Cheerleaders recruited as sales reps by US drug firms

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With pom-poms and perma-smiles, the quintessentially American cheerleader is crucial to the morale of high school sports teams. But the flips, kicks and cheers are not only useful in teenage years: pharmaceuticals companies are employing cheerleaders as sales representatives.

Demand has become so great, a recruitment database has been set up by a former cheerleader. Spirited Sales Leaders says cheerleaders "possess all the qualities you need to transform your staff into a successful sales team".

Cynics may think it is the looks of the female graduates that persuade mainly male doctors to buy drugs, but Lamberto Andreotti, president of worldwide pharmaceuticals for Bristol-Myers Squibb, told The New York Times: "It has nothing to do with looks, it's the personality."