiful people selling beautiful things".
Having attractive saleswomen doesn't always work, though- I'm in electronics (and have been for some time) and there is definitely, in my experience in this part of the world, an attitude (from entirely too many people, including women) that electronic stuff is a male interest and that women don't know anything about it.

Obviously that's not true, but I've worked in places with attractive female staff and it was worrying how often we'd get customers asking if "there was a man they could talk to" (we usually made sure there wasn't), or saying to the saleswoman "No thanks, I'm just loo... hey, excuse me Mr. Salesman passing by at the same time, can you help me with this product?"

The other thing which- and I know this isn't going to be popular- but I haven't met that many "Smoking Hot" women (as in, smoking hot to the average man on the street in a general context, as opposed to smoking hot to male gamers and computer geeks) who are actually seriously into games and computers.

Many of the young women that I've met that are computer geeks and gamer chicks tend to have a snarky/sarcastic/caustic attitude (or some other similar "major malfunction") which can be funny, cute, or endearing if you like "Alternative Gaming Chicks", but isn't really suited for retail at a "mainstream" retailer.

Obvious disclaimer time: I know that not all, or even most, gamer/computer chicks are anime obsessives with snarky/caustic attitudes who wear thick rimmed glasses and a lot of black T-shirts from bands no-one has ever heard of. But it's certainly a popular perception and one that, IME, isn't completely unfounded.
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Last edited by Martini Enfield; 12-21-2010 at 06:43 PM..
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  #25  
Old 12-21-2010, 07:02 PM
Chief Pedant Chief Pedant is offline
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I agree that this is the "word on the street"--that is, that there is a common notion that pharmaceutical reps detailing drugs to physician offices are frequently attractive young women. It's not true that they all are or that it's an absolute; some of our favorite reps in years past were simply personable, or capable, or set up nice lunches.

Being attractive gets your foot in the door, in pharmaceuticals as well as many other sales industries. It's different from a car dealer, where you go to the dealer. He is already in the room. In recent years, alas, the (literally) free lunches have mostly disappeared. Another sad story, and I'm sure all those folks who thought I was actually swayed by them so that I'd write a script for $60 instead of $6 can now rest in peace.

FWIW, you need a lot more than your own "precious existence" as a beautiful young woman. If you are not articulate and bright and knowledgeable, your eye candy worthiness is not going to get you very far in the sales world, anywhere (but perhaps especially in the skeptical world of physicians).

Attractive and well-dressed folks of both sexes are a nice start, though, in sales. Sorry about that, you hearty-eating, poorly-dressed, billy-bob teethed, comb-overed and seedily-tattooed wanna-bes.

Last edited by Chief Pedant; 12-21-2010 at 07:03 PM..
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  #26  
Old 12-21-2010, 07:10 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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Originally Posted by Martini Enfield View Post
....Obviously that's not true, but I've worked in places with attractive female staff and it was worrying how often we'd get customers asking if "there was a man they could talk to" (we usually made sure there wasn't), or saying to the saleswoman "No thanks, I'm just loo... hey, excuse me Mr. Salesman passing by at the same time, can you help me with this product?"...
I used to work at a discount department store which had a female hardware/automotive dept manager. I never worked in that department and didn't have a clue about any of the merchandise. Even in the 21st century there are alot of men (especially older men) who'll ignore the middle-aged woman (wearing a nametag saying manager) to ask a random teenage stockboy or cashier a bunch of technical questions. I'd politly tell them "I'm sorry I don't know, why don't you ask her (while pointing), she's a manager". Sometimes they'd get upset and just leave (or complain that I was "useless").
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  #27  
Old 12-21-2010, 08:17 PM
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I know the pharma industry intimately, and the simple answer is the correct one.

Getting time to see a doctor is a lot easier if the rep is attactive. Period. Male doctors for the most part like attractive females, and female doctors like attractive males. There are very few reps over 35. They are out there, but they are also very attractive 35 year olds.

It is an unwritten, but strickly followed industry rule. Why? Because it works. Sex sells. And remember kids, in a capitalistic society, it's always about the money.

How this has never been a subject of a discrimination lawsuit amazes me, but I suspect the plaintiffs would not want to be known as too ugly/fat/old to be a sales rep.
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  #28  
Old 12-21-2010, 08:33 PM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is offline
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Fact of life is that super attractive people are always more attractive and more memorable than run of the mill looking people. If that is the only difference, and you are trying to get noticed and remembered, it is a no brainer. It's true in every walk of like, except when casting monsters for monster movies.
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  #29  
Old 12-21-2010, 08:39 PM
lindsaybluth lindsaybluth is offline
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My mother is a physician, and she would say things like "I don't care how good looking or persuasive you think you are, I don't have time for most of this" they started sending good looking male reps to her, so plenty do exist. All were under 40 and they were all extremely good looking - conventionally good looking. All white.

ETA:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Philster View Post

Men selling Pharm to women docs and to get time from woman staffers: LUNCH. Bring in big lunches. Indirectly the staff is a customer, too.
When in doubt, bring grilled chicken salad.

Last edited by lindsaybluth; 12-21-2010 at 08:42 PM..
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  #30  
Old 12-22-2010, 07:39 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is online now
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Originally Posted by The Second Stone View Post
Fact of life is that super attractive people are always more attractive and more memorable than run of the mill looking people. If that is the only difference, and you are trying to get noticed and remembered, it is a no brainer. It's true in every walk of like, except when casting monsters for monster movies.
If being memorable is an important attribute of pharm reps, this guy missed his calling.
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  #31  
Old 12-22-2010, 07:42 AM
Jackmannii Jackmannii is online now
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But you buy the equipment, right?
Nope. I have some input but the hospital (including women execs) makes the decision.
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  #32  
Old 12-22-2010, 07:52 AM
GiantRat GiantRat is offline
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A friend of mine is a pharma rep. She's a cute little thing (with huge.... tracts of land). And she sold hard-on pills very successfully before being promoted.

Coincidence? Doubt it.

I should also add that she's a type-A personality and deceptively intelligent (if you buy into the hottie=idiot paradigm). This chick will talk biochem with the best of 'em.
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  #33  
Old 12-22-2010, 07:55 AM
msmith537 msmith537 is offline
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Originally Posted by Martini Enfield View Post
Having attractive saleswomen doesn't always work, though- I'm in electronics (and have been for some time) and there is definitely, in my experience in this part of the world, an attitude (from entirely too many people, including women) that electronic stuff is a male interest and that women don't know anything about it.
I see that in management / technology consulting as well. Firms will hire attractive young women mostly as window dressing, but we don't really expect them to actually do any real work. One firm I worked for in the 90s hired a lot of attractive HR reps and "culture directors" (sort of like a "nerd wrangler" I guess).

Using attractive men and women to represent your company isn't exactly about selling sex. At least not directly in a "this person will have sex with me" way. It's about painting an image that this company or product IS sexy. That it reflects the lifestyle you want to be a part of.

The flip side of attractiveness is that sometimes people don't take you seriously as anything but a pretty marketing rep. At my old firm, the partner who ran my group was one of the models they use for the 8' tall carboard advertising cutouts and magazine ads. You know, the ones where they show some attractive man or woman in a suit staring up at a ladder, shaking hands or looking thoughtful with captions like "integrity", "quality", "handshakitude" below them? Well, the staff would routinely take his ad photo and replace the caption with amusing words like "facial hair" or "handsomeness".

And for all intents and purposes they should have had his billboard lead the practice as effective as he was.






Quote:
Originally Posted by Martini Enfield View Post
Many of the young women that I've met that are computer geeks and gamer chicks tend to have a snarky/sarcastic/caustic attitude (or some other similar "major malfunction") which can be funny, cute, or endearing if you like "Alternative Gaming Chicks", but isn't really suited for retail at a "mainstream" retailer.

Obvious disclaimer time: I know that not all, or even most, gamer/computer chicks are anime obsessives with snarky/caustic attitudes who wear thick rimmed glasses and a lot of black T-shirts from bands no-one has ever heard of. But it's certainly a popular perception and one that, IME, isn't completely unfounded.
As attractive as she is, IRL, companies don't really want a sarcastic, acerbic Ellen Page character.
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  #34  
Old 12-22-2010, 08:10 AM
mo50 mo50 is offline
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I seem to recall reading somewhere that pharma companies often try to recruit reps who'd been college cheerleaders, male and female, as they're generally not only physically attractive, but also bubbly, outgoing, engaging, well groomed, wholesome looking, etc. Makes some sense I guess, since the office staff they have to get past to see the doctor is still usually female. If you're super hot but can't connect w/people you might not get too far. Of course showing up w/ breakfast/lunch for them must help too, I'd think.
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  #35  
Old 12-25-2010, 08:55 AM
Justin_Bailey Justin_Bailey is offline
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Originally Posted by alphaboi867 View Post
I used to work at a discount department store which had a female hardware/automotive dept manager. I never worked in that department and didn't have a clue about any of the merchandise. Even in the 21st century there are alot of men (especially older men) who'll ignore the middle-aged woman (wearing a nametag saying manager) to ask a random teenage stockboy or cashier a bunch of technical questions. I'd politly tell them "I'm sorry I don't know, why don't you ask her (while pointing), she's a manager". Sometimes they'd get upset and just leave (or complain that I was "useless").
The exact opposite happens in libraries all the time. People will sheepishly come up and ask me "Where's the lady who's supposed to sit here?" When I explain that I'm in charge and I can answer their question, they freak out and a lot of them just leave.
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  #36  
Old 12-25-2010, 09:08 AM
Hari Seldon Hari Seldon is offline
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I have a niece who is a pharm rep and she is not only gorgeous, but charming and it all helps. Her mother--my sister--is also gorgeous, although a bit long in the tooth these days. She sells jewelry and one year was the top selling salesman in the entire Caldwell chain. Men would come into the store to ask for her (and sometimes the other salesmen would tell them she was no longer there). She is also charming.
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  #37  
Old 12-25-2010, 11:32 AM
TruCelt TruCelt is offline
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I have only ever known two pharma reps. They were both attractive women in their twenties who openly admitted to taking the job becuase they wanted to marry a doctor. Not girls I hung out with much, obviously.
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  #38  
Old 12-25-2010, 03:50 PM
Onomatopoeia Onomatopoeia is offline
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My organization trains pharmaceutical reps in OIG guidelines, and it is true that pharma (and it is 'pharma' not 'pharm' guys) reps are generally more attractive than average, slightly taller, predominantly caucasian, under 35, and relatively well-spoken. And while not all reps are women, the majority are.

One of the most difficult parts of a rep's job is getting his or her foot in the door, and that is only becoming more difficult. Physical attractiveness, sex appeal, whatever you want to call it, is the primary weapon in most rep's arsenals to ensure they get in the door. However, sex appeal aside, a doctor, or his or her AA, is more likely to say yes to a visit during a cold call if the rep is a woman, even if the doctor is a woman.

Because of restrictions on gifts, extravagant lunch spreads, and drug samples, pharmaceutical companies are looking for innovative ways to promote and detail, and are reducing the number of reps in their stables. Those who remain will be the ones with the best numbers, and the ones with the best numbers are the ones who have what it takes to get their feet in the door in the first place.
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