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Healthcare Sales Jobs in Pharmacy Benefit Management

by Marc Luber

Pharmacy benefit management jobs are healthcare careers that are part of the massive field known as healthcare benefits. Today’s guest, Bob Eisendrath, didn’t know this path existed when he was in college, long before he rose to become an Area VP of National Accounts. Today he oversees sales and account management specialists in a region that includes the Chicago area, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and more.

SNEAK PEEK       (Full Episode below)

RELATED CAREERS
Sales Careers
Healthcare Careers

Today’s Guest

Bob Eisendrath: CVS Caremark Area VP of National Accounts
College Major: Political Science
College: University of Wisconsin in Madison, WI
High School: Highland Park High School in Highland Park, IL
First Job Ever: Grocery store bagger
Worst Job Ever: Telemarketing for an insurance company



PBM Management

Pharmacy benefit management companies are also known as PBMs. PBMs administer drug benefit programs for employers and health insurance carriers. When you get a new job, your employer is likely to hand you a card from a PBM that you will flash at your local drug store pharmacist when paying for your antibiotics. The amount you pay and the brand of drug you receive will likely depend on the arrangement worked out between your employer and the PBM or health insurance company they contracted with as well as any relationships between the PBM and the retail pharmacy chains.

Pharmacy benefit management companies hire for all types of jobs: legal, accounting, marketing, billing, customer service, underwriting and actuarial jobs, mail order pharmacists, pharmacists who serve as clinical managers and of course account management and sales careers, like the people today’s guest manages. People who do business with with PBMs include employee benefits professionals and human resources or HR people. To explore opportunities in the PBM industry, you might want to check out the PBM Institute. Today’s guest shares great career advice and suggests checking out internship programs at PBMs. Whether you’re interested in PBMs in general or you like the idea of the strategic job of growing PBM business and keeping PBM client companies satisfied, you’ll want to watch the interview below!

FULL EPISODE (#16)


For our Audio Podcast: Careers Out There on iTunes

TRANSCRIPT OF TODAY’S INTERVIEW

What Are Pharmacy Benefit Management Companies 0:56-4:15
What Are PBM Jobs 4:15-12:05 and 25:57-28:52
Typical Day for PBM Management 12:05-14:24
Most Rewarding Part of PBM National Accounts Careers 14:24-15:27
Education for Pharmacy Benefit Management Jobs 15:27-19:15
Income for PBM Sales and Account Management Jobs 19:15-22:33
Personality and Skills for PBM Accounts Jobs 22:33-25:57
Guest Bob Eisendrath’s career story 28:52-34:00
Career Advice for Sales Careers 34:00-35:03
Breaking in to PBM companies 35:03-36:56
Keys to Success for PBM National Accounts Jobs 36:56

Careers Out There Host Marc Luber: Hey Bob, how you doing?

Pharmacy Benefit Manager Area VP of National Accounts Bob Eisendrath: Good, Marc, how about yourself?

Host Marc Luber: OK, thanks, OK. Thanks for joining us at Careers Out There.

PBM Area VP of National Accounts Bob Eisendrath: I’m so glad to be here. It’s a great opportunity.

[WHAT ARE PHARMACY BENEFIT MANAGEMENT COMPANIES starts at 0:56]
Luber: So, in the introduction to everybody, I explained that you are an Area VP for a Pharmacy Benefit Management company. That leads to my first question, which is what is a pharmacy benefit management company?

Bob Eisendrath: Well, that is a good question. A pharmacy benefit management company is, we’re the company that handles the prescription drug card part of employee’s health benefits. So, whether you got insurance on your own or it’s through your health care company and you have a prescription drug card, you go to your local pharmacy and you pay $10. We’re the company behind that. So people hire us to provide that benefit and we have arrangements with pharmacies throughout the country and we also own our own mail order facilities, so we can dispense drugs for 90 day supplies for people at low cost.

Marc Luber: OK. So, I was recently a business development executive at Echo, which is a digital marketing agency, part of Ticketmaster Entertainment. I was given as part of my benefits package a Blue Cross card that I had in my wallet, and then I had a card that said Medco on it that I was supposed to show at the pharmacy. I’d never had that before – I’d always just had a Blue Cross card that you would show at your doctor’s office AND at the pharmacy. So is Medco the same, are they a competitor of CVS/Caremark?

Bob Eisendrath: Yeah, I’d say they’re our biggest competitor. They do the exact same thing. And sometimes you have separate cards, and sometimes your health insurance company would allow you to put it on their card.

Luber: OK, so who is it that you are making deals with? Is it the company like Echo/Ticketmaster or is it Blue Cross?

Bob Eisendrath: Well that’s another great question. We actually have 2 different markets, Marc. The first one is with Echo – the people on my team would go out to Echo and try to sell them to say get your health insurance through Blue Cross and your prescription drugs through us because we can provide you better pricing and better reporting and service. Then we have a whole other division that goes to the health plan and say for all of your members, let us be your drug benefit provider. That’s called a Carve In, a Carve In Benefit. So when a company like Echo would say I’m doing everything through Blue Cross, it’s carving it all in. If they wanted to carve out the prescription benefit, they would work separately with Caremark for the prescription benefit and then separately with Blue Cross for their health benefit.

Luber: OK, got it. So how is it that you set yourself apart from your competitors?

Bob Eisendrath: Well, that’s a complicated answer, but what we really focus on is improving savings for the clients and for the members, having a good member experience. And what we do is we provide solutions to our clients that will help the clients themselves save money and their members get low-cost drug alternatives. So it’s really, from a member standpoint, we’re trying to educate them that there’s generics available, which are basically the same as brands nowadays, and there’s other ways to save money so they can have affordable health care. For a client like Echo, for instance, we’re giving them deep discounts and we’re giving them programs that will help encourage people to use mail order pharmacies or to use generics, because that’s the way they save the most money.

Luber: OK, got it. And are PBMs all over America – I’m sorry, we should say PBM is short for Pharmacy Benefit Management company or Prescription Benefit Management company, right?

Bob Eisendrath:: Correct.

[WHAT ARE PBM JOBS starts at 4:15-12:05 and 25:57-28:52]
Luber: OK. And are PBMs all over the country? Are there jobs and career paths at PBMs all over America?

Bob Eisendrath:: Yeah, there are a lot of PBMs, to my knowledge over 30 different PBMs throughout the country. Most of them have national offices and sales forces and account management forces. I would say there’s 3 big ones today: CVS/Caremark, Medco and Express Scripts. But there are a lot of other companies that I’d say are mid-range. There’s many opportunities in this field.

Luber: Now with CVS/Caremark, CVS also owns drug stores all over America as well as Longs Drugs, I believe?

Bob Eisendrath:: Yes. We purchased Longs Drugs.

Luber: OK, so if I’m working somewhere and I have a Blue Cross card and I have a CVS/Caremark card, am I allowed to go to Walgreens?

Bob Eisendrath:: Yes, you can. Part of what we do is we contract with all major pharmacies throughout the country as well as most individuals, so probably over 90% of all pharmacies are contracted with us, so we have over 70,000 pharmacies in our network. So you could pretty much be anywhere to get a drug.

Luber: Is my out of pocket as a consumer, as an employee of whatever company, is my out of pocket cost going to be higher if I don’t go to CVS?

Bob Eisendrath:: No, it’s the same. We do have a program where if someone wanted to get a 90 day supply through CVS, they could get it through the mail co-pay, which is usually cheaper than 3 individual 30 day co-pays, but you have to be a Caremark client to get that benefit. But otherwise, there is no in-network, out-of-network from a cost standpoint.

Luber: Got it, OK. I think this gives us a good idea now of what a PMB is all about. So now you’re an Area VP for a particular PBM, you’re based in the Chicago suburb of Northbrook, Illinois. Tell us what it is that you do over there. What is your role as an Area VP? What does that mean?

Bob Eisendrath: I am responsible for $2.5 billion in business. I manage 10 people, and our job is to keep our largest national accounts happy and keep them as Caremark clients, and try to make sure we renew them as well as provide them additional opportunities to save money. So it’s really focused on retention and keeping a high level of service.

Luber: And you oversee a team by doing that?

Guest: I do. I manage 10 people, and they are scattered throughout the Midwest.

Luber: OK, and does everyone have the same type of background? What is the type of background that you see on your team?

Guest: Interestingly enough, everybody has, they all have some type of healthcare background. But they’ve all come in in different ranges. A lot of the people on my team started as young people at the company, whether they were customer service, billing or even as an account manager and then they worked their way up to what we call a Strategic Account Executive. The other people have maybe come from working in a hospital or some other part of the health care field and they’ve transitioned to it.

Luber: Got it. So probably a pretty diverse set of backgrounds, it sounds like.

Guest: Yes. At my company, a lot of people grow from the bottom up. You’ve got a lot of people, I’m not saying customer service is the bottom, but they grow within the organization to get to this level.

Luber: OK. Now is everyone trained in a specific way so that they know how to be on the same page, how to deal with these clients, and keep retaining them year after year?

Guest: Yes, we actually have, when someone starts, we have training that everybody goes through. Part of their training is my training for them. But we actually have a separate program called StartTrain where they learn all about Caremark and how the PBM works and key acronyms that they need to know, there’s a lot of acronyms. And then we have ongoing training that we offer. Some of it’s required, some of it’s optional as people go through their career. Some of it could be done online and some of it’s in person.

Luber: I was wondering, what is the kind of thing you need to know when you’re sitting down with a client trying to retain them? How much of it is program based and how much of it is medical?

Guest: It’s a combination of both. To be a strategic account executive, you need to have a good business mind because we all treat our book of business like it’s our own business, that we own it. When we’re sitting down with a client we need to understand what their goals are, we need to understand what all the data that we have means and how we can help identify new opportunities for them to help save more money or educate their people and prove adherence. But you also need to know what the drugs are. You need to know what the different specific drug classes are, what the drugs mean. A lot of times, in most cases, we bring what’s called a clinical manager with us, who is a pharmacist, so we have that type of support with us. But over time you learn and to be able to really talk the talk you need to have some of that education. But when it gets very clinical, we have our pharmacist there to keep us out of trouble.

Luber: And so is a lot of it just kind of developed over time through experience? Through meeting with clients and having the dialogue?

Guest: Yes, definitely. We’re really good about training people and getting them through the basics, but time on the job is the most valuable way of learning it. When I came into Caremark, I came in as a salesperson and I had a healthcare background and I thought I knew the prescription benefit management business, but it’s way more complex than I thought. It takes about a year to feel comfortable in your role at Caremark. Just from a knowledge to know the internal part of it and the external part of understanding your clients and everything that’s going on.

Luber: Right. And to keep the business, what is the main thing that everyone is wanting? Is it solely a price issue? Is it the most information on the different pharmaceuticals out there? What is it that they want, generally?

Guest: I would say typically it’s price. But we do a pretty good job of trying to educate them that it’s more than price, that there’s other factors that you need to look at. The more sophisticated client is going to look at the overall package: what solutions are available, what’s the potential savings, what kind of service levels you can provide, and then price is important. But, there have been many times where we’ve won business or renewed business where we were the second best price, but they felt our overall package and deal was the best. But I would say a majority of employers today will look solely at price.

[TYPICAL DAY FOR PBM MANAGEMENT starts at 12:05]
Luber: Interesting. Walk us through a typical day.

Guest: Well, the nice thing about my job, Marc, is that I have a lot of flexibility in my role at Caremark. I can work from home – like today, I’m working from home. I do have an office that I go into, I do travel a lot. So a typical day really varies. I usually get into work around 8:30 or so. That doesn’t mean I don’t wake up and start looking at my Blackberry first thing in the morning and probably have a call or two before I actually get into the office. And then I’ll work a full day and I make it a priority to be home for dinner if I’m in town. Then I’ll have my dinner and spend time with my children and then around 9:00 start working again for a couple hours. But there are some days when I’m on the road, I’ll do a day trip so I’m up at 5 and getting home at 10 at night or I’ll be traveling for a couple days. I’d say for my strategic account executives that work for me, I’d say it’s definitely not an 8:30 or 9-5 type of job. A lot of people work more than that, but there’s some flexibility so that if you need to go to an appointment for yourself or you need to go run out or whatever, they have that flexibility. We take the approach of this is your book of business – if you can do it in 20 hours and keep your clients happy and keep the business, that’s great. If it takes you 80 hours, that’s great too. So it’s part of the management philosophy.

Luber: That’s a good philosophy: freedom.

Guest: Yeah, freedom. It’s huge. I would say we’re not the highest paying organization, but the fact that there’s some flexibility within the role, it makes a big difference. But there is an expectation between 8:30 and 5 that people are available and that they’re working, at a minimum.

Luber: And when you’re getting these Blackberry messages and you’re dealing with things either in the morning or at night, are you mostly dealing with your team or are you dealing with accounts?

Guest: Mainly with my team. I don’t deal with the accounts too much. There are certain contacts that I do deal with, but I try to have my team deal with that more. It’s more supporting them and strategizing or working internally on my team’s behalf to get something accomplished.

[MOST REWARDING PART OF PBM NATIONAL ACCOUNTS CAREERS starts at 14:24]
Luber: What’s the most fun and rewarding part of the path?

Guest: Well there’s a couple. I’ll try to keep it brief. When you see someone on your team grow and either they get recognized internally or you just see that they’re growing as an individual, and developing, that brings me a lot of happiness, because I’m all about trying to help them grow and get to a place where someday they could take my job if I ever left or get promoted or whatever. That is very exciting for me. And then also we have an awards recognition program called President’s Club, and winning the President’s Club means you’re one of the top 10% in the company. Winning those type of awards is very rewarding.

[EDUCATION FOR PHARMACY BENEFIT MANAGEMENT JOBS starts at 15:27]
Luber: We’re going to get more into the details of your personal career in a minute, but first I want to find out for people who are watching whether they’re in high school, or they’re in college, or maybe they’re already out there in the working world, what can you tell them they should be looking for and thinking about, as far as maybe a major in school, an extracurricular activity, an internship…what can people do to start working towards a path like yours? What’s the right background they can try to get?

Guest: Well I think a college education is most important. For people who work on my team, they have to have a college degree or we won’t even interview them. That doesn’t mean there aren’t positions within Caremark that people couldn’t get…people can get jobs without a college degree at Caremark. Just for my particular positions, we require that, so I’d say that’s very important. I don’t necessarily look at majors. I think it’s important, whether it’s a business major, or even though I didn’t go to law school, I was a political science major and there’s a lot of things I learned there that I think apply to sales and account management over time. I would say internships are very important. I think it’s always helpful to experience different business environments and sort of see what’s important to you and help you realize what you’re looking for from a standpoint of a work-life balance and where you want to work.

Luber: And companies like yours offer internships?

Guest: We do. We did a little bit more when we were just Caremark. But the CVS/Caremark company together, we have a robust program. And it’s on our website.

Luber: That was my next question! Very good. What about related paths? If someone’s interested in what you do but maybe they’re thinking the PBM isn’t exactly the right thing. What would you say is a really close, related path with similar background, similar lifestyle, what would you point people to?

Guest: I think working for a health insurance company. You know, working for a Blue Cross, Blue Shield or United Healthcare or whatever, that’s a fairly similar field that would be a good way to go. There are degrees out there in healthcare. You can be healthcare benefits, or different healthcare, so you know, if some people wanted to start that path early, that’s always viewed upon favorably when going into any field in the healthcare world. And there’s also a consulting background – there are healthcare consultants. That is also a very compelling opportunity as well.

Luber: And then to get a position like yours, beyond the college education, is there any kind of official testing or licensing that somebody has to go and do?

Guest: No, no licensing or testing. I think if they were hiring someone from outside the company for my role, they would have to have management experience and have managed territories the size that I have. But really the success I had was I was very successful in sales, I had the desire to go into management, an opportunity arose, they identified me as a leader and wanted to grow me within the organization. And that’s something that the company really focuses on, is career path and identifying those leaders and helping them grow and seek those opportunities. There have been many times where I’ve been approached by other areas, that I’ve been recommended by my own senior staff to other areas, saying here’s a new opportunity if you’re interested. Not that they want to get rid of me, but they know that I want to continue to grow and they want to make sure that I’m out there. I would say when people are looking for a job, you want to also ask about what are the career paths within the organization and how they help you get there.

[INCOME FOR PBM SALES AND ACCOUNT MANAGEMENT JOBS starts at 19:15]
Luber: You’ve mentioned being successful in sales, let’s talk about the money in this path. What can someone who is new – let’s learn first someone who is new, stepping right into this path, they’re joining a team like yours or even another PBM and they’re starting in kind of an entry-level, sales-related position. What kind of money can somebody expect to make in a year in a position like that and how are they paid? Is it salary, is it commission, is it bonus?

Guest: Sure. If someone started off as an account manager, which would be like an entry level on the account management side, I would think they would look at the low $30,000s and that there are some minor bonuses, but it’s pretty much the low $30,000s the last I heard. From a sales guy perspective, it’s probably a little bit more. I don’t think they would necessarily hire someone right out of college for a sales position, but a sales guy probably starts in the $50,000s or higher and then could make significant commissions. Account manager is really the best basis to guide off.

Luber: And the account manager is a sales person?

Guest: No, actually an account manager is someone who actually works with the strategic account executive to handle day-to-day issues. So when a client has complaints or the members have complaints, they go up to the human resources office – and they then call the account managers to help solve those issues. A sales person is called a strategic sales representative.

Luber: OK, so then as the steps move on, people are putting in a couple years – soon it’s 5 years, soon it’s 10 years, what is the growth? Is it mostly based on the commission based on their sales?

Guest: Well, as people move up in the organization they get raises. When you get to a strategic account executive level, you can pretty much double your salary at least in commission and bonuses. As a salesperson I’d say there’s probably a little more upside because in sales they’re taking a little bit more of the risk so they can make bigger commissions. But typically, people can double their salary in commissions who work for me.

Luber: And as someone is really growing there, they’ve been around for a long time at a PBM, like you’re level – without telling me what you make – what is the kind of range that someone could look at if they’re really looking at this as a long term career path. Give us some kind of an idea if they’re around your level and then if they climb beyond that and stick with this until they’re at the top of the mountain.

Guest: Right. I’d say for my level, and I’ll give you a big range, would be anywhere from $150,000 to $300,000 all in, commission, base salary and things like that. I don’t know what the people above me make. It’s sort of hush-hush within the organization. They’re sort of protective about that. I’ve seen salary ranges go higher and higher. There are people who have high salaries in my company but they don’t get commissions, they just get a bonus. I’m in a particular area where I have a good base, but I personally get overrides off my people and I usually double my salary with those commissions.

[PERSONALITY AND SKILLS FOR PBM ACCOUNTS JOBS starts at 22:33]
Luber: With personality, what would you say is the best personality type? What’s the best fit for someone to join your team?

Guest: Definitely, personable and outgoing is very important. The people who succeed on my team are competitive, they’re driven and they’re smart, efficient. But having that real easy-to-build-relationship trait is the most important.

Luber: What about skills beyond the college education? What skills should somebody really be able to bring to the table?

Guest: I think they need strong analytical skills and they need good negotiation skills, are probably the two strongest. Were you looking for down that path?

Luber: Yeah, something like that, and what about being a self-starter? Do you need people that really kind of….?

Guest: Yeah, that… I appreciate you bringing that up. Being a self-starter is very important. Someone who could take the initiative. We’ll give you some basics but we need you to help drive it. A lot of time we’re all very busy and don’t have time to do the hand-holding, so we need, we have a mentoring program but we need people to take the initiative and develop relationships and learn some things that we just won’t have time to do.

Luber: And earlier you mentioned that you want everybody to treat the client account book of business as if it’s your own personal book of business, so does that create an entrepreneurial feel within the team?

Guest: I don’t know if it gives them an entrepreneurial feel, but it definitely gives them a feeling of accountability and responsibility to make sure that they’re making good decisions. You know, there’s a lot of financial decisions to be made and one of the ways we help make the people grow is to say if this was your own business, would you take that risk or would you dust it there?

Luber: Always a good question in a sales team.

Guest: So it’s really helping them be strategic.

Luber: You talked about the lifestyle hours wise earlier, but what about the stress level? Is it a very stressful job? Talk about that.

Guest: It definitely can be very stressful. I would say that, compared to like a stockbroker, I wouldn’t say I’m as stressed out as a stockbroker, but it is stressful. There’s a lot of pressure to make sure you keep your accounts. No one wants to lose an account and there’s a lot of things that you need to work on within your own company to try to get approvals, which can be very stressful.

Luber: You know I meant to ask earlier….I’m sorry go ahead.

Guest: As you move up in the organization, the stress level gets higher.

Luber: Yup, more pressure. Big accounts, you can’t lose them.

Guest: Right.

Luber: What about, I meant to ask earlier, when you’re meeting with these accounts, who is it that you’re meeting with? Is it an HR person? Is it a person who just oversees benefits? Is it someone who is just a specialist on pharmaceuticals? Who is it that you meet with?

Guest: It’s usually a group of people. It’s definitely someone related to benefits and HR. Typically we’ll get the VP of Compensation and Benefits or a Director of Benefits, and then usually there are people who work for them that are called like Benefit Managers. For my level of contact, it’s usually a VP of Comp and Benefits.

Luber: Got it. What about environment? What is the environment like? Is it a casual environment, is it a suit and tie kind of environment?

Guest: At the office it’s business casual, so it’s slacks and a shirt. Most of the time that we have client meetings it’s suit and tie. But we do have clients who say we’re casual, so come business casual. Usually I’ll wear a sportcoat on those events but no tie. So it is a relaxed atmosphere when it comes to that and every Friday is jeans day.

Luber: Nice. I’m sure people appreciate that.

Guest: Very often we have certain fundraising months and they’ll sell a week of Jeans Week if you help raise money for the charity that we’re trying to raise money for.

Luber: That’s great, that’s really cool. I like when places do that. It’s important. What’s the biggest challenge? If we had to weed some people out right now and you could say if you can’t handle this, then this path is not for you, what would that be?

Guest: I think it’s if you’re not flexible with your schedule, if you really need a 9-5 job, this is not the job for you. If you’re not in a situation where you want to think and grow and have the ability to be challenged, it’s not a good fit. But I’d say the people that usually don’t succeed are the ones that the hours are too much or in the economy we have today, everyone is lean and mean. It’s do more with less. If you can’t deal with being at capacity or a little bit over capacity from time to time, it’s not a good fit.

Luber: And the thing that makes it more than the 9-5, or the kind of unknown hours from day to day is just the flow of business, not knowing when the account is going to ask for more information? Is that the type of thing?

Guest: Right, exactly. It can be the account having certain questions or issues. It can be things in the press where we need to respond to, or it could be working on things internally. And then obviously, people have their own internal paperwork that they need to do. If the client says we want to implement something, there’s a whole list of things that need to happen. We don’t require our people to work more than a 9-5 day, but typically most people do, because that’s the only way to keep up with all the emails.

Luber: And if a client says jump, you gotta jump.

Guest: Exactly. And we’re all on the road a lot. So when you’re on the road, you lost time from being in the office.

Luber: And when you’re on the road, it’s around the Midwest since that’s your area?

Guest: Yeah, for myself, it’s pretty much Ohio, Tennessee, Texas a little bit and then the Chicagoland area. But we have people in the West, in the East, all over.

[GUEST BOB EISENDRATH’S CAREER STORY starts at 28:52]
Luber: Got it. Tell us about your personal path. Tell us where you went to college, what your major was, and kind of walk us through what you did to lead towards this career path.

Guest: Well, I went to University of Wisconsin in Madison. Besides doing miscellaneous summer jobs, I started my professional career with Northwestern Mutual selling life insurance. I did that for about 1 ½ years. Very challenging experience. I learned a lot through good sales training. I learned I really hated cold calling or asking people to talk about life insurance. But from that job, I was able to meet someone who was looking for a sales person in the health care field at a company called Chicago HMO. I started working at Chicago HMO, which eventually became United Healthcare of Illinois. I worked there for about 3-4 years as a salesperson, only focusing on groups of 500 employees or more in the Chicago area. From there I went to work for the Blue Cross-Blue Shield Association, where it was more of a national sales approach, and I was at the Blues for 5 years. I’ve been with Caremark for over 10 years, about 10 ½ years now.

Luber: That’s amazing.

Guest: I came in as a sales person, I did that for about 3 ½ years. Then I was a director for about 3 years or so and then the remainder I’ve been an Area VP.

Luber: That’s great.

Guest: The way I ended up at Caremark is I established a relationship with a recruiter over the years and he called me up one day and said what do you think about interviewing for this job. I was sort of ready to get out of health insurance and try something different and it just worked out.

Luber: Wow, interesting, I didn’t realize it was the recruiter path.

Guest: Yeah.

Luber: That’s very good. We by the way, we could tell everybody, we worked in high school together doing telemarketing for Allstate Insurance.

Guest: Yes.

Luber: One of our favorite jobs of all time. I think we felt very excited, I think we were being paid, what was it $6 an hour or $7?

Guest: Yes.

Luber: Something where we thought we were getting rich. This was big money. We were psyched.

Guest: I forgot about that. That could have been my worst job!

Luber: That was quite a job. I’ve talked to a lot of people who are different kinds of doctors, or they work in the green world – they’re environmental-type people, and they knew in high school pretty much what their path was going to be. Especially a doctor – they’re starting with their pre-med classes in high school – or science classes in high school, pre-med in college. They’re on a path. They’re on a very specific path early on. Did you know, even in college, that you were going to go down the healthcare path?

Guest: No, I had no idea in college which path I was going to go down. I actually was considering law school, and I had decided not to do that path, thanks to my father challenging me to make that decision. No, I really didn’t, Marc. When I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I figured sales would be something I’d be good at and I just sort of went that direction. I still very often feel like I’m trying to figure out what I want to do when I grow up, even though I’m sort of grown up at this point. I still don’t think this is my ultimate – that I’ll be in this field for my whole career. I think there’s probably something else that I want to do, I just don’t know what that is yet.

Luber: Be the new singer for the Who?

Guest: Right.

Luber: So, the interesting there I think for the people watching who might be in high school or college is what you were just saying. That someone who has been out of school for a while, we won’t say how long because we’ll pretend that we’re still 25, that there’s still that feeling: even after you’re out there for a while in the working world, that you’re not at your final thing yet. There’s still room to switch careers, there’s still room to grow and do new things.

Guest: Definitely. I know a lot of people who are sort of in the same boat as me. They like what they do. I certainly like it, I enjoy it and I love the company, but I still don’t know if this is what I really want to do for the next 20 years. I’ve had a lot of friends that have had really amazing jobs and they switched into a completely different path – whether it’s managing a large theater or center and then going into managing sales people. People change all the time. The only people I know that feel that they love their job and it’s the fit for them are the people like you sort of mentioned – doctors, who from an early age said I want to be a doctor. That was their calling. It’s those types of jobs where you have to do a lot of training ahead of time. Even the teaching world, too, which you could start a little bit later in life. Those are the people whom seem to say this is my calling. A lot of other people would say I like it, I don’t know if I would say I love it.

Luber: Also, entertainment. I have to throw in entertainment people there.

Guest: Yeah.

[CAREER ADVICE FOR SALES CAREERS starts at 34:00]
Luber: Very often, for people in that field, it’s their passion and they’re trying to find that fit where their passion and their work can align. Although, sometimes it doesn’t always work there because the business side is actually so different from what the real passion is. Sometimes it does all click and those people are psyched. Talk about sales in general for a minute, since that’s been such a big part of your path. What kind of advice can you give – just kind of sales pointers for someone who is watching who is thinking about whether they want to dive into sales – or maybe they’re in sales and want to work at a PBM or want to work at a chocolate company.

Guest: Right, well sales is a great thing because you’re always talking to people. You get to meet different people all the time. You’re trying to get people to trust you to buy whatever you’re selling, whether it’s a product or a service. They’re buying from you. It’s not actually what you’re selling. So it’s about trust, it’s about having people believe in what you’re saying. It’s a challenge. Being competitive is a good thing and you’ve gotta maximize that to help you excel in your sales world. I think sales is a great field to be in and it gives you that ability to have flexibility as well.

[BREAKING IN TO PBM COMPANIES starts at 35:03]
Luber: If I want to jump in, I’m done with school, and I’m ready to try to get a job with a PBM, whether it’s yours or somewhere else around the country, around America, where should I turn? What do you think someone should do who wants to get hired? And what would people be looking for if they’re meeting with you or they’re meeting with someone like you at another PBM?

Guest: Well if they’re coming right out of college, I don’t know too many PBMs that might hire them as a salesperson unless they’ve got a sales background – like they were selling things in college – which a lot of people do. That might qualify them. But I would probably look for an account management type job or a junior salesperson type role and follow those paths. But be very clear as you’re interviewing to say ultimately I want to be a salesperson and is that growth and opportunity there – is it natural within your company to have that.

Luber: And what should those people highlight about themselves, especially if they’re young and have a thin resume just because they haven’t done that much yet.

Guest: Great question. I would talk about how competitive you are, how driven you are, that you love dealing with people, you love the challenge, you love to negotiate, you love stepping outside your comfort zone and that you’re fearless. Those would be some key things that I’d want to hear. And then if you can have some examples to demonstrate those, that’s great. But if not, just say this is the type of person I am. People always say I should be in sales, I have a good personality, I’m good at connecting with people, those types of things.

[KEYS TO SUCCESS FOR PBM NATIONAL ACCOUNTS JOBS starts at 36:56]
Luber: And then once someone is out there, once someone has joined you or another PBM, and they’re on the sales side of things? What are some real good keys to success for them to take?

Guest: I’d say once someone joins us, make the phone calls. Cold calling is part of sales.

Luber: Yes.

Guest: There’s door to door, over the phone, whatever it is, make those calls. Always do that. Be disciplined in your process. The people that succeed are the ones that put in their calendar every day I’m going to do cold calling from, you know, 8-10. Maybe they’re working on other things the rest of the time, whether it’s proposals or whatever, but every day cold calling and keeping your pipeline full of opportunities. That is, I’d say, the biggest piece of advice I can give someone. Just keep on doing it. It takes time. The first 6 months at any sales job, unless you get lucky with the right place right time, is a challenge. But if you’re good at it, if you build up a good pipeline, you’re going to be very successful.

Luber: And this is a path that you’re happy with and that you would recommend to others.

Guest: Oh, most definitely. I say that I didn’t like my first job. Without that first job, I wouldn’t be where I am at today. I knew I wasn’t going to sell life insurance for my life. But I did do the research to learn that Northwestern Mutual had one of the best sales training programs out there, and I was willing to take that chance and learn from that. I love sales. I love the path I went down. It gives me the opportunity to – I’ve been all over the country, I’ve met a lot of different people, a lot of famous different people for different reasons, and also I have the ability to manage my schedule so I can be there for my family. I work a lot of late hours and I’m on the road a lot, which my family doesn’t like, but I’m there for my kids’ performances, I’m there for their birthdays, and I’m there to help coach sports. And those are the things that are most important to me. Like I said, I could work until 8:00 every night but I choose to come home and have dinner and then I work later at night. Having that type of flexibility in sales is important.

Luber: That’s all great information. Great advice. As always, everybody, here at Careers Out There, you get real advice from real professionals like Bob Eisendrath. Bob, thanks for joining us here at Careers Out There.

Guest: Marc, thank you.

© 2010 Careers Out There

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