What Does a Medical Sales Rep Do?
There is a lot of controversy when it comes to exactly who qualifies as a “med rep” and what a medical sales rep does. First, it’s important you understand one thing. At MedReps.com, we define a med rep as anyone selling or representing a product or service that will be used or consumed by a medical or healthcare market. That could be biotech sales, dental sales, and yes, veterinary sales. However, according to a recent survey, not everyone agrees with us.
MedReps.com asked our audience of medical sales rep experts to tell us what they think a med rep does – and does not – do. Participation was similar to our recent Social Networking Job Search report. More than 500 Premium Members took the survey and shared their thoughts on the subject. Read on to find out who your colleagues feel is a true medical sales representative.
Who is Included in the Medical Sales Representative Job Description?
As it turns out, what a medical sales rep specifically does is highly subjective. While some have very particular ideas about the types of products a medical sales rep represents, others argue that the true medical sales rep job description is any salesperson representing a product or service used in a a healthcare setting.
One commonly noted exception to the broader description would be professionals selling software for use in a hospital or physician’s office. According to our survey, 62% of respondents exclude health IT and software salespeople from the term “med rep”. The general consensus is that IT services and software sales are more like office supplies than medical products. Thus, they require a different kind of expertise to sell them. One respondent explained the distinction in this way, “They [represent] an IT solution vs. a solution to a medical condition (which involves understanding disease states, treatments, side effects, etc.). They may sell to the same call point, but I don’t feel they are a ‘med rep’. They are IT/software sales reps that sell to the medical community.”
Another commonly cited exclusion in the medical rep job description was a professional who sells drugs or devices to veterinarians. Nearly one-third of survey respondents said veterinary sales reps are not med reps. one respondent offered this to explain why: “[Veterinary sales] pertains to animals and the regulations are different.”
But I’m a Med Rep!
The majority of survey respondents do classify themselves as medical sales representatives, 88% in fact. Respondents claim industry experience in a variety of fields, and each segment had distinct opinions on who should be considered a medical sales representative.
Medical device salespeople made up the majority of respondents, and this segment also expressed the most ownership over the term “med rep”. Many expressed disapproval that the term has been diluted; they feel it should only be used to describe medical device or equipment salespeople. While only 27% of device respondents and 26% of equipment respondents specifically said they do not believe the job description for pharma reps to be same as med reps, those that felt this way were rather emphatic about their opinion.
The following sampling of comments reflect the reasons why respondents don’t feel that pharma sales rep and medical sales rep job descriptions should say the same thing:
- “Pharma is more of a relationship , not hard sales”
- “Pharma is not a direct [transactional] sale. There is no consultative approach to selling, and you do not leave with the business.”
- “Pharma is such a broad market that it needs its own jargon”
- “Pharmaceutical/biotech sales are a different sale from the other sales due to the fact that those products aren’t a product the physician uses in the OR.”
While most pharma reps do consider themselves “med reps”, they were not as possessive of the term. In fact, the only healthcare professionals that pharma respondents said they consistently said should not be called “med reps” were health IT and software salespeople. interestingly, nearly half of all pharma respondents said they would be open to a job in device sales, while only 4% of device respondents said they would consider a job in pharma.
Redefining the Medical Sales Representative Job Description
Here at MedReps.com, we like the broader definition of the med rep job description. We define a med rep as any sales professional representing a product or service used within the healthcare industry. However, we can’t ignore the intense feelings of those arguing for a more exclusive description. We certainly won’t claim to be the final authority on the subject, especially when we’d rather let our audience debate and decide.