Being a pharmaceutical rep can be a pretty lucrative career option if you’ve got the energy to make sales calls all day long and build a solid stable of clients. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that sales representatives of scientific products, the category in which drugs fall under, earned a median income of $73,710 a year in 2010. That means you could easily earn much more than that if you fall in the top half of the masses. The competition is fierce for the jobs, however, so you better be well-prepared for the interview process.
Go into the interview armed with a thorough understanding of the company’s lines of products – in detail. There’s no excuse for not taking time to do a thorough background of the company, including its history and its key executives. Peruse the company website and dig for more detailed information about the firm’s latest products, how they work and what they treat. You’ll be quickly dismissed if you can’t talk the talk with recruiters who don’t have time, or the inclination, to explain the company’s specialties and primary target audience to a prospect who appears to know nothing about the firm.
Dress for the part. You may be a whiz at the science of your products, but even smart, well-educated professionals must rely on appearance to help them make a good first impression, according to the May 2009 journal Science. So wear your best suit to the interview and make sure your shoes are polished and there are no lipstick or coffee stains on your shirt. Leave the bold colors for later and wear dark, solid colors so the recruiter won’t spend more time checking out your outfit than checking out your personality.
Develop a few stories about successful situations you’ve handled in the past. Recall examples that are relevant to the company where you’re interviewing. For example, if you are trying to land a job selling a new arthritis treatment, talk about your experience calling on nursing homes and how you got to know the lady who always sat in the lobby when you arrived. If you’re going for a position with a sports medicine business, prepare a story about the relationship you formed with the local university basketball coach and that led to an exclusive contract with all of the school’s team doctors.
Prepare to talk about your background in medicine. Experience in the medical field will put you ahead of your competition, even if you only worked for a year as a nursing assistant before getting your business degree. Pharmaceutical companies need sales reps who are comfortable in healthcare settings. Put together a portfolio so that you can show off your credentials without having to repeat all the details in the interview. Include a cover letter, your resume, degrees and certificates you've earned that show you have medical training. Add copies of any certificates of achievement and awards you’ve earned, as well as a list of performance stats from your previous sales positions.
Practice your positive attitude by talking in front of a mirror or with a friend who will be totally honest with you about your style. After all, this is sales, and you’ve got to come across as a likable people-person. Show the recruiter that you can get excited about your product line without sounding fake.
2016 Salary Information for Wholesale and Manufacturing Sales Representatives
Wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives earned a median annual salary of $61,270 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives earned a 25th percentile salary of $42,360, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $89,010, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 1,813,500 people were employed in the U.S. as wholesale and manufacturing sales representatives.
Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."