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March 31, 2009


A position in field sales is the entry-level job in the sales function. The main purpose of the field sales force is to promote the company's products to customers -- typically solo or small-practice groups of physicians -- within an assigned geographic territory. Reps are carefully selected, trained rigorously and equipped with detailed product information. They should know their products inside out and work hard to understand the medical science on which those products are based. Within field sales are two areas: territory sales and specialty sales.

The entry-level field sales positions are pharmaceutical sales representative and territory sales representative. The next rung is medical specialist or hospital specialist. Specialty sales representatives are the most experienced, often with several years of direct sales under their belt. The responsibilities of a pharmaceutical sales rep are well defined across the industry and fall into three distinct areas of activity. Selling is the main responsibility, and requires reps to sell the company's products within the assigned territory, make product presentations, arrange educational meetings for physicians, and co-promote products (when the company has made co-marketing deals with another company).

Administrative responsibilities require reps to manage the selling process (i.e., prioritise their physician and pharmacy customer lists, take notes on call outcomes, prepare reports to district manager), attend company meetings, manage time effectively by working out optimal sales call schedules, work out territory logistics with team members, maintain expense logs, arrange for catering for lunchtime seminars with medical specialists, organise promotional materials and drug samples, and maintain the company car.

Professional development responsibilities require reps to learn features, benefits and basic medical science of assigned products; learn about competing products and their advantages or disadvantages relative to the company's own product; attend professional development training sessions; complete required online training programs; and master selling process and continually refine selling skills.

Advice for job seekers

Get sales experience, especially in consumer products. Develop an understanding of the industry and its foremost issues to show the interviewer that you understand the challenges you will be facing. Also research the job and practise your responses to anticipated questions aloud. That will help you understand where you need to become more polished.


Filed Under: Job Search