Generally speaking, medical sales professionals are employed by pharmaceutical companies keen to promote and sell their drugs to healthcare professionals. As such, the job is likely to require arranging appointments with the likes of doctors, hospital consultants, chemists, or NHS bosses in order to pitch to them the benefits of a certain product.
Other responsibilities are likely to include organising symposia for doctors and other healthcare professionals, attending a range of events, including drug firms major conferences, and making presentations to a range of prospective customers.
Professional and academic requirements
The University of Kent careers advice website suggests that, while life sciences or degrees related to medicine will put a candidate at an obvious advantage, any degree can help aspiring medical sales professionals get a rung on the ladder.
However, a scientific mind and the ability to keep up to speed on the latest developments in the fields of pharmaceutical research and also healthcare funding are both imperative and could count for much more than just a piece of paper.
Likewise, a proven ability to work independently and to hit sales targets regardless of the field will also be welcomed by potential employers. Needless to say, a full and clean driving licence is also a big plus.
Given the nature of the work, an outgoing personality is arguably the most useful tool a successful medical sales professional has in their armoury, though the ability to listen, act on feedback and negotiate respectfully are also important.
Furthermore, since most salespeople work on the road, that is in hospitals or at conferences, it pays to be self-motivated and to be able to deal with professional rejection on a regular basis.
As well as a steady salary, successful medical sales professionals can also enjoy high levels of commission, particularly if they manage to persuade a local NHS authority to sign up for a particular product.
Most of the biggest employers are also likely to provide their sales reps with decent company cars and the latest communications technology, while hours can also be reasonably flexible, though only so long as targets are being met.
On the flipside, the importance of hitting targets can work against a salesman or woman, making the job stressful and meaning that ones monthly earnings are rarely fixed.
Also, some people may struggle with the independent nature of the work, and the lack of real structure.
All of the biggest pharmaceutical companies, including Pfizer and GlaxoSmithKline, recruit for medical sales posts all year round, though competition is generally tough. These companies may also offer work experience or shadowing programmes, with these often a useful way of getting a foot in the door, particularly for those with little or no experience in the field.
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