Medical Sales Representative

The main function of medical sales representatives is to market medicines, diagnostic tests, dressings and other medical supplies manufactured by pharmaceutical companies. They introduce new and promote existing medicines to doctors and pharmacists. They discuss the clinical uses and dosages, as well as the pharmacology of the medicine with them.

Medical sales representatives are the key point of contact between pharmaceutical and medical companies and healthcare professionals, promoting product awareness, answering queries, providing advice and introducing new products.  They are required to have a disciplined and structured calling system to enable them to pay regular calls to doctors, pharmacies and hospitals. They are responsible for sales in their areas and sales results are monitored by a sophisticated ‘audit’ system. Medical sales representatives are independent and can manage the area to their own liking, but increasing the size of their client base is an important aspect of the job.

Medical sales representatives need to build brand loyalty to ensure that doctors continuously prescribe products that have taken several years and a great deal of expense to develop. They are also responsible for channelling the medical doctor’s evaluation of, and enquiries about, the medicines to the manufacturer. They also need to create brand awareness for new medicines and introduce them in a highly competitive market, a market that is also fraught with controversial issues such as the possible introduction of policies to enforce the use of generic medicines in state medical institutions.

Medical sales representatives must be up-to-date with the latest developments in the field of medical science. It is their responsibility to convince medical doctors that their company manufactures products that will effectively prevent or combat disease, whilst the safety of patients is ensured. They must be able to supply doctors with scientific data; local epidemiology results and trends as far as their products are concerned.

The working conditions are extremely diverse, with flexible hours and the amount of money which you would earn, depending entirely on your own efforts. A great deal of travelling is required and although most companies provide a company car and travelling expenses, some do not.

Personal Requirements

  • good interpersonal skills and persuasive ability
  • willing to keep learning to keep up with developments in a very dynamic industry
  • interest in and knowledge of the medical field
  • a healthy self-esteem and self-confidence
  • integrity, responsibility and self-reliance
  • competitive and self-motivated
  • keen business skills
  • good planning and organisational skills
  • broad general knowledge and very good memory
  • persistent and persevering
  • really like helping people

How to Enter

Schooling & School Subjects

National Senior Certificate

What to Study

A university of technology qualification is not essential, but the field is highly competitive and graduates stand a better chance of landing the best jobs.

All employers offer a short, but intensive in-service training course, which covers selling skills and basic Anatomy, Physiology, Disease and Medicine. Medical advisors at pharmaceutical companies train medical representatives on a regular basis with regard to new products.


  • pharmaceutical companies
  • medical instrument manufacturers and distributors

Further Information

Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of S A
42 Anderson Street,
Marshalltown Johannesburg
Tel: (011) 298-9419

Institute of Marketing Management
Atlas Studio
33 Frost Avenue
Braamfontein Werf,2193
Tel: (011) 628-2000

Getting Started

  • read up about pharmaceuticals and phone a manufacturing company to try to get holiday work
  • make an appointment to speak to a medical sales representative about this type of career

Programmes by Study Institutions

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