Career Development

What Does a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Do?

Find out what a pharmaceutical sales representative does, how to get this job, and what it takes to succeed as a pharmaceutical sales representative.

Pharmaceutical sales representatives are the people who sell drugs to doctors, hospitals, and other healthcare providers. They’re often the face of a pharmaceutical company—they meet with doctors to discuss new products or therapies, they attend conferences to learn about new developments in their field, and they may even be involved in community events or outreach programs designed to build goodwill for their company.

Pharmaceutical sales reps must have an extensive knowledge of their product and its uses. They need to know how it works, what conditions it treats, how it compares to competing treatments, etc.

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Job Duties

A pharmaceutical sales representative typically has a wide range of responsibilities, which can include:

  • Communicate with physicians, nurses, other healthcare professionals, and patients to explain new drugs and their uses
  • Maintaining relationships with current clients and identifying new business opportunities with potential clients in the community
  • Conducting research on disease symptoms and treatments to understand how existing drugs may be used to treat new conditions
  • Discussing medications with physicians, pharmacists, nurses, physician assistants, and other members of the healthcare team to ensure appropriate use of medications
  • Reviewing scientific studies published in medical journals to determine if new drugs are effective or safe enough to bring to market
  • Negotiating prices with hospitals or physicians’ offices to set a price for a new drug or renewing an agreement with an existing drug that has expired
  • Reviewing medical records to identify any potential issues with a patient’s existing medications or suggesting new medications which may be beneficial to the patient
  • Providing education to patients about how to take their medications properly, including possible side effects and how to recognize them
  • Educating physicians and other healthcare providers about new drugs and treatment options

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Salary & Outlook

Pharmaceutical sales representatives’ salaries vary depending on their level of education, years of experience, and the type of pharmaceutical company they work for.

  • Median Annual Salary: $87,500 ($42.07/hour)
  • Top 10% Annual Salary: $137,000 ($65.87/hour)

The employment of pharmaceutical sales representatives is expected to grow at an average rate over the next decade.

Demand for pharmaceuticals and medical devices is projected to increase as healthcare costs rise and the population ages. As more people have access to health insurance, they will seek treatment for previously untreated conditions. In addition, the cost of prescription drugs is expected to continue to increase, leading to higher demand for pharmaceutical sales representatives.

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Job Requirements

A pharmaceutical sales representative typically needs the following:

Education: Most employers require pharmaceutical sales representatives to have a bachelor’s degree. Some of the most common majors for pharmaceutical sales representatives are biology, pre-pharmacy and business.

Training & Experience: Most pharmaceutical sales representatives receive on-the-job training from their new employer. This training may last for a few weeks to a month and may include shadowing current sales representatives, learning about the company’s products and services, and learning about the company’s sales process.

Certifications & Licenses: To sell pharmaceuticals, sales representatives need to get licensed to sell medication in their state or district. Each state has different requirements for how sales representatives can get licensed, but they typically need to pass an exam.

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Skills

Pharmaceutical sales representatives need the following skills in order to be successful:

Communication skills: Communication skills are essential in sales and marketing roles. You may use these skills to communicate with clients, patients or customers, as well as with other members of your team. You may also use communication skills to communicate with suppliers, conduct research and write sales reports.

Product knowledge: Pharmaceutical sales representatives should have extensive knowledge about the products they sell. This ensures they can answer questions from customers and help them make informed decisions about their treatment. It’s important to continue learning about the products you sell so you can provide customers with the latest information.

Time management: Time management is the ability to prioritize tasks and manage deadlines. As a pharmaceutical sales representative, you may have multiple tasks to complete each day, including making calls, sending emails, visiting clients and attending meetings. It’s important to manage your time effectively so you can complete all of your tasks and still have time to take breaks.

Problem-solving skills: Pharmaceutical sales representatives often work with doctors and other medical professionals to educate them about a company’s products and convince them to try them. This requires a great deal of problem-solving skills, as you may need to find solutions to challenges such as a lack of budget or a lack of interest in a product.

Persuasive selling: Persuasive selling is the ability to convince a customer to make a purchase. Pharmaceutical sales representatives use persuasive selling to encourage doctors to prescribe their company’s products. This involves explaining the benefits of the product and answering any questions the doctor may have.

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Work Environment

Pharmaceutical sales representatives work for pharmaceutical companies, selling and promoting prescription drugs to doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals. They work in a variety of settings, including doctor’s offices, hospitals, clinics, and nursing homes. Pharmaceutical sales representatives typically work Monday through Friday during regular business hours. However, they may occasionally work evenings and weekends to attend medical conventions or meet with health-care professionals who are unavailable during the week. Pharmaceutical sales representatives travel frequently, often by car, and they may be away from home for several days at a time.

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Trends

Here are three trends influencing how pharmaceutical sales representatives work. Pharmaceutical sales representatives will need to stay up-to-date on these developments to keep their skills relevant and maintain a competitive advantage in the workplace.

The Growth of Specialty Pharmacies

The growth of specialty pharmacies is a trend that is quickly changing the pharmaceutical sales landscape. As specialty pharmacies grow in popularity, pharmaceutical sales representatives will need to learn how to sell to these specialized stores.

This trend presents an opportunity for sales representatives who are able to understand the needs of specialty pharmacies and how to best market their products to them. By doing so, they can help their company stay ahead of the competition and continue to grow their business.

Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives Need to Be More Technical

As the pharmaceutical industry continues to evolve, pharmaceutical sales representatives will need to be more technical in order to be successful.

This means that sales representatives will need to have a deeper understanding of the products they are selling, as well as the medical conditions they are used to treat. They will also need to be familiar with the latest trends in medicine in order to stay up-to-date on the latest treatments.

More Focus on Patient Care

The pharmaceutical industry is shifting its focus towards patient care, which means that sales representatives will need to develop new skills in order to be successful.

Sales representatives will need to be able to communicate effectively with patients and their families, as well as understand the different needs that each patient has. In addition, they will need to be able to educate patients about the benefits of specific medications and why they are the best choice for treatment.

How to Become a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

Pharmaceutical sales representatives have a lot of options when it comes to their career path. They can move up the ladder and become a district manager, regional manager, or national manager. They can also choose to specialize in a certain area, such as medical devices, oncology, or women’s health.

Pharmaceutical sales representatives can also choose to go into business for themselves by starting their own pharmaceutical sales consulting firm. This is a great option for experienced salespeople who want to stay in the industry but don’t want to be tied down to a single company.

Related: How to Write a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Resume

Advancement Prospects

The best way to advance in this career is to get more experience. As a pharmaceutical sales representative, you will be constantly learning about new products and new ways to sell them. The more experience you have, the better you will be at your job. You may also be able to advance by taking on additional responsibilities, such as training new sales representatives or managing a team of sales representatives. With enough experience, you may eventually become a sales manager or even a vice president of sales for a pharmaceutical company.

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Job Description Example

[CompanyX] is a pharmaceutical company that is dedicated to helping people live healthier lives. We are currently looking for a pharmaceutical sales representative to join our team. The ideal candidate will have a strong interest in the healthcare industry, excellent communication skills, and a proven track record of success in sales. As a pharmaceutical sales representative, you will be responsible for promoting our products to healthcare professionals and patients. You will also be responsible for maintaining relationships with existing customers and developing new business opportunities.

Duties & Responsibilities

  • Develop and maintain a deep understanding of the products, services, and strategies within assigned territory
  • Consistently meet or exceed quarterly and annual sales targets set by management
  • Develop and execute on account-specific business plans to increase product utilization and grow market share
  • Build and maintain strong relationships with key customers and decision-makers, serving as a trusted advisor
  • Proactively identify opportunities for new business and cross-selling within existing accounts
  • Stay up-to-date on competitor products, strategies, and pricing
  • Collect customer feedback and communicate needs and suggestions to relevant internal teams
  • Attend and participate in national and regional sales meetings, trainings, and conventions
  • Adhere to all company policies and procedures, including but not limited to those related to ethical selling practices, health and safety, and compliance
  • Maintain accurate records of all sales activities in CRM system
  • Prepare regular reports documenting sales activity and pipeline status
  • Perform other duties as assigned

Required Skills and Qualifications

  • Bachelor’s degree in business, marketing, or related field
  • 1-3 years of sales experience; pharmaceutical sales experience preferred
  • Proven success achieving sales quotas
  • Excellent communication and negotiation skills
  • Self-motivated with a strong work ethic
  • Valid driver’s license and clean driving record

Preferred Skills and Qualifications

  • Experience with CRM software
  • Familiarity with the territory/region
  • Knowledge of the pharmaceutical industry and regulations
  • Strong relationships with key decision-makers in the territory/region

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