According to the most recent sectoral analysis from Pharmabio Development, half of the companies in the sector expect difficulties in hiring trade representatives. What profile is being sought?
Concentrated mainly in Quebec and Ontario, Canadian pharmaceutical activity is booming and labour needs are increasing. While analytical chemists and lab technicians are the most sought-after professionals, the Quebec industry also anticipates problems in recruiting pharmaceutical representatives. The sectoral analysis by Pharmabio Development places this profession as the third most problematic job in terms of recruitment. A certain need for continuing education is also anticipated for pharmaceutical representatives, who have to stay abreast of constantly evolving products.
It is indeed not so easy to find the best talents – a pharmaceutical representative has to have both exceptional sales abilities and a close knowledge of drugs and the pharmaceutical industry. As a communicator, he has to juggle the language of both the hospital system and the retail trade, demonstrating familiarity with them by displaying detailed knowledge of the realities of both. Not an easy task.
His knowledge of the therapeutic field has to be of equal or superior quality to all the customers and accounts for which he is responsible: doctors, nurses and pharmacists.
Degrees in science, biochemistry or pharmacy are therefore preferred, and the best candidates have improved their career by university education in business or an MBA. In the context of the current shortage, experienced salespeople may be hired without scientific training, but they will have to prove their extensive pharmaceutical knowledge and their marked (and even passionate) interest in science.
Good seller but also good strategist
By taking a look at job offers, for example those of the Boehringer Ingelheim pharmaceutical group, BD Canada or Medisca, it can be seen that the pharmaceutical representative is an adviser and a “partner” of customers, as well as a strategist called on to collaborate with the heads of health care programs to ensure appropriate deployment of products and services.
He is also often required to be able to connect with speakers and external experts. The representative has a duty to attend conferences and round tables to keep abreast of developments in pharmaceutical knowledge.
While recruiting qualified representatives is a dizzying exercise, employee retention will also be one of the biggest challenges in the years to come, according to the sectoral analysis from Pharmabio Development.