Are you looking to begin a career in a fast-paced and profitable industry where you control your earning potential? Are you seeking to help others live healthier lives by promoting solutions to medical professionals? Are you ambitious and willing to work to gain success and status?
Then a career in medical device sales is exactly what you are looking for.
How do you get started on the career path of a medical device sales representative? Keep reading to find out.
What Is a Medical Device Sales Rep?
A medical sales representative is a vital liaison between medical technology companies to the healthcare providers who use their products.
As a medical device sales rep, your primary responsibility will be promoting and selling medical devices, equipment, and supplies to various markets, focusing primarily on doctors, clinics, healthcare facilities, and hospitals.
What Are the Common Responsibilities of Medical Device Sales Reps?
Although your primary responsibility will be selling your company’s product, you should anticipate performing the following tasks:
- Assess client needs to present them with appropriate products
- Marketing your product to hospitals and potentially giving presentations and samples
- Establish and maintain relationships with customers, leads, and prospects
- Consistently be in contact with customers and prospects via phone, email, and social media
- Keep detailed records of sales orders, customers, and products
- Keep your finger on the pulse of advancements in medical technology and regulations
1. Get a Bachelor’s Degree
Although not a requirement, completing at least a bachelor's degree to enter medical device sales is recommended. In 2021, nearly 82% of medical sales reps had a bachelor's, and a mere 1% had no degree.
If you do not have a degree but are seeking one, consider majoring in:
- Life sciences
If you already have a degree, but did not major in any of the disciplines listed above, don’t consider yourself out just yet. If you want to enter the world of sales, you first need to sell yourself.
Find a way to frame yourself as uniquely qualified for the position, bringing the company skills they may not have realized they needed until they met you.
2. Consider an Advanced Degree
As previously mentioned, 82% of medical sales reps have at least a bachelor’s degree. 7% also have a master’s degree. If you hope to stand out amongst the crowd, consider seeking this degree if possible.
Maybe your original bachelor’s is not geared toward medical device sales, so use a master's degree to create a stand-out resume that companies can’t ignore.
Consider pursuing a master's in:
- Business administration
3. Certifications Can Help You Stand Out
If you already possess a degree or are close to completing one, another way to stand out is to complete these suggested (not required) certifications.
Certifications you may consider are:
- CSP (Certified Sales Professional) by MRERF (Manufacturers Research and Education Foundation)
- RMSR (Registered Medical Sales Representative) by NAMSR (National Association of Medical Sales Representatives)
- Medical Technician Certification
To be a successful medical device sales representative, you should be prepared to be challenged consistently. This field is growing fast, and the need for motivated reps with a thirst for knowledge is higher than ever.
4. Learn About Medical Device Sales
To excel in medical device sales, acquiring a comprehensive understanding of the devices and their applications within the healthcare industry is crucial.
Familiarize yourself with the latest technologies, trends, and regulatory requirements to address customers' concerns effectively and with authority.
Developing strong relationships with healthcare professionals is critical to your success. According to a 2021 survey by ZS Associates, 44% of physicians preferred sales rep interactions to be a mix of remote and in-person visits, indicating the importance of adapting your approach to each client's needs.
Continual professional development through training and networking events is essential to stay current with industry advancements and expand your skill set. Engage in relevant workshops, webinars, and conferences to enhance your knowledge and credibility in the dynamic landscape of medical device sales.
Cultivating these essential competencies will position you for success in this competitive and rewarding field.
5. Determine If You Are Looking for Inbound or Outbound Sales
You should know the two distinctive sales strategies and their roles when entering medical sales.
Inbound sales can be construed as more of a marketing strategy, using online resources to spread awareness about your brand and products.
Often, those in inbound sales are more customer-service oriented as your role is to guide prospects into your sales funnel, addressing challenges and helping to answer and find solutions as soon as possible.
Outbound sales roles are the more traditional roles that come to mind when considering a sales representative. They are the ones who initiate contact with prospects, using a combination of communication methods that include cold calling and emailing.
With a firm grasp on brand identity and the target customer, this could prove the most lucrative type of sales role.
6. Gain Experience in Sales
If you do not have experience in medical device sales, do not let this deter you — around 68% of associates had little medical sales experience before entering the industry.
If you are still in school, you should focus on securing an internship at a medical device company in its sales division.
If you want to change careers or enter a new industry, these companies often seek one to five years of experience in sales, marketing, or customer-facing roles that do not need to be in medical sales.
A helpful tip is to consider gaining one to three years of experience in a less competitive sales market, better preparing you to enter high-stakes medical device sales.
7. Seek Experience in the Medical Field
You want to have experience in sales, that’s for sure, but keep in mind that medical device sales are a niche market that requires plenty of know-how before ever pitching a product.
You want to learn the lingo and understand the flow of clinics, medical care facilities, and hospitals to better relate to your prospects and other sales reps.
Common in’s you should look for are internships at medical device companies or potentially shadowing an established medical device sales representative.
8. Start in Entry-Level Positions and Aim for Higher
It may seem intuitive that you should begin your search by seeking an entry-level position. Sometimes there is a temptation to take shortcuts, but this often does not pay off in medical device sales. Instead, find entry-level opportunities with the intent to grow.
Most beginning medical reps may remain in this position for an average of two years before moving into a seniority-level position.
9. Stay Up-to-Date on the Latest Trends
In the medical field, knowledge is power, and with new advancements and information being constantly published, it can take a lot of work to keep up.
Stay current on current trends and developments, as it will keep you competitive in the market and help you respond to relevant questions related to the product you are selling.
10. Increase Your Online Presence
You want to build your network as fast as possible when you are just starting out. An easy way to do this is through sites such as LinkedIn, where you can search companies and recruiters for that company and genuinely reach out to those whose career path you are interested in pursuing yourself.
However, try to refrain from sending a quick one-shot message. Instead, define what you are looking for in a conversation before starting one.
Intentions might include:
- Would you like them to elaborate on their career path?
- Do you have questions regarding specialties?
- Are you looking for help understanding specific devices and promotional strategies?
Once you have determined your goal, track your interactions, follow up, and send thank you notes when appropriate.
They may help introduce you later and begin to regard you as someone who goes above and beyond.
After all, you are hoping these individuals will eventually become your peers.
11. Prepare for Your Interview
You were selected for an interview — congratulations! Take this seriously, as opportunities within medical device sales are highly competitive.
Before you sit down with the hiring manager, but sure you have the following:
- Researched the company thoroughly
- Understand the market and target audience
- Understand (or have questions prepared) about the product you will be selling
- Showcase your achievements and what you can offer the company
- Come in with an action plan
Remember, to start a sales career, you must first sell yourself. Find measurable accomplishments rather than listing responsibilities or tasks. You can feel pressured to perform in interviews, but this isn’t what recruiters and hiring managers want to see.
They seek genuine, energetic, and ambitious individuals to add to their sales team.
12. Be Ready To Jump Right in
Although some medical device companies provide in-house training for new sales reps, many will expect you to start selling immediately. You may feel overwhelmed by the intense amount of pressure, but remember, you are not going in blind. You’ve done the research and the work; you are prepared and ready to succeed.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Most higher-ups will see this as taking the initiative and constantly working to improve yourself, which will help you establish more value in your position within the company.
13. Being a Good Sales Rep Is More Than Just Sales
It is often suggested that you should be “outgoing, personable, and friendly” to be a successful sales representative. Personality is important, but you want to create long-lasting relationships built on trust. The best way to do this is to provide excellent customer care.
Many companies will advertise that their sales team goes “above and beyond” the call of duty, but customers often look for consistency more than quick bursts of assistance followed by no contact.
You should consider yourself more than a salesperson: Instead, you are a consultant working alongside customers to help them find solutions to their challenges with your product and in general.
Yes, you want to generate new revenue for your company but don’t distract yourself from current accounts that will ultimately lead to a more stable income.
Though pressure and expectations are high in medical device sales, it is gratifying for those willing to do the work.
By seeking education, finding your specialty, networking, and completing a lot of research, working as a medical device sales rep can help you find fulfillment within your career and improve your overall quality of life.