What does a Medical Representative Do?
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A medical representative is employed by a pharmaceutical company to maximise the prescribing of that pharmaceutical company's products in a geographical area.
There are no strict formulae for how to maximise product prescribing - hard work is only part of the story and often working smarter is the key to success. This is why pharmaceutical companies are constantly looking for candidates who have the ability to think (and then put into practice) new ways of approaching sales opportunities.
As an experienced representative you will know your territory, know your customers and have a clear idea which part of your territory offers the highest potential for sales. You set yourself clear objectives for every day that you work and will know exactly what you want to achieve from each customer visit.
The traditional work pattern for a non-specialist medical representative is to spend the morning in 1:1 meetings with GP's and Practice Nurses. You may need to have booked an appointment for these meetings or you may be able to see the GP "On Spec" ie. if they are not too busy.
At lunchtime you may have booked a meeting with a group of GP's/Practice Nurses or Hospital Doctors, where you will make a promotional presentation about your products and provide lunch.
In the afternoons you will call on hospital doctors to try and persuade them to use your products. In addition you will call on local chemist shops where you will try to get information on the prescribing habits of the local GP's. This information should help you plan and set yourself objectives for future sales visits to those GP's.
Finally, when all the selling is over, you will record all the information you have gathered regarding your sales calls and then plan for your next visits.
Training is an essential ingredient to becoming successful in any field. Pharmaceutical sales is no exception and you will receive a comprehensive initial training programme. This comprises 3 areas:
- Basic anatomy and physiology
- How your particular drug works
- How to become a more effective salesperson
Following on from this initial training you will receive comprehensive ongoing training, culminating in sitting the ABPI (Association of British Pharmaceutical Companies) exam within 2 years of starting work as a medical representative. Click here
for more details on the exam.
Pharmaceutical sales representatives receive one of the best initial and ongoing training programmes found in any industry. Future career opportunities are therefore not restricted exclusively to the pharmaceutical or healthcare industries as your skills will be sought after in other areas.
However, to maximise the value of the experience that you have acquired during your time in medical sales there are several career paths to consider where you will be able to use this experience directly.
Within a pharmaceutical company you may have the opportunity to move into any of the following roles:
Specialist Representative - Hospital Sales, Biotechnology,
Training - Central or Regional location
Field Management - 1st line sales management
Product Management - Specialist marketing
If you move into the pharmaceutical service sector there are other avenues to consider. Advertising, Medical Education, P.R. Training, Recruitment
Whatever avenue you chose, the initial training that you receive as a medical representative will be fundamental in building your future career.
The NHS was set up in 1948 to provide healthcare for all citizens, based on need, not the ability to pay. The key aims of the NHS is to bring about the highest level of physical and mental health for all citizens within the resources available. The NHS is funded by the taxpayer. This means it is accountable to parliament. It is managed by the NHS Executive, a part of the Department of Health, which in turn is directly responsible to the Secretary of State for Health, Alan Milburn. Around 1 million people work for the NHS and it costs over ÂŁ100 billion per annum to run.
In a typical week in the NHS:
- 1.4 million people will receive help in their home
- 800,000 people will be treated in NHS out-patients clinics
- 10,000 babies will be delivered
- NHS ambulances will make over 50,000 emergency journeys
- NHS Direct nurses will receive around 25,000 calls from people seeking medical advice
- Pharmacists will dispense approximately 8.5 million items on NHS prescription
For more information on the structure of the NHS please visit www.nhs.uk
the National Health Service website.
Preparation, communication, enthusiasm and understanding the interviewer's requirements are the 4 key ingredients to success at interview.
Companies want to feel that they are exceptional. If you haven't thoroughly researched a position or company you will find it very difficult to persuade the interviewer that their particular position or company is the one you are looking for.
If you want to break into medical sales then you will need to have spent at least 1 day work-shadowing an experienced medical representative. This can be difficult to arrange but - if you can't persuade someone to take you out on a day's work-shadow what chance do you have of persuading a doctor to change his or her prescribing habits?
You must also understand some of the issues facing a medical representative and have developed some ideas of your own on how to tackle these challenges:
- How are you going to get to see more doctors than other applicants?
- How are you going to plan your territory?
- What initiatives can you think of that might help you develop good working relationships with your customers?
- You must be able to communicate, succinctly, why you are the best person for the position. Demonstrating a sound understanding of what the position requires and what transferable skills you already have will give you a distinct advantage. Don't expect to be taken at face value, you must be prepared to back up any claims with specific evidence from your previous experience.
- Enthusiasm is probably the single most important ingredient that most pharmaceutical companies look for in their sales recruitment. You can train representatives in most things but you can't train people to be enthusiastic - you either have it or you don't!
Enthusiasm can be demonstrated in many ways.
- Body language
- By the amount of preparation you have done.
- The vitality with which you discuss the subject of medical sales
- You're overall determination to get a position with this particular company.
- Remember to sell yourself for the medical sales position that is being interviewed for. You can demonstrate ambition by telling the interviewer that you are looking for a career but reinforce that you have a realistic expectation of the timescales involved. Remember, they will be trying to fill this sales territory for at least the next 2 - 3 years.
Most companies in the industry now use an 'assessment centre' style interview as their final stage. This comes in a variety of forms and can take anything from half to a whole day - possibly involving an overnight stay. You should be well prepared if you are asked to attend one of these, but don't be daunted at the prospect. It will be a demanding day but will give you the opportunity to show your strengths and abilities as well as giving you a good look at the company and the people that you are being interviewed by.
Click here to take a look at the Latest Medical Sales jobs.
Thanks to Alchemy for this article