How to Get a Job of Medical Sales Representative

What is a Job of a Medical Sales Representative?

The job of a Medical Sales Representative (MSR) is to generate prescriptions. The job involves meeting doctors, chemists, stockist (Distributors) and to make sure that the company's drugs are prescribed. Medical sales reps are a common link between the pharmaceutical company, doctors, chemists, and the stockist.

Before diving further let me know what you'll find in this page. You'll find what education you require to become a drug representative, benefits, how to get a MR job, what is the actual work, and some tips and suggestion to help you in this job, and lastly what holds for your future in this career.

It works like this:

  1. A MSR is given a specified location in which he will be meeting doctors. The location can be a town, a specific part of the city, or may even involve travelling inter-city some days.
  2. The MSR meets the doctor and explains them about their product line and how it will benefit their patient.
  3. No, it's not the end. You'll also have to check the availability of the drug you are promoting. This is important, since all the effort you put will go in vain if the product is not available. The product should be made available at the nearest medical shop.
  4. If the doctor writes your prescription and founds that it's not available then he might not write it again (at least for some days until you pursue him/her). This is what is called as prescription getting bounced.
  5. In most companies, on an average, a rep has to meet at least 10-12 doctors in a day, with 150-180 monthly target. With nearly repeat calls to 50 of them. Repeat call primarily means to meet a selected lot of doctors twice in a month. This will involve meeting doctors in the morning, afternoon, as well as in the evening time. This is because a certain physician may not be seating in single clinic the whole day. Also, it is a norm that many doctors visit more than one hospital in a day.
  6. Repeat call doctors are selected on the basis of their practice. These doctors should have a good number of patients.
  7. The job is at times tough. Unlike traditional jobs they don't have set office hours. Most of the time they have to work independently and increase business. But they have the luxury to choose their working hours and which place they will be going on that particular day.
  8. The working hours of a rep largely depends upon the doctor's time. If a specific doctor will only see reps on Monday/Tuesday/Thursday in between 11-12 a.m then you'll have to plan well-ahead so as to meet the doctor.
  9. What happens is that at the start of the month a tour program is prepared which the rep himself will prepare and submit it to his/her senior manager. This tour program will be prepared such that you can visit as many doctors in a day.
  10. Coming back to availability, making the product easily available at chemist shop at times may become harder, especially if your company does not happen to be a multinational. Chemist are known be rude to representatives and most of them won't respond properly. Your job is to approach them patiently and make them understand that the doctor will be prescribing so and so drug.
  11. Regularly visiting doctors and approaching everyone with a positive attitude will definitely increase business. Everyone means doctors, chemist, receptionist, nurses, stockist etc.
  12. As much as doctors are important in the job the chemist and druggist are also crucial. Having a good rapport and understanding with the chemist will help you in knowing the doctors prescription style, which product he/she prescribes, and what can be better promoted to the doctor.

Benefits

The health care industry is one of the most recession proof jobs. And as a Medical Sales Rep you can be sure that you don't get out of job anytime soon. With a base salary drug reps also get commission on the sales. Every rep also gets reimbursement for travelling in the field known as daily allowance.

Some companies also provide additional benefits such as vehicle for travelling along with gas expenses, cell phone allowance, and may also provide internet expense. And also complete medical insurance for you and your immediate family.

You are your own boss, not in the literal sense, but in a way Yes. Representatives are required to work individually throughout the month. You'll be supervised by a regional manager or so to whom you'll be reporting via email and cellphone. And also be submitting your daily call reports to the office headquarters. That's it. Nothing like a boss constantly nagging and looking for a reason to get back at you.

Education

Source

A college degree is a must. Most companies if not all definitely need a college degree. The degree can be of any stream such as business, management, science, or commerce background. Science graduates are mostly preferred for this job.

Most companies also take candidates who don't have any prior work experience. Freshers are taken as Trainee Medical Sales Representatives.

Getting a Job

If you have a college degree and want to pursue this as your career then look for jobs in local newspapers. A quick look at your preferred job-site will also help.

The attrition rate in this job is a bit on the higher side. Or to better word that the inter-attrition rate is high. Meaning reps working with one company today may be found working with another company after six months. Many bigger companies don't advertise these positions. Many positions are filled on recommendation of existing reps.

Nothing like if you have a friend or relative working in this field. Most probably a endorsement from them would be good enough for you get this job.

Because of the attrition rate many companies are constantly looking for candidates. Hang in outside a well-known hospital near your locality and you'll spot one of these reps, try asking them if they have any position in their company. Bet you most reps are highly helpful. Or, try asking your family physician if he/she can provide a reference.

A medical representative giving a presentation about their company products.
A medical representative giving a presentation about their company products. | Source

Training and Working

Once you are selected there will most probably a 1-3 week long training session. A senior executive or a designated trainer will conduct the training session.

This training session will be the longest time that you'll spend in the company's office. After the training you'll all by yourself be in the field doing the actual work.

Basically the training session will have sessions on the products of the company; how they work and what makes them better than the competitor's product. How you should approach the doctors. How to give a presentation to the doctors. Many companies, nowadays, provide laptop for presentation purposes.

Other basic module which is used everywhere for presentation is a visual aid. A visual aid is a sort of graphic display book which has succinct information about all the drugs that the company has to offer. And other basic things of the trade such as the sampling strategy, marketing strategy, and what all is expected from you becomes part of the training.

Tips and Suggestions

Some suggestions.
Some suggestions. | Source

Follow Guidelines

  • In the past few years, there have been regulations in many countries as how and what should be role of a Pharmaceutical Rep. In order to make sure that no one company gets to influence a physician's prescription there are is a code of conduct in place.
  • Like some countries don't allow reps to give any sort of gift to physicians.
  • Know these regulations that apply to your place and follow them.

Sampling

  • Sampling (providing free samples) is long considered the main and primary way to generate more prescription.

Drug samples
Drug samples | Source

Detailing

  • It is known as the description of the drug which will also have the details about the product, for what it can be used and its combination, strength, and indication of the drug. Like you can see on any drug's packaging.
  • Most companies would provide you a visual aid, this is just a fancy-bulky book with all the details about the medicines that you are promoting.
  • Detailing the product properly in front of the doctor will help to achieve your target.
  • When you are detailing your product make a habit to strike a conversation with the doctor. Simply blathering the same thing over and over again on every visit will turn them off. Ask them what they prefer to prescribe in a certain condition. Communicate with the doctor, not just talk.

Ingenium Studio via Flickr
Ingenium Studio via Flickr | Source

Have Patience and Be Punctual

  • Some doctors don't see any reps. Sad but true.
  • Some only see a specified number of reps. Say 5 in a day. So, you'll have to be there on time and submit your card at the receptionist for the appointment.
  • Respect the doctor's time. Don't take more than three to five minutes of a doctor. Make the call short and sweet.
  • In your daily work life it may also happen that a certain doctor is just not interested in your products. But your job is to meet them regularly and break them.
  • Doctors have spend considerable amount of years in studying and practicing their profession. If you keep on regurgitating the same thing they will think that this 'new guy' as in you are trying to teach them. So your communication skills and most importantly your interest in doing the job comes into play.

dbgg1979, CC, via Flickr
dbgg1979, CC, via Flickr | Source

Some General Tips

  • Sales is a field which will always have rejection. And as a professional medical sales rep you have to have the heart to face rejections. Rejection is a part of daily life. And that too daily. Sometimes the doctor will just not listen to you or might happen that the local pharmacist doesn't like your face and won't ever listen to you.
  • It is absolutely not necessarily that you have a science degree to get this job. Any degree would be sufficient.

Moving Ahead

The transition for you to the senior position can be fast. Most people with experience of at least three years can look for senior positions such as senior manager, field sales officer, zone manager, or trainee manager etc.

As seen working with a single company without switching jobs will make you more marketable in the long run. Switching jobs also does not go well with H.R managers. And senior positions are easier to get in the company you are currently employed than with other company.

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