Posted September 02, 2008 by

The Entry Level Pharmaceutical Sales Rep

Sales is a tough industry, no matter what you’re trying to sell. But the nature of the products being sold by pharmaceutical sales representatives would, I think, make it a little bit tougher. It’s hardly like selling vacuum cleaners or encyclopedias door-to-door. A good sales pitch and basic product knowledge alone won’t do it. No, a pharmceutical sales rep has to know as much about the product he’s trying to sell, and the company that makes it, as his target customers do. Chances are, they will know about the company and clinical trials that have been done to prove the safety and effectiveness of the product, so any rep worth his salt had better know the same.
If you think a job in pharmaceutical sales is right for you, consider first what level would be the best fit. According to Ventiv Recruitment Services’ senior director, John McCabe, there a three categories of pharmaceutical sales: “primary sales or mass-market representatives; specialty pharmaceutical sales representatives; and hospital or institutional representatives.”
Typically, primary sales or mass-market sales repreesntatives are recent college graduates or people with little or no experience in sales. “Primary sales reps usually call on primary care physicians like family practitioners, promoting mass-market products,” according to a press release at
The next level of sales rep is the specialty representative, who would sell pharmaceutical products for women to an OB-Gyn, McCabe said. Ideally, sales reps are promoted from within, though you can get a job as a specialty representative if you have sales experience.
The third level of pharmaceutical sales rep is the institutional representative who sells products like I.V. drugs, emergency medicine drugs and some HIV drugs to university and other medical centers.
A four-year college degree is essential to be an entry-level pharmaceutical sales rep, as is a consistent work history. And if you’re in the healthcare profession and think you have a knack for sales, Michelle Groutage, Medzilla’s director of marketing said, utilizing skills that work well in your current position – nurse, EMT, physician’s assistant – can help you sell pharmaceuticals to other medical professionals.
Although I have a knack for sales, I don’t have a passion for it. If you have a passion for sales, but no experience, an entry-level pharmaceutical sales job might be a good fit for you. It’s a lucrative profession that could have many personal rewards.

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