What does a Medical Sales Rep do?
A medical sales rep is the person who forms a liaison between medical companies and healthcare professionals who use their products. The sales rep is the main point of contact between the two.
If you want to become a successful medical sales rep, you must have your expectations set straight.
In this article you will get a deep understanding of what does it take work as a sales rep in the medical industry. Besides explaining what medical representatives are expected to do on a daily basis we will also cover the following topics:
- 1. What does a sales rep do?
- 2. What is the role of a medical sales rep?
- 3. An Average Day in the Life of a Medical Sales Rep
- 4. Responsibilities of Medical Sales Reps
- 5. Common Challenges
- 6. Skills and Qualifications needed to become a medical sales rep
- 7. Who Employs Medical Sales Reps
- 8. Average Annual Salary of a Medical Sales Rep
- 9. Career Path of a Medical Sales Rep
A sales representative in general, is an intermediary between manufacturers and/or wholesalers and the end users and typically liaises to incur sales of products in a particular area/range.
The foremost responsibilities a sales rep is assigned include presenting products to the customers and explaining to them the benefits of buying the product that you are selling. These benefits could be anything from increased facility and peace of mind to reduced costs etc.
Broadly speaking, there are two types of sales reps. Those in the first category are ones who work in an office while those who fall in the second category are the reps who perform an outdoor job and travel to the clients to present and sell products.
The question that follows is what a sales rep in any area should expect from the job. If you plan on becoming a sales rep, what do you think your days would be like and what key responsibilities you will be having on your shoulders?
A sales rep is generally expected to:
- Develop relationships with the customers
- Manage key accounts and retain them
- Plan the days and provide a report of the daily results and achievements to the management
- Endeavor to increase the clientele by talking to new customers and meeting them to present the products
- Achieve sales targets and objectives
- Deliver a superior customer experience by providing excellent customer services
- Arrange, shuffle, and restock the inventory of the customers on each visit
- Contribute to sales meetings, participate in relevant training programs, and keep himself updated on the latest policies, trends, and developments
- Bargain and use their convincing power to rise above any conflicts and objections
- Deliver impressive and successful presentations to persuade people to buy products
The first and foremost requirement of medical sales reps is to have excellent sales skills. He/she is also expected to:
- Advertise and vend the products of the medical company covering medical devices, equipment, or pharmaceutical drugs
- Target customers including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists
- Know about the products being sold in order to be able to answer customer queries
- Increase product awareness
- Answer all the queries of the customers
- Explain all the possible benefits of a product to push the customers to incur purchases
- Give advice where needed and tell about new products
Let’s stroll through an average day in the life of a medical sales representative.
So, it is 5 in the morning and your alarm goes off. You yank yourself out of the warm, cozy bed and rush to the shower, rubbing your eyes in the hope to rub the sleepiness off. You get in the shower and stand under the warm water faucet to rejuvenate your body to face the day.
All the things that you have to accomplish including the meetings that you have to attend and the targets you have to meet are on your mind. The water trickles down your face and you are not sure if it’s actually water or your tears dripping down.
But then you suddenly remember the payoff you are going to get if you accomplish the deadly targets. You think about what you will do with the money you get. You think about buying yourself nice clothes or gadgets or replacing your existing car with a new one.
You think of doing something nice with your hard-earned money like bringing your mother a nice, expensive gift or simply doing some charity. You begin to feel light and happy and suddenly the idea of running late strikes hard.
You rush out of the shower, dress to impress, have a quick breakfast, pick up the gadgets, and check them for new emails or messages to ensure nothing has changed overnight and head out. You realize your brain is only speeding up every moment since the alarm went off.
You might think you do know what happens next during an average day in the life of a medical sales rep, but you are probably wrong.
Here’s what actually happens next!
A Routine Work Day for a Medical Sales Rep
The watch on your wrist strikes 08:30 am and that implies beginning the day officially. You prepare your bag by putting in it numerous leaflets, a lot of stock and samples, and other important things.
Next, you plan the journey by looking at the schedule for the day. You ensure leaving sufficient time for travel so that you aren’t late anywhere.
At 10:00 am, you find yourself in the surgical unit of a hospital. You know most of the purchasing power in a surgical unit lies with the surgeons but sometimes it can be senior nurses or other people from the management who might be supervising and handling the purchases.
So you head to see who you can present the products to. The point of contact is busy in surgery and you don’t just sit back and relax. You try to make the most of this time by calling your prospects and scheduling more meetings.
By 11:00 am, your POC (point of contact) is back to his office and you begin to have a conversation. You ensure discussing several benefits of the products you are selling and try to convince the person to buy but the efforts seem to be going in vain.
You start to lose hope and think of leaving but then you remember you are a sales rep and you can’t simply compromise a prospect because you have to meet your targets too.
So you keep trying and answer a lot of reasonable and unreasonable questions and concerns of the POC patiently; hoping it will bring you the results.
It is 12:00 pm and you are still in talks. You convince the POC to take a sample and try it in an upcoming surgery to see how amazing XYZ product is. A pre-arranged surgical procedure is scheduled and you make notes of the date and time to ensure you are available then.
You hand over a sample along with your business card and other important things like the product manual and leave.
Now it is 01:00 pm and you head back to your home or office where you can spend some time in front of the screen.
You reach your home or the office at 02:00 pm and begin looking for prospects to get in touch with them and schedule appointments for meetings. In addition, you ensure you don’t forget to follow up on pending orders or purchases that are pending on your end.
You also call the customers who are yet to answer regarding whether or not they would like to purchase from you.
For those who say yes, you note down the details like delivery date, time, units, address, etc. And for those who say no, you try to convince them further to buy the products and discuss the alternatives if there are any.
Amid a call, you randomly set your gaze on the wall and realize its 05:00 pm already and you haven’t yet eaten. You order lunch or prepare nice sandwiches yourself if you are working from home and chow down quickly to take on the remaining tasks for the day.
You produce necessary reports and send them to the concerned people.
You get a few concerns and upshots which you try to handle nicely and just when you begin to feel extremely tired, you get a call from a client saying they want you to arrange the delivery of a large order of XYZ product for you. It lightens your heart and makes you happy.
You calculate the return on this order for you and begin planning on what you will do with the money you are going to earn and how happy will your employer be when they come to know about this giant order.
And then, you doze off! That’s just an ordinary day in the life of a medical sales rep.
As a medical sales representative, your only goal is not to impress and convince people to buy your products.
As a human being, it is important to consider the ethical aspect of the job you are doing and actually be concerned about helping what the healthcare professionals buy and what is good for both them and the patients.
It is your duty to help them meet the needs of patients experiencing different health issues. The best you can do is sell the right products to the right practitioners and make a difference by adding a little something to the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry to make this world a better place for everyone.
Truth be told; for someone who is passionate and wants to grow quickly in a fast-paced, challenging environment with explicit opportunities to learn, becoming a medical sales rep is the perfect job. The job is rewarding and it mostly depends on three things including target achievement, meeting new people, and improving professional healthcare.
For a pharmaceutical company, the medical sales reps it hires are the front-line soldiers on whom the company’s success largely depends. They are those who represent the company to the world and do the most valuable job despite being in the bottom-most position hierarchy-wise.
A medical Representative is the most visible person in pharmaceutical marketing and is the bottom-most position in the hierarchy.
The first and foremost responsibility of a medical sales rep is to amplify sales by enhancing the prescription base of the brands/companies that they work for in the pharmaceutical industry.
Each and every task that a medical sales rep does typically revolves around this one responsibility. Some of the other important tasks that are linked with this include:
- Calling the doctors and healthcare professionals to discuss and promote the products
- Following up with and reminding the clients about certain products of the company that have been pitched
- Meeting at least 8 to 10 healthcare professionals with purchasing power in their organization every day
- Ensuring that the products being marketed are readily available at the chemists
- Ensuring there is sufficient stock of the products being marketed by connecting with the authorized wholesalers of the company
- Producing and submitting daily reports including important details like names, title, organizations, and other details of the prospects and the details of sales incurred
- Attending the training that is planned by the employer for an improved learning of the sales reps
- Achieving the targets they are assigned
- Attending monthly, quarterly, or yearly sales meetings and participating actively
- Attending product launch events
- Keeping an eye on the competitors’ activities and keeping the marketing team of their company updated about anything they observe
Some of the common challenges that medical sales reps face in the field include:
- Coping with the competition is the most challenging thing that medical sales reps have to successfully get done. For this, they need to think out of the box and develop strategies to stand out in the crowd. If he/she fails to do this, they have failed at being a medical sales rep at all.
- There are constant changes in the pharmaceutical industry based on regular advancements and developments in the healthcare sector. The industry is huge and change is inevitable. The medical sales reps have to keep up with the pace of these changes and be highly adaptive to thrive.
- The doctors and other healthcare professionals usually have very little time to spend with the medical sales reps and so the reps have to convince them in a very limited time. There is a high risk of important details being overlooked or the doctor not getting convinced because of insufficient time.
While all those are graduates are generally eligible to apply for a medical sales rep job in most companies, the odds of getting a job are higher if you have qualifications in a few fields. These include:
- Life Sciences
No, you don’t necessarily need a science degree. In fact, the majority of the sales reps don’t have a science degree. They are mostly those who have graduated in areas like marketing, communication, public relationships, etc.
These degrees are useful and enable you to have the skills needed to market and sell the products you have.
All you will need as a marketing graduate will be a few training sessions to understand basic and relevant medical terminologies. Similarly, if you are a science graduate, you only have to learn to market and sell products.
It is not necessary for you to have a pre-entry postgraduate qualification. Nonetheless, a relevant Masters degree can act as an added advantage for medical sales positions requiring explicit technical knowledge.
In order to be hired by an employer and be successful in your career in medical sales, the job description of a medical sales rep requires you to have the following skills.
Excellent communication and presentation skills
It is obviously crucial for anyone intending to step in the medical sales career to have phenomenal communication and presentation skills. This is even more important for medical sales representatives since it is relatively harder to pitch medical products and convert leads into sales.
If you aren’t able to present your products nicely and shed light on the benefits of buying them, you can’t really bring in sales.
Persuasive and negotiating skills
Apart from being a good communicator and presenter, you need to necessarily have good convincing power and the ability to bargain to be able to negotiate with those you are targeting.
You start by explaining the product and then move on to compelling the customers to make a purchase without being too direct.
Sales and customer relationship skills
If you are not able to sell the products you have to offer and build lasting relationships with the clientele, there is no way you can succeed in a company or as an independent medical sales rep. Remember, it is hard to get customers and so it is equally important for you to know how to retain them.
Confidence and persistence
Of course, as a company or independent medical sales rep, you have to really confident and should not be shaky when presenting your products. In some scenarios, you might feel like you are failing but don’t underestimate the power of determination and be persistent until you succeed.
Patience and self-motivation
Patience is the key but being patient is not about continuing the persuasion game while feeling frustrated inside. You have to be highly motivated to achieve what you are meant to throughout the process of pitching sales.
Analytical and planning skills
As a salesperson, a medical sales rep should be dexterous at planning and analysis. This helps them plan their days and sale activities better by incorporating the results of the daily analysis they have on hand.
Unless a person is good at networking, he/she can’t become a successful medical sales rep or any other kind of sales rep. A career in medical sales mandates this because strong networking skills encourage an increased exchange of ideas and information and this is one way you can make people buy your products.
Medical sales reps usually have to travel to physicians, practitioners, organizations, and hospitals to sell their products and so the majority of the jobs as such mandate you know how to drive and have a valid driving license.
The job description of a medical sales representative can vary from employer to employer and so do the requirements of work experience. Nonetheless, it is a smart choice to conduct in-depth research and try as much as you can to acquire pre-entry experience through things like internships, etc. before you finally break into medical sales.
It does not matter if the pre-entry job doesn’t pay well or pay at all because it is what you learn that matters; it will ultimately pay off better in the long run than what you would earn on a pre-entry position anyway.
Furthermore, get to know about the challenges and realities of the job of a medical sales rep when you research. If you can arrange for yourself to shadow-learn from a medical sales rep.
There are some companies and independent medical sales reps that would like to train you and hire ultimately. Some might even charge to train you but it will be totally worth it.
You can also connect with pharmaceutical companies to organize work shadowing or try asking your doctor or the local pharmacy.
Working hours are what most people specifically look for in the job descriptions of medical sales reps. In truth, the working hours again differ from employer to employer. Nonetheless, these will mostly include usual extra hours and a few evenings, but not weekends or overtime shifts.
More often than not, you will also have to cope with sudden arrangements according to the availability of your employer (for example, when there is training) or the doctors/hospitals (to give presentations) who you sell your products to.
Except for the selling part, you will work in the office or at home generally. During this time, you will largely be working to finalize sales, analyze your daily sales, and produce reports. Some employers also even offer part-time jobs for medical sales reps.
While self-employment and freelancing are uncommon, it is possible for you to become one such medical sales representative if you are more into getting the flexibility of work timings, etc.
Medical sales reps are/can be hired by healthcare and pharmaceutical companies. Such jobs are mostly advertised online, through career services, in the newspapers, and/or in trade magazines and publications. The majority of the employers also always post such vacancies on their own websites.
The easiest way you can apply for the position of a medical sales rep is by checking out the website of third-party contractors who provide outsourcing services to the clients and post their vacancies.
If you are someone who does not have experience or relevant qualification, it is advisable you look for internships and/or work-shadowing.
As per Payscale.com, “the average pay for a Sales Representative, Pharmaceuticals is $77,217 per year”. While the minimum annual pay, i.e., for those who have little or no experience and relevant qualifications, is $47,000 per year and the maximum earning is $111,000 that the reps who are highly qualified and experienced are likely to earn.
At all levels of their career, the medical sales reps unquestionably earn far better than what most people in the corporate sector do.
As far as the scope of the job is concerned, those who dive into medical sales have a variety of career choices. They have the flexibility to go into selling a particular medical product, for example, devices or drugs, or become a ‘jack of all’ by selling whatever they are asked to.
There are several levels of careers in a variety of department and at different managerial roles for a medical sales rep. A medical sales rep can easily picture himself as a Regional Manager, District Head, Sales Director, and then as Senior Director or even Vice President in the years to come. Once you are in the field, there is no stopping in terms of earning and growth.
Wishing to become a medical sales rep and being a successful medical sales rep are two different things. It’s all gold and glitter until you step in the field and realize what difficult days are like.
You will have to be really passionate and hard-working to be able to become a successful medical sales rep. Not only this, you have to prepare yourself to face the unexpected in the start of your career.
Everything will not always turn out the way you plan. You will get a lot of surprises and face numerous challenges. Sometimes it will be the difficult people you meet who overwhelm you and the rest of the time, simply being a medical sales rep will be exhausting enough.
None the less, there is always some light at the end of the tunnel and for you, as medical sales rep, that ray of light is the return you get and the infinite chances of growth. And at the end of the day, this will be all that matters!
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