Making the Switch to a Pharmaceutical Sales Career

By: Ryan Stewart

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the most lucrative business sectors as evidenced by its $550 billion global industry revenue in 2004. As such, many careers have been developed to cater to the varying needs of the industry. One good example of such a career option is pharmaceutical sales, which is believed to be one of the most sought-after careers in the job market today.

The reason behind this trend is that pharmaceutical sales offers extraordinary salary potential, which may go as high as six-figures annually. Other amazing perks are special bonuses, a company car, trainings in exotic locations, flexible work hours, as well as unlimited opportunities for career growth.

Needless to say, many people who already have a career in sales are slowly but surely transitioning into pharmaceutical sales. If you're one of those people who are ready to take your sales career to the next level, there are a variety ways to do just that.

For starters, educating yourself about the pharmaceutical industry is an important first step. Learn about various pharmaceutical companies, especially the biggest and most successful ones and how the entire industry is doing. It's also important to keep yourself updated on industry trends.

In addition, equip yourself so that potential employers may notice you. As mentioned earlier, pharmaceutical sales positions are so in demand these days that you have to truly stand out among other hopefuls. To address this concern, there are online companies today, which through their websites are offering products and services that aim to help prospective pharmaceutical sales reps – with or without sales experience – to land a job in the field.

Such products and services may include how-to e-Books and other information materials, resume writing and evaluation services so that your resume is specific to and targeted towards the pharmaceutical sales industry, and more. They also offer interview coaching, which may include doing mock interviews to help you develop the confidence and to ensure that you know the right things to say.

It would also be a good idea to begin establishing networks with other pharmaceutical industry professionals, particularly in your area. The reason behind this is that job openings are oftentimes filled through referrals from existing pharmaceutical sales reps and that pharmaceutical companies rarely post job ads, except for those which are relatively harder to fill. As such, you definitely would want to be in that loop.

Lastly, different companies have different requirements – some require their pharmaceutical sales reps to at least have a bachelor's degree, others may require an MBA. But in the end, having a smooth transition to pharmaceutical sales boils down to having the right attitude. For instance, one should have an aptitude for science so that learning would be a breeze. More than having the sales or the medical background, equally important is displaying your outstanding interpersonal communication skills. An aspiring pharmaceutical sales rep should be able to relate to different types of people.

Also, an aspiring pharmaceutical sales rep should be an aggressive, motivated and driven self-starter with high achievement goals. This is especially important once you've actually got the job. Otherwise, it would be very difficult to succeed. Needless to say, pharmaceutical sales is one career option where the saying “you reap what you sow” is very, very true.

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Ryan Stewart has coached hundreds to pharma sales success (and he's done it all for free). To jump-start your pharmaceutical sales career go to

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