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Pharmaceutical Sales

#1 Pharmaceutical Sales
06/01/2011 20:17


What's the deal with being a pharmaceutical sales rep?

Can you get a job in it straight out of college (with a degree in Business & Law, as would be my case)??

What's the money like? I presume company car would be standard enough?

What would the work consist of?

I have an interest in biochem/pharmacy but wouldn't tick a lab for a week so maybe this would be a way of working in the industry that I would like.

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#2 RE: Pharmaceutical Sales
06/01/2011 22:36

?? to JOH (#1)

why are you asking that question on this forum?

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#3 RE: Pharmaceutical Sales
07/01/2011 07:25

anon to JOH (#1)

The question is entirely irrelevant to the forum, but I'll bite.

You can get a job as a pharmaceutical sales rep straight out of college. In fact, you don't need a degree. The job requires few formal qualifications although, like every job, degrees are becoming more commonly seen as pass/fail "basic education certificate". Little prior experience is required, although sales experience can be advantageous. Selection is mainly by personality (e.g. bubbly) and attitude (e.g. persistent).

Compensation is made up of a low base plus a potentially high (but usually unrealistic) bonus. A company car is standard.

The job is to go around a defined list of doctors within a defined geographical and/or clinical area and convince them to buy/prescribe your company's products, by:

- giving them promotional literature, posters, pens, mouse mats, fridge magnets, etc. to use around their home and surgery

- bringing to their attention the scientific merits of the product by distributing copies of reports selected by the pharma company - typically company-sponsored (and, if available, peer-reviewed) studies, analyses of clinical test results and cost-benefit studies

- activating their baser urges and forming an association with your company's brand and products (i.e. flirting and charming)

The activity of setting up appointments with doctors may be part of the sales rep's role, but more often their schedule is handled centrally by an administrative team.

It's no exaggeration to say that the vast majority of pharma sales reps are highly-presentable and attractive young women. The job is principally non-technical sales - despite the technical nature of products, pharma is a regulated industry and there are strict rules governing how products can be promoted. This means that every message has to be created and vetted centrally, and the list of doctors that can be contacted has to be checked and approved (so there is little room for opportunistic selling or generating target lists). The salesperson's discretion is therefore limited to the non-shop talk.

Industry-wide, there is growing appetite to dispense with the armies of pharma sales reps as they are expensive and have no demonstrable effect on sales (i.e. they do not significantly influence doctors' decisions overall). However, no one company has so far been brave enough to take the plunge and break with industry norms. This may change as the long-term trend is for pharma margins and revenues continuing to be squeezed.

You should also read the Prospects profile for this job:

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#4 RE: Pharmaceutical Sales
07/01/2011 13:17

anon to anon (#3)

Interesting post, thanks. Which firms / industries do have sales / business development programs which are worth investigating? (by that I mean potential to make lots of money, good scope for career progression and reputable firm. Google springs to mind)

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#5 RE: Pharmaceutical Sales
07/01/2011 16:28

anon to anon (#4)

Google's widely advertised sales positions (especially outside the US) are actually incredibly uninspiring jobs as you're essentially just pushing classified advertising.

It sounds like I have a downer on sales jobs overall - I don't. FMCG sales schemes actually have good development and career prospects attached to them - both movement into marketing and movement up the hierarchy. Try Mars, Unilever, P&G, etc.

At the other end of the industry spectrum, dealing with £1billion pieces of machinery rather than 45p chocolate bars, sales/business development for big engineering companies can be very attractive. As you can imagine, when a single big sale can make the difference to a company's 10-year forecast they make sure their salespeople are on top of their game. Depending on your attraction/aversion to things which kill people vs. move them around, try BAE, Rolls Royce, Airbus, etc.

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#6 RE: Pharmaceutical Sales
12/01/2011 16:24

Anon to JOH (#1)

Its easy - apply to boots for a saturday job, my 16 year old nephew works there on a saturday selling immodium and laxatives mostly to undecided users that frequent this forum I believe

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#7 RE: Pharmaceutical Sales
14/01/2011 11:06

Inigo to Anon (#6)

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

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