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Are you qualified for a career in Medical Sales?

Posted on: 15 Jun
Working in Medical Sales can be one of the most exciting jobs in the market. Whether it’s in Pharmaceuticals or Medical Devices, the chance for people to build a rewarding career out of helping others and challenging themselves is one that is more achievable than you’d think. Far from requiring extensive medical knowledge, the rapidly-changing nature of the pharmaceutical industry calls for workers with the transferrable skills needed to keep ahead of the latest developments. 

QuintilesIMS’s Therapy Account Specialist David Upton reveals how he made the switch to Medical Sales and how the skills he brought from his previous career as a policeman has helped him forge a successful career. 

What did you do before you went into medical sales?

I had a number of jobs before I came over to medical sales. I left school at eighteen and went straight into work in retail and then worked as cabin crew for an airliner. Once my wife and I started a family, I joined the police and was an officer for seven years before starting to work in the medical industry.

Why did you decide to make the move to medical sales? 

There was no real career progression within the police and I wanted a career I could progress in. Having been very much public facing in both my last two roles, and having spent the last six years dealing with a large number of different situations, I felt that sales would be something I could be good at. Being in Medical Sales also meant I would still be helping people, which is important to me. A friend referred me to QuintilesIMS where I landed a role in pharmaceuticals as a Territory Account Specialist. 

Which skills did you find most useful, or transferrable, when making the change?

A lot of the skills I have brought across have been really useful. For instance, I was trained in advance interviewing techniques whilst in the police which really teaches you how to listen and pick up on certain aspects of people’s responses. I think it also helps me dig a bit deeper when talking to our customers. Being a police officer has certainly built up my resilience and I think that is also a key skill in the pharma sales industry: sometimes you get knockbacks to begin with while customers figure you out and you need to be able to adjust and try again afterwards. I think once they know you have done a job in emergency services they realise that you are here to help them and you can then gain their trust.

What advantages do you have if you transfer from another industry?

For me it has been a big advantage coming from outside the pharma sales industry. Having been in a few different careers lets you see what’s going on from a different angle. Having people from different walks of life and diversity gives you different skill sets and different ways to manage change. In a market that is constantly developing and changing it is key that there are a wide range of contributors making sure every angle is covered. 

Which jobs are currently in demand in the medical industry and what skills do they require?


There are always sales jobs in the medical industry and they are there to be filled, be it in Pharma or Medical Devices. Sales is a fast-moving industry that you can really build into a good career: as long as you are good with people, good with time management and happy to put in some studying then there is no reason why you couldn’t do it. There are always people around that are willing to help you and the support I have had since joining QuintilesIMS has been fantastic.

What are clients looking for from candidates?

They are looking for people that are highly motivated, able to make decisions quickly but happy to ask for help if they are unsure of anything. Above all, I think you need to have a passion for helping people because for me that is what this is all about.

What advice would you have for people wanting to go into medical sales?

It’s important to get a basic understanding of how sales roles and sales calls work. When I decided to make the change to Medical Sales, I shadowed a friend in the industry to get a good idea of what the role required. Given that the job involves working closely with the NHS, I’d also suggest to do some research and understand how they decide how to source their drugs and medical equipment. It’s important to be prepared! 

I’d also recommend starting your career with a company like QuintilesIMS. When you start as a Medical Sales rep, you need to pass a regulatory exam within the first two years of being in this profession. I feel that QuintilesIMS gave me the support and directive I needed to pass the exam.

QuintilesIMS is always looking for passionate candidates in Medical Sales: find out more about the range of jobs we offer here