There are many different career paths in the medical device industry. It will play out differently for everybody. In this article we cover the career progression of a medical device sales manager. This provides an overview of how to get into the industry and the career options available moving forward.
Related: How To Get Into Medical Device Sales
Is Medical Sales A Stable Career?
Yes, medical sales offers a stable career path. The medical device industry has a variety of roles and positions for sales professionals. Healthcare is something people will always need. So the industry holds up well during economic downturns and recessions.
Sales Career Path
1. B2B Sales Experience
This is the first step out of college. Medical device sales managers want candidates that have strong outside B2B sales experience. They want reps that have formal training and understand how to sale. This includes time prospecting and developing business in a territory. The product doesn’t really matter. The key is working for an organization that provides reputable training and documented performance. Common entry level sales jobs include positions at copier and payroll service companies.
2. Associate Sales Representative
The best way to break into the industry is an associate sales representative position. This allows a young rep to build skills and experience by working with a senior rep. These positions are tough. They involve long days and lot of case coverage. Also, the pay is not great. But it is the best way to get your foot in the door with an established company. If you perform well and do the right things this will set you up for a promotion to a full line rep position.
3. Full Line Sales Rep
When we talk about medical sales this is what it is all about. A full line rep is called different things at different companies. The position may be referred to as territory manager, account manager, product specialist, sales representative, territory manager, etc. It all means the same thing. This is someone who owns the relationships with customers for a dedicated geography. A rep can stay in a role for a long time. Typically, the job gets better and better with time. The customer relationships get stronger, less prospecting is required, and a rep develops a better understanding of market dynamics.
4. Senior Sales Representative
Every company does this a little bit differently. But in general, most sales organizations have a way of distinguishing senior sales reps. This could be a different compensation plan, a higher base salary, or opportunities for internal mobility within the organization. A senior sales representative is someone that is established in their territory and proved successful year over year.
5. Medical Sales Region Manager
Not everyone is management material and not everyone strives to be a sales manager. Though, the logical career progression typically goes from sales rep to medical device sales manager. A company will promote an established rep with strong product knowledge and relationships. Depending on the company this may be for city, state, or region. A medical sales manager role includes the responsibilities of hiring, developing new reps, forecasting, communicating to leadership, and handing important customers.
6. Medical Sales National Account Manager
Corporate career paths are not always a straight line. Many aspects of a career are based on timing. Maybe an established reps realizes that the region manager position in their area will never open up. Many companies have other roles in which a strong rep can continue to grow and support the company. One such roles is a national account position.
There are customers that are not specific to one geography or sales rep. There are health systems and clinics that span the entire country. Companies like to have a centralized person manage the relationship with these customers. This would be the responsibility of a national or corporate accounts manager. While this may not provide direct managerial experience it can strengthen a resume for future opportunities.
7. Medical Device Sales General Manager
The corporate ladder can be a never ending climb. Especially at large organizations with many layers of management and leadership. The management layer above a region manager is usually a general manager. The role above this is usually a vice president position. A general manager may be responsible for an entire business unit. This may be a specific product, or division. In most organizations the regional sales managers report to a GM.
Related: Is Medical Device Sales Hard?