At its very core, the job of a medical sales representative is to advertise, market and distribute a specific pharmaceutical product to relevant medical establishments.
This job, however, isn’t retail: the responsibilities of a medical sales representative are considerably more arduous than those of a glorified drug dealer.
Representatives meet with doctors and hospital teams and make presentations to persuade potential clients to use their goods, instead of those from other companies.
Of course, you can’t flog something if you don’t know what it is you’re selling - especially if your prospective clients have several medical degrees tucked under their lab coats.
You need to know your pharmaceuticals pretty well, and you must keep an eye on any rival ‘products’ and developing trends in the market. The medical sales representative’s job combines networking, customer services and a strong knowledge of medical goods.
Salary & benefits
As a medical sales representative, you will earn around £15,000 to £25,000 annually, and senior representatives can get as much as £35,000 a year.
In addition to the basic pay, these guys get commission from every sale made.
Obviously, as a salesman you will need to be convincing and confident. You will be meeting with medical professionals, so you’ll need to appear respectable and persuasive in order to make a sale.
Being a flexible seller can be helpful too. After all, you wouldn’t be selling just one type of medical item or equipment, but a whole bunch of them, sometimes at the same time.
Medical sales representatives don’t tend to work in an office. Rather, they usually work at home or out of a ‘mobile office’ (i.e. their cars).
Although extra work hours are usual (since you will work around the schedules of your potential clients), most meetings occur within the confines of the working week. The work also involves a lot of traveling around your local area, but you won’t stray too far from your patch.
To be a medical sales representative, you don’t really need a science-related degree. You won’t (or at least shouldn’t!) be using or prescribing medications, of course – you will only sell them to medical professionals.
A background in pharmacy, medicine, and life sciences can be handy, specifically on the job, but is definitely not strictly essential for your application.
Niche companies (for instance, those selling dentistry equipment or skin medications only) may prefer applicants with a relevant academic background. Nevertheless, the majority of medical sales representatives today don’t generally have science-related backgrounds.
In fact, many employers prefer medical sales representatives with a business and marketing background (after all, the job focuses more on retail than medicine).
Training & progression
Most medical sales representatives get initial training. If you don’t have a science-related background, you’ll probably have to undergo training in order to enhance your medical knowledge as well as, if necessary, your sales skills.
While there is no academic requirement, you will need to pass an examination facilitated by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI).
Job progress can be a tricky subject in this sector, since it can depend on your academic background. After gaining relevant experience, you can progress to a managerial job, though many medical sales representatives with a science background tend to go on to look for employment in hospitals.
If you want to do this, you may need further training and education on the medical area on which you want to focus.