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OTHER ITA SITES:
About Pharmaceutical Sales Careers And Other Positions
A pharmaceutical sales career is a very rewarding one. Not many other careers offer the same types of perks and benefits along with a fairly high paying job as pharmaceutical sales position. The role of helping well educated health professionals treat their patients better is special indeed. Iíve even had the pleasure of being introduced to actual patients by some of my doctors. These patients were prescribed on my drugs and the treatments made a big difference in their lives. This is just one of the many intangible benefits of the job.
Many pharmaceutical companies have different levels of pharmaceutical sales representatives with sales forces divided into those who call on mostly general family physicians and those who call on hospital medical specialists. The specialist positions are considered a more senior level with higher salaries. Although both levels are still considered pharmaceutical sales, in many aspects, the specialist position is a very different job compared to the general rep level. Specialist reps often have the additional role of identifying and developing medical speakers among top specialist physicians in teaching centers. Specialist pharmaceutical reps are often the main company contacts for financial sponsorship activities within large hospitals.
It is thought that if a drug is successful and accepted at the level of top medical specialists, then this will influence family physicians to follow suit and adopt the drug into their own treatment protocols. This is why the specialist sales position is so important to pharmaceutical companies and usually requires experienced sales professionals to do the job.
Many pharmaceutical sales representatives eventually get promoted to become sales managers, marketing product managers, sales trainers and other senior management positions. In fact, most pharmaceutical companies consider being in the sales force for a number of years is a prerequisite for advancement into any other positions in the company. It is said that those who wish to become marketing managers or other executive level positions will have to Ďcarry the bagí for at least a few years in order to get field experience. ĎCarry the bagí refers to the brief cases that pharmaceutical representatives carry with them throughout the day.
This ideology makes sense. For pharmaceutical product managers to be truly effective, they must convince the sales force including sales managers on the validity of their marketing programs. They would be more successful in achieving this if they have a good idea of what itís like to be out there in the sales field. Experience as sales reps would give potential future marketers this valuable experience. This is analogous to military commanders who would be much more effective in leading their troops if they have had combat experience themselves.
Of course there have been exceptions in the pharmaceutical industry but in general, the best marketing managers in my mind are the ones who have been sales reps themselves. I have encountered the odd product manager in the industry who never had any pharmaceutical sales experience and I have never been too impressed by any of them. Prior sales experience does make a big difference in the business styles of marketing managers. So being a pharmaceutical sales representative is a stepping stone for many individuals who want to be in management someday whether itís in the marketing, sales or training departments.
There are many pharmaceutical sales representatives who choose not to ever become managers even if they have been offered the opportunities for promotions. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. Many career sales reps make a great deal of money from the combination of salaries and bonuses, particularly the high sales achievers. Some of these reps live in regions located far away from pharmaceutical head offices and would not dream of relocating for a promotion.
I have met many veteran pharmaceutical reps who live in beautiful locations such as near oceans or mountains and they absolutely refuse to move to large urban metropolitan centers where most pharmaceutical head offices are located. Lower costs of living, crime rates, pollution, family, scenery and other factors have influenced these types of decisions. One can imagine that a senior rep making good money in a scenic area with low costs of living will certainly have a great lifestyle without having to move to a large city to become a manager.
Then again, many reps just like being out in the field as opposed to working inside an office like marketing and training managers do. Some reps do not want the responsibilities of having to manage others like sales managers have to. Iíve met some representatives who actually did stints as sales managers and then decided to move back into sales territories to become reps again. These individuals just didnít want to do the hiring, firing and hand holding of reps that are often required of a sales management position. They didnít want to be involved with the management of people. They just wanted to do what they like doing best which was selling. So thereís absolutely nothing wrong with being a career rep. Itís a personal decision. Iíve known several career reps who worked in pharmaceutical sales right through to retirement.
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