Biotechnology uses cellular and biomolecular processes to develop medicines and other products designed to improve human life and the health of the planet. While biotechnology products are developed by biochemists, geneticists and other scientists, biotech sales representatives are the ones who actually market the products once they are approved. A biotech sales representative is basically a specialized type of pharmaceutical sales rep.
Education and Training
Biotechnology sales representatives are typically expected to have at least a bachelor's degree. Although it is not mandatory, a degree in the life sciences is generally preferred. Some sales reps earn a master's degree, and a few senior biotech sales execs might even have a Ph.D or an M.D. Most new biotech sales reps undertake extensive on-the-job training to help them understand the products and the science behind them. New sales reps are often mentored by an experienced rep for the first six months or so.
Biotech sales representatives often deal with complex new products. Because of this, sales reps must educate potential customers on the products and what they do. This might involve explaining a cutting-edge cancer immunotherapy or new line of lab rats that have been genetically modified for use in medical research. The need to educate customers before making the sale means that biotech sales reps often work with a traveling marketing team to host seminars designed to highlight the value and uses of their products. Biotech sales reps also make sales calls to physicians and health care purchasing professionals at doctor's offices and hospitals.
Related Reading: Cosmetics Sales Representative Job Description
All drugs and medical therapies, including biotechnology therapeutic products, are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA regulates products based on their safety, efficacy and potential for abuse. Very safe, low-abuse products can be sold over the counter. Drugs with stronger side effects are only available by prescription. As a sales rep, you must explain to potential customers all of the facts specified in the FDA labeling of the drug. Like all pharma sales reps, biotech sales representatives must be very careful to accurately inform doctors and hospitals regarding the indications, efficacy and safety of a product. Failing to adhere to these requirements can result in hefty fines for the pharmaceutical company and damage the career of the sales representative.
Be Brief. Be Bright. Be Gone.: Career Essentials for Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology Sales Representatives
Book (iUniverse Star)