Q: When the economy does a downturn, what is the job market like for pharmaceutical sales reps?
A: As a pharmaceutical sales rep, you will never enjoy the same level of job security as a teacher or civil servant. It's a cyclical business that ebbs and flows. If a company loses a major product and doesn't have a replacement, things might get dicey and there may be layoffs. Or if your company gets taken over and there are too many people in the operation some people may have to find new jobs.
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Just remember - the sales organization brings in the money; the rest of the company spends the money. The sales force is considered to be the most valuable asset of a pharmaceutical company.
When a company gets bought for billions of dollars, the company doing the buying is not doing the deal to obtain the headquarters buildings and pill-making machinery (they already have that stuff). They are buying a sales and distribution franchise.
They are buying the ability to reach their customers and they cant do that without you.
The naysayers have been saying that the days of the pharmaceutical representative are numbered for years. The first time I heard this old bromide was in 1985 when I began my career. It's a lot of baloney.
I follow the industry very closely and I see the opposite being true. Drug company executives know that effective sales representatives create demand for products, especially newly launched products.
Twenty years ago there were 25,000 reps in the U.S. Now there are about 90,000.
Any product manager or Wall Street analyst will tell you that pharmaceutical sales representatives making face-to-face sales calls are an effective way of moving market share. That is the only reason why there are so many reps out there.
In addition, a recent trend is that European and Japanese companies building their own sales forces in the USA because their profit margins are higher when they sell their own stuff. They are no longer satisfied licensing out their products to American companies. This means that more reps will be hired.
At the end of the day, if you give your company a fair day's work for a fair day's pay and you are effective in your job, and honest, and you get along with your colleagues you will not have anything to worry about.
If you are a slacker, and your company is having a rough time, you will be the first to go.
The only certainty there is, is that the job market will always fluctuate, and that the cream will always rises to the top.
See also: How much money do pharmaceutical sales representatives earn? What about getting laid off?
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