Is a career as a Pharmaceutical sales something you’d be interested in? Are you enthusiastic and have great people skills? Just what does a Pharmaceutical sales person, drug rep or PSR as they’re called, actually do? PSR’s provide drug information and produce samples to medical health care providers. They also monitor prescribing patterns of a physician in their territory area. For example, the drug rep would represent a particular drug and call on doctors that specialize in the field the drug rep handles. A drug rep spends a lot of time on the road. They visit anywhere from 4-8 doctor's offices a day. A lot of time is spent sitting in waiting rooms patiently waiting for the physicians to have time to see them. They talk to pharmacists, hospital personnel, patient advocacy groups and even retirement homes. They follow any lead and make every effort to sell their product. This type of job can be hard on family and personal life because of being on the road so much.
Most pharmaceutical companies like to hire college graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree. A degree in science, biology, chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics or organic chemistry is looked upon favorably. English, public speaking, finance and negation techniques are also helpful. Licensing is available through professional organizations but it isn’t required to advance to managerial positions.
Pharmaceutical reps must be very polished, professional and well spoken. Good communication skills are necessary for the presentation of their product, negotiation, anticipation of needs and influence. A person that communicates well is also a good listener. They should also be able to present information in a clear, systematic manner. Drug reps must be able to memorize large amounts of medical terminology and detailed information about the medication they are representing. They should be well organized, efficient and be able manage their territory and time unsupervised. A drug rep should be a team player with a positive can-do attitude and determination to focus on goals until they are achieved.
So why do people want this high pressure job? Well, the profit margins of many name-brand pharmaceutical products can mean very large commissions. There are also the company perks such as company car, trips, bonuses, and benefits such as medical, tuition reimbursement, retirement, and 401K’s. Because the products are consumed fairly quickly and not stored, the customers will need serviced regularly. There are intellectual challenges that go with this job because the drug rep is constantly learning about the company’s product line. They have to be familiar with data, statistics and what's new in the health community to be able to discuss intelligently with the business people and doctors that they see each day.
Pharmaceutical sales representative can also go into sales positions in other professions as sales service representatives , for example. Their sales skills would be valuable but the scientific knowledge is less important. Some PSR’s will give up the scientific element of their job to go into a profession that takes less toll on their personal life and family life.
So is this a career that you would be interested in? Would you like being on the road? Do you like challenges? If you do, then this may be the career for you.
By Linda Lee Ruzicka
Linda Lee Ruzicka lives in the mountains of Western PA , happily married and with her 8 cats and three dogs. She has been published in Twilight Times, Dark Krypt, Fables, Writing Village, June Cotner anthology, The Grit, Reminisce , the book, Haunted Encounters: Friends and Family. She also does freelances work for Beyond and for Salesheads. More of her blogs can be found at Salesheads blog.