How To Be a Pharmaceutical Rep

In 2020, the United States pharmaceutical industry earned $425 billion in annual revenue. According to these numbers, if you’re thinking of becoming a pharmaceutical rep, there is certainly enough work to go around.

However, it’s more than just getting medications and selling them.

To learn how to be a pharmaceutical rep, you need to have some background knowledge and training if you want to be successful. It’s not impossible, but it certainly isn’t easy.

Read on to learn more.

What Is a Pharmaceutical Rep?

Before you become a pharmaceutical rep, it’s wise to research the job duties that you’ll be responsible for. Look into the field and see if it is something that you would enjoy and be good at.

A pharmaceutical rep is responsible for selling the company’s pharmaceutical products to medical professionals. They must convince them that their company’s products are better than their competitors and are ideal for their patients’ needs.

Your company will often send you to meet with medical professionals, such as physicians. You’ll hand out free products, provide information, and answer and address all questions or concerns.

It is essential that you have background knowledge surrounding pharmacology. This is the study of how medications affect the human body, specifically when trying to treat a particular condition.

You’ll need to be an expert on the products you represent, have knowledge of the potential side effects and risks, and be able to explain precisely how it works.

Because you must be an expert on your products, many pharmaceutical reps choose to stick with a particular class of pharmaceuticals, such as cardiovascular drugs.

Looking Into Earning a Degree

Earning a degree is key to becoming a pharmaceutical rep, but it is not the only step. There are also other important things to consider. You must have the right experience. 

So, opt for internships during your school years. This gives you on-the-job training and helps you build a strong skillset. These internships equip you with the knowledge to become a pharmaceutical rep from a young age, said Mat Rezaei, CEO & Founder of Upguys.

You should also build a strong resume and cover letter. Highlight skills and accomplishments that make you stand out from the crowd. This will ensure companies hire you in an instant.

Try maintaining a strong profile on LinkedIn. Many recruiters are just waiting for the right person. Sometimes, they’ll even contact you themselves. So, keep your LinkedIn profile up-to-date.

Now it’s time to learn how to become a pharmaceutical rep.

The first step is education. Most pharmaceutical companies require that you earn a college degree.

So, you must first earn your high school diploma. Then, look into getting a bachelor’s degree in pharmacology, chemistry, medicine, biology, statistics, or mathematics. You should also consider taking classes on business training, which can help form better negotiation and sales skills.

Next, you can choose to earn a graduate degree. While this is not entirely necessary, many employers prefer it, and it could give you a leg up on other candidates when applying for a job.

A solid graduate degree program to go into would be getting a Master of Business Administration or MBA.

Achieve Certification

Once you get your degrees, it’s time to get your certification. This will provide you with job-specific training that can help boost your confidence when first going out into the field.

You can get certified by The National Association of Pharmaceutical Representatives, which offers a voluntary certification as a Certified National Pharmaceutical Representative.

You’ll learn the rules and regulations of selling pharmaceutical products and the guidelines required for providing medications.

You’ll also learn about managed care, allowing you to explain to physicians and medical professionals the payment process when buying prescriptions.

Learn How to Network

Many pharmaceutical companies look to hire people without putting out any advertisements. They fill their vacancies most often through referrals.

For this reason, if you want to find employment, you must learn how to network.

You must attend all conferences, meetings, and events that you can. While you’re there, you must talk to everyone that you can.

Introduce yourself to everyone. Always have your business cards and resume on hand.

Many cities have a Pharmaceutical Representative Association chapter that holds regular meetings. Joining them will allow you to learn more about the industry, find out how to find pharma distributors, and discover any news or current topics that are happening now.

This will also allow you to talk to and meet more people that are likely to refer you to their company. Many companies provide a finders fee if they hire a referred candidate, so many people are willing to do so.

You just have to put yourself out there first.

Sharpen Your Skills

Becoming a pharmaceutical rep means sharpening your skills and keeping them sharp.

Communication is perhaps the most important of them all. You need to have strong communication skills to network efficiently and sell products successfully.

Your voice’s volume, tone, and pace should match the person you’re talking to and help build a rapport with your client. You also need to consider your body language, being able to convey yourself as someone that can be trusted.

You must also learn how to perfect your time management skills.

You have to juggle new and existing client meetings and still have time to look for prospective ones. You should always be on time. Pharmaceutical reps that are late will never seal the deal.

Lastly, work on your presentation skills.

Learn how to present your products in a way that will persuade them to buy. When presenting, clarity and professionalism should be your top priorities.

Whether you’re speaking to a client one-on-one or to a large room of people at a conference, your presentation skills need to be on point.

How to Be a Pharmaceutical Rep Explained

This is your pharmaceutical rep guide, so do with it as you will. Learning how to be a pharmaceutical rep might be more complicated than you imagined, but it is a rewarding career that many see success in.

If you’re willing to put in the hard work and follow this guide, you’ll be successfully selling pharmaceuticals before you know it.

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