Do I Need a Degree to Work in Pharmaceutical Sales?

Is a pharmaceutical sales rep a good career?

This is without a doubt one of the most common questions that I get asked by people who would like to enter into the pharmaceutical industry: “Is it necessary for people to have a university degree in order to get into pharmaceutical sales as a career?”

In fact, I have received so many letters with this same question that I think it is time to address the issue.

The truth to this is that there is no correct answer. I have worked in this industry for many years and most people that I have met and worked with do have a degree.

However, do I know people working in the industry that does not have a university degree? Yes, absolutely! In fact, many of the best salespeople I know do not have a degree.

I think that for the most part a couple of generalities will hold true.

The really big pharmaceutical companies will most likely be hard-line sticklers on the degree issue and it will be more difficult to get hired by one of these companies without one. At the same time, I have met a number of people working for the Big Ten Pharmaceutical Companies chest and the most successful people in the world).

There are also some really exciting areas of health care sales to think about as well. These can be both extremely interesting and extremely lucrative. Medical supply companies or medical device
companies are one example of growth areas and many of them are looking to expand. These companies will often hire people that can sell regardless of educational background.

Sales ability! This is the key. I know that I often mention the importance of sales ability, but a person really must have knowledge in this area if they are to succeed. It’s true regardless of a person’s level of education.

Let’s look at the flip side. Say someone has a degree from the university. Are they guaranteed entrance into the industry?

No – absolutely not!

They need to sell on their strengths, and a degree is only a small part of this process.

I really focus on this aspect which lays out a simple step-by-step method to achieve this knowledge and succeed. One of the key principles of this is to sell on your strengths – not the perceived weakness. (I say this because there are people who do not have university degrees and yet are the richest and most successful people in the world).

HIGHLIGHT WHAT YOU DO HAVE and not what you don’t have! Sell your strengths! I am sure that you simply have plenty.

Now let’s be clear. I am not suggesting you lie or hide the fact that you don’t have something, not for a minute. But do not highlight it or advertise it.

Let me give you a quick analogy. Let’s pretend I am a salesperson in a bike store. I am with a client and am trying to sell them a bike. Would I tell them all the things my bike doesn’t have or can’t do? Of course not. I know this sounds ridiculous, but salespeople have done this with me so many times. It almost appears that the salesperson is trying to un-sell the product.

One summary statement on the issue!

If you don’t have a degree you still can enter into this exciting industry. However, if you do not learn to sell your strengths, you will have trouble entering into the industry. The mere fact that someone has a degree does not mean that they can sell. You must learn to make someone want to hire you because of your strengths, in spite of the fact that you may not have the level of education that they prefer.

Good luck – I know that you can do it!

You can also read – What college has the best communications program?

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