How to get into pharmaceutical sales
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5 Skills that Seamlessly Transition from Pharmacist to Pharmaceutical Sales

You enjoy a lot of stability as a pharmacist. After all, the U.S. News World Report Best Jobs Rankings estimate the pharmacist unemployment rate to sit around 1.1% right now. But that security won’t last forever. 

There is an increased interest in filling prescriptions via mail order, and pharmacy technicians are continuing to take on more tasks previously exclusive to pharmacists. As a result, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts employment of pharmacists will decrease by 3% by 2029. 

Luckily, your skills as a pharmacist are just what you need to land a higher paying position that you’re already qualified for. 

Pharma sales reps reported taking home total average compensation of $158,013 in our 2021 Pharmaceutical Sales Salary Report. Several factors play into the total earnings of a pharmaceutical sales rep. But when you weigh approximately $20K greater salary than the median pharmacist income in the US, plus benefits such as flexible work hours, a company car, generous family leave, and tuition assistance, the transition is a no-brainer.

While you likely lack sales experience, you’ll be relieved to know that’s not a problem. Your experience as a pharmacist gives you a great advantage in entering the pharmaceutical sales industry. You just need to show recruiters these sought-after pharmaceutical sales skills you do possess:

Scientific Aptitude

As a pharmacist, you studied the effects of countless drugs, the ailments they treat or conditions they prevent, and their safe alternatives. You are well-versed in the science behind all of the pharmaceutical products on the market. This gives you an advantage over reps with sales experience but no scientific knowledge of the drugs.

When you meet with clients, you’re more likely to be prepared to answer their questions with highly insightful explanations and authority. However, recruiters will also be looking for candidates who can explain products in terms anyone can understand.

To prove to recruiters you can balance your advanced aptitude for pharmaceuticals with the general population’s understanding of products, share examples of times you taught new hires in the pharmacy on an entry-level or consulted with a patient on a new prescription. Explain what steps you took to help them understand the purpose of specific drugs and the differences between alternatives and adapted to their learning styles.

Communication Skills

Being able to effectively communicate with clients and team members is a top skill medical sales recruiters look for. Besides explaining important product information, you need to coordinate meetings, collaborate with peers, and connect with clients’ staff. 

In the pharmacy, you communicated with doctors and clients over the phone, and in person as well as gave clear instructions to staff daily. In doing so, you sharpened your communication skills both verbally and in writing.

In the interview process, you can more easily demonstrate your communication skills than others just by the nature of the process. However, you can stand out in how you get into pharmaceutical sales by highlighting times you had to overcome challenges to clear communication, such as issues with technology or language barriers. 

Multitasking and Efficiency Skills

It should come as no surprise that your adept multitasking skills will be useful in the sales field. Similar to how you manage multiple customers’ demands and doctors’ prescription orders pouring in simultaneously, you’ll juggle answering clients’ follow-up questions while scheduling meetings, and preparing new resources, or assisting a co-worker with a task.

Medical sales recruiters want to hear about how well you manage stress under tight deadlines. Be sure to detail times you had to work smarter instead of harder to hit goals personally and professionally. If you use specific tools to keep yourself organized and working more efficiently, share your hacks and prove you’re resourceful and determined to get the job done well.

Management Skills

There are several management skills that medical sales recruiters and employers find valuable. Time management is crucial to prepare between sales calls, arrive at meetings on time, and process sales orders. Management skills also include problem-solving, making decisions, and strategizing to hit your sales goals.

As a pharmacist, you refined these skills keeping up with the demands of filling prescriptions in a busy pharmacy. This included troubleshooting complicated orders and delegating tasks to ensure all clients’ needs were met on time.

You can share your management skills by including averages of orders filled daily and specific leadership responsibilities in your resume. Be ready to explain how you solved problems in the pharmacy and reassured clients when prescriptions could not be filled.

People Skills

It goes without saying, people skills are a must in pharmaceutical sales jobs. While you may have been able to stay behind the counter most days in the pharmacy, as a sales rep, you are people facing without exception.

Many meetings moved virtual due to the global pandemic, but as the CDC lifts more safety regulations, sales reps are back in the field meeting face-to-face with clients. It can be exhausting if you’re not used to regular social engagement, or it doesn’t work as well for your personality to constantly interact in person. But if you have the drive and charisma to make meaningful connections with people, you’ll excel in sales.

Be sure to share with recruiters how you like to connect with people. Show off your authenticity, positivity, and listening skills in your interviews. Make recruiters believe in your ability to connect with clients sincerely and build meaningful relationships, and you’ll go far in pharmaceutical sales.


Are you ready to take the plunge into pharmaceutical sales jobs? Take a look at some of the job opportunities available right now!

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