Sales Careers in the Medical Device Industry

Professional Recruiting Network, Inc.
Is a sales career in the 
Medical Device Industry 
right for you?
  • Do you want the opportunity to earn over $150,000 per year?

  • Do you want to work in a high tech, professional environment?

  • Do you work for companies like: ADP, Paychex, Xerox, Lanier, Ikon Office Solutions, Pitney bowes, Ikon, Cintas, Gallo Wine, Enterprise or Fed Ex?

Scott Grillo, President & Founder of Professional Recruiting Network, Inc., answers your questions about career development in the medical device industry.  Following a 17 year career in medical device sales, as an executive recruiter, Mr. Grillo has placed over 950 sales professionals with over 300 prominent medical device industry manufacturers. Having taken over 3,000 job requisitions and interviewing over 80,000 medical industry sales professionals, he is recognized as an expert in career development, sales talent acquisition and resume construction and formatting.
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  • base salary 
  • last years total income 
  • a brief description of  what you are looking for in your next position.
The average medical device industry sales representative earns between $140,000 and $200,000, with some exceeding $300,000.   How do you get in?

Most medical device industry sales reps are recruited from companies like ADP, Paychex, Xerox, Lanier, Ricoh, Ikon Office Solutions, Pitney bowes, Enterprise, Cintas, FedEx, Gallo Wine, or other prominent business products companies. If you have 3 + years experience,  you may be immediately qualified for a medical sales position that could  produce $150,000 to over $300,000 per year.  

Take a minute to register with us or send me a resume and let's have a confidential conversation about your options and the potential opportunities for your future.   Our clients have openings right now in many major markets.

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If you are a recent or pending college graduate,  your best option to prepare yourself for a lucrative medical sales career is to get a solid foundation in sales training and experience by working for one of these companies to get the "airspeed" to really take off with your career. 

A quick review of the information on this page will expose you to the types of opportunities available to you and guide you in the right direction before you are too far along in your career to change the path you are on. 

In any sales career, the leverage you have over your career development and earnings is the greatest in the first 5 years after college, so the decisions you make now are critical to your future.  The information below will help you decide if the medical device industry is the place for you, and help guide you through the first years of your career development and better understand the nature of the career paths.   

A Career in Medical Sales

A sales career in the medical device industry can be both rewarding and lucrative with total earnings ranging from $85,000 to $400,000 or more for top performers in some positions.  The industry is somewhat insulated from general economic downturns due to the nature of industry funding sources (government and private insurance) and the steadily increasing and predictable demand for healthcare services due to the aging population.  Technology plays an important role and unlike some high tech industries,  rapid product obsolescence and "bursting bubbles" rarely happen due to the FDA's mitigating influence on rapid product development and introduction.  Many sales professionals enjoy an entire career with excellent earnings without ever needing to advance to management in order to increase their income.   Now; the important part... how do you get these lucrative jobs?

Prerequisites for getting hired   

90% of sales reps hired from outside our industry come from business products companies like the ones listed above. The reason is simple: these companies  are well known to hire well, train well and provide entry level sales people the opportunity to develop and document their sales abilities. The high income ranges for their salespeople after 4 - 5 years are equal to the starting income range for the medical industry, therefore their sales reps become perfect targets for recruitment into the higher paying medical device industry. 

If you have completed 3 - 8 years of business products sales and have documented awards and rankings,  you are ready to go!   Submit your resume and give us a call!  

If you have recently graduated with little or no sales experience, our recommendation is to build a strong foundation for recruitability by first working for one of the companies below for 3+ years. Nobody wants to wait, but is if you invest your efforts wisely,  you will build the most solid foundation for recruitability and future success, as the very best companies hire from this resume profile.  Short cutting this by accepting a "substandard" sales position out of college with a less desirable company that will not prepare you for maximum recruitability,  can cost you untold income and opportunity over your career.   If you are recently out of school, it is your safest bet for a great future.

Recommended List of ideal entry level sales jobs with employment web link:

  • ADP
  • Paychex 
  • Gallo Wine
  • Xerox
  • Ikon Office
  • Cintas Uniforms
  • FedEx
  • Pitney Bowes

Although the above companies are the most attractive recruiting targets for medical employers, sales experience with any nationally recognized company will do, so long as they meet the following important guidelines:

  • Must have more than 10 sales reps you compete with to establish "stack" rankings
  • Must establish and publish quota results by rep
  • Must provide annual stack rankings  (sales rankings)
  • Must provide sales awards (rookie of year, Presidents club, etc.)
  • Must be "outside" or field sales of tangible business related products / services
  • No real estate, mortgage sales, retail, family business, health clubs

If you graduate and go to work for a company that does not meet these criteria,  you will not be able to prove sales success on your resume thus you will find it difficult to compete for the better paying positions.

Send us your resume after 2 years and let us go to work to find you your first medical sales position.   Your peak recruitability will begin after year 3 but 2 years is not too soon to begin to keep your eyes open.  See our resume support link for more information about formatting the optimal sales resume.

Although it is very possible for veteran sales reps from other industries to gain access to the medical device industry, the statistics show that about 80% of the hires made are from the business products world with the candidates being between 3 and 8 years out of college.  The reason is simple and has nothing to do with "age" discrimination.  It has to do with "income" discrimination.   The common denominator for hiring success in sales is to find the best talent making less than the job you are offering.  By definition, if a rep is growing and successful, their income will at some point, out pace the job market.  That happens around that 5 - 10 year mark at which point their marketability begins to fall.  That fact and the questions surrounding the reasons for leaving the other industry keep the sub 8 year "copier" reps in a more competitive position.  Until the world runs out of those,  the rest will have a rough time competing for the positions.   Regardless of your personal motivation, there is really no palatable reason for most managers to accept someone who is "ok" with a drop in pay.

Pharmaceuticals vs. Medical Device?

Before embarking on a career in medical sales, it is important to understand the key difference between Pharmaceutical sales and Medical Device sales.     

Pharmaceutical sales

Pharmaceutical sales is essentially promoting increased prescription writing of drug products to physicians. I use the term "promoting" instead of "selling" as the sales person rarely walks out of the office with an actual order.  The salesforce of most major pharmaceutical manufacturers is in reality, an extension of the marketing and advertising department.  The sales process is very process oriented, heavy on report writing, and management is more concerned with the number of calls and presentations made as opposed to actual results achieved.  The reason is simple; it is difficult, if not impossible to trace the sales or productivity of any one individual sales rep. They can only review tracings of regional prescription writing behavior; thus they compensate their reps accordingly with larger salaries but small, quarterly paid "bonuses".  The higher initial salaries are very attractive to entry level sales people, but it is a "heroin" that is very difficult to kick once the individual learns to depend on their salary as their primary means of support.  Once they realize that they have little control over their overall income growth, it is too late.  Total annual compensation rarely exceeds $90 - 100,000, with 60 - 80% of the income as base salary.  Because most pharmaceutical manufacturers have 300 - 500 + sales reps, territories are usually relatively small, sometimes one or two cities in size.  Most provide excellent benefits and a company car.  Because management focuses mostly on "the number of calls made" per day,  a rep can often start late and finish early, so long as they make their call quota.  For this reason,  pharmaceuticals can be an excellent choice for a 2nd income earner who needs to stay close to home with no travel.   The downside?  Because it is hard to trace individual productivity, don't expect to be paid extra for your individual efforts except in rare circumstances.  Contrary to popular belief, Pharmaceutical sales IS NOT the path to medical device sales.  In point of fact,  medical device managers maintain a strong bias against hiring Pharmaceutical reps because they learn to be too "procedural" and lack strong closing skills.  The pharmaceutical reps best chance at moving into device sales will come if they do so within 4 years of entering pharmaceutical sales, and if they seek a position selling to their physician or medical specialty in the device arena with common customer relationships and clinical product knowledge.

Pharmaceutical Sales 

  • Small territories
  • Promotional style selling, soft close
  • Salary is major component of compensation total
  • larger salaries $50,000 - 75,000 +  
  • limited overall incomes $60,000 - $95,000 +
  • Limits ability to transfer to Med Device Sales 

Medical Device Sales

Medical Device sales refers to the sale of real and tangible products or services used by doctors, nurses or clinical professionals in hospitals, doctors offices, long term care facilities (nursing homes), home health care agencies,  outpatient surgery centers or other healthcare facilities.  Depending on the type of employer and product, the sales process can span the gamut from true prospecting, qualifying and closing business with individual physicians in the office environment, to surgical sales where the rep regularly attends surgical procedures in support of the surgeon and operating room nurses who may have questions about the set up or use of the product, to hospital based account management / supply sales where relationship development is important.  Because the products sold are discreet, shippable items and can be easily tracked, traced and credited to the sales rep,  commission incentives become a more prominent feature of the compensation package.  Commission can account for 60 to 100% of the reps income vs. base salary; quite the opposite from pharmaceutical sales.  The good news, is that in 95% of the case the commission is paid monthly and the overall earnings begin where pharmaceuticals leave off, and can range from $80,000 per year to the average of $140,000 to well over $400,000 in some cases.  The bulk of W-2 earnings we observe run between $130,000 and $250,000.

If you are considering a career in medical device sales and you are graduating from college,  the device companies have a very strong preference in hiring business products sales people over pharmaceutical sales people so you would be better off staying with Xerox for a couple more years instead of jumping into pharma to "make your self more marketable".

      Medical Device Sales

  • Larger territories, some overnights in non major metropolitan area
  • True sales, close for signature
  • Salary is low relative component of compensation
  • Salaries run from $45,000 to $65,000 on average 
  • Income ranges from $75,000 to $400,000 +

How can Professional Recruiting Network 
confidentially  find me a job?

Confidential notification of job openings

Once your resume is confidentially on file with PRN,  we will call you anytime a position opens up that you are qualified for and offers an improvement in your income and/or an advancement in your desired career path.

Proactive Candidate Marketing Services

PRN maintains extensive relationships and contacts directly with the hiring sales managers of the over 1,000 medical device industry manufactures.  For the most marketable candidates, we can proactively contact and anonymously "market" your experience and skill set profile to hundreds of hiring managers who routinely hire sales professionals with your experience, then bring the opportunities directly to you before you ever risk releasing your resume to anyone and announcing your intentions to leave your employer.  After careful consultation, if you chose to have PRN release your resume to that specific employer, we will do so only with your permission and knowledge.  In this way, your identity is kept confidential between yourself, PRN and the employer with the job opening.

To submit a resume to PRN 
If you answer yes to these 3 questions, you could be weeks away from a new career in medical sales!