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Knowledge Base > Marketing Tips > Pharmaceutical Sales Representative: Description, Skills and Salary

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative: Description, Skills and Salary

pharmaceutical sales representative guide

The pharmaceutical industry is a significant contributor to the global economy, especially in light of recent events such as the coronavirus outbreak and research for vaccines and medicine. With a projected increase in the value of the global medical device market to USD 612.7 billion by 2025, there is a high demand for skilled professionals in the field of clinical trials and the pharmaceutical sales industry.

If you are interested in pursuing a rewarding career in healthcare, a pharmaceutical sales representative position may be worth considering. Although pharmaceutical sales reps won’t be directly involved in patient care, this role involves building relationships with doctors and educating them on the latest medications available.

To excel in this career, you’ll need strong sales skills and a solid understanding of how drugs affect the human body, as well as a professional offer that you can create using a proposal creator.

In this article, we will explain who exactly is a pharmaceutical sales representative, what skills and technical knowledge are expected from such a professional, and how profitable this job might be. Read on to learn how to become a certified sales representative for a medical company!

What is the role of a pharmaceutical sales representative?

pharmaceutical sales rep in work

A pharmaceutical sales representative plays a crucial role in marketing and selling pharmaceutical medications and devices to medical professionals. They educate and persuade doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers on the effectiveness and benefits of their products, while also building long-term relationships with these providers. Pharmaceutical sales representatives work not only with doctors – they also can contact psychiatrists, psychologists, and even veterinarians.

This job requires a combination of sales skills and specialized medical knowledge, such as pharmacology, to effectively communicate the features and benefits of the products you are selling. Pharmaceutical sales representatives should have a solid understanding of the drugs they sell, including how they work, side effects, and any potential interactions with other medications.

While the job may involve some paperwork and administrative tasks, the majority of their time is spent out of the office, meeting with medical providers in their workplaces. Most pharmaceutical sales representatives travel the country, meeting with the professionals in their area.

How to become a pharmaceutical sales representative?

girl studying to become pharmaceutical sales representative

To work for a pharmaceutical company, you must have at least a bachelor’s degree and most companies prefer your background to be in a science-related field such as biology, pharmacology, or chemistry. Some employers may also accept a pharmaceutical sales rep with a degree in marketing, business, or communications – after all, they are looking for a sales rep, and they’d like the scientists to do actual science!

Pharmaceutical sales positions also often require candidates to have previous sales or customer service experience. It is useful to have a proven track record as a salesperson – but in this industry, experience in the medical field may also be useful – for instance as a nurse, veterinarian assistant, or even a paramedic. You will need to know a basic understanding of the medical profession and the pharmaceutical and medical products industry and stay up to date with the latest medical research.

What are the skills of a pharmaceutical sales representative?

If you want to be a good pharmaceutical sales representative, you need to develop these useful skills. Consider whether you fit the bill and have the necessary skills! If you want to gain more knowledge, see our guide to brand strategy – a pharma sales rep needs to create their own personal brand!

Charisma and interpersonal skills: As a sales representative, you need to have the ability to persuade and negotiate effectively. You should be able to explain why your product is superior to those of your competitors and answer any questions that healthcare providers may have. Building and maintaining strong relationships with medics and pharmacists is key to success in this role.

Time management and organization skills: As a pharmaceutical sales representative, you need to be able to manage your own schedule and work effectively while on the road. You will be responsible for visiting multiple providers in a day and maintaining a calendar. The job also requires the ability to work long hours, visit multiple healthcare providers in a day and attend sales meetings, conferences, and events.

pharmaceutical sales rep in front of the computer

: Confidence in yourself and the product you’re selling helps your potential customers and medical specialists feel like they can trust your recommendations. Persistence and determination are also important for standing out in a field where healthcare professionals are constantly hearing from sales representatives.

Scientific knowledge: You need to have a strong understanding of the scientific aspects of the products you’re selling to effectively communicate the benefits, side effects, and potential interactions with medical providers.

How do you succeed in pharma sales?

To become a good pharmaceutical sales representative, you need to know exactly how your products work because you are responsible for them. Here are some things you need to know if you want to join the ranks of medical sales reps.

  • Stay up-to-date with the latest research and findings related to the drugs you’re offering.

  • Exercise your people skills by building relationships with clients and healthcare professionals, maintaining professionalism and empathy, and listening carefully to their concerns.

  • Be a part of your sales team, and learn to work efficiently with other pharmaceutical sales professionals.

  • Maximize the value of the drugs you’re selling and emphasize their positive impact on patient outcomes and quality of life.

  • Persevere in building relationships and closing sales, even after rejection.

  • Present your offer interestingly and originally by using Publuu’s booklet maker and creating a flipbook like the one below:

    Publuu’s online pharmaceutical booklet example

    View more online booklet examples


    You can embed it to the website or just send it directly to of your doctor and increase your chances of selling!

Which pharma field has the highest salary?

Factors such as your level of education, years of experience, and the country you work in all affect your working conditions. However, there are several specializations in the pharmaceutical sector that are often in demand.

  • MSLs, or medical science liaison officers, mediate between medics and pharmaceutical companies. Not only do you supply drugs, but you must also conduct clinical trials and have white papers and other scientific data. In this profession, it is advisable to have a master’s degree in science in addition to a bachelor’s degree.

  • As a Clinical Research Associate (CRA), you will help oversee the smooth running of clinical trials and make sure everything is done according to regulations. In addition to a scientific background, it is a good idea to have a basic legal background.

  • Pharmaceutical Sales Managers are responsible for leading teams to achieve sales while staying on budget. However, it is worth remembering that a great salesperson is not necessarily a great team manager!

  • The pharmaceutical Merchandise Manager is responsible for managing the creation and distribution of pharmaceutical goods. In this specialization, you will find it useful to have logistics and chemistry-related experience.

These are all possible specializations you can choose when you are a pharmaceutical sales representative.

pharmaceutical market graph

What is the top salary for a pharmaceutical sales rep?

The maximum salary a pharmaceutical sales representative can earn varies based on several factors, including the number of years of experience, level of certification, and location. The average annual salary for a pharmaceutical sales representative in the United States is $116,871. However, the most successful pharmaceutical sales representatives in the US can earn up to $440,283 annually, as reported by Glassdoor.

Why should I become a pharmaceutical sales rep?

There are many reasons why you should become a pharmaceutical sales representative: the salary of the sales representative is nothing to be sneered at. Some entry-level positions might be based on commissions, but you can usually count on a decent salary.

Many pharmaceutical sales representatives also are very pleased to be able to help people. They can help medics to be on point with the latest medicine and assist them in curing previously incurable diseases.

One great advantage is that the pharmaceutical industry offers great job security. As long as there is a need for medications and treatments, there will be a need for pharmaceutical sales reps.

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