Why I Prefer Sales over Marketing? – Pharma Sales vs Pharma Marketing

Why I choose Sales over marketing? That’s not a million dollar question. It’s very simple it’s just that I enjoy the overall sales process.

There are many attributes attached while you select your passion and profession. The million-dollar question is what’s right for you? To make the right choice you should be aware of the job responsibilities, requirements, and opportunities.
Let’s dive in and understand how marketing and sales functions in the pharmaceutical industry.

What is marketing?

As per Google’s highest-ranked definition, marketing is “the action or business of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising.”

For me, marketing in the pharmaceutical industry is more of how to build a sustainable brand which can be an asset for the organization and is aligned with the company’s objective.

What is Sales?

As per Google’s definition, a sale is: “the exchange of a commodity for money; the action of selling something.”

Salesforce objective in any industry is considered to drive the brand plan into actions and achieve targets. As per the general understanding that’s the whole purpose of annual and quarterly meetings where salespeople attend marketing sessions and get an overview of the marketing plans that they have to align themselves with.

But that’s not cent percent true. Pharma sales is more complex than just that, selling in the pharmaceutical industry is more of a personalized selling. You have to curate your message for each and every customer as per their liking and also while doing this the basic essence of the message set by the marketing department should not change. So it is impossible for pharmaceutical industry marketers to come up with a brand plan and message that’s for each and every customer. Certainly, proper segmentation and alignment of message for the segmented customer come to the rescue, but even after segmentation each and every customer is different. Therefore, Pharma selling is more dependent on the salesperson who visits the customer and represents the product and the company along with it.

The most important factor in healthcare sector is that for a customer, a pharmaceutical company (be it of any size) is the person who is representing it. Almost 90 % percent of the customers would not be knowing head of the company by their name. But, having said that, obviously, goodwill of the company comes in to play, but it will not last for long if proper representation is not provided. If you further drill to the basics, it is not rocket science to understand that there is a high probability that the existing goodwill of the company would have been created by the earlier interaction of the sales executive.

The pharma market is a very agile market. It is definitely a “u miss, I hit” contest especially in the me-too segment. Marketing and brand plan definitely provide purview for the sales executive.

Job Responsibilities:

Many consider that marketing and sales are one and the same thing. But that’s not true. Selling is a subset of marketing. Marketing as a whole covers a lot of aspects. Marketing is about identifying and fulfilling the needs of customers. Marketing starts from identifying and goes beyond selling that is CRM (Customer Relationship Management). Marketing involves Brand Management, Product Management, New product development, pricing theories, distribution, advertising, promotion effect monitoring to name the few.

When it comes to job responsibilities of sales function it involves various aspects such as organizing sales visits, cold calling, demonstrating and presenting products, establishing a new business, maintaining accurate records, reviewing sales performance, negotiating contracts and packages, aiming to achieve monthly or annual targets and many more depending upon the position you are in.

Requirements for seeking the job:

Well, when it comes to marketing its more of a support function for sales. The aim is to support the sales team and provide an environment for conducive growth. A master’s degree in marketing is preferred and the icing on the cake is a bachelor’s degree from the same genre which you are going to work for. Like to be part of the product management team of a pharmaceutical company, you need to have a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy along with a management degree from a good university. Skills required for marketing personnel varies from sector to sector but some are the bare minimum. They are excellent teamwork skills, proven ability to influence cross-functional teams without formal authority, the ability to influence and work collaboratively with sales, medical, training team, business development, SFE etc. is especially important.

Now when it comes to being a working member of a sales team we can find people from a plethora of backgrounds. The sales function is very accommodative in nature as demand for sales personnel is high in any sector. As the sales team are a revenue generator and rest all the functions in the company are expense generators. But nowadays professionals having technical background are more preferred. As it is easy for them to understand and make customers understand what they are selling. The skillset required is maturity, confidence, perseverance, patience, excellent interpersonal skills, commercial awareness, IT skills, and numerical skills to name a few.

One major thing to focus on is that it is generally considered that when a company is in crisis, it will first downsize marketing effort. The sales will be the last one to suffer.

Job Opportunities:

When it comes to job opportunities, certainly the distribution of product requires lots of people. So that is the reason, when you meet someone mostly they are from the sales department.  In the sales department, it’s easy to get a job and it accepts a wider applicant. When it comes to marketing jobs, employers narrow down applicants list. They want to hire a professional who has experience in the same field for which they have a vacancy.

One more important thing to consider in pharmaceutical sales and marketing jobs is how mobile are you? Like when you consider doing a sales job it is likely that you will land up a job in your own city or district. But when you consider a marketing profile, places, where you will land a job, are few, only the metro cities.

With sales, you also have the mobility to move anywhere within the nation. When you are an entry-level or mid-level employee in the sales department. Higher-level sales managers have no choice but to report at head office.

Conclusion :

Clearly there are various aspects to sales and marketing jobs. Some might work for you some might not. It is also understood that the sales department has more job opportunities. It is up to you which path you have to choose, depending upon various aspects that are applicable to you.

For me, it was sales because as a teenager, I was fascinated by the overall sales process, passionate to build relationships with customers directly and was lure by the adrenaline rush which I use to get thinking about the successful sales transaction.

I totally believe whatever you do give your cent percent and positive results will follow.

Hope you enjoyed reading this.

Want to learn more about pharma sales job? View our video “Understanding A Pharma Territory Business Manager”

Connect with the author Rupeshchandra on his social media handle @

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