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Everything you need to know before applying for a job in Medical Sales

Posted on: 01 Aug

A job in Medical Sales can be one of the most rewarding careers in the pharmaceutical industry. With a good salary, certain perks and the ability to take control of your job and mould it into a glittering career, the role offers ambitious people the chance to push themselves and make a difference in peoples’ lives. 

Whether you’re a new graduate or somebody looking to make the switch from another industry, potential applicants need to have a good understanding of what a career in Medical Sales means, and how to prepare for it, before they apply for their first job. 

Find your niche

Medical Sales is a diverse industry, covering a wide variety of sectors and job titles from Biotech to DME Sales. Roles within the pharmaceutical and devices sectors are the most common entry-level positions for graduates: working in pharmaceuticals will cover the promotion and sale of prescription medicines, most often to General Practices. Sales Reps in medical devices, however, will sell medical equipment and instruments rather than medicine, which means that you will be working predominantly with hospitals.

Do your research, and pick a niche where you can excel: would you rather choose a dedicated role, where you work on behalf of only one client and sell their products for them, or a syndicated one, where you represent multiple clients for a pharmaceutical company? Would you rather be more client-facing or focus more on selling products? Keep these in mind when searching for job roles so you can find one that suits you perfectly.

You need to be a successful salesperson

It’s useful to have a degree if you’re looking to enter the industry as a graduate - many employers like to see applicants with recent qualifications in business administration and sales or in life science. However, what recruiters really want to know is whether or not you can make a sale. In a role where success depends on you being able to clinch deals with multiple clients, your sales experience and achievements may often be considered more important than a degree. A good Sales Rep needs to be personable, driven, passionate about making a difference and not scared of rejection. 

If you’re considering making the switch to Medical Sales from another industry, the transferrable skills might be a great asset: have a look at our interview with former policeman David Upton who is now the Medical Sales Director at QuintilesIMS. 

Know your industry inside out

For any job, it’s important to do your research, and this is never more important than in the complex world of Medical Sales. When looking for the perfect job, take the time to familiarise yourself with the industry. Study the complex procedures involved in selling products to medical institutions, such as the process that local boards and clinical commissioning groups play in approving products for local distribution, or how bodies like the NHS decide to source drugs and medical equipment. There are several industry publications you can read, such as Pharmafield’s monthly magazine and website, to help you gain a better understanding of your industry.

It’s also worth developing a basic understanding of how sales calls work so you know whether the role is right for you. Try to organise a day of work experience, shadowing an industry Sales Representative, so you know what is expected of you in the role. 

Know which company to apply to 


Your level of sales experience should affect the company with which you’ll start your Medical Sales career. For graduates and new starters, it’s often better to apply to larger, international businesses as they typically have graduate schemes or training courses available for new starters. When you start as a Medical Sales Representative, it’s also compulsory for new starters to sit and pass a regulatory exam within the first two years of starting; companies like QuintilesIMS will coach and support the candidate through doing so. 

This is also a good time to find out more about the culture of your prospective company. At QuintilesIMS, our culture and people is one of our greatest assets. Our employees feel valued and often see their colleagues as their friends. It really pays to find somewhere where you feel you can fit in; your performance will inevitably also improve as a result.

At QuintilesIMS, we take the time to match the best candidates to the best jobs in Medical Sales. Have a look at our vacancies here, and find out more about us here.