Career Growth On The Job

3 Habits of Highly Successful Pharmaceutical Sales Reps


The pharmaceutical sales industry is always changing. With the end of 2016 proving to be a challenging time for a few pharmaceutical companies, pharma sales reps are having to re-think the way they set goals and achieve success in the industry.

While this news may be a wake-up call to some, many pharma sales reps are still advancing in their careers and experiencing success. In fact, pharma sales salaries continue rising year over year, according to our 2017 Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Report. This is good news for anyone looking to continue growing a successful career in pharmaceutical sales.

One of the secrets to a flourishing pharma sales career is to make success a habit. Aristotle puts it best: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

So, if you’re wondering what it takes to rise to the top of your career and become one of the best pharma reps in the industry, try incorporating these habits:

1. Put in more miles to go above and beyond.

The most successful pharma sales reps are willing to put time into growing their career. In fact, our salary report found pharma reps who travel 50 to 75 percent of the time earn the highest income.

Traveling more works because it allows you to build in more time to see customers and develop tightknit relationships. The stronger the relationship you have with customers, the more likely you’ll have returning business, resulting in a bigger paycheck.

Optimize your schedule by keeping track of when your contacts are available. This lets them know you care about their time and helps you plan your schedule more effectively.

Next, take a look at your schedule and see if there are opportunities to build more time for travel. If you find there are a couple extra hours to travel with during the week, slowly start adding more hours on the road.  

2. Don’t give up on your goals.

The best pharma reps know there are plenty of ups and downs in their field. Their perseverance and ability to grow from mistakes and trials leads them to success.

Just like many careers, success doesn’t happen overnight. Staying focused, determined, and persistent will help you reach your goals. Our salary report found those who have more than 20 plus years of experience in their field earn the most.

While time is a factor, it doesn’t mean you have to wait 20 years to reach your fullest potential. Now is the time for you to put your best foot forward and continue developing your skills. The more proactive you are about advancing your career, the more likely you’ll get ahead and closer to your goals.

Advance your career by surrounding yourself with mentors who are truly invested in your success. Find mentors who have been in the field for at least 10 years and have walked down a similar career path. It’s likely they will be open to coaching you or giving you a few pointers on how to advance within your industry.

3. Create your own path to the top.

Leadership roles often lead to bigger paychecks and more perks, but also come with more responsibilities. That’s why sales directors/sales vice presidents and sales management are earning top dollar in pharmaceutical sales.

If you see yourself stepping into a leadership role someday, spend time thinking about where you see your career in the next five years, both professionally and personally. Do you see yourself hustling? It might make sense to keep working in sales. Do you envision yourself mentoring a team? Maybe you should invest in leadership development opportunities.

Make both short- and long-term goal lists to help you reach your ideal career. After creating your list, share it with management and mentors so your team of supporters can help you reach your goals. Don’t forget to set attainable objectives to keep you on track for success.

While others are letting their pharma sales careers pass them by, you can take advantage of opportunities to continue building a successful career. All you need to do is establish these habits and have a little determination, and you’ll be on your way to becoming one of the best pharma sales reps in the industry.

What are some habits you’ve developed to rise to the top of your career?