A pharmaceutical sales representative is someone who is employed by pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors to inform and educate physicians about their products in the rapidly advancing pharmaceutical industry. These representatives rely on their interpersonal skills and knowledge of the products to sell to providers and influence them to prescribe the drugs to their patients.
Pharmaceutical sales representatives do not make direct sales, but rather connect providers with the drugs, treatments, and knowledge they need in order to provide the most up-to-date care to their patients. They communicate exciting advances at the forefront of medicine and bring new and sometimes life-saving treatments to the public.
Pharmaceutical sales representatives are experts on their company’s product lines; they not only have to learn about their employer’s products, but have to learn about competing drugs. Drug companies create and sell similar products, therefore representatives need to have a high level of understanding about whatever is on the market at any particular time, and be able to explain the differences between the products to providers and highlight the benefits of the pharmaceuticals they represent.
Pharmaceutical sales representatives understand pharmacology, the science of medications, plus their effects on the human body. They are able to describe the drug's chemistry, method of action, side effects and potential interactions with other drugs. By specializing in a certain type of pharmaceuticals, pharmaceutical sales representatives can deepen their knowledge base in a particular area, making them more effective and more valuable to healthcare providers. They meet with physicians who specialize in the applicable medical field, for example, a representative who manages a territory for a drug which treats heartburn would most likely call on gastroenterologists and internists.
Most pharmaceutical sales representatives work on commission within a certain geographic territory, and are busy scheduling and attending sales meetings, following leads, and acquiring new customers for the company. They also attend conferences, speak at events, and conduct continuing education sessions. Many pharmaceutical sales representatives conduct field research on behalf of their employers, for example, monitoring physicians’ prescription patterns or gauging reactions to a new treatment. Because the pharmaceutical industry advances rapidly, there are always new products to research.