Mastering the Path to Pharma Sales Success: Your Ultimate Guide

Embark on a journey to success in pharmaceutical sales with our comprehensive guide tailored for aspiring representatives. Uncover the essentials of this dynamic industry, from vital skills to securing your dream job.

Unveiling the Role of a Pharma Sales Rep

Pharmaceutical sales representatives (PSRs) play a pivotal role in driving sales for their company’s pharmaceutical products. Their mission? To convince medical professionals of the efficacy and relevance of their offerings. PSRs must possess a robust understanding of pharmacology, adeptly navigating inquiries on drug mechanisms, side effects, and interactions.

Steps to Kickstart Your Pharma Sales Career

Begin your journey by acquiring a high school diploma or GED, although a bachelor’s degree in fields like health sciences or marketing is increasingly favored by employers. Gain valuable sales experience, ideally with a track record of promotions, to bolster your candidacy. Consider pursuing certification, such as the Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative (PCR) from the American College of Medical Affairs (ACMA), to enhance your skill set and marketability.

Why Choose Pharma Sales?

Explore the allure of pharmaceutical sales, offering recession-proof stability coupled with lucrative salary prospects, benefits, and flexibility. With the industry experiencing exponential growth, fueled by innovation and demand, the potential for career advancement and global travel beckons. Step into a role that revolves around educating healthcare professionals and positively impacting patient outcomes.

Crafting Your Path in the Pharma Sales Landscape

Discover the diverse avenues within pharmaceutical sales, from cold calling and account management to targeted marketing strategies. Hone your communication skills to effectively engage with clients, utilizing both verbal and nonverbal cues to build lasting relationships. Master the art of persuasive presentations, backed by in-depth product knowledge and market insights.

Navigating the Recruitment Process

Navigate the recruitment maze by leveraging networking opportunities and industry events. Polish your application materials to stand out amidst the competition, utilizing industry-specific keywords and tailoring your resume and cover letter to showcase your suitability for the role. Embrace the interview process as a chance to showcase your passion and expertise, bolstered by thorough research and preparation.

Preparing for Success in Pharma Sales

Equip yourself for success with comprehensive training and ongoing professional development. Stay abreast of industry trends and product innovations, ensuring your ability to address client inquiries with confidence. Rise to the challenge of meeting sales targets while maintaining a healthy work-life balance, embracing creativity and adaptability in overcoming obstacles.

Related Questions

Q: How do candidates endure the lengthy interview process without a job?

A: Despite the duration, the interview process serves as a rewarding journey toward securing a fulfilling career. Candidates gain valuable insights into their strengths and suitability for the role, fostering personal growth and self-awareness along the way.

Q: What goals must a pharmaceutical sales representative strive to achieve?

A: Successful PSRs excel in understanding pharmaceutical products, exceeding sales quotas, and cultivating strong relationships with healthcare professionals. They must remain vigilant in staying informed about industry developments and prioritize ongoing learning and professional growth.


Pandemic Innovators: Pharma Marketing Strategies that Reinvent the In-Person Conversation

Before 2020, the landscape of drug marketing involved following drug approvals by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), finding which patient population would benefit from therapy, and visiting specialized doctors in-person to advertise its advantages compared to current guidelines. The 2021 pandemic has inspired pharmaceutical companies to reform their strategies for in-person sales and meetings. 

The pandemic has incentivized pharmaceutical marketers to use digital advertisements to impact which therapies doctors prescribe by influencing the prescriber-patient conversation. The end goal of a successful marketing interaction is a patient receiving his or her medication from their pharmacy and becoming their own self-advocate from inside their home. With much competition between drug companies and decreased time for doctors to meet with pharma sales reps, there has been a call for reinventing commonplace marketing strategies. 

The last eighteen months have proven the success of the digital world, not only for doctors but also for patients. With the successful use of programs to facilitate teleconferences and doctor’s appointments, the industry has been a sustained improvement in communication. Digitalizing pharmaceutical advertisements had been implemented and supported by both the Affordable Care Acts’ call to transform patient health records to a digital source, and the reality of quarantine’s effects on in-person meetings. 

Pharmaceutical advertisement strategies have been reconstructed recently by some companies; For example, Ogilvy Health announced their partnership with Doceree, a firm that offers demand-and-sell advertisement technology that targets physicians. The technology identifies

physicians through doctor-specific codes and in-house facility logins. Data sourced from this method isolates prescribing history, medical associations, expertise, and competitor drug products. The Ogilvy-Doceree partnership has successfully developed a methodology of creating tailored advertisements, display ads, and pop-up text blocks for doctors within their facility EMR systems. 

EMR advertisements are not an invention, however, the adaptation of targeted ads and measuring their success is revolutionary for the healthcare industry. This technology sustains the link between prescriber history and a patient’s profile to produce a tailored ad that not only may optimize the therapeutic benefit for a patient, but also influence conversations between prescribers and patients in future appointments.

The success of Doceree’s programming is measured using a drug’s National Drug Code (NDC) inputs into the EMR system. A page refresh occurs that transmits the data to Doceree which can be monitored as a KPI statistic. If a doctor uses a competing drug companies’ product, the system also receives this data. Further, this system can also measure if a patient fills and purchases a prescription – a large draw to the use of this system. To address compliance, Doceree has assured that the targeting system does not transmit private patient information and is only communicating pertinent information such as which drugs are prescribed and the number of times they are picked up and used by patients. Even without concrete evidence of changes in the healthcare landscape, the innovation of digital communication has become essential and an asset to the reach of medical reps and the success of drug companies for better patient care in the community. Visit ACMA to learn more.


Top 5 Best Online Pharma Sales Certification Courses

Pharmaceutical sales reps play a vital role in the supply chain of healthcare products, and they act as a strong link between final consumers and suppliers. Although this is a competitive profession, registering for an online pharma sales training course from a reputable institution can bring you one step closer to attaining your professional goals in this field.

Considering the lucrative nature of pharmaceutical sales, embarking on an online pharmaceutical sales training program is worth it. Drug production won’t be going into extinction any time soon. Research is ongoing to produce more drugs to help with diseases and outbreaks. This is where pharmaceutical sales reps come in – to sell the drugs to those who need them.

Thus, you need a pharma sales certification course to build a career in the pharmaceutical sales industry. After thorough analysis, we identified the top reliable online pharma sales training courses. Read on to learn more.

Key Takeaway

Pharma sales certification courses equip aspirants with the necessary skills to succeed as sales reps. These courses help you become certified and keep you on the path to building a successful pharma sales career. These courses are 100% online and self-paced, depending on the students’ availability.

Who are Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives?

Pharmaceuticals sales representatives are workers in the pharma industry saddled with the responsibility of educating healthcare providers. You can find a pharma sales rep in biotech companies working collaboratively with pharmacists and physicians.

Their principal function is to teach healthcare providers about the organization’s products. Medical devices, drugs, and equipment used in health facilities are the focus when dealing with healthcare providers.

As a pharmaceutical sales rep, you need two skill sets to excel in the industry. Interpersonal skills are a necessary asset of what a pharma sales rep needs to succeed. You need to build relationships and connect with people. The connection you build with healthcare providers and customers is what makes you a great sales rep.

The other skill required is an in-depth understanding of basic science and pharmacology. Knowing medications and their reaction in the body is an essential skill that can help you with your career. Your description of the drug mechanism builds your credibility.

Equipping yourself with the necessary knowledge separates you from your competitors. This is what an online pharma sales training course can do for you.

Best Pharma Sales Certification Courses

1.  Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA)

One of the most reputable pharma certification courses is ACMA’s course on Pharmaceutical Representative Training. Pharmaceutical companies tend to prefer applicants with certification from this institution. So, if you choose this course, you have an advantage when seeking employment. It shouldn’t come as a surprise to you that some biotech companies require certification from ACMA specifically.

The accreditation of ACMA’s PRC program by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) makes it a well-recognized certification. One of the requirements to gain admission for this course is a bachelor’s degree.

Features of ACMA’s program

·  Convenient payment plans

·  100% online

·  Self-paced programs

·  Covers basic medical terminology

·  12 educational clock hours

2.  Medical Sales College

This college offers students invaluable knowledge in the areas of pharmacology and drugs. In addition to the pharmaceutical knowledge you will gain, you will learn all there is to know about sales. Graduates of this course also receive a highly sought after certification. Graduates have their skills refined and sharpened into what the industry requires.

Medical Sales College’s admissions process is highly competitive. Without sales experience, it won’t be easy to gain admission into this institution. You can apply for a specific course, especially if you are interested in stem cell procedures or prolotherapy.

Features of Medical Sales College

·  Job opportunities after graduation

·  Grow in your desired niche in the pharma industry

·  12 week-long program

·  Hybrid program (remote and in-person learning)

3.  CNPR Pharmaceutical Sales Training

CNPR’s Pharmaceutical Sales Training program is for you if you are looking for an entry-level pharma sales rep position. Through this program, you will learn everything you need to know about pharmaceutical sales and be able to meet product and regulatory industry requirements.

What makes the CNPR course unique is the access it gives to successful graduates to association career centers. Your chance of getting a job after graduation is high.

Features of CNPR Pharmaceutical Sales Training

·  Extensive tutoring on clinical pharmacology and medical terminology

·  Industry preferred knowledge

·  User-friendly platform

·  100% online training

4.  The University of Texas at San Antonio (USTA)

If you opt for USTA, you are subscribing to pharmaceutical sales training from an esteemed institution. This university provides you with everything you need, from fundamental knowledge to professional skills. The course takes you through the concept of drugs and their associated components. Without any doubt, you can be a certified pharma sales rep in six months.

The criteria to gain admission for this course is a bachelor’s degree from a reputable institution. Also, you stand a chance if you have a minimum of two years of medical sales experience.

Features of the University of Texas at San Antonio

·  Six months of online pharma training

·  100% online course

·  Includes anatomy and physiology training

5. University of Florida Graduate Certificate

This institution offers applicants the opportunity to study a pharma-specific course. What makes this course one of the best is how it helps students expand their pharmacology knowledge. The University is accredited, so rest assured you are getting a recognized certificate. The course covers biotechnology, drug development, and other medical-related topics required.

Admission into this institution requires a bachelor’s degree from a reputable institution. Students must adhere to the deadline for submission of assignments and projects to graduate.

Features of University of Florida Graduate Certificate

·  Distinct Required Credit hour and Elective credit hours

·  Strict on deadlines and assignments

·  Self-paced program

·  100% online.


Opting for an online pharma sales training course can help you build a strong career in the pharmaceutical industry. Most of these courses require that you have a bachelor’s degree or sales experience. The choice is yours to make depending on your career preference. Regardless of your decision, the courses listed are all from highly respected and reputable institutions. You can build a strong foundation in pharmaceutical sales by registering for any of the above programs.


Pharmaceutical Sales Representative VS. Medical Science Liaison

As the healthcare industry evolves with novel and innovative therapies, it brings the need for highly specialized conversations with healthcare providers (HCPs) and key opinion leaders (KOLs). While the sales force is still a crucial part of any pharmaceutical company, the demand for Medical Affairs teams continue to rise. How are sales reps and Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) the same? And how are they different, you may ask?

Ways Pharma sales reps and MSLs are the same:

  1. Truly, the main similarity between both roles is that Pharma reps and MSLs are both field facing teams. They are both an extension of the company – After all, both roles see the same HCPs and KOLs and represent their company. So both MSLs and sales reps should be on their “A” game at all times!

Ways Pharma reps and MSLs are different:

  1. Typically, an MSL holds a doctorate degree, whether it be a PhD, MD, or PharmD. Specific therapeutic areas may be open to nurse practitioners, and other specialized degrees (e.g. an optometrist for a dry eye medication)
  2. Pharmaceutical reps are limited to having on-label proactive discussions with KOLs and are free to promote the marketed product they support. MSLs are non-promotional, reactively having in-depth scientific discussions about marketed products with KOLs. 
  3. While this is completely off the table for Pharmaceutical sales reps, MSLs are able to reactively discuss pipeline products, as well as have off-label discussions under strict compliance guidelines.
  4. While sales reps’ involvement with other projects may be limited, they do work with other commercial teams to help facilitate commercial activities. On the other hand, MSLs are heavily involved in working with their Medical Affairs counterparts to facilitate medical activities such as medical advisory boards (in some instances, even MSL led Ad-boards!), have roundtable discussions, liaise about clinical trial communications and updates, collect and disseminate competitive intelligence, and help shape the medical objectives and strategies

How can an MSL and Sales rep work together, compliantly?

It is vital that MSLs and Sales Rep work together, COMPLIANTLY. It is important to understand that while the two should work together, neither should try and steer the other’s meeting. Depending on the company, MSLs and Sales Reps should collaborate on barriers to access to restricted sites, KOLs, and institutions in their territories. In addition, they may also help facilitate introductions, if needed, during the first five minutes of the meeting. Typically, the meeting’s owner would be the one to stay. Lastly, they should discuss any upcoming major events to ensure the company has a united front. Always check the guidance and policies set forth by your pharmaceutical companies, as they may slightly differ.


Resume Writing and Editing Tips for Pharma Sales Professionals

As a Professional Pharmaceutical Recruiter, I read and evaluate resumes (as well as CVs), every day. While I am not a professional resume writer, I have a very strong understanding of what a good resume or CV looks like and what should be included. More importantly, I keep track of what is most effective and elicits the best response from potential employers. I am happy to share some essential resume writing and editing tips that may be helpful to prepare for your next job search.

Brand Yourself

First, your resume should reflect your brand or specific focus. Be clear about your image and what you want to portray. Make sure that all of the information you include on your resume will work towards a unified and consistent image. Showcase your brand through clear and descriptive content and titles that justify your fit for the role or roles you seek.

Templates and Formatting

Style, formatting and appearance are key to the overall impression of your resume. Start by choosing a professional template that will work well for your background and industry. It is a good idea to ask a friend, colleague or coworker if they are willing to share their resume with you to review. Ultimately, make sure you are comfortable with the template you use to work from and be sure it offers the impression you want. Make sure that your fonts are big enough. Do not go smaller than an 11-point font, and opt for 12-point if possible. Times New Roman, Arial and Garamond are all good font choices. Do not overuse capital letters or underlines. Titles should be bolded, and there should be white space to show clarity, enhance the visual/aesthetic appeal and make content flow. 

Professional Summary

Include a “Professional Summary” at the top of your CV that tells the reader who you are and what you are looking to do. This is basically a more formal and professionally documented elevator pitch. Your professional summary will be the first impression for the reader, so make sure it is precisely written.  

Example: A performance-driven sales professional with over fifteen years of combined experience in healthcare, clinical research, and sales, developing in-depth and productive relationships with key professionals in academic, clinical, and payor organizations to optimize business opportunities. Acknowledged for strong presentation, communication, and organizational skills to successfully direct complex projects among many levels of internal and external customers in multiple therapeutic areas, including Cardiovascular, Metabolic and Nephrology. Currently seeking a pharma sales role with a growing company. 

TIP: Be sure that you write the summary in third person, and do not write in first person – it reads as less professional.

The Header and Contact Information

It is important to have your contact information displayed prominently. Use the header option and make your name bold with a larger font than the rest of the text. Add your credentials after your name so that they are highlighted prominently, such as Jane Doe, BA, PRC or John Doe, BS, PRC.  If you are a certified pharmaceutical sales representative, be sure to add it, especially if you were certified from an accredited organization like the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA). They offer the Pharmaceutical Representative Certification (PRC). That will absolutely show you’ve gone above and beyond and are committed to the pharma sales rep career.  
Make sure that your contact details are clearly listed. If you prefer not to list an address, leave it off. But you should at least list a base city so that potential employers know where you are commuting from. Or if you are field-based, such as a pharma sales representative, an employer will want to know what territory you are a potential fit for. 

TIP: Review job descriptions and similar job postings to see which common keywords are being used by prospective employers.

Use “Keywords”

As you edit your resume, think about which keywords a recruiter might use to find someone with your specific background. The digital age of recruiting is upon us, which means that all applicant tracking systems and recruitment websites have “search” functionality and even artificial intelligence capabilities. As a result, corporate recruiters will run search queries based on specific keywords. If your resume does not have the required keywords relating to the job you are applying for, your information might never be found. Keywords can be job titles and descriptive words that relate to your job function.

Resume Length

Many professional resume writers and career coaches will insist that your resume is no longer than 2 pages. In my opinion, years of experience will dictate the appropriate length of a resume. While the one- to two-page resume is most common for entry- to mid-level job seekers, the executive resume will warrant more pages (depending on job function). We recommend including publications, presentations, abstracts, journal articles, editorial tasks and reviews, awards, grant support, etc. All should be added at the end, letting the reader decide how much information needs to be reviewed. As a result, it is very important to make sure your first 2 to 3 pages capture the most relevant highlights of your career and experience.

Highlight Tenure

If you have worked a long time for the same company (8-10 years or more), highlight this tenure clearly to show how long you worked for that employer. It is smart to then list all the different positions and roles separately that you had during this time at that employer. This may result in having several sets of time frames listed for each title. But remember to first list the overall time frame which shows your total years at that company.

Avoid “I” and “Me”

Your resume should not contain the pronouns “I” or “Me.” That is part of our normal sentence structure, but since your resume is a document about your person, using the pronouns ‘I” and “Me” is redundant.

Do Not Include

Do NOT include irrelevant information such as political affiliation, religion, age, hobbies and sexual preference. It is not a good idea to include a color background, colorful fonts or sections, a photo, or special graphics, such as a large monogram, logo or initial. Additionally, it is not necessary to mention comments like “Available to Interview” or “Can Start Immediately.” Although it is very common, the statement “References Available Upon Request” can be left off as well. Employers will ask for references at the proper time regardless of whether they are offered via the resume.

Be Truthful

You should only document what you can genuinely support. Even the slightest information that cannot be supported could potentially ruin your chances for employment. It is acceptable to have several versions of your resume for different employers and/or roles, especially if you are looking for career transition. Just be sure you can support all the claims you make and resist the urge to stretch the truth, since you may be “fact-checked” in an interview setting.

Multiple Versions

It is a smart practice to customize your resume for each employer and/or role you are applying for. When actively applying, it can be a good idea to have multiple versions of your resume prepared so that you can highlight your background and skills for that specific role. However, it is not smart to tailor your resume to “be” someone else. Employers will pick up on what you can truly support and what you are fabricating. Just keep track of which version you use for which opportunity.

Spell Check and Proofread

Be sure your resume is completely free of all errors and typos. Using spell check tools and thoroughly proofreading your document is mandatory. It is a good idea to share your resume with at least 3 trusted colleagues or family members that can proofread on your behalf. This seems like a no-brainer and should go without saying; however, I am often surprised at how many spelling errors and typos we find.

LinkedIn Profile

Once your resume is complete and you are fully comfortable with the final version, be sure to update your LinkedIn Profile so that it is a mirror image of your resume. Keep in mind that most recruiters and employers will cross reference your LinkedIn Profile once they have possession of your resume, so it is critical that both are a match. Your LinkedIn Profile is your digital brand and career image, so it is very important that you are consistent and 100% comfortable with the final version. Take the time to add a professional and recent photo. A casual, recreational or outdated photo is never perceived well; a lack of picture is not appropriate either.  Lastly, consider adding your LinkedIn Profile link to the contact area of your resume.

E-Mail Cover

It is very likely that you will be emailing your resume to many companies or recruiters for consideration. Instead of having a cover letter as an attachment, consider incorporating a strong email intro to act as a brief cover letter and resume highlights. This will mean your e-mail will only have one attachment (your resume) which will ensure the reader will not have to open more than one document. To be safe, you can also include the full resume in the body of your email (under the intro) in case the attachment is blocked by a spam filter.

Bi-Annual Updates

It is a very good practice to revisit your resume and LinkedIn Profile every 6 months, or at least once per year, to make sure you are staying up to date. It becomes very challenging to make the proper and most relevant updates after many years. Revisions and updates should include new responsibilities, achievements, training, promotions, special projects or milestones, including publications, presentations, abstracts, journal articles, editorial tasks and reviews, awards, etc. 


How to Become a Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

What is a pharmaceutical sales representative?

Pharmaceutical sales representatives (often times referred to as pharma reps) are hired by pharmaceutical/biotech companies to educate healthcare providers (HCPs) such as physicians, pharmacists, nurses, and physician assistants (PAs) on their company’s product. That product may be a pharmaceutical (drug), medical device, or even a diagnostic test in some cases.  

What skills are necessary to become a pharma sales rep?

There are two sets of skills necessary to become an effective pharma rep. First, excellent interpersonal skills. Are you able to effectively build relationships? Are you a great presenter? Are you personable and outgoing? Can you easily connect with others? If so, you might have the makings of a great pharmaceutical sales representative. Next, pharma reps need to have a strong foundation in basic science and pharmacology.  Pharmacology is the science of medications and the role they play in the body.  Being able to describe a drug’s mechanism of action (how it works), its efficacy (how effective it is) and its safety profile, are important to providing HCPs with a fair, balanced message. Many sales representatives interested in entering the pharma sales world do not have a background in science.  A great way to distinguish yourself from other candidates is to complete the Pharmaceutical Representative Certification (PRC) program. The program covers all of the most important topics any pharma sales rep needs to know including pharmacology, medical terminology, pharma industry compliance, selling skills and many other important topics. Becoming a certified pharmaceutical sales representative helps set a candidate apart in the hiring process. 

What’s a day in the life like for a pharma rep?

Pharma sales reps typically work from home and spend the majority of their time on the road visiting doctors in an assigned sales territory.  They are given quotas usually for how many doctors they should aim to see per day.  This number is typically 8-10 per day and varies from one company to the other.  They usually have drug samples which they provide to physicians which they carry in their company car.  Pharma sales reps need to be very knowledgeable about healthcare laws such as Anti-Kickback statutes, HIPAA, various payers, formularies and other laws such as the Sunshine Act. Once hired at a pharma company, you will be trained on both the product and particular disease state you will focus on.  Pharma sales reps may work with other functions such as marketing, regulatory affairs, medical affairs, medical science liaisons, and support their field reimbursement specialist team.  

Pharma Sales Rep Salary & Perks

According to the US Bureau of Labor & Statistics, the average annual salary for pharma sales reps is approximately $90,000.  It is for this reason that pharma sales representative jobs are highly sought after.  Many recent college graduates may be eligible for pharma sales reps positions, especially if they distinguish themselves by becoming a certified pharma sales representative.  Currently, the only accredited pharmaceutical sales rep certification is the Pharmaceutical Representative Certification (PRC) program by the ACMA.  

In addition to a competitive salary, pharma sales reps enjoy other benefits such as stock options, excellent medical and life insurance coverage, tuition reimbursement, a pension (in some cases), company car, fully paid business trips, and lucrative bonuses.  Total compensation for a successful pharmaceutical representative with 5+ years of experience could be around $150,000.  

The Future of Pharma sales representatives

Pharma sales jobs will continue to be a vital part of the pharmaceutical industry.  Pharma sales is projected to grow significantly over the next 10 years.  Pharma sales representatives of large pharmaceutical companies such as Pfizer, Merck, and others enjoy the luxury of stability and security.  This is not always the case with other industries where mergers and acquisitions lead to a higher frequency of layoffs. Pharmaceutical sales representatives are an important part of a company’s educational arm to HCPs and becoming a certified pharmaceutical sales representative can help to establish your value for a long time to come. 


How to Ace the Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Interview.

Surprised that people are still interviewing for pharma sales positions in the midst of a global pandemic? There are still lots of pharmaceutical sales positions out there and if you’re reading this article, you probably know how competitive it is to get that next pharma sales dream job.

We thought we would share some concrete career advice to help you land that next pharma sales role. These tactics actually work! Don’t waste time & money on attending sales conferences, going to coaches. Just read this article (it’s free) where we share secrets that most pharma insiders don’t want you to know…but then apply it to the actual interview (otherwise it’s like planning to workout and then not actually exercising). I promise it will increase your chances of landing you the role.

5 Concrete Things you Should Absolutely do before Every Pharma Sales interview.
  1. Ask this question when you start (but not in a confrontational way). “I’m excited to be here. I’m curious what was it about my background that made you agree to bring me in for the interview?” Studies have shown that this question statistically significantly increases your chances of actually getting the job. We won’t get into the psychology behind it. 
  2. Practice the “Tell me about yourself” response out loud several times. This is probably the most important question for 2 reasons. One, it’s your first impression. Two, we know from data that people tend to make judgements about you in the first 7 seconds. This question is NOT intended for you to share your work history. It’s your chance to sell them on why they should pick YOU.
  3. Research the company. Yeah, we know that you’re probably thinking, ‘duh’ of course. But we are not talking about going to the company’s website and looking at the mission & vision statement. We are talking deep research. Here’s what we know works. Again, based on data. Once you’re at the company’s site, click on the ‘investors tab.’ Usually, the company will have press releases and investor webcasts posted on their site; usually for equity research analysts, investors, etc.. Click on the webcasts and listen to them. Listen to what leadership focuses on, how they pronounce the drug’s name (yes I’m serious) and pay attention to what questions are asked of them at the end. Chances are that you can steal those questions and use them yourself in your own interview. Next, look at the company’s pipeline of course, then google publications associated with that drug. Once you’ve done that, look up the authors from those publications. Those will most likely be the key opinion leaders (KOLs) (Nowadays, pharma calls them External Experts (EEs) or Key thought Leaders (KTLs). Find them online, usually on YouTube or they may have authored guidelines for that particular therapeutic area. Read those guidelines, listen to what they have to say. Now you’ll know the issues for that product, the disease state better, and you’ll know who the KOLs are and you can then name drop during the interview. Hiring managers like that.
  4. Show Your Success.  Sales still is about numbers – even in the pharmaceutical industry. Did you win an award? Were you part of the “President’s Club?” Were you in the top 5%? If so, be sure to not only put this on your resume but bring it up ‘tactfully’ during your interview. Give concrete evidence showing that you have a track record of sales success. 
  5. Money. Don’t bring up money unless you’re asked. Don’t bring up vacations unless you’re asked. Don’t bring up work-life balance. Just keeping it real here. Hiring managers don’t want people that are overly concerned with vacations and work-life balance. They want motivated, hard workers, who are hungry to help the team succeed. It’s that simple.

If you’ve read this and are wondering how to even get the interview, then you’ll want to consider becoming a Certified Pharmaceutical Sales Representative. Ninety percent of physician thought leaders prefer certified pharma reps. To learn more about the Pharmaceutical Representative Certification (PRC), click here.

There you have it. No need to buy books about breaking into the pharma sales role or attend conferences.


4 Steps to Becoming a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep

Are you a people person? Can you build great relationships? Do you like connecting with others and enjoy working in the medical or allied health fields? Are you a great sales person? You might want to consider becoming a pharmaceutical sales representative.

Pharmaceutical sales is one of the most lucrative, stable and growing professions in the United States. With the increasing numbers of drugs being approved in the United States, pharmaceutical sales reps are in high demand across the country.  So what are the 4 steps to becoming a pharma sales rep?

1. Get certified.  Certification through the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs (ACMA) for Pharmaceutical sales representatives is the industry standard. The Pharmaceutical Representative Certification (PRC) is the only accredited certification program in the world.  The program is a self-paced, online professional certification recognized by the International Association for Continuing Education & Training (IACET), American National Standards Institute (ANSI).  The PRC is comprised of 11 modules covering all the most important areas any successful pharma sales rep should know.  Areas such as pharmacology, mechanism of action of drugs, anatomy & physiology, medical terminology and more are all covered in this comprehensive training program.  

2.  Update your resume. This is an obvious but often overlooked task. It’s important to update your resume to reflect that you have the knowledge and skills to be a successful pharmaceutical sales representative. Focus on your achievements, with a particular focus on quantitative accomplishments.  For example, how much were you able to grow sales at your last company or how many new relationships were you able to cultivate at your last position. These are specific, measurable outcomes you can use as examples during your interview.

3. Network. Social media tools today make it easier than ever before to build connections with communities that may not be in your current network.  One of the key things you should NOT do is connect with others on platforms like LinkedIn and ask for something right after you connect. While most people will want to help you, building a relationship first is important. Once you have had several exchanges and have earned the trust of your new connection, you’ve earned the right to ask for referrals or tips on how to break into the pharmaceutical sales field. 

4. Maintain a strong GPA. Most companies will look for pharma sales reps who have earned at least a bachelor’s degree. A common misconception is that your degree should be in biology or chemistry.  But that isn’t necessarily true.  What companies will look at in the hiring process is your soft skills and your desire to show that you’ve done your homework and gone above and beyond to stand out among other candidates.