5 Essential Skills For Pharmaceutical Sales Jobs

5 Essential Skills For Pharmaceutical Sales Jobs

One of the highest paid sales jobs available is a pharmaceutical sales job. Why? Big pharma means big deal size. However, with big deal size comes big responsibility. This is a very lucrative role that requires very specialized skills. Some people say that a pharmaceutical salesperson needs to have the same amount of training as the doctor they are selling to. 

Relative to other sales jobs, becoming a pharmaceutical salesperson is a long process. Most reps will go through a series of training sessions alongside sales managers, pharmacists, doctors and senior pharmaceutical reps. Becoming a pharmaceutical sales rep is not quick or easy, but it is worth it. 

Let’s take a look at 5 essential skills that a pharmaceutical salesperson must have to be successful in the field.

5 Essential Skills For Pharmaceutical Sales Jobs

Product Knowledge

In-depth understanding of all the drugs offered by the company is a must. Most pharmaceuticals companies have a large catalog of drugs to offer. The good news is you don’t need to learn them all on your own.

Your employer will offer extensive training on all their products.

Once it is determined which product you are responsible for you will undergo even more detailed training to make sure you know your product inside and out. 

In-depth Understanding of the Cures and Side Effects

Having an insight in what each drug cures and the common side effects that may result is extremely important.

Just like any sales job you need to know where your product excels and where it may not be a perfect fit for some patients.

Medications are a serious product. Sales are not won and lost through viral marketing campaigns or catchy taglines. Doctors need to understand how each drug may affect their patients, in addition to how they may improve their life. It takes knowledge and skill to sell medications correctly and transparently; this means knowing when your product may not be a good fit.

Sales Process Knowledge

When a salesperson creates some rapport and a relationship with the doctor, they must understand the next steps in order to create a sale. This is where the other half of your training, your sales training, comes in.

Just like other sales jobs, a pharmaceutical salesperson must know how to close the deal.

Typical sales strategies come into play here. Whether you are selling software, ad space, real estate or pharmaceuticals you need to understand your prospect’s problems and how to best solve them. From there you will be able to build out sales cycles and strategies with your team. The best salespeople are continually teaching themselves best sales practices and improving their skill set.

Understanding the Delivery Process

Doctors want to know that your pharmaceutical catalog is available at the pharmacys that their patients go to. This means that your product must be readily available to fulfill all the prescriptions that a doctor may create. Coordinating the logistics and making sure your company fulfills these orders is partly your responsibility. Working with your teammates to ensure proper distribution and handling is key to providing your customer with great service.

Your job does not end when you walk out the door.

The best salespeople ensure seamless service throughout the entire sales cycle.

Knowing How To Handle Objections

The most difficult lesson all salespeople have to learn is how to handle objections. Again, no matter what you are selling, this skill is essential to your success. Not all answers will be yes. Not all prospects will become customers.

However, by understanding your prospect’s pain points you will get used to meeting each of their objections with a strategy. 

There are 6 main reasons why prospects object. They are: lack of knowledge, specific concerns, hidden agendas, perception issues and unclear interests. The study of negotiation and persuasion is a whole science of its own. This article by Salesforce gives a great overview and there are tons of self-study resources online. Knowing how to handle objections will round out your skill set and make you the perfect fit for the job.

The Big Picture

Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives have a very competitive job but it can be very lucrative if done well. Most doctors want to know the bottom line, which is typically: what will this drug cure, what are the possible side effects and how will it affect other drugs that a patient may be on. Making sure that you can have a conversation with the doctor, as if you were just as knowledgeable as they are, will ultimately close the deal.

Good luck!

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Kayla Kozan

Kayla Kozan

Director of Marketing at Ideal
Kayla spent the last few years studying Marketing and Entrepreneurship on 3 different continents. Now covering the latest in predictive analytics, workplace diversity and big data. She has a keen interest in tech and discovering underrated brunch spots.
Kayla Kozan