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What skills does the modern medical sales representative need to succeed?

Posted on: 05 Mar

The medical sales world is in a constant state of flux, with new products and therapies coming onto the market every day. The fast-moving nature of the industry is further compounded by the influence of technology, and medical sales representatives who don’t keep up with this state of change risk getting left behind. As the pharmaceuticals market moves to the use of a smaller, more agile and smarter sales force, companies – and therefore medical sales reps – must be able to demonstrate their added value to care providers and patients.

So in the digital age, what skills and experience do medical sales representatives need to have to be successful? From tech skills through to sales expertise and industry knowledge, here’s what you need to get ahead:

A nose for a sale

While the role of the medical sales rep has evolved over time, some things haven’t changed – namely, the need for reps to be able to sell drugs, medicines and medical equipment to health professionals. Reps are always dealing with people, so interpersonal communication skills are key, particularly when it comes to anticipating the needs of customers and explaining how certain products or therapies could help them. There is an abundance of choice in the medical sales market – there are more than 500,000 medical technologies available in hospitals, community care settings and homes in Europe alone – so reps must have a deep understanding of what makes their products unique and how they can help health practitioners. Reps who lack core sales skills will find it a challenge to keep up in this competitive marketplace.

Technological prowess

Technology has exploded onto the healthcare market in recent years. Medical devices, in vitro diagnostics and digital health are all widespread throughout the UK, European and global healthcare markets, and medical sales reps are increasingly being expected to understand these technologies – and know how to sell them. Data-backed sales strategies can help with this.

New technologies are also being used to help reps with the day to day management of their roles. Increasingly sophisticated CRM systems are used to help improve sales and customer relationships, while the use of mobile devices, iPads and laptops has come along in leaps and bound. Sales reps who have a good grasp of modern technologies and how it can be harnessed to augment their roles will be the ones who are successful in the future.

Knowledge of the market

While there are routes to medical sales representative position that don’t require prior experience in the healthcare industry, a successful rep will always have one finger on the pulse of the market. It helps to have a basic understanding of the medical industry, including any trends that might be affecting patient care and treatment provision. An in-depth knowledge of the products being sold as well as strenuous regulations, competition on the market and reimbursements can all help to succeed in medical sales.

In addition to knowing the market, sales reps need to know their customer. Understanding their goals and motivators is key, as this means reps can understand how their solutions can solve customer problems.

Active listening is a crucial part of any customer-facing role, and this is particularly true in medical sales. By asking umbrella questions – those which are open-ended and are intended to gather more information than just ‘yes’ or ‘no’ – reps can allow their customers to speak free and concentrate on absorbing as much information as possible.

Take your next step in medical sales at IQVIA

As a Medical Sales Representative, you’ll serve as the critical link between medical and pharmaceutical companies and healthcare professionals. It’s a fantastic job with opportunities all over the world - and we want to help you make the most of them. View our latest medical sales representative jobs and take your next career step.