Pharmaceutical sales is a competitive field that requires sales representatives to utilize sharp communications skills, in-depth product knowledge and a well-developed network of industry contacts. Career advancements for pharmaceutical sales reps include management positions, specialty lines and hospital rep positions and training opportunities.
Advancement in the pharmaceutical sales industry often is predicated by the kinds of relationships formed within the company and among the leadership professionals. It behooves sales reps to form ties with corporate managers and vice presidents by participating in company activities, working in the corporate office for a time and accepting project leadership roles.
Documented success comes from staying with a company long enough to develop a foundation of successful sales experience and relationship building. Advancement opportunities are offered to those with demonstrated success. Specialty pharmaceutical reps spend one or two years working with specialists while maintaining their territories calling on general practitioners. Hospital reps are usually required to have five to seven years of experience selling pharmaceuticals. Field sales trainers are selected because of their own personal sales success and time spent mentoring new sales reps.
Pharmaceutical companies employ specialists who can talk to doctors and medical professionals about the in-depth technical aspects of their drugs. A master's degree or PhD in science can help a sales rep to move into one of the medical science liaison positions. Advanced business degrees earned while working as a sales rep can help a pharmaceutical professional move into management and corporate level positions. Combined with a successful sales career, a Master's in Business Administration (MBA) can open up opportunities for national sales manager positions.
As in any industry, extensive networking can pay off for pharmaceutical representatives looking to advance within their own company or in other organizations. Participation in trade groups and industry associations can provide a plethora of networking opportunities. Groups such as the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PHRMA) or the National Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives hold conferences and publish newsletters to keep professionals informed of industry changes. Job boards and conventions through trade groups can provide sales reps with a number of opportunities to meet potential employers for advancement opportunities. Breaking industry news, career tips and professional development opportunities, lobbying and national introductions to recruiters are options that members can take advantage of to enhance their career options.
National Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives