What is Pharmaceutical Sales? A look into Pharma Sales (2023)

Sales of Pharmaceutical products, which may include medicines, or surgical devices, consumables of any form, machines, and equipment used in surgeries is called Pharma Sales. The target audience is doctors of any kind, chemists, and/or purchase in-charge in hospital or pharmacies.

The pharmaceutical sale is very different from regular sales of any kind right from the product to the customer to the process of selling. Of all the sales, Pharmaceutical sale is considered to be one of the most lucrative and high paying jobs and also one of the most challenging jobs requiring a lot of learnings on the salesperson’s part.

Table of Contents

The process of Pharmaceutical sales

Like every sale, there is a buyer and a seller. In this case, the buyer depends on the product of the manufacturer. For discussion’s sake, we will consider all of the buyer kinds.

(Video) Pharmaceutical Sales Call - Best Practice Ideas, Verbiage Examples, Closing Tips, and more.

  1. Buyer for medicines of any kind – Chemist, Distributor, Hospital Pharmacies
  2. Buyer for medical devices, instruments, implants – Doctor, purchase officer

Following is the general Process of Pharmaceutical Sales followed by most of the Pharma companies :

What is Pharmaceutical Sales? A look into Pharma Sales (1)

1) Targeting :

A proper target is passed on to the sales team which will consist of value business to be gotten from the area. The target is considered after taking into consideration last year’s target, market potential, and industry growth. A proper targeting is necessary for the profitability of the company.

2) Sales Process :

Once the person has the targets, he can then work on his customers and segregate according to the potential of the customers. Then the salesperson arranges visits to the relevant customers. In the case of medicines, the customers would be doctors and chemists while in case of medical devices it would be a doctor himself and purchase in charge.

3) Sales call :

The salesperson visits doctors by taking an appointment. The visit can be carried out as much as necessary. In the case of medicines, the objective of a sales call would be to influence the decision of the doctor and make him the desired brand of medicines. For that, the seas person ensures that there are relevant studies supporting the product.

The studies are discussed with the doctor and few samples of the products are kept with him in order for the doctor to test for himself. In the second visit glitches if any on the doctor’s part is counted with examples and counter studies from the salesperson.

(Video) How to get into Pharmaceutical Sales

The second visit is the determining visit to convert the doctor. if there are any more doubts in the minds of the doctor, the salespersons visit increase but the objective remains the same that is to convince the doctor to write the desired brand of medicine. Once the doctor is convinced the salesperson then visits the chemist shops to check the availability of the product.

The chemist then gives the requirement for the product to the salesperson who then arrange is it from his own warehouse. On the third visit, the salesperson checked the stock with the chemist. If the stock is unconsumed that means the doctor is not writing the brand in which case the salesperson increases the visit to the doctor with more armamentarium and studies to influence his prescription. Decision influencers may be used in the stage.

Pharmaceutical companies invest a lot of money in gifting the doctors, however, this is not a step which is supported by any medical council all over the world. Gifting, in cash or kind, or any act done to influence the writing of medicines by a doctor, is prohibited and if caught in the process the salesperson will lose his job, the doctor loses his practicing license and the pharmaceutical companies are fined heavily.

If the doctor is convinced, he starts prescribing the product. While the convincing takes place at the clinic, the sale happens at the chemist’s shop. The salesperson keeps on replenishing the stock at the chemist and collects payments. In the case of the Hospital pharmacies, a similar procedure is followed.

In the case of surgical products, the process changes slightly. The pharmaceutical salesperson visits the doctor by taking his appointment. Unlike the sales of medicines, in this case, there is an in-depth discussion of the salesperson and the doctor about the procedure where that particular product is going to be used.

Here the salesperson acts more as a solution provider to the doctor where he educates the doctor about the procedure and where and how his product can be used. The salesperson then asks the doctor for an appointment to shadow him or assist him or observe his surgical technique in Operation Room. Post permission from the doctor, the salesperson visits and observes the techniques of the doctor and then positions his products accordingly.

(Video) Can You Get a Job in Medical Sales Without Sales Experience?

The sales call in this technique, is not only limited to the OPD visits but also extends to the ORs. The sales person then offers a sample of his product to the doctor for use in OR and assists the doctor in the surgery, if need be. Following that visit, the salesperson then takes a feedback of the product from the doctor and tries to get an order.

If the doctor likes the product, he will place an order with the salesperson and the disease caused if the doctor does not like the product a salesperson continuous his visits clarifying the doubts until the doctor is convinced to buy the product.

In some cases, the salesperson has to visit purchase officers this is true especially in the case of multi-specialty hospitals. The Salesperson, after influencing the doctor in the multispecialty hospital then talks to the purchase officers to place an order. If the doctor is convinced, he places the order with the purchasing officer who in turn places the order with the salesperson and the sale is closed.

In the case of medical equipment, there is an additional step of demonstration wherein the doctor takes a demo of the machine in the surgery if required. After taking the demo it is up to the doctor whether to purchase or not. The salesperson can follow up with the doctor.

3) Collection of payments :

A very important step in pharmaceutical sales is a collection of payment. The payment is collected from the chemist or the doctor whoever the product is billed to. The product pricing can be as small as a $10 a product to $50,000 machine. Depending on the product and the volume of the order, the company offers various payment options to the customers. In the case of implants, the payment is collected from the patients and passed on to the companies.

Challenges in pharmaceutical sales

What is Pharmaceutical Sales? A look into Pharma Sales (2)

(Video) How to find a job in Medical Sales | Medical Sales Job Requirements

1) Government intervention

Any and every kind of pharmaceutical product ultimately goes and works in the human body. Because of the sensitivity of the product, the governments have imposed rules to follow before any pharma product is used by a doctor, such as the product should have minimum side effects and should be affordable to the patient.

Negative outcomes, side effects of any kind should be reported to the relevant medical authority immediately, along with their respective pharmaceutical company. It is also necessary that all of the side effects and contraindications of the medicine should be mentioned on the label beforehand. Also, the sale of Pharmaceutical product is limited only to doctors or chemists.

2) Competition

As with every company in the market, competition is a major problem in the pharmaceutical sector. There are numerous companies offering the same product to the doctors at an economical price. Unique products or research molecules are patented by the company and that company becomes only the authorized seller for that particular medicine.

No company can imitate the brand or molecule till the patent is over. Once the patent is over the researching company has to drop its prices hence pharmaceutical companies profit only on the patents of the products. The intense price war with the competition can be very challenging for pharma reps.

3) Sales calling

The Sales calls in the pharmaceutical field can be very difficult compared to any other industry. Sales reps have to wait for hours just to meet the doctor and the long wait results only in minutes of the meeting during which the rep has to convince and convey about the product to the doctor as aggressively as possible. Pharmaceutical sales job can be tough because of the nature of the sales, the product, and the industry.

4) High Targets

Pharmaceutical reps are one of the most overworked people in the industry. High target pressures, nature of the competition, price-wars and the lucrative nature of the product are few of the hurdles in completing the target.

(Video) How to Become a Medical Sales Rep

Pharma products are the most profitable products and have the highest profit margins. That is the reason why targets that are given to the sales rep are very high which often results in high attrition rates and frustration on the part of Salespeople. Having said that, Pharma sales jobs pay highest amongst all jobs. A survey found that an average American can earn more than $100,000 from pharma sales and apart from selling skills, there is hardly any requirement of the companies from candidates.


What is involved in pharmaceutical sales? ›

Pharmaceutical sales representatives have the primary task of informing clinicians about the medical benefits of dosing patients with their company's product. They meet frequently with healthcare professionals to describe the drug's chemistry, uses, side effects, and potential interactions.

What skills do you need for pharmaceutical sales? ›

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Skills and Qualifications:
  • Customer service.
  • Motivation for sales.
  • Meeting sales goals.
  • Closing skills.
  • Territory management.
  • Prospecting skills.
  • Negotiation skills.
  • Self-confidence.

What are the benefits of a pharmaceutical sales? ›

As a pharmaceutical sales representative, you have flexibility and often can enjoy making your schedule and working the hours that best fit your preferences. Substantial income (which often includes bonuses), opportunities to influence patient lives, and travel opportunities are also among other benefits for this job.

What are key responsibilities of a pharmaceutical sales representative? ›

A medical sales representative's job is to promote and sell their company's products, whether that's pharmaceutical drugs or medical equipment. Customers can include doctors, nurses and pharmacists. The medical representative will increase product awareness, answer queries, provide advice and introduce new products.

What to study for pharmaceutical sales? ›

A college degree is standard for this job, with many employers looking favorably on graduate work. Useful courses include biology, chemistry, biochemistry, biophysics, organic chemistry, English, public speaking, finance, and negotiation techniques.

How do I prepare for a pharmaceutical sales interview? ›

4 top tips to ace your pharmaceutical sales interview
  1. Tip 1: Know the company inside out. Before applying for the role, you probably scanned the employer's website. ...
  2. Tip 2: Prepare your own questions. ...
  3. Tip 3: Talk yourself up. ...
  4. Tip 4: Make it a two-way conversation. ...
  5. Find your next pharma sales job with IQVIA.

What are the 3 most important selling skills? ›

Top 5 skills for a career in sales
  • Confidence - maintaining a positive attitude.
  • Resilience - communicating with conviction.
  • Active listening - understanding the customers' needs.
  • Rapport building - selling your personality.
  • Entrepreneurial spirit - continual self-improvement.

Is it hard to do pharmaceutical sales? ›

It's a reality for pharmaceutical company representatives. But the work isn't pure glamour. It's also intense, highly competitive and sometimes frustrating. Insiders say it's difficult to get your foot in the door with a drug company, and that it's challenging to excel once you've landed that first sales job.

Do you have to be attractive to be a pharmaceutical sales rep? ›

"Usually pharmaceutical reps are attractive people, but they are also usually trained in the products they are selling," Gundersen said. "They are salespeople, but they are familiar with the products and the risks and benefits and the research behind those products."

Why are you interested in pharmaceutical sales? ›

You can build connections.

Pharmaceutical sales representatives often become the trusted go-to point for customers seeking information and assistance in helping their patients. Over the course of your career, you can build deep relationships with customers and forge new connections as industries change.

Why pharma sales is different than other sales? ›

With pharmaceutical sales, the reps' job is to convince their doctors to prescribe their product when they have a patient that could benefit from it. Reps in medical sales typically do not crossover into other reps territories. Where there is one territory, there is usually only one rep.

What are the challenges in being a pharmaceutical sales person? ›

Once the prospect becomes the customers, it gets even harder for pharma sales team representatives to maintain relationships. Maintaining the relationship for them means communicating regularly with medical staff and doctors for keeping an eye on their requirements and fulfilling the same.

What are 3 sales responsibilities? ›

Sales Representative duties and responsibilities include:

Selling products and services using solid arguments to prospective customers. Performing cost-benefit analyses of existing and potential customers. Maintaining positive business relationships to ensure future sales.

What are the 5 main tasks of a sales representative? ›

Sales Representative duties and responsibilities
  • Be knowledgeable about the product.
  • Identify prospective customers, lead generation and conversion.
  • Contact new and existing customers to discuss needs.
  • Emphasize the features of products to highlight how they solve customer problems.
  • Answer questions about the products.
22 Aug 2022

How can I learn pharma fast? ›

7 Study Tips for Pharmacy Students
  1. Take Good Notes. Taking quality notes during class is one of the most important things you need to do in order to be successful in pharmacy school. ...
  2. Stay Organized. ...
  3. Study with Others. ...
  4. Avoid Distractions. ...
  5. Use Resources. ...
  6. Don't Cram. ...
  7. Avoid Studying Too Much.
26 May 2016

Do pharmaceutical reps travel a lot? ›

If so, you may be interested in working as a pharmaceutical sales representative. Sales representatives are responsible for promoting and selling a company's products. They often travel to meet with clients and attend industry events. This job is perfect for individuals who are outgoing and enjoy meeting new people.

Which course is best to work in a pharmaceutical industry? ›

Getting a bachelor's degree in pharmaceutical business operations, manufacturing, or medical device operations is the best route to take to start your career as a process technician.

How can I impress a sales interview? ›

We give some top tips to succeed and discuss potential questions you may be asked.
  1. Approach it like a sales meeting. ...
  2. Do your research. ...
  3. Questions to prepare for. ...
  4. Take evidence of your achievements. ...
  5. Take your contact book. ...
  6. Have a list of questions ready. ...
  7. Close the deal.

What are the top 5 questions to ask an interviewer? ›

Smart questions to ask about the interviewer
  • How long have you been with the company?
  • Has your role changed since you've been here?
  • What did you do before this?
  • Why did you come to this company?
  • What's your favorite part about working here?
  • What's one challenge you occasionally or regularly face in your job?
20 May 2022

What should I say in a sales interview with no experience? ›

Don't talk down or apologize for your lack of experience in your interview, instead, phrase it as enthusiasm to become a great salesperson. “I'm excited to take on the challenge of being a hard-working salesperson.” “I'm eager to learn more sales skills if given the opportunity.”

What is the golden rule of sales? ›

“ Brian Tracy: “Sell unto others as you would have them sell unto you. The successful sales professional uses the golden rule to sell with the same honesty, integrity, understanding, empathy, and thoughtfulness that they would like someone to use in selling to them.

Who makes more money pharmaceutical sales or medical sales? ›

While your base salary may be lower than in pharmaceutical sales, usually the upside is higher. Pharmaceutical comp plans usually pay quarterly bonuses while medical sales companies usually pay an uncapped monthly commission. As you can see from above, there are major differences between these two types of sales.

How do I get a pharmaceutical sales job with no experience? ›

How to Get a Job in Medical Sales Without Experience
  1. Develop a resume that highlights or bullets your sales accomplishments. ...
  2. Use keywords in your resume, such as medical products, medical devices and pharmaceutical. ...
  3. Network with those you know within your desired industry. ...
  4. Target your applications. ...
  5. Don't give up.

How many years is pharmaceutical sales? ›

It takes around five to six years to become a pharmaceutical sales representative. This accounts for the educational and work experience requirements to be successful in this position.

How do you win pharmaceutical sales? ›

How to Succeed in Pharmaceutical Sales
  1. Good People Skills. You need to have good people skills when going out to market a product. ...
  2. Strong Product Knowledge. ...
  3. Comfortable with Public Speaking. ...
  4. Manage Your Own Time. ...
  5. Industry-Specific Skills. ...
  6. Be Ready to Travel Anytime. ...
  7. Get Your CNPR Training.

What is the average age of a pharmaceutical sales rep? ›

Interestingly enough, the average age of pharmaceutical sales representatives is 40+ years old, which represents 70% of the population.

How should I dress for pharmaceutical sales? ›

In pharmaceutical sales, some of the smarter reps wear scrubs. If you're wearing scrubs and you ask to speak to Dr. So-and-so, no one even asks you why you're there. Don't stand out, but if in doubt, err on the side of being overdressed, not underdressed.

Why are you interested in this sales? ›

Potential Answer: "I'm interested in sales because I have great interpersonal skills and I'm passionate about providing excellent customer service. I have experience working with people in previous positions, and your company is appealing since you seem to value putting clients first."

Why you choose sales as a career answer? ›

"Sales suits me well. It's a field that aligns well with my skills, interests, and disposition. I have excellent interpersonal skills, and I'm passionate about relationship-building and customer service. Those traits have made me an effective salesperson — and simply put, I enjoy doing things I do well."

How can I introduce myself in pharma interview? ›

Q1: Tell me about yourself? Tip: Include your name, your place, education, job experience and family details in short. Example answer: Sir, my name is (Your Name).

What is the number 1 rule in sales? ›

I learnt that the number one rule in sales is not to sell or not come out as trying to sell. This certainly holds true at least in the business we at Revenue Technology Services are in.

What is the number 1 selling pharmaceutical? ›

Best selling pharmaceuticals of U.S. Market
RankDrugTrade name
1 more row

Is pharmaceutical sales still a good career? ›

The job of a pharmaceutical sales representative is a highly desired one. With a high salary, excellent benefits and perks, and the potential for growth, it's easy to see why. In fact, on average, pharmaceutical sales reps earn $103,300 each year, not including commissions.

What is the biggest problem in sales? ›

The biggest challenge that most sales reps face is the price. The price is too high, the price isn't clear, the price is out of budget, and many other price-based barriers. The most successful tactic for overcoming this challenge is to refocus the conversation from price to value.

Why do pharma sales interview questions? ›

General pharmaceutical sales interview questions

Why do you want to work in pharmaceutical sales? What makes you qualified for this position? What are two positive things your previous employer would say about you? How do you maintain your work-life balance?

Why do I want to work at a pharmaceutical company? ›

Job satisfaction

If you ask anyone who works in the pharmaceutical industry what their main motivation is, it's more than likely you'll hear the same answer: improving people's lives. As the benefits of new medicines are felt by people all over the world, not many jobs offer you more of a chance to do this.

What are the 4 sales position? ›

Job titles commonly used include sales representative, sales associate, sales consultant, or just the word sales. Sometimes the word retail is included in the word sales. Even jobs listed as assistant store manager typically are sales positions just like any other.

What are the questions asked in sales interview? ›

List of sales representative interview questions
  • Where do you see your career heading in five to 10 years?
  • What motivates you when you're at work?
  • What makes you a good sales representative?
  • Why did you apply for this position?
  • How do you think our company can improve?
  • Do you have any questions that you want to ask me?

What makes a successful sales team? ›

They must be well trained, passionate, positive, empathetic, with great listening skills, the ability to multitask, think on their feet, and provide quick solutions. The team must stay up-to-date with the latest sales trends and technology, so they can actively incorporate them into their jobs.

What are the 3 types of sales person? ›

All salespeople can be grouped into one of three categories: The Commodity Salesperson. The Price Salesperson. The Solution Value Salesperson.

What key skills are required for sales? ›

Sales Skills
  • Effective Communication.
  • Product Expertise.
  • Customer Service.
  • Problem Solving.
  • Business Acumen.
  • Sales Demoing.
  • Negotiating.
  • Prospecting.
19 Oct 2022

What is the basic skills of sales? ›

One of the basic sales skills you need to develop is turning an objection into an opportunity. Someone with strong selling skills can empathize with a prospect's objections, ask questions, and offer clarity to help the prospect overcome their hesitations.

What is pharma short for? ›

Etymology. short for pharmaceutical. First Known Use. 1992, in the meaning defined above. The first known use of pharma was in 1992.

What is age limit for medical representative? ›

Candidate must be graduate either fresher or experience in pharmaceutical selling (0 TO 6 MONTHS). Age not more than 29 years .

What are the skills of a pharmaceutical sales representative? ›

Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Skills and Qualifications:
  • Customer service.
  • Motivation for sales.
  • Meeting sales goals.
  • Closing skills.
  • Territory management.
  • Prospecting skills.
  • Negotiation skills.
  • Self-confidence.

Is pharmaceutical sales a hard job? ›

It's a reality for pharmaceutical company representatives. But the work isn't pure glamour. It's also intense, highly competitive and sometimes frustrating. Insiders say it's difficult to get your foot in the door with a drug company, and that it's challenging to excel once you've landed that first sales job.

Is a pharmaceutical sales rep a hard job? ›

Between managing relationships, developing in-depth product knowledge, and consistently having to stay ahead of the competition, pharmaceutical sales reps have some of the most demanding jobs in the industry.

Is being a pharmaceutical sales rep stressful? ›

High. Stress is not uncommon amongst pharmaceutical sales representatives, with daily work sometimes being quite demanding.

Do pharmaceutical sales pay well? ›

Yes, pharmaceutical sales does pay well.

Overall, a pharmaceutical sales representative is a high-earning career, but a person's earning potential depends on their experience, location, industry, and personal aptitude.

Why do drug reps make so much money? ›

With most pharmaceutical companies you get a salary and you also get paid commission on your drugs that you sell. So, if you sell 160 percent of one product, you get paid on 60 percent over that quota. The more you sell the more you make, so the harder you work, the more money you make.

Do pharmaceutical sales reps travel a lot? ›

As a pharmaceutical sales rep, you will also be spending a lot of time driving and travelling. Depending on your territory, some overnight travel may be required. Think about why you want to work in the pharmaceutical industry.

What is the #1 skill a salesperson should have? ›

1. Confidence - maintaining a positive attitude. Not all prospective customers will want to buy what you're selling and to deal with these rejections you'll need a high level of confidence, positivity and tenacity.

What are the 3 most important things in sales? ›

Being successful in sales and learning how to become better at sales boils down to 3 things: empathy, a genuine desire to help, and persistence.

What are 5 good qualities of sales person? ›

5 Qualities That Make a Great Sales Person
  • Communication Skills. Sales is basically all-day communication. ...
  • Drive. A great salesperson needs to be passionate about what they do and have a drive to be successful. ...
  • Patience. Similar to commitment, a good sales person must also have a great deal of patience. ...
  • Empathy.
24 Sept 2018

How many hours do pharmaceutical sales reps work? ›

How many hours a week do medical sales reps work? The number of hours a medical sales rep works per week depends on the specialty. On one extreme, representatives in Trauma & Extremities typically work 60 - 70 hours per week and are on-call every other weekend.

How long does it take to get into pharmaceutical sales? ›

It takes around five to six years to become a pharmaceutical sales representative. This accounts for the educational and work experience requirements to be successful in this position.

How much do pharma reps make us? ›

How much does a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative make? As of Nov 15, 2022, the average annual pay for a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative in the United States is $89,679 a year. Just in case you need a simple salary calculator, that works out to be approximately $43.11 an hour.


1. What Companies Look For In Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives with Dino Lourenco
(Evolve Your Success)
2. Being a Medical Sales Rep - 4 Facts You Need To Know
(Mike Allison Coaching)
3. The Difference Between Pharmaceutical Sales and Medical Device Sales
(CareerNext Agency)
4. Pharma Sales
(QlikView Demos)
5. Medical Sales - Device VS Pharma - Which path should you choose?
(Pierre Pacini)
6. Why Pharma Sales in 2020 || Why Pharmaceutical Sale is the Best Sales Job
(Science of Attraction)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Frankie Dare

Last Updated: 02/20/2023

Views: 5787

Rating: 4.2 / 5 (73 voted)

Reviews: 88% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Frankie Dare

Birthday: 2000-01-27

Address: Suite 313 45115 Caridad Freeway, Port Barabaraville, MS 66713

Phone: +3769542039359

Job: Sales Manager

Hobby: Baton twirling, Stand-up comedy, Leather crafting, Rugby, tabletop games, Jigsaw puzzles, Air sports

Introduction: My name is Frankie Dare, I am a funny, beautiful, proud, fair, pleasant, cheerful, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.