If you’re a sales professional who’s looking for a fast-paced career that is out of the ordinary, perhaps a pharmaceutical marketing job is the place for you. Sales reps in pharmaceutical marketing jobs travel around the country talking with hospitals, doctors, patient groups and other professionals with jobs in pharmacy procurement, telling them about their company’s new products and how they can be used to improve patient’s lives. Unlike other jobs in pharmacy, pharmaceutical sales reps are the face of the company, providing knowledge that busy doctors and medical professionals need to make all important buying decisions for medications. The job is fast paced, requiring lots of traveling to seek out and maintain accounts in a sales territory. But the rewards, in terms of high sales commissions and bonuses is very lucrative, making sales one of the more sought after categories of pharmaceutical jobs.
Having great sales skills and the ability to find and maintain sales leads is only part of the job. Jobs in pharmacy sales are more challenging than other sales jobs in that they require a strong technical background in pharmacology and other related fields. Sales reps have to be familiar with all the statistics and research data of the products they sell in order to service the health workers they deal with. As a result, pharmacy sales reps often seem to spend as much time learning as they do selling!
Like many other positions in sales, jobs in pharmacy sales can be very challenging and stressful. The need to maintain sales territories and follow new sales leads requires constant travel. Between traveling all the time and the pressure, it can be hard to keep family life separate from work, as every social engagement may be an opportunity to make a sale. Pharmaceutical marketing jobs are also stressful because sales reps are paid on commission. The sliding scale for these commissions is dependent on sales, and if the rep can’t keep up, they may lose access to the best accounts. But for those who enjoy travel, want to sell a product that has highly positive benefits and thrive on a pressure cooker environment, the competitive nature (and highly lucrative bonuses for top performers) of a pharmaceutical marketing job is worth it.
A pharmacy rep job requires more formal education than other types of sales jobs. Jobs in pharmacy sales require that reps be able to read and understand complex scientific studies and be able to discuss their implications with medical professionals. A background in sciences, especially in chemistry, biology, biochemistry, biophysics, organic chemistry can be a very important resume enhancer. Licensing is not a requirement, but will help a job applicant’s credibility. The National Association of Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives also supports pharmacy sales reps looking to network with others in the field. The main things needed in this profession, however, are determination, strong speaking skills, and the ability to close the sale. Only a go getter with lots of confidence should consider a pharmacy sales career!
The national median salary for Pharmaceutical marketing jobs is $56,000. But that doesn’t include bonuses and other perks. A talented and aggressive sales rep can make far more than that, usually over $100,000 yearly. Company cars and travel are usually included in the package, and many sales reps consider their flexible hours to be another important perk.
Sales reps working pharmaceutical marketing jobs often find that their skills lead them to other “expert sales” positions, such as systems marketers or service reps. They may also move up to positions as executive sales managers within their companies, managing the largest accounts or teams of pharmaceutical sales representatives.
Based on US Dept of Labor estimates, jobs in the pharmaceutical industry overall are expected to increase at a rate of around 24% for the 2006-2016 period. With new breakthroughs in medical treatment, an aging population requiring increase health maintenance and an expanding market in lifestyle medicines (to treat non-life threatening conditions), the need for skilled salespeople is expected to expand to meet the need. However, as this is a highly lucrative sales field, high competition for openings is expected to be a factor in hiring.
How to Find Jobs
Jobs within the pharmacological sales industry are often posted on the Internet or through specialized online job boards and headhunting/job search services. Approaching pharmaceutical company hiring representatives at job fairs is also a good bet. The main way to score one of these hot positions is the network, network and network some more—as openings are usually developed by word of mouth.