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Medical Device Sales V Pharmaceutical Sales: The Differences Distinguished

October 14, 2015

At A Glance: Superficially, Pharmaceutical and Medical Device sales job like-alike. Both target almost the same customers, and thereby both execute nearly the same sales processes. But, there are major differences between them that we’ve observed, including: Service Scope, Sales Cycle Period, and Amount of Remuneration. For Pharm Reps the Service Scope is much more limited and heavily reliant on continuing education to maintain product awareness. Opposing, the Medical Device Sales Cycle Period can be years, and therefore it is important to keep the communication channel open and in good standing even though there is no solid guarantee. And the foremost difference, Pharm companies seem to pave their Reps on a much better road to financial growth and success.

Superficially, Pharmaceutical and Medical Device sales jobs look-alike. Both target almost the same customers, and thereby both execute nearly the same sales processes. But, having been involved with both careers for more than a decade combined, there are major differences between them that we’ve observed, and from our observation, your understanding of these major differences will greatly aid in you deciding which career is better for you. And for those professionals who are already immersed in the Medical Device or Pharma sales trades, you will be better equipped to deliver a more knowledgeable performance (a win/win for everyone really!).

1. Service: The first major difference between the two career paths to note is a heavy emphasis on continued service. As with Medical Device, the Pharmaceutical salesperson’s job starts when customers buy their product. But for Pharmaceutical Reps, the service scope is limited per organizing discussions as to continually educate their market to maintain the awareness of the product. Once the product is sold, it’s set it and forget it.

Contrary, Medical Device Reps need to continue servicing their product and customer as part of their job requirement. The most visible aspect of a device is the necessary attention for maintenance. Some customers are aware of the need, but some take it for granted, therefore the responsibility falls on the shoulder of the Reps. Due to this, Medical Device Reps are supremely challenged when servicing accounts becomes more time consuming than selling new accounts. This inherent threat is not applicable in the pharmaceutical industry, but is (unfortunately) very common in Medical Device sales.

2. Sales Cycle Period: A chemistry analyzer for a big hospital, for example, will be contracted for use within the hospital for 3 to 5 years typically. Within those contracted years, if another device company is targeting their chemistry analyzer for the same hospital, all the Medical Device Rep can do is stay top of mind; contacting and offering continuous education related to their portfolio until the existing device contract is expired. Then, at that time, if the customer (the hospital) sees the need to change the device, they may consider the new analyzer brand, but only after making a fair comparison with the other device brands on the market. Due to this discriminating sales cycle period, it is important to keep the communication channel open, accessible, and in good standing even though there is no solid guarantee your product will be selected when decision-time comes.

3. Amount of Remuneration. The third foremost difference between Medical Device sales and Pharmaceutical sales is the compensation offered by Medical Device companies compared to Pharmaceutical companies. With the amount of tasks and efforts needed to maintain sales for a Medical Device, we would expect device sales reps would be paid better, but until then, Pharm Sales takes the cake on this category. The reality is, in our observation when joining Pharmaceutical companies, they will typically place a salesperson on a well-paved road to a better financial situation. Plus, with less selling effort required, a Pharm Rep can enjoy better quality of life without worrying about a device breakdown (that could happen anytime, without warning!).


Other Motivated Professionals also Read:

  • How to Start Your Job Search in the Medical Device Industry
  • Who is the Medical Device Guru?
  • Pre-Interview Research Resources for the Medical Device Industry


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