Careers in pharma sales are sought after by many in the medical sales field. Why? First, they are one of the highest paying sales jobs averaging around $80k to $115k for mid to senior-level reps.
Other perks include not being stuck behind a desk all the time, opportunities to travel (for free), bonuses, and commissions. But these perks don’t come without drawbacks.
Top Master’s in Healthcare Administration reports that pharma sales reps also have some of the lowest work-life balance ratios and deal with a lot of stress and burnout can happen.
Pharma sales reps often create their own schedule but keep in mind that this position often includes nights and weekends.
To snag a position in this highly coveted career, you will want to hone your sales skills and techniques and be prepared to spend the first few years creating relationships and networking.
Resume objective for pharma sales
According to Chron.com, the bottom line for a sales rep in any field is how much money you can make for your company.
Your ability to meet goals and monthly and quarterly targets will be something potential employers will want to see. Use real numbers to showcase your skills and accomplishments.
Data mentioning specific goals, percentages, and numbers were common on every resume read in preparation for this article.
If you are new to the field, list any sales experience you have from another field experience from a related internship.
An ambitious and skilled pharmaceutical sales rep is looking for a position where their expertise can be utilized to increase profit, quarterly sales, and yearly sales volume. Quarterly sales performed 20% above the department average and built 187 new customer relations in a 3-year-period.
Resume skills for pharma sales
Like all sales reps, Pharma sales reps need to possess what we call “people skills.” ” A sales rep should be friendly, genuine, and persuasive.
As a sales rep, you also need a firm grasp on the product(s) you are selling, brand strategy, and how to build long-lasting relationships with clients.
Your main goal is to achieve the sale without coming across as aggressive or pushy. One way to achieve that goal, per Workable, is to know your clients’ needs and promote the right products to the right people.
When you work in pharmaceutical sales, there may be times you are primarily representing a new drug; you will need to apply your knowledge of that medication to your leads list to decide who is most likely to benefit from selling this drug.
You may also decide to specialize in one type of drug; therefore, your particular knowledge of those types of medications should be listed as a skill as well.
You will need to be able to back up your knowledge with information on side effects, the chemistry of the medication, and what the competition is offering.
Many of the skills needed to be a successful pharma rep fall into the soft-skills category, making them difficult to quantify. Plan to use data in your work history that can back up the soft-skills you mention.
You may wish to mention some hard skills, which mostly center around sales software or other computer programs like Microsoft Office, Salesforce, and different CRM programs.
Developing Sales Leads | Achieving Consistent Sales Targets | Upselling | Brand Strategy | Ability to Negotiate | Active Listening | Salesforce | SPOTIO | StayinFront
Pharma Sales work experience
Most employers will want to see a few years of sales experience before they will hire you.
CareerExplorer.com says that pharma companies will be looking for some sort of background in business, sales, and science; you will need to talk about the science behind the medication while being persuasive in sales.
HubSpot mentions ways to gain experience, including internships, job shadowing, and volunteering at hospitals and medical centers.
Suppose you are looking to gain some hands-on experience. In that case, they recommend obtaining an entry-level position in a medical sales office, working in customer service, or marketing for medical supplies.
These jobs will give you inside knowledge of how the field works and familiarize you with products and sales techniques.
Sample Work Experience
Lives International Corp.
Senior Sales Representative, 2013-2020
Maintained and grew client base along the West Coast, adding over 500 new clients over seven years. Traveled as needed for sales, meetings, and events to promote company products.
- Earned High Achiever Sales Award 2014, 2016 -top 10% of the market
- Effectively communicated new products and services to generate growth
- 104% Goal 2017, 101% Goal 2018
- Solicited business from new targets and developed business strategies
Sales Representative, 2006-2013
Promoted company’s products to primary care and specialty physicians. Built ongoing relationships and consistently created new ones to increase sales.
- Managed a client base of over 300 physicians
- Successfully launched four new drugs over seven years in the top 20%
- FY 11 Q2 District Sales Person Award
- Peer Trainer for district
It’s a Secret Med Spa
Business Operation Extern, 2011-2013
Worked as part of the Business Operations team to enable growth, through market research, inside sales, and market analysis.
- Gathered and synthesized relevant data
- Shadowed sales reps weekly
- Defined new KPIs
- Effectively managed multiple projects at one time
Pharma sales education
To obtain a position in the pharma sales field, you will first need a 4-year-degree.
While there is no specific degree for pharma sales, companies often look for those with a background in the sciences or business.
Some degrees to consider are biology, chemistry, pharmacology, business and marketing, and pharmaceutical business.
If possible, while in school, an internship or externship will provide valuable experience once you are seeking a job.
Elizabeth City State University
Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2005-2009
- Minor in Sociology
In addition to your degree, experts recommend that you enroll in a sales training program. Med Sales Career offers intensive training in sales, but it is costly.
There are other training companies or courses to take, but they can be challenging to uncover.
Most pharmaceutical companies will offer onsite training and courses specific to their needs; however, these can be mentioned on a resume if you feel they are applicable.
- Winning Major Sales by RAIN Group
- Insight Selling by RAIN Group
There is a nationally recognized certification. The Pharmaceutical Sales Training Certification Program was designed by the National Association of Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives.
This certification is useful for those looking to break into the pharmaceutical world and for those looking to enhance their career.
As research was conducted for this article, several job postings sought individuals who had this certification.
Another credential you might seek is through the Accreditation Council for Medical Affairs ACMA. They offer a Certified Pharmaceutical Representative course.
- Pharmaceutical Sales Training Certification CNPR
Complete pharma sales resume sample
Now that we have gone through crafting a stand out pharmaceutical sales rep resume, we will take a look at a current job posting in the field.
Following the job posting is a complete resume example and template.
This job posting is nothing, if not detailed. Under the “Critical Skillset” heading, you’ll notice that many of the soft skills mentioned previously are present.
They also have in there that candidates selected must maintain industry credentials and certifications.
This particular post does not mention a college degree, but they say they are looking for candidates with industry education and training.
Skilled pharmaceutical rep is desirous of a position in a challenging environment, to apply proven creative problem-solving skills, and to achieve optimum utilization of resources to maximize profits—winner of the President’s Club 2011, 2016, and 2019.
MS Office | CRMNEXT Pharmaceutical | PharmaCODE | Active Listening | Negotiation | Time Management | Targeting & Securing new accounts | Self-motivated | Perceptive | Excellent Communication Skills | Meeting Sales Targets
Pharmaceutical Sales Representative, 2014-2020
Managed and built upon long term relationships with existing clients and built new relationships with physicians and other medical professionals. Consistently exceeded sales goals and was #2 in my territory three years in a row.
- Exceeded Quarterly goals on average by 13%
- Earned 5th place in a national competition by the company
- Earned Senior Sales Representative status in 2016
- Developed and grew territory by 35%
Pharmaceutical Sales Representative, 2008-2014
Sold prescription products and services within my designated territory. Built relationships with physicians, successfully targeted leads, and built client lists.
- Analyzed the market to understand the local healthcare environment
- Quarterly sales averaged about 15% for the market
- Progressively used pharmaceutical knowledge to increase sales
- Advanced new employees knowledge by mentoring and advising new employees on sales skills
8&9 Dental Lab Consulting
Medical Device Sales Rep, 2004-2008
Meet with dental offices and their teams and educated them on our products and what set us above the competition. Increased area sales by 33% within the first two years.
- Met with 20+ offices a day
- Completed email and phone follow-ups.
- Met or exceeded sales targets seven out of the last eight sales quarters
- Brought on over 150 dental offices within my territory
- Pharmaceutical Sales Training Certification CNPR
- Certified Pharmaceutical Representative AMCA
The University of Arizona Health Services
Bachelor of Science in Pharmaceutical Sciences, 2000 – 2004
The life of a pharma sales rep is busy, often stressful, and fast-paced. But it can also be rewarding and provide you an opportunity to create meaningful relationships and contacts.
Medical and pharmaceutical sales is a steady field. The baby boomer generation is now seniors, and people have longer and longer life expectancies.
A strong background in science and sales is needed, which may seem like an odd combination, but if you possess an interest in both, you could find yourself in a stable and life long career.
- A 4-year degree in science or pharmaceutical is recommended
- Companies want to see prior sales experience before hiring
- A lot of travel is required in this field
Tips from Experts
No pharmaceutical company is making money by selling biological knowledge – they make money by selling chemicals. So getting as much of that knowledge as possible into the efficiency of the Web-commerce world is going to make it faster to find those chemicals. -John Wilbanks, CCO Sage Bionetworks and Senior Fellow at FasterCures
“Great salespeople are relationship builders who provide value and help their customers win.” – Jeffrey Gitomer, Professional Business Trainer
“The cost of research, development, and testing of a new drug is vastly greater than the cost of each dose produced. How should we pay for new medicines? Innovators should be rewarded according to the impact of their medicine, and people should contribute to these rewards according to their ability to pay.” -Thomas Pogge, German Philosopher and Director of the Global Justice Program
So, are you ready to take on the fast-paced world of pharmaceutical sales? Maybe you’re already in the field and are looking for a change. Either way, there is plenty of room for all in this booming field.
If you’re interested in breaking into pharma sales, educate yourself on the field and get some sales experience behind you. Then you can use this guide to start building one fantastic resume!