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Medical representatives are the key point of contact between pharmaceutical and medical companies and healthcare professionals.

Excellent sales skills are a key requirement for medical representatives.

What does a medical representative do? Typical employers | Qualifications and training | Key skills

A medical representative's job is to promote and sell their company's products, whether that's pharmaceutical drugs or medical equipment. Customers can include doctors, nurses and pharmacists. The medical representative will increase product awareness, answer queries, provide advice and introduce new products.

Key responsibilities include:

  • organising appointments and meetings with community- and hospital-based healthcare staff
  • identifying and establishing new business
  • negotiating contracts
  • demonstrating or presenting products to healthcare staff including doctors, nurses and pharmacists
  • undertaking relevant research
  • meeting both the business and scientific needs of healthcare professionals
  • maintaining detailed records
  • attending and organising trade exhibitions, conferences and meetings
  • managing budgets
  • reviewing sales performance
  • writing reports and other documents.

Promotional prospects are excellent – progression can be into senior sales/managerial roles or into related employment areas such as marketing or purchasing.

Typical employers of medical representatives

Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies employ medical representatives. Jobs are advertised online, by careers services and in newspapers, trade magazines and publications, as well as their respective websites.

There are several specialist recruitment agencies and consultancies that also regularly advertise vacancies. Job shadowing, networking and speculative applications are advisable. Pre-entry sales or hospital/medical work experience is advantageous.

Qualifications and training required

Many employers prefer graduates with relevant qualifications in life sciences, pharmacy, medicine, nursing or dentistry, although some accept applications from candidates with any degree background. Some employers will require a 2.1. New recruits normally receive an initial period (up to six months) of intense training, after which they may shadow experienced sales staff before commencing work on their own.

Many new sales executives also take the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) examinations within the first few years of work. A full driving licence is also a common requirement.

Work experience in a sales environment – or any customer-facing role – is likely to be expected or extremely beneficial during the recruitment process. It might support your application to get experience shadowing a medical sales representative, too. For this, you could send a speculative work experience application to a healthcare or pharmaceutical company or reach out to a medical representative on LinkedIn.

Key skills for medical representatives

  • Commercial awareness
  • Presentation skills
  • Research skills
  • Resilience
  • The ability to negotiate and collaborate
  • Patience
  • Strong interpersonal and communication skills
  • Organisational skills.

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