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How to Avoid Medical Sales Job Pitfalls


By now, you’re probably well aware of the many advantages of having a medical sales job, and those perks are probably the biggest reason why you’ve decided to become a medical sales rep. From excellent pay and flexible schedules to amazing benefits like company cars and seemingly limitless credit cards, a career in the medical sales field makes for a very lucrative career, and these jobs are very highly sought-after.

But what about the unseen disadvantages of medical sales jobs — are there even any?

As surprising as it sounds, yes, there are definitely things to look out for and be wary of. Here are some important things to keep in mind, including potential pitfalls, that you can work to avoid while you explore your career as a medical sales rep:  

A Constantly Changing Industry

One of the biggest problems plaguing the medical sales field is the constant evolution of the industry. And while these changes are entirely out of the control of individual salespeople, there are always updated and changing regulations, new taxes on devices to consider, and the never-ending ways in which the industry is changing.

It also doesn’t help that much of the medical industry is impacted and influenced largely in part by the Food and Drug Administration. Additionally, with the implementation of new laws and regulations (like the Affordable Care Act), there are always new sets of rules to learn and abide by.

Constant industry change like this can lead to a feeling of instability, resulting in high numbers of turnover. Understanding and embracing the fact that the sector you choose to work in changes frequently is crucial to your success as a rep. Smart reps always seem to anticipate change and find ways to adapt, staying ahead of their peers.

The Stress Factor

High accountability and responsibility to deliver on pre-determined numbers and sales goals can add to great amounts of stress for medical sales job reps, and high blood pressure and anxiety are just the tip of the iceberg.

For many in the medical sales force, stress and the pressure to perform are simply too much, especially when jobs are heavily commissions-based. With most medical sales positions, the lure of a high income is sometimes attractive enough to overlook the truth: if you don’t sell, you don’t earn.

For 100% commissions-based jobs, that reality hits home very quickly. As with any sales job, the competition for a lucrative salary is definitely fierce, and the selling environment is very challenging. However, if you have the talent and mindset to see yourself through the stress and find ways to relieve it, you can build a successful career in sales.

Miles and Miles

Medical sales jobs are famous for demanding a lot of time on the road and in the air. An unfortunate side effect is that being away from home for extended periods of time is tiring and downright depressing, especially for those who have families. Additionally, you don’t have the same camaraderie and daily interactions with colleagues as you would in a regular office, and it can get quite lonely.

It’s true that a lot of networking and sales can actually take place over the telephone, but a lot of it must be done out of the office, sometimes beyond a localized region. Some people find the idea of a job that allows so much travel to be a considerable advantage (especially if the company pays for gas, meals, and sometimes a car).

The other side of the coin, particularly for those with families, is the short time available at home and some long hours that could include weekends or evenings. Family and friends represent different priorities for everyone. If you and your significant other (or family members) can honestly handle the distance and time apart, your sales job might be in everyone’s best interest. 

Accountability and Motivation

Managing a specific sales territory is similar to running a small business but with the financial and structural support of an existing organization. Yes, a career in sales can provide the experience of entrepreneurship, creativity of managing a territory as your own just as if you were the CEO, head of marketing, sales, or in charge of operations, but it will not provide the motivation — that’s up to you.

Ultimately, you are also responsible for generating revenue, developing relationships, and driving a profitable business. You are also essentially managing yourself and need to be responsible and held accountable for the performance of your business because it directly relates to your efforts. For this reason, a strong sense of accountability and self-motivation is required.

The best medical sales reps are very driven and enjoy the challenge of creating goals and surpassing them — and that’s exactly what it takes to succeed in the medical field.

There are pros and cons in every job, and medical sales jobs are definitely no exception. Taking the time to learn the ins and outs will give you a better grasp on what to expect as a sales rep. Knowing the disadvantages as well as potential pitfalls will provide you with a greater understanding of why these lucrative jobs are so popular. If you’re up for the challenge, start your search for available medical sales jobs today!