Pharma sales vs device sales
Breaking into Medical Sales Job Search

The Difference Between Pharma Sales and Medical Device Sales

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So, you’ve decided on a career in medical or pharmaceutical sales. While both industries pay well, offer excellent benefits, have flexible schedules, and may include other attractive perks, you must first hone in on what exactly it is that you want to do, and consider the distinct qualifications that are required for each position.

In addition, you should also familiarize yourself with the roles of various jobs which includes understanding the differences between each of them.  In this particular case, we’ll be looking at pharmaceutical sales jobs and medical device sales jobs. How are they different? Are they similar at all?

Getting Started

Linda Hertz, founder of the pharmaceutical sales recruiter service, the Linda Hertz Group, recently outlined a detailed response to the question, “How do I break into pharmaceutical sales? In her response, she outlined steps for not only finding jobs but also described the major differences between pharmaceutical and medical device sales, stressing the importance of knowing both how and why.

People outside of the medical industry sometimes have a tendency to lump all medical sales together as “pharmaceutical sales.” Even within the industry, the line can get somewhat blurred for sale reps. It’s important that you target exactly the type of sales that you are looking for in order to be successful. You can start by understanding the differences between pharmaceutical sales jobs and medical device sales jobs to help you direct your future in sales.

Pharmaceutical Sales

According to Hertz, “Pharmaceutical sales is usually ‘detailing’ to a doctor a pharmaceutical sales product that needs a prescription.” Also known as “drug detailing,” your job as a pharma sales rep is to detail the pharmaceutical indications of a specific drug/medication and hope that the doctor will remember and prescribe your drug to his next patient. In rare cases, you may actually be introducing a new drug therapy altogether with no competitive equivalent.

You’ll need to be able to sell the doctor on the drug itself and describe the distinct advantages of using it for specific applications while comparing it to alternatives (competitive drugs, generic drugs, etc.). Ultimately, you are trying to gain a verbal commitment that he will prescribe a product. Technically, you don’t make a “sale” until the doctor prescribes your drug.

Medical Device Sales

Medical device sales are very popular and yet oftentimes misunderstood. For starters, medical device sales involves selling a medical device product that is either used by a physician or the physician’s staff during a procedure with a patient and does not require a prescription. Hertz describes the device-selling process to be as “sophisticated as selling the doctor a cardiac device bought by a hospital or clinic for his use in surgery or as simple as selling tongue suppressors to him in his office.”

Medical devices are products that require a PO (purchase order), price, quantity, and any terms of purchase. Additionally, you don’t need to wait and hope for a doctor to write a prescription to officially make a sale; you can leave a doctor’s office or hospital with a written order, unlike pharmaceutical sales.

Joining the Salesforce

While the individual products may be different, the bottom line is quite similar: to be a successful sales professional, you must be an effective and persuasive communicator, a results-oriented individual, and deeply passionate about the products you provide.

Great pharmaceutical sales jobs and medical device sales jobs are ready for the taking now and if you’re ready to break into either sales field, remember that there is definitely more than one way to do so. While having extensive experience in a similar role might make you a lead candidate, other times, it simply takes one contact that can get your foot in the door.

Lastly, work to become a driven, upstart sales rep who’s willing to go the extra mile for your customers. Just like Linda Hertz says: “Hang in there and keep shaking hands and reaching out to any contacts. After all, that is what sales is about, banging on a lot of doors to get someone to buy or recommend your product. In this case, the product is you!”