Medical sales representatives, also known as pharmaceutical sales executives, are responsible for selling medical products to healthcare facilities and practitioners. They may sell prescription drugs, medicines or medical equipment. If you have a good business sense coupled with excellent customer service skills, this job might suit you.
The main duty of medical sales representatives is to sell medical products to clients in their sales territories. This often involves:
- Travelling to different locations to supply clients with products, as well as note their supply needs
- Attending trade fairs to interact and make contact with potential clients
- Undertaking product promotions to market their employers’ medical products
- Providing after-sales services, such as installing medical equipment
- Developing effective sales strategies to attain the set sales targets
- Keeping business records and gathering customers’ feedback.
It is important to note that many medical sales representatives often find it suitable to specialize in a particular area, such as respiratory health or diabetes.
Like most salespeople, medical sales executives have irregular work schedules. Although they spend some time in their offices contacting clients, they are often on the road travelling to meet old and new clients. As such, representatives with large territories may spend a few days away from home.
Although medical sales representatives have basic salaries, many companies offer commissions based on the number of sales they make. The following table provides the average annual salaries representatives at various levels can earn.
Level of experience
Starting medical sales representatives
£18,000 to £24,000
Experienced medical sales representatives
£25,000 to £40,000
Senior level representatives
£60,000 or more
Source: National Career Service
To qualify for employment as a medical sales representative, it is desirable to obtain a bachelor’s degree in any of the following fields;
- Life sciences, such as microbiology and chemistry
- Business, such as sales and marketing
If you choose the latter, you will need to obtain knowledge of medicine or therapy services by completing a relevant entry-level course. Employers also provide on-the-job training.
You can also gain practical experience by working under an experienced medical sales representative for some time.
Important skills and Abilities
To be a successful medical sales representative you should have:
- Excellent sales and negotiation skills to win customers
- Good communication skills to present clinical data effectively
- Organizational and planning skills to schedule business activities effectively
- A good understanding of the healthcare industry
- Ability to cope with the dynamics in the health sector
- Good driving skills
After finding employment, you must complete the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry’s Medical Representatives Examination within two years. Most employers include this program in the in-house training given to beginning medical representatives. You can also study for this examination through ABPI’s long distance learning programs.
To improve your career progression chances, it is advisable to work toward the following qualifications;
- Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Sales and Marketing – Offered by the Institute of Sales and Marketing Management
- Certificate in Professional Sales Practice – Offered by the Chartered Institute of Marketing.
You should also stay abreast of research developments in the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry.
With enough experience and a good track record, you could progress to become an account manager or regional sales manager
Qualified medical sales representatives can find employment opportunities in:
- Pharmaceutical manufacturing companies
- Pharmaceutical research and development firms
- Large pharmaceutical distributors
Gaining more clients is the key to success in this industry. If you want to earn more money in commissions, use your interpersonal skills to retain current clients, as well as attract new buyers of medical products.
So if you think that you have the skills to sell and an interest in all things medical then perhaps this is the right career for you.