Various medical sales skills are necessary for success. Along with more industry-focused skills, recruiters are increasingly looking for well-rounded candidates who bring a variety of experiences and capabilities.

In this year’s Bullhorn North American Staffing and Recruiting Trends report, 81 percent of the 1,256 U.S.-based recruiters surveyed said they have trouble finding skilled candidates. For general sales, 67 percent said they’re not finding skilled applicants.

This may be because job seekers aren’t always aware of specific skills recruiters are seeking. Or they’re not accurately demonstrating how their skills transfer into a career in medical sales and directly benefit the company.

If that’s the case, here are a few skills you need to ensure medical sales success:

1) Foundation skills

Ambition and passion are necessary for success in any sales role. In client meetings, you must demonstrate that your knowledge about products and services also includes genuine excitement and pride in what you’re doing.

The medical sales field is constantly evolving. New products are being introduced, new technology is being implemented, and new research is being performed. You must be dedicated to staying on top of this information and also be comfortable relaying those ideas to your clients.

This is especially important in an era of shrinking budgets. In the 2017 Sales Readiness Group’s Sales Management Research report, 45 percent of the more than 400 sales leaders surveyed across 20 industries said employer-sponsored development programs aren’t available at their organizations. That means individual initiative to stay on top of emerging trends is essential.

Other foundation skills for sales success include:

  • active listening
  • ability to collaborate
  • problem-solving skills
  • goal setting and time management

In addition, sales require excellent interpersonal skills. You have to find a balance between being persistent, but not pushy. Some clients need time to mull over the details and information presented. Most will be put off if they feel pressured into making a hasty decision.

2) Transferrable skills

You should have at least a basic proficiency in marketing and public relations. Medical sales representatives are always in front of people. You’ll be giving presentations, answering detailed questions, and highlighting the positive aspects of products, while addressing client concerns.

That means you should be comfortable speaking in public. You’ll also need to flexible in your presentations. If a client is already aware of certain information, or seems uninterested in your presentation, you’ll need to be able to condense information, or quickly alter your approach.

Due to the largely independent work nature of the industry, you’ll need to become your own project manager to ensure time is being used wisely and your personal sales goals are on track.

Some methods to identify and promote your transferable skills include:

  • make a checklist of all your abilities
  • determine how personal interests and hobbies lend valuable skills — for instance, if you coach a sports team, lead topic presentations, sit on a public board
  • identify how you approach projects in terms of time management, quality assurance, and more

3) Industry-specific skills  

Depending on your concentration in medical sales, mastering other skills will help you excel.

For instance, biotechnology requires at least basic science knowledge of the field and the ability and willingness to learn new information. Other skills that benefit this track include technical writing and the ability to explain sometimes complicated information into “layman’s terms.”

In pharmaceuticals, reps must have a passion for researching and staying on top of emerging trends. In addition, basic business skills will lend to your success in this focus. Other skills include an interest in digital technical marketing and a passion for professional networking.

When it comes to medical devices, you must have strong people skills and a genuine desire to frequently interact with a variety of personalities.

Persuasion skills are important in this track. There are times when you’ll have to prove why devices are needed and how they’ll benefit clients and their patients. Medical sales reps must also be able to communicate complicated ideas and pitches in sometimes very brief interactions.

You already have the basic skills necessary to succeed in medical sales. However, you must be able to convince recruiters how these soft and transferable skills will directly benefit the companies where they’re trying to place top-quality candidates.

Well-rounded professionals are able to offer companies unique skills and experience that will directly benefit sales goals. This fact should be clearly presented at all times in the job search process.


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