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Pharma, Biotech, Medical-Device Sales: Which Is for You?

Pharma, Biotech, Medical-Device Sales: Which Is for You?

Megan Malugani / Monster Contributing Writer

“Since Big Pharma has been around for so long and is so established, they’ve been successful in growing and growing and growing,” Espuga explains. This means that several salespeople representing the same product often call on the same doctor, she says. However, biotech is more specialized and has fewer reps. “It’s not as saturated, so biotech reps have a little easier access to doctors because they’re not [selling] ‘me-too’ drugs,” she says.

In recent years, jobs in the biotech industry may have been considered riskier and less stable than jobs in large pharmaceutical companies, but that perception has changed now that some of the biggest pharma firms have implemented layoffs. “I think in this day and age, risk can be found anywhere,” says Kelly Hammons, a product manager for pharma company US WorldMeds, who has worked in both pharmaceutical and medical-device sales. When considering a job selling a new product in biotech, Hammons says you should ask, “Is the biotech a startup? Does the company have other stable drugs that will keep it afloat? Where is its funding coming from?”

On the other hand, Espuga notes, a small biotech startup could perform so well that it gets acquired by one of the pharma or medical-device giants.

Team Player or More Autonomy?

Effective teamwork is important for pharmaceutical reps, Hammons says, while team building is often less emphasized for biotech and medical-device salespeople. “Big Pharma needs to be consistent with its messaging, so if nine reps are running around with the same product, everyone needs to be on the same page,” Espuga says. “There is a lot of team building and camaraderie, because the goal is to form a synergistic team that trusts each other and does really well.” Biotech and medical-device sales, on the other hand, are more entrepreneurial and more autonomous, she says. “It’s more like you’re running your own little business.”

The potential for six-figure salaries is one reason motivated and tenacious individuals pursue sales jobs in any of the three areas — pharma, biotech and medical devices. The potential for a salesperson to earn a blockbuster bonus is best in medical-device sales, followed by biotech and then pharmaceutical sales, Espuga says. “It’s a decision about what kind of culture you want. Do you want a team environment with a lot of support and camaraderie, or do you want autonomy and the possibility of making more dollars?”

This article originally appeared on Monster Career Advice.

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