What is a medical rep?

Or, as my mother says, "When are you going to get a proper job?"

A medical representative is a person employed by a company to promote, sell and support its products, with the emphasis being placed on 'sell'.

Of course, if you handed a customer a business card that just said 'Salesperson' as a job title on the line below your name they'd probably refuse to see you. A salesperson (in the United Kingdom at least) is actually seen as a low form of pond life, hence companies like to give other titles to this important role. Salespeople sell double glazing, used cars, vacuum cleaners, insurance etc. but not pharmaceuticals or medical devices.

In the past, I've been an 'Account Executive', a 'Regional Business Manager', a 'Senior Hospital Representative', an 'Imaging Specialist' and a 'Territory Manager'. The list of pseudonyms gets longer and longer, but at the end of the day a medical representative is a salesperson and it's the value of the sales you make that your employer will judge you by.

Hopefully your customers will judge you in a different way. I've found over the last ten years that the customer support side of the job is as important as the selling side, and it really is the key to continuing sales.

The job is not like selling double glazing (for example) where you make the sale and hand things over to the fitters, perhaps never seeing the customer again. In medical sales, the product you sell has a direct effect on the well-being of a fellow human being. If the patient has an adverse reaction to your drug or your medical device malfunctions, you are the person that is going to go in and sort things out. You may be faced with an angry prescriber or end user, who is looking for someone else to kick because of what happened to their patient. It will be your fault because you sold it to them. You may want to point out that this possible side-effect is clearly stated on the data sheet, but you can't do that. They need someone else to blame, and you're it.

You are also personally responsible for other things completely out of your control, like product supply. You will find that you go out and land a major contract and within a month the product goes on back order, or what is more infuriating, is discontinued. This is, of course, why you are given a big company car and a large Tardis-like briefcase from which you can magically fulfil all outstanding orders.

So you can see from this brief introduction to a medical representative's job that it is more than just sales. You really do represent your company (and yourself) to the customers.

What makes it all worthwhile is learning that a patient was successfully treated or diagnosed by my product. That still gives me a good feeling, and justifies how I make my living.

N.B. This site looks best when viewed from a distance after drinking six pints of lager.

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