Pharmaceutical sales consultants spend much of their time meeting with doctors and hospital staff to present their company's product line. Pharmaceutical companies assign consultants territories in which they must maintain relationships with existing customers and seek new customers. Senior pharmaceutical sales consultants often have large territories and specialized knowledge and are more active in strategy and product-marketing activities.
Among the most important qualities for senior pharmaceutical sales representatives are customer-service and communication skills. These professionals must not only be able to effectively communicate the benefits of their product, but they must be able to get accurate and honest information from customers about their needs and goals to assess which products might benefit their customers. They must also have confidence in themselves and their products to reassure customers and be effective sales professionals. Pharmaceutical sales consultants need advanced knowledge of the science behind the products they sell to answer questions from health professionals. They need to have the stamina to handle spending the lion's share of their time on their feet meeting with clients and the need to travel frequently.
Senior pharmaceutical sales representatives are primarily responsible for finding new potential clients, meeting with those clients to assess their needs, customizing sales presentations based on those needs and demonstrating products. To do this, they must locate the key decision makers in practices, hospitals and health networks. They maintain relationships with existing customers and meet with those customers to promote new products, cross-sell other products and respond to their customers' evolving needs. Senior consultants focus on large accounts in large territories. For example, Cardinal Health placed an ad for a senior sales consultant who would be responsible for sales in parts of Arizona, Nevada and California, an area which Cardinal Health claims generates $1 billion in pharmaceutical distribution sales.
Senior pharmaceutical sales consultants often put on seminars to educate medical professionals about developments in the pharmaceutical industry and demonstrate the benefits of their products. They also attend pharmaceutical conferences to raise awareness of their company's products and generate potential sales leads. Senior consultants may need to participate in strategy planning sessions with other senior sales staff and management. To aid in the strategy development process, they may conduct analysis of their company's current programs and processes to evaluate their effectiveness, identify areas for improvement and make recommendations based on their analysis. Senior sales staff may also need to train and mentor newer sales consultants.
Senior pharmaceutical sales consultants usually need at least a bachelor's degree, though some employers prefer candidates with a master's of business administration. These positions often require advanced technical knowledge, so some employers require you to have an undergraduate degree in business or a technical field, such as life sciences, chemistry or health care. Senior sales consultants need significant sales experience, with a focus on pharmaceutical sales in many cases. At this level, employers may also ask for some experience selling similar products.