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How Does a Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Spend a Workday?

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Preparing for the Day

A pharmaceutical sales rep usually begins the day by preparing a plan of action. Pharmaceutical sales reps can have lists of target physicians as long as 100 or more. The first step of the day is typically to decide on an area in which to travel and which physicians' offices to visit.

Pharmaceutical sales reps also deliver sample products to doctors' offices. Before heading out for the day, they usually check to be sure they have an adequate supply of products and promotional and educational materials.


A large portion of a pharmaceutical sales rep's workday can be spent traveling, depending on the area he is working in. Some territories can be almost as large as a small state, and reps sometimes travel for several hours.

Pre-Call Planning

Once a pharmaceutical sales rep has arrived at the first office, he should conduct a call plan. This involves checking his laptop for pertinent information about the physicians that work in this office and their prescribing habits. If the sales rep determines that one physician in this practice has not been prescribing his products as much as he normally does, one of the goals of the visit would be to speak to this physician to find out why he has not been using the product.

Making the Calls

When entering a physician's office, the sales rep will engage in friendly conversation with the office staff, check the supply of product samples and try to speak with the physician. Many offices no longer allow sales reps to disrupt the physician's workday to talk about pharmaceutical products. Frequently, the rep won't be permitted to speak with the physician. He will simply leave information and promotional products behind instead. If the office needed product samples, the sales rep will wait for the physician to sign for receipt of the samples. A rep travels from office to office most of the day conducting similar sales calls.

Conducting Lunches

On most days, pharmaceutical sales reps also have luncheons scheduled with physicians. The rep is daily responsible for confirming the lunch with the office in the morning and ordering the lunch from a restaurant. He is also responsible for picking up the lunch and all necessary supplies. The purpose of a lunch is to get quality time with the physician to discuss detailed product information.


The remaining part of a pharmaceutical sales rep's workday is spent on administrative work. The rep is usually responsible for entering sales calls on a computer program, and sometimes he is required to input notes about the call. Keeping track of the number of samples delivered to which offices is a very important regulatory procedure, and this is also entered into the computer system. At times, reps will be required to conduct research on other products, review clinical research studies and take continuing education courses about their products.

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