A Guide to Pharmaceutical Sales Jobs: Salary, Skills, Growth Prospects

Companies that manufacture medicines or medical devices belong to the Pharmaceutical industry. A pharmaceutical sales representative therefore basically promotes medicines or devices to doctors and hospitals in order to generate sales. It’s a job which will involve travelling and meeting doctors, educating them about the efficacy, quality and use of the medicine that you are selling.

What is a pharmaceutical sales representative?

A pharmaceutical sales representative is someone who markets and sells pharmaceutical medications. He might also choose to specialize in a particular therapy. Based on the type of medicine or disease you could be working in

  • Chronic Therapy
  • Acute Therapy
  • General segment
  • Hospital (Key Accounts) segment
  • Respiratory segment
  • Gastroenterology segment
  • Cardiology segment
  • Diabetic segment
  • Dermatology segment
  • Orthopedics or Rheumatology segment
  • Gynecology segment
  • Oncology segment
  • Critical care segment
  • Hepatology, Urinary segment

Job Responsibilities

A pharmaceutical sale representative spends most of his time in the field visiting medical providers within the area assigned to him. However they also need to do a good deal of learning about medications and treatments and researching the market and similar medications. Their responsibilities include: 

  • Build relationships with medical providers and thereby generate new sales leads.
  • Research and outline the differences in their product over other similar ones on the market which may include tracking prescription patterns or conducting surveys.
  • Attend sales meetings and conferences.
  • Conduct training sessions for other sales reps or medical providers on the use of medications 
  • Educate medical providers on the side effects, potential drug interactions, benefits, and uses of certain medications or medical devices and treatments 
  • Stay up to date on current medical advances and technologies

Educational Requirements

Since a pharma sales representative deals in medicines its good to have a graduation degree in science of pharma stream although some pharmaceutical companies may also take graduates in other streams or undergraduate diploma holders.

  • B.Pharma (preferred)
  • B.Sc (preferred)
  • Any graduate or diploma holder

Salary and Growth Prospects

Sales jobs are often based on commission, and pharmaceutical sales is no different. Usually, there is a base salary plus commission and bonuses, though the salary can vary depending on your years of experience, company type and size, and location.

There are several types of pharmaceutical companies, some are Domestic while others are Multinational. Domestic pharma companies typically pay freshers around Rs.15,000-20,000 per month when they are recruited as a Trainee Medical Representatives. With 1 year experience an MR(medical representative) could be earning Rs.25,000-30,000 per month. MNC pharmaceutical companies have higher starting pay packages but you need have very good communication skills, good personality and a degree in science stream to be able to qualify in their selection process.

After spending a few years as a Medical Representative, you may get promoted to the position of an Area Manager. While a Medical Representative works individually and visits medical professionals within a city, an Area Manager manages a team of 3-5 MRs and typically handles sales in multiple cities or a state with his team. With a good performance record, an Area Manager can then potentially get promoted to a Regional Manager, then to a Zonal Manager and finally to a National Sales Manager or Division Head, if he consistently meets his sales targets. Salaries for ASMs range from Rs.40,000 pm to as high as 1 Lakh per month depending on the company you are working in. An RSM could be earning from Rs.80,000 pm to Rs 2 Lakh per month. A Zonal Manager can be drawing salary of 1 lakh per month to 3 lakh per month.