America's largest healthcare recruiting firm.


For over fifteen years, I have utilized Buckman Enochs Coss to hire over one hundred individuals for Sales and Sales Management positions for a variety of healthcare technology firms. Whether it’s been for Fortune 500 companies or early stage, VC backed start-ups, BEC has always done a terrific job in sourcing top-talent.

Scott Schlesner
Vice-President of Sales

Do You Know the Difference Between Pharma and Biotech Sales?

As a pharma sales rep, you’ll present and discuss your product pipeline with a medical decision maker or hospital administrator. And as a biotech sales rep, you’ll be doing more or less the same thing... but with a few key differences. These differences seem small on the surface, but these jobs actually depend on very different skill sets, and in fact, they can send a sales rep down either of two entirely different career paths. Before you commit to one path or another, keep these variations in mind. 

Pharma sales: A few core distinctions 
A generation ago, pharma sales reps would meet with private practice physicians at a doctor’s office or clinic. The reps might bring along a lunch spread, or trinkets and pens with the company’s logo inscribed on the side. Some reps would also bring devices like anatomic models and educational charts (also with the company’s logo imprinted on them) so the doctor could use them during patient education. If the doctor decided to prescribe the drug in question, that momentary decision closed the deal and made the sale.

But the pharma sales landscape — and the challenges faced by the sales rep — are very different today. Lunches and pens are rapidly fading away. But more important, private practice doctors have been replaced by medical decision makers acting on behalf of large healthcare organizations with thousands of patients and strict formulary restrictions. Decisions are no longer based on friendly feelings and giveaways; they’re based on large scale contracting decisions that require the input of many people, and these people are guided by multifaceted concerns, including not only appropriate patient care but also the buy-in of insurance companies and the financial standing of large hospital networks. 

Modern pharma reps have their work cut out for them. They still need to make a convincing, fact-based case to a medical professional in search of appropriate disease treatments. But they also need to understand the complexities of health system contracting.  

Biotech sales: One negotiation can close the deal. 
Unlike pharma reps, biotech reps can typically wrap up an interaction and close a deal with a single sale. Instead of complex long-term or short-term contracting arrangements, biotech sales reps present a single product at a single point in time that can address a single area of need. If the solution can meet the need, the sale can be made and the device or machinery in question can be bought and sold with an internal purchase order. This makes the job easier for biotech reps — but also more difficult. Since the stakes are high and the cost of biotech equipment can be steep, buyers are reluctant to leave a current supplier in favor of a new one — even if their current device isn’t perfect. Biotech reps have to convince medical decision makers that the risk will pay off. 

Both tasks are challenging, but one may represent a better match for your skill sets and personality than the other. To learn more, contact the medical sales recruiting experts at Buckman Enochs Coss and Associates.