Why Choose a Career in Pharmaceutical Sales?
Are you interested in a career in healthcare but confused as to which medical profession to pursue? Is your job search bogged down because you don’t know which path to take? Pharmaceutical sales may be the career for you. All of the major pharmaceutical companies offer sales positions as sales reps tend to move up or sideways to other positions pretty quickly. This is a career path that is great for people with awesome personalities, people who like to be out and about, meeting and greeting. If you need help finding a new role, or help filling a key position, reach out to a recruiter who specializes in Pharmaceutical recruiting
What Makes a Great Pharmaceutical Sales Representative?
- You’ll need a bachelor’s degree. The best degrees (depending on the company) would be a degree in a scientific discipline, like biology, chemistry, microbiology, or biochemistry. OR you could major in business, marketing or communications, icing on the cake is a double major or a minor. Typically companies will want applicants to have prior sales experience or will train candidates once hired.
2. Necessary Skills:
- It’s really important in today’s business world to have strong communication skills. Not just written and verbal, but electronic. If you are moving toward any kind of sales career, you should be proficient in Microsoft Office and be able to generate spreadsheets, power-point presentations, and deliver oral presentations with supportive material. You should have solid math skills.
3. Personalities and work styles that thrive in pharmaceutical sales
- An engaging personality! Pharma sales is all about getting in to see decision makers, making a strong impression and convincing those decision makers to prescribe YOUR products. You can’t be someone who takes “no for an answer.” You need to be someone who says, “where there’s a will, there’s a way.” Physicians who make these kinds of decisions, either for a private practice or a large hospital network, are busy people. Seeing a drug rep wouldn’t be at the top of their priorities, so you need to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
- An articulate, sophisticated mindset. Know your material, know your competitors, know your clients and customers. Understand what they are looking for and be able to convey why your product is better than the others on the market. Stay on top of research, trends and new drugs released into the market.
- A professional “package.” Dress professionally, you are the face of your company. Save your low cut, tight tops for weekend nights out.
Typical Pharmaceutical Sales Career Path
Some advice on landing that first job? We strongly recommend you take advantage of every college job fair. Companies love to meet new potential entry level employees face to face, and this is especially true for sales reps. It’s the best place to land a new job right out of college. Dress professionally, bring copies of your resume and be prepared to “meet and greet.” Take business cards and FOLLOW UP!
- Average salary: The average entry level salary for pharmaceutical sales rep nationally is about $60,000.
- Work Environment: This is a “road warrior” career. Typically a pharma rep will have a territory which can range wildly depending on how common the product is that you are representing. If it is a drug used for rare conditions, you will have a much larger territory, common condition, smaller. You will be in your car, calling physician’s offices or medical facilities. Your mileage should be reimbursed. Sometimes you will be offered a company car.
- Typical day-to-day work and responsibilities: Each day, visits to physician offices or medical facilities. Depending on the territory, you could make a dozen “drop ins” a day. Generally, reps work in the field Monday through Thursday and catch up on paperwork Friday from a home office.
Management and Leadership Roles
- Average salary: About $140,000 nationally.
- Work environment: Managers generally spend less time on the road and more time working out of a home office, crunching the numbers generated by their sales teams. Initially when mentoring green sales reps, you will spend considerable time with them in the field teaching them the ropes, but once they are accomplished, you’ll be working on landing large accounts and closing deals.
Additional skills for leaders:
- You need to be a strong leader and mentor. By now you should really know how to get your feet in the door and how to teach that skill to your young team members.
- You should know the pharma market inside and out and have a strong understanding of trends.
- You should be exceptionally savvy in how your company works and how to manage those inner workings to favor both personal and team success.
- You should be continually looking for ways to improve your team, sales numbers and bottom line.
Pharmaceutical Sales Outlook
Covid has been positive in at least one aspect: it’s grown the pharmaceutical sales in a way we couldn’t have imagined just a few years back. It’s expected that the demand for new reps will be about 16% over the next ten years, with over 400,000 new reps hired in this year alone.
With salaries ranging from $60,000 to well over $200,000 for directors, pharmaceutical sales can be a terrific career for anyone who is smart, articulate and tenacious. Introverts need not apply! This is a career for hard chargers, with a “take no prisoner” mindset.