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Tips on Getting into Medical Device/Equipment Sales

10th June 2019

If you are reading this document then you must be intrigued to learn more about medical device sales careers and whether it is the right option for you. Read through the information provided and get in touch if you decide sales is for you and you would like to register!

Pursuing a career in sales is a great starting point for someone with a passion for interacting with people and who wants to use their life-science educational background or clinical experience in a target driven role within the commercial side of the healthcare industry. As a medical sales representative you will be selling a company’s products to a specific customer base. Products can range from basic medical consumables such as swabs, gloves, wipes or wound dressings to high end capital equipment such as CT/MRI scanners. Customers will range from practice nurses to surgeons, to procurement managers to and heads of Trusts.

Whilst the biological and skills you develop during your degree or clinical experience will be vital; working in sales also requires you to have great communication skills as inevitably your job requires you to be a ‘people-person’. Winning the trust of a customer and building good rapport whilst communicating your knowledge on the product are indispensable skills.

A career as a medical sales rep has a huge number of benefits; variety, progression, challenge, variety, autonomy, a company car and if you work hard, it can offer great financial rewards as many roles have bonus schemes.

And of course, if you are considering a career in medical sales after reading this document, then the final step in securing your first job, is to work with a recruitment agency who knows where the opportunities are in the market, and who can support you throughout the interview process to find the role that is just right for you.

What entry level requirements are essential when applying?

  • A degree in a scientific related subject (ideally a 2.1 or a First) or a nursing qualification
  • A valid UK driving license
  • Eligibility to work in the UK without needing visa sponsorship
  • A desire to enter medical sales
  • A strong knowledge of what sales is about
  • Excellent communication and customer facing skills

What entry level requirements are desirable when applying?

  • Shadowing experience of a medical device sales representative
  • Experience within a primary and/or secondary care environment (ideally for at least 6 months)

What does Zenopa look for on a CV?

  • A degree in a scientific related subject (ideally a 2.1 or a First). Or a Registered General Nurse, ODP, ODA, paramedic or similar clinical qualification.
  • A tailored ‘personal profile’ paragraph at the top of your CV summarising your background and why you want to get into sales
  • Shadowing experience of a medical sales representative (details of the company and what you learnt)
  • Ideally previous experience in a customer facing sales role (e.g. telesales or any role where you have worked to meet targets)
  • Previous experience in a clinical environment
  • Strong academic/extracurricular achievements demonstrating you are competitive, successful and driven

What options are there for career progression?

Once you get your first role in industry and establish yourself, you can look at progressing in several directions. The job titles below do not represent the full extent of career options as every company’s career ladder differs, however they demonstrate some ideas to get you started.

  • Internal sales

An office based role where you achieve sales targets set by the company by cold calling and managing existing accounts via the telephone. This role is open to graduates.

Field sales (Business Development)

Field based role where you achieve sales targets set by the company by approaching new and existing accounts by organising appointments, face to face meetings, attending exhibitions and selling company products. This is a highly autonomous role and a typical week may be structured as 4 days on the road and 1 day at home for admin. You will be given a designated territory to cover e.g. North London. This kind of role is usually open to graduates.

Export sales

Field based role where you oversee the overall procedure of foreign sales and service outlets of the organisation. You will source and manage distributors in foreign regions and be required to travel internationally regularly. Bi-lingual skills are sometimes useful. You will need to have previous field sales experience.

Sales Manager

Direct management responsibility for an individual or team of field and/or internal sales personnel covering a designated region, product portfolio or geographical area. You will need a successful track record of sales.

Product Manager (Brand Manager)

Office based role where you look after promotional and marketing activities of a product/brand or service for effectual sales. You will devise strategies and adopt measures to increase the sales of a product. You will also be responsible for product development and launches. You will need at least 1 year experience with marketing in a related scientific field, preferably with a marketing qualification.

Nurse Advisor/Clinical Specialist

Predominantly field based roles where you provide expertise and clinical evidence to customers on specific product lines. It is a non sales position.

Boost your Knowledge

So now you know what a recruiter looks for in a potential candidate and what the career options are, here’s what you can do to boost your knowledge of what sales is all about…

Read job descriptions

Start by reading job descriptions of various medical sales roles. These can be found on our website: https://www.zenopa.com/medical-devices and will help familiarise yourself with the everyday duties involved and get you excited about what is out there!

Attend a low cost seminar on sales

Research and attend a low cost seminar on getting into medical sales. Many universities may have guest speakers as part of their careers talks.

Shadow a sales representative

This can be achieved by either networking on LinkedIn, or networking socially. If you are also open to going into medical sales try popping into your local GP surgery or hospital and asking at reception for any business cards that sales representatives may have left behind. Shadowing is a highly respected experience to put on your CV as it shows a level of commitment to the career you are choosing and will provide un-rivalled insight into the industry you are trying to join. It will also set you apart from other graduates.

Read online blogs about sales

Read online blogs which give insight into the commercial world of medical deices. You can also read this blog written by a member of Zenopa about why graduates should consider a role in medical sales:


Research sales terminology and strategy

Research the ‘sales process’ and sales techniques such as ‘cross-selling’, ‘up-selling’ and ‘consultative selling’. These are crucial words to be dropping into interview when speaking about what you know about sales.

Cross-selling: Sell a different product or service to a customer than the one initially intended

Up-selling: Persuade a customer to buy something additional or more expensive

Consultative selling: A selling method where the person spends time with the company to understand the problem it is trying to solve, and then recommends a solution that will specifically address their problem.

The sales process: A set of steps a sales rep will undertake to meet their sales target. Targeting, prospecting, lead qualification, identifying key decision makers, analyse customer needs and develop a solution, product presentation/demonstration, negotiation, closing the deal.

How do you get the most out of your shadowing day?

Once you secure a shadowing day with a sales rep make sure you are clear what you want to take away from the experience. Here are some tips on what you should ask the rep:

  • What do you do on a day to day basis? (i.e. how is your week is structured, who do you visit, where do you visit and why visit them)
  • Why did you decide to go into sales? (I.e. what is your motivation? Also think what your motivations are i.e. money, interaction with people, being on the road, being autonomous)
  • What skills do you need to be an accomplished sales person?
  • What do you enjoy about your job? (Also what do you think you would find enjoyable or rewarding by succeeding in this career?)
  • What do you not like about your job? (Also what do you think are the potential pitfalls of what you would not enjoy doing in the role?)
  • What actions do you take in certain sales situations? (i.e. how to approach a cold customer, how to build rapport with a customer, how to deal with a customer that has a complaint)
  • Do you ever use techniques such as upselling, cross-selling or consultative selling? (How do you deploy these techniques and do you have any examples of when it has worked?)
  • How well do you know your competitors? (Products, prices, clients)

Some candidates keep a diary as well as the contact details of their shadowing day to keep as proof of the event. This also enables you to mention on your CV that you have a copy of your shadowing day report available for anyone that wants to read it.

Are you at interview stage already?

Here are some tips on what employers will be looking for in your answers:

  • A passion for sales. Most candidates trip up on the first question, “Why do you want to get into sales?” Know the answer to this question and the rest will follow!
  • Knowledge of the company you are interviewing with

            – Are they a manufacturer or a distributor?

            – What products/services do they specialise in?

            – How long have they been established?

            – What is their market share?

            – Who is their client base?

  • An understanding of the job description and what you will be doing on a daily basis
  • Demonstrate a strong relevant educational / clinical background

End note…

Hopefully this document has helped give you some ideas as to what to expect from a career in medical device sales and how to go about getting into the industry.

If you have read the above and relish the prospect of getting into sales and think you have what it takes, then please do not hesitate and call a member of Zenopa today! We will be happy to hear from you and discuss your job search and what roles are currently available. You can contact us on +44 (0)1494 818 000 or via email enquiries@zenopa.com 

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