Pharmaceutical sales isn’t just about selling pills; it’s about crafting a winning plan, staying coachable, and asking for help when you need it. A pharmaceutical sales professional with over six years of experience, Zach Caskey joins host Samuel Adeyinka in this episode to discuss how to elevate your performance in pharmaceutical sales. His journey from being an average performer to a two-time President’s Club winner is a testament to the power of ambition and the right guidance. Zach dives into the fast-paced and competitive nature of pharmaceutical sales, where success is about more than just having a prescription pad. From the art of creating an impeccable plan to the importance of being coachable and asking for help, Zach shares the valuable lessons that shaped his journey and breaks down the essential qualities needed to succeed in this profession. Hear Zach’s story and learn what it takes to be a top-tier performer in pharmaceutical sales.
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Elevating Your Performance In Pharmaceutical Sales With Zach Caskey
We have with us another special guest, and he goes by the name of Zach Caskey. What makes Zach’s story that you’re going to hear unique is he was already a pharmaceutical sales professional when he found us. He wanted to get to top–level performance. He had been in this position for a number of years. I‘m giving it all away. I‘m not going to give it away, but what I will say is this guy not only got to top–level performance. He exceeded his own expectations. We knew he would get there.
I’ll save the rest for this interview. I love doing this. I love bringing people who have experienced what we do firsthand, and experienced the results of what we do and talk about it. I love every guest on my show, but something about these types of guests has a special place in my heart. I‘m so glad that I can sit here and share this story with you. Without further ado, I’m not going to say anymore. I‘m going to save it for the interview. As always, we do our best to bring you guests who are doing things a little differently in the medical sales space. I do hope you enjoy this interview.
Zach, how are we doing?
I’m doing well, Samuel, and yourself?
I am fantastic. Before you say anything, this is a special treat because Zach was a client of the Medical Sales Builder. That’s our sales training program here at Evolve Your Success. He’s going to talk a little bit about his history, what he’s done, and his experience with us. With that, why don’t you tell everybody who you are and what you do?
My name is Zach Caskey. I’ve been with a company for six and a half years, primarily covering Northern New Jersey. I’ve also been covering Manhattan on top of that.
Pharmaceutical sales is the selling of drugs. People know that but there are different fields and spaces. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about what yours is in?
I am in the medical dermatology space. What’s been interesting about my career is it has changed a lot in six and a half years. When I first joined the company, we were primarily a heavy medical foods company. It’s a pretty misunderstood class of pharmaceuticals in the medical space. With those products, I was calling into rheumatology, orthopedics, gynecology, and even vascular care as well.
About a year and a half into that, we pivoted pretty heavily into the dermatology space with the acquisition of Epiceram, which is a non-steroidal product for eczema, contact dermatitis, and radiation dermatitis. During the pandemic right around 2022, we doubled down into the space and got three other heavy medical dermatology products with two topical steroids for plaque psoriasis with Impoyz and Sernivo, and then also a non-steroidal product called Promiseb for seborrheic dermatitis as well. Since then, it has been an interesting pivot. I went from calling on a lot of rheumatology and orthopedic to now spending north of 95% of my week and month in dermatology.
Let’s take it back. You were six and a half years at the company. Were you working at a pharmaceutical company before that?
I was not. Out of college, I started my selling career with a company called St. Charles Trading. It is a company that focuses on the food ingredient distribution space. What that means is they are a distributor of the raw materials to manufacturers that are manufacturing the foodstuff that we see here in stores. Every time you look at the ingredient label on the back of the food that you’re buying at a grocery store, I was selling those ingredients to those manufacturers in pallets to truckload quantities.
When I started, it was based in Illinois. They allowed me an opportunity early on in my career out of college to relocate to Baltimore and cover the Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia areas for them. Eventually, they pushed me a little further North into New Jersey to consolidate efforts. Unfortunately, the opportunity wasn’t going where I wanted it to go. I was able to land into the company from there.
How did you find us? What was going on in your career? What was going on in your life that even turned you onto us and then ultimately had us working together?
My territory in Northern New Jersey is fairly large in terms of geographic size. There’s a lot of travel. There’s a lot of traffic. I spent a lot of my time listening to a lot of different podcasts across the broad spectrum. I stumbled upon yours and began to listen over the weeks, the months, and such. As that was happening, I was doing well at the company. I wasn’t knocking it out of the park but I wasn’t in dead last or the bottom third. I was right there at that average point.
I was getting tired of being in the middle part of the pack. I wanted to invest in myself and get to the next level because we were changing from the old legacy medical food business into dermatology. There was a huge opportunity there because when we made that change, everybody went back to scratch and started almost at zero. I was competing against some of these reps that were selling medical foods for 5, 10, and even some close to 12-plus years. It was a little harder to compete against that at a certain level. I played football. I love being coached. I figured let’s go ahead and try to invest in myself here and take advantage of the opportunity.
How many years were you in the company when you found us?
I found you probably around 2019. It was prior to the pandemic. Everything pre-pandemic feels like a different lifetime ago at this point. I ended up talking to you directly right around August 2022.
You have been with the company for how many years?
It had to have been close to at least four.
Talk to us. What was your experience like? Our audience consists of people who want to get into the industry but a lot of our audience consists of people like you who want to take things to the next level. Explain what happened with us in the program and what were your results.
It helped ignite the engine that was stuck in neutral. It was able to help keep me more accountable with the action plans that you would implement throughout, whether it was, “I’m going to a POA in September. Let’s work on strategies and ways that you can help stand out.” Toward the end of 2022 when I was right on the cusp of either making it into the President’s Club that year or not, you and I were able to work on an actual action plan for the final month of December to make sure that I was comfortably in place. I went from being in ninth place where the top eight make it. Once the December number was published, I was in sixth. When I looked back at the data and did some forensics, a lot of it happened in December when I was pushing hard with the mentoring and coaching that you were providing.
The results were evident. You got into the inner circle. That was the goal. You not only have gotten to President’s Club that year but the following year, you did it again. You became a consistently high performer. What three things could you say you learned in our program that you took with you and you continue to use?
Part of it is once you taste success, you want to continue to have it. You end up keeping that high level of performance because you then realize what it took to get there the first time, and you have to be able to protect your turf as well. The other thing I took out of it is I got more comfortable talking to people and asking for help. I didn’t ask for as much help as I probably could earlier on in my career where it would have made a huge difference. Since then, I was able to begin to get mentored by somebody who’s high up at the company and has even been on your show in the past. That introduced me to different ways that were able to help me expand even further. I’m trying to think of a third, but those were the two biggest ones.
We will get right to it. What would you share with those tuning in to get them to plant the seed of getting involved with us? What would you share with them on why they should look into our program and take our program to get to the next level in their sales performance?
It’s always best to be coachable and to find different ways of improving. If you feel like you’re stuck after a handful of years, and you’re doing the same thing over and over again, Einstein said it the best. That’s the definition of insanity. Why not try something different? If it doesn’t work, then at least you can say you’ve tried and you made a consistent effort to try to improve. The same thing happens every year when people try to lose weight. You only lose weight if you put an effort or change a habit in your life. The best way to do that is to talk to people who have experience doing that already.
Let’s talk a little bit more about your role in pharmaceutical sales for those who are interested in being in pharmaceutical sales. You’ve been in the game now for six and a half years. That’s a lengthy time to understand what goes in and what comes out. What would you share with those audiences who are considering getting into pharmaceutical sales about what they need to be able to do and what qualities they should possess?
You ultimately need to be coachable. You need to be able to show that on the front end, especially the managers. That’s how I ended up getting my job at the company. It’s funny. I remember my first interview there. I flubbed it twice in the first 30-some-odd seconds. I get there. I didn’t have a resume printed. I tried to print one up off the hotel printer. The printer was in horrible condition. It was creating streaks everywhere but I had to go with it because I was there.You ultimately need to be coachable. Click To Tweet
The second time as I was up in the room interviewing with the regional manager at the time and another sales rep, I was asked a simple question to try to test my sales skill, “How do you sell a tire? Try to sell me a tire.” I flubbed that so badly. It had the awkward pauses or the deer-in-the-headlights look. We have all been there. We have all seen it. What was cool and key about that is they hit pause and asked me, “What do you think you did wrong?” I answered honestly, and then we redid it with those things in place.
What I found out after the entire interview process, which involved more than those two gentlemen, is that one of the reasons why I was chosen is I was showing that I was coachable. It’s important to show that in the interview. If a regional manager doesn’t care about that, it might not be the greatest opportunity. They might not be able to help you grow and succeed as well. That’s the biggest one.
Once you have the job, I believe routing and having a plan is the secret sauce to growing into the job as well. Planning and stuff is probably the hardest part of this job, bar none. Trying to process and keep all the different pieces of information you learn from office hours to where providers are located, what days they are in, what their access is, and different things like that is hard. Being able to show that you have a plan or a type of program that you’ve used successfully in the past to organize and collate that information does make a huge difference as well.
You’re making amazing things happen. You’re a two-time President’s Club winner. How do you make it happen with your social life as a family man or single guy? Let the world know what you have going on. If they have the same situation, they know they can do it too.
I do have a young family. I’ve been married to my wonderful wife, Jen, and then we had a little four-year-old girl named Riley.
In pharmaceuticals, how would you describe the work-life balance?
It can be pretty manageable and nice, especially if you’re in a territory that can be very focused within a day. I know not every pharma job has a territory that’s in one state or one metropolitan area but the vast majority of them are. When I was at St. Charles Trading, I was working in a job where I was covering three different states because there are so few food manufacturers out there in the world.
From Tuesday to Thursday, I would typically be on the road every night and things of that nature. I can’t even imagine trying to do that now with a four-year-old. I was married to my wife Jen but it’s a little easier when it’s the two of you. Pharma helped make that easier to decide to have a kid and also to then be able to parent and things of that nature. It has gotten a little busier as of late. We’re covering two territories now but we have been able to find ways of making it work.Pharma helped make that easier to decide to have a kid and also to then be able to parent and things of that nature. Click To Tweet
The question we get a lot too for people who are interested in pharma is travel. How much traveling is involved? Why don’t you share with the audience what travel looks like for you now? Maybe not because you’re in two territories. If you had one territory, what does travel look like?
Usually, I can be up and out the door by around 8:00 even without two territories combined. There’s still a decent amount of traffic in New Jersey, especially now that the pandemic has abated for the most part, and work life and traffic have returned to normal. I’ll be out the door by probably no later than 7:30. Some days, I have to drop Riley off. Some days, my wife is able to when she works in the office. From there, I’m out making calls. I try to get to at least eight different providers a day. Maybe there’s a lunch sprinkled in there, a coffee, or a breakfast of some nature. A lot of it is going from office to office via car and calling on everybody who I’m working on trying to develop and grow.
Here’s the last thing I’ll ask you. What is the biggest challenge when it comes to pharma?
I’m hitting back to the answer that I had previously, which is having a great plan and having good routing because the hardest thing to remember even in one territory is trying to keep track of every single provider out there and making sure that you’re seeing them on a frequent basis. The biggest thing with providers is they’re human too. They’re not going to remember every time somebody has walked in the door and told them something even if they find it incredibly valuable because they’re seeing patients. They have young families too. They have personal lives. You need to be able to sometimes hyper-frequency and see them on a consistent basis to ensure that the message does begin to stick.
I should have said this with the last question. What do you love most about pharma?
It’s provided pretty lucratively financially. That has been great. I’m lucky with the company where I can pick and choose how my days work in terms of who I’m targeting and who I’m seeing. I truly am able to call on whatever provider I believe will bring us the most benefit as a company. I do like the work-life balance and being able to be home every night as well.
It was awesome spending time with you. Pharma is an exciting space to be in. I tout it because that’s where I started. It’s awesome to see that you worked with us, experienced the program, and went on to continue to make amazing things happen being a two-time President’s Club winner. Congratulations to you.
Thank you, Samuel.
We’re going to do one more thing. We’re going to have a lightning round. I‘m going to ask you four questions. You have less than ten seconds to answer. First question, what is the best book you’ve read in the last six months?
Sapiens, the book by Yuval Noah Harris, talks about the evolution of our species from the very beginning into practically the modern era. It’s a great anthropological look at human history.
I’ll have to check that one out. What’s the best TV show or movie you’ve seen in the last six months?
Succession by far.
I’ve never seen that but I have heard that it’s good.
If you’re into corporate espionage and drama on that level, it’s good. It’s so well-written and well-acted show.
What‘s the best meal you’ve had in the last six months?
It’s a meal I have often whenever I’m in the city. I always frequent Oyster Bar inside Grand Central Station. It has been around for as long as Grand Central Station has been around since the early 1900s. They have some of the freshest oysters in all of Manhattan.
What do you get there, the oysters? Is there a specific dish?
Imagine a diner but with seafood. I’m always typically ordering something different but oysters are always an absolute staple there for me.
Last question, what’s the best experience you’ve had in the last six months?
Being able to go to Sedona for our executive sales trip. At the company, as President’s Club winner, you go on a trip where you have the opportunity to meet and discuss directly with the CEO about different things that you’ve seen in the field and different plans that they have at the home office and try to find ways in which the sales force and the home office can both swim in the same direction. We were lucky enough to have it out in the red rocks of Sedona.
Once again, Zach, it was awesome having you on the show. We look forward to the wonderful things you’re going to be doing out there in the pharma world.
Thanks, Samuel. You as well.
That was Zach Caskey. I love these stories. Remember, we have positioned ourselves to understand medical sales, pharmaceuticals, medical devices, genetic and diagnostic testing, capital equipment, supplies, and software. We have been blessed with the opportunity to have our hands in everything. If you’re out there and you want to increase your performance, and you know that there’s a level you can reach, but for some reason, it hasn’t gotten there, then go to EvolveYourSuccess.com.
You will see the tabs on the homepage. You will see Improving Sales Performance. It’s something that’s specific to improving sales performance. Click on that area. It’s going to take you to an application. Fill out the application and have a conversation with one of our account executives, and let’s get you to top–tier performance. For those of you who are thinking to yourselves, “I want to get into medical sales so I can have the opportunity to be a top performer,” you already know what I’m going to say.
Stop wishing, wondering, and hoping. Let’s act on this. We are helping get hundreds of people into positions left and right. Don’t sell yourself short. Don’t wish anymore. Let’s do something about it and get into a medical sales position. Go to EvolveYourSuccess.com. Click on the tab right there in front of you on the homepage, fill out the application, and have a discussion with one of our account executives.
One thing I don’t talk about is the criteria to be a client of ours, and I want to start sharing more about that because it’s important. The medical sales industry is extremely competitive. If you are considering enrolling in our program, remember that you need to have a clean driving record and do what you can to ensure you don’t have a prohibitive criminal record.
The last thing I’ll say is we do prefer people with Bachelor’s degrees. If you have an Associate’s degree or if you’re working on your Bachelor’s degree, don’t fear. You have an opportunity. Honestly, if you do not have a degree, you do have an opportunity in medical sales, but I need to tell you the reality of the environment. The reality of the environment is these days, post–COVID, many people want to be in medical sales positions. It’s not crazy for the average position to have more than 200 to 300 applicants.
You can imagine that if there are that many people to choose from, how easy is it to narrow down the pool? If you have a Bachelor’s degree, you’re in. If you don’t, you’re not. Does that mean you can’t if you do not? Absolutely not. We have helped people with Associate’s degrees and people with no degrees, but I’m not going to sit here and lie to you. It will be more difficult and challenging, and you will hear more noes. That is simply the nature of the environment.
With that being said, for those of you who want to get into this profession, go to EvolveYourSuccess.com, schedule some time with one of our account executives, fill out the application, and let‘s get you to where you want to be. In light of this episode, for those of you who are in this profession of medical sales and want to improve that performance, then you already know where to go, EvolveYourSuccess.com. As always, we do our best to bring you guests who are doing things differently in the medical sales space. Make sure you tune in next time for another episode.
About Zach Caskey
Zach Caskey is a Territory Manager at Primus Pharmaceuticals, and has been with the company for 6.5 years, covering northern New Jersey and Manhattan.
His first crack at sales came in the industrial food ingredient procurement industry. After nearly five years of cutting his teeth and developing his basic sales skill set, he pivoted into the medical sales world.
Over the last 6.5 years at Primus Pharmaceuticals he has been able to promote products with unique properties coupled with an unmatched access program.
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