Medical Sales Representative: how to break into the industry
  • Posted on: 30/08/2018
  • Category: Industry

Medical Sales Representative: how to break into the industry

You are an experienced sales representative who wants to break into the pharma industry. You have the sales and communication skills, but you possibly lack a science background or connections. This is not a problem; many medical sales representatives have come from other industries. There is no ideal background or profile for guaranteed success. However, there are some competencies you can develop and steps you can take to put yourself in the best possible position to get the offer you want.

Become a member of the Medical Representative Institute of Ireland (MRII)

This is a brilliant place to start. The MRII is a hub of activity and great place to make contacts. You can become a student member of the MRII, and this involves an exam. The exam will bring you up to speed on terminology used, industry rules and regulations, and some basic biology that will be very useful on calls.

The MRII also hold several events over the year. These are usually very well attended by recruitment agencies, representatives from leading pharmaceutical companies and other industry individuals. It’s a really good way of building up your network. It will also look really well on your CV. You can check out their website

Understand and play to your strengths

Having a strong sales background is a strong advantage. These are “transferrable skills” that can be utilised in the role. It is important to be confident in these skills. You must be resilient, aware of weaknesses and spin to strengths.

There are many rules and regulations surrounding medical sales that you should be aware of. Things that may have worked in a called in FMCG will not necessarily work in a call with Health Care Professionals because of a strict code of conduct. Familiarise yourself with the Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) Codes of Practice ( ). These are essential reading if you want to break into the industry.

Shadow a Medical Representative

It’s very hard to look an interviewer in the eye and say ‘medical sales is definitely for me’ when you haven’t seen for yourself what the job entails day to day. This goes without saying for all jobs, but in medical sales it’s even more important to understand the dynamics of the role in detail. From the extensive travel, the squeamish feeling you’ll experience while witnessing different types of surgery, and the impending pressure you’ll get from essentially running your own business – there’s a lot to consider before you pursue the career you’ve dreamt about.

The only way to confidently assert that ‘medical sales is definitely for me’ is to shadow a Medical Sales Representative while they’re out in the field. This works twofold; you’ll confirm – or not – that it’s the lifestyle for you, but most importantly it shows a hiring manager or interviewer that you’re there for the right reasons and that you fully understand and accept the realities of the job.

Getting this invaluable experience is not easy, but don’t give up! The best candidates succeed by tirelessly networking with industry professionals, using friend and family contacts in the industry, and some people have been known people to wait at hospitals for Reps to arrive and approach them directly.

There’s no set process or easy way to get this done so be resilient, don’t take no for an answer, and above all remember it’s just as important as interviewing well – it gives you credibility.

Work with a Healthcare recruitment specialist

There’s no doubt that finding a new job or securing your first ‘real’ job is daunting. To help, the final and most important piece of advice to give is to work with a healthcare recruitment specialist; it’ll increase your chances of finding your ideal role, but most importantly, shortens the time it takes to secure it.

Some highly talented and experienced candidates can take years to secure their dream role because they went it alone. Compare that to candidates we have worked with who haven’t been as well-equipped initially but had stacks of potential and enthusiasm, who’ve managed to secure their first role in under three months. A good relationship with your consultant is fundamental to a successful process – they have the knowledge and they’re willing to share it.

In summary, it takes people from all walks of life to be successful in the industry, but it often comes down to who stands out the most. Working with your consultant will equip you with networks of good relationships with your ideal employers, methods to help you build your brand, and shadowing experience will help you stand out against the masses.