Pharmaceutical Sales;
Resources for the aspiring pharmaceutical sales representative.

Free information regarding the profession of pharmaceutical sales from the
perspective of an award winning, veteran pharmaceutical sales representative with twenty-five years of industry experience.   

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General Information
Tips On Getting In

Case Histories Of people who successfully broke into Pharma Sales:
Case History #1

Case History #2

Case History #3

Case History #4

Commonly Asked Question:
Do Reps really make lots of money? Big bonuses? 

How many products does a rep carry; how do you get paid bonus on them?

Basic Requirements for being a drug rep?
I think I want to be a pharmaceutical sales representative, but how can I know for sure?

How necessary is it to have a 4 - year degree? 

Is a scientific degree/ sales experience required

Am I too old to land a job in pharmaceutical sales?

How long should I expect my job search to last?

I'm willing to relocate for the right pharmaceutical sales job.  Will this help me ?

Will a DWI hurt my chances of being hired as a pharmaceutical rep?

I have bad credit; will this hurt my chances ?

Information  On
Landing the job

Will an MBA or other advanced degree improve my chances of being hired as a pharmaceutical sales rep?

What are the pros and cons of working with a recruiter?

How important is the resume in landing a pharmaceutical sales job?

How do I shop for a resume writer?

What are the essentials that should appear on my resume?

What about a cover letter?

What is the best way to land a job in pharmaceutical sales?

What if nobody will give me reps' business cards?

Are newspaper advertisements a good way to find a job in pharm sales?

What is a Job-Fair?  How useful are they?

What do companies look for at Job-Fairs?

What are the pros and cons of working at a small pharmaceutical company versus one of the biggies?

I am in college. What can I do to enhance my odds of being hired as a  pharmaceutical sales representative?

The Interview Process

Why do the drug companies give so many interviews; why does the process take so long ?

What should I bring to an interview? 

What is proper etiquette for a "ride-along?"

I have been on several interviews but received no offers.  What could I be doing wrong?

Daily Operations/ Miscellaneous
Do Reps really make large bonuses?  How many products does a rep carry and how do you get paid bonus on them?

If I'm hired, what kind of training can I expect?

What is a typical day for a pharmaceutical sales representative?

How many sales calls are you required to make each day?

What is a contract sales company ?

Should I accept a contract sales position if my real goal is to work directly for a drug company?

I am lucky enough to have more than one job offer.  How do I decide?

When the economy does a downturn, what is the job market like for pharmaceutical sales reps?

If I am hired, and I have poor sales, will I be fired ?

What are some of the things that you don't like about being a pharmaceutical rep?
What's the hardest thing about being a  rep ?


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Vioxx Lawsuit

Frequently Asked Questions regarding the profession of
Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

See Also:[ Pharm Rep Tips] [Pharm Rep FAQ from Anne Clayton]

Q: Do Reps really make large bonuses? 
How many products does a rep carry; how do you get paid bonus on them?

A: Usually, a rep carries two or three products.  Sometimes a rep will be responsible for four products.  Each product contributes to a portion of the rep's sales bonus. 

Example: Mike is responsible for three products - a blood-pressure medicine, a headache medicine, and an anti-fungal medicine.  In the beginning of the year, his manager will tell him what the target bonus is, if he reaches 100% of quota on each product.  His manager will also tell him what the weighting of each product is with regard to his bonus. 

Let's say that the company has a target bonus of $20,000 (if you attain 100% of quota on each product you will make $20,000).

recommendationsPharmaceutical  Sales Book; - Of all of the Pharm sales books I have seen so far, the best one is "Insight into a Career in Pharmaceutical Sales", by Anne Clayton.
>Click Here to read my review of Ms Clayton's Book
>Click Here to see Pharm Rep FAQ from Anne Clayton's Website

recommendations: Resume Writer; The man who I think is the best resume writer in the industry - He did my resume (twice) and I recommend him highly.  Scott Burke of TCA has 25 years experience writing pharmaceutical resume's and cover letters.  Click Here for Details

recommendations: Resume Blaster:  Submit your resume to more than specialized 750 recruiters who deal only with pharmaceutical and medical device companies.  Click Here For My Review


This year Mike's blood-pressure product will be his most important product - it will account for 65% of his bonus.  If he reaches 100% of his quota for the blood pressure medicine he will earn a  $13,000 bonus. (65% of $20,000).  If Mike attains 150% of quota for the blood pressure pill, Mike can make a $30,000 bonus!

His second product will be the headache medicine - that will account for 25% of his bonus. If he reaches 100% of his quota on the headache medicine he will earn $5,000. (25% of 20,000)

His third product, the anti-fungal pill, will only contribute 10% of his bonus.  If he reaches 100% of his quota on the headache pill he will make a $2000 bonus. (10% of $20,000).

Let us say that Mike's company has created a truly innovative blood pressure medicine.  On sales calls, Mike will work hard to let his doctors know about the features and benefits of this wonderful new product. 

Mike knows that if he does a good job, many patients will benefit from his hard work because his product fulfills an unmet need.   The doctors will also be happy because their patients are doing well. 

If the patients are doing well and the doctors are doing well, the icing on the cake is that Mike will be rewarded for his hard work and efficiency. 

Mike knows that if he achieves 150% of his quota for his blood pressure pill, he can earn $30,000 for that product alone!  (Mike's other two products are also important, even though they will earn him less bonus). 

The analysts who determine the quotas and bonuses are very clever.  They look at the big picture and design the incentive program in a way that  benefits the entire company (in addition to Mike and the patients).

The bonus formula is structured to ensure that Mike does not neglect his other products.  This year, there is a stipulation that if he can only earn $15,000 total bonus unless he reaches 100% on all three products. 

Lets say his blood pressure pill is at 150% of quota and his headache pill is at 170% of quota but his anti-fungus pill is stuck at 85%.  If he gets the anti-fungus pill up to 100% he could make big dollars - if he only gets the anti-fungus pill up to 99.99% - he's stuck at $15,000 even though he blew the doors off of his other two products.

Mike had best make sure that his anti-fungus pill reaches 100% even though it is his smallest product or it will hold him back from achieving his financial goals.

When you read the message boards you will observe that there is a great deal of variation in the alleged bonus payouts of reps throughout the industry. 

Primary Care Sales Bonus

Some people on the message boards claim that their typical bonus is $40,000 or $50,000 or higher. 

I have been doing this for a long time and believe me, a $50,000 bonus for a primary care field rep is almost unheard of unless there are special circumstances.   Specialty sales or Biotech sales are another story.

Perhaps a few superstar primary care field reps (or really lucky people) each year will make money like that but it's rare.

The highest bonus that I know of for a fact ( for a primary care field rep) was in the 50k range.  This is highly unusual, but it happened to a friend of mine (who I know does not lie). 

In my opinion, anything over $25,000 is excellent.  If I made below $20,000 I would be disappointed.

There will be some years that you rack up $30,000 in bonus and some years that you are lucky to make $2,000 (like when your company is having a  difficult year because of a drug recall).

Biotech, Specialty Sales Bonus - Major Bling Bling Possible:

Bonus payouts for specialty and biotech sales reps run much higher than the bonus payouts for field reps. 

Biotech companies usually recruit the best and the brightest pharmaceutical sales reps and offer them the possibility to earn large sums of money ($150,000 to $250,000 per year is doable).

But you have to be real good and bring home the sales or you will be out on your ass pretty quick.  The higher you fly, the thinner the air gets.

Recently, a biotech field manager wrote me to tell me that:

the  current annual target incentive compensation for biotech and specialty is in the $40K range with the top 20% (not 1 or 2 superstars) doing 50-60K or more.

There are several companies where you can make $15,000 t0 $20,000 on a quarterly basis.

By the way, for 6 consecutive years my top rep made over $40K per quarter and my worst rep made $10K/quarter."

Bottom Line

You can make big bucks on bonus particularly if you are in biotech or specialty sales.

When you hear other people claiming to make astronomical bonus payouts, take it with a grain of salt because there is a good chance that the person is exaggerating.

If all pharmaceutical sales reps were pulling down huge money, you would expect reps to be driving Porsches and Mercedes - this is not the case.  Few of them can even afford a BMW. 

Don't compare your bonus to other people's bonus, because each territory has a different constellation of circumstances and there is always someone who is making more than you, and you are making more than somebody else.

It may sting a bit if one of your coworkers makes a big juicy bonus and you make barely enough to pay one mortgage payment (or buy a couple of pizzas).  But you have to suck it up and not hold a person's success against her.

Hopefully, your base salary will be enough for you to live on; it can get a little dicey if you rely on your bonus to make ends meet. 

If you are smart, you will bank your bonus and use it to buy yourself a house or pay down your debts.

Don't be an idiot and waste your bonus on jewelry or plastic surgery.

If you can't make ends meet without spending your bonus you are doing something wrong.

Recommendation: Find out about the man who I think is the best resume writer in the industry.   He did my resume (twice) and I recommend him highly.  Scott Burke of TCA has 25 years experience writing resume's and cover letters.  Click Here for Details

Recommendation: Of all of the Pharm sales books I have seen so far, the best one is "Insight into a Career in Pharmaceutical Sales" by Anne Clayton.
>Click Here to read my review of Ms Clayton's Book
>Click Here to see Pharm Rep FAQ from Anne Clayton's Website                                           

Back To Pharm Rep FAQ Index

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Mother Page; Starting Point / Case Study 1Case Study 2
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Willing to relocate / Hardest part of being a rep / How do I
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Cover Letter / Resume essentials / Small company versus
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Getting laid off / Best way to find job / Newspaper advertisements
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Training / Contract rep / Future sales reps / More than one job offer
Resume essentials / How to find a resume writer / Job fairs(A)
Job fairs(B) / So many interviews

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