Medical sales executives continue to lead the way in the pay stakes, but how do they continue to defy remuneration odds?
A recent Channel 4 documentary exposed just how sensitive the issue of salary is in the workplace. Employees at a leading plumbing firm in London were asked, face-to-face, to reveal their salary to their colleagues. The outcome wasn’t pleasant. Employees working alongside each discovered they were, in some instances, paid tens of thousands of pounds less than the person working only a few feet away from them. Whilst employees’ pay was eventually brought in-line with their unsuspecting workmates, the moral of the film highlighted just how much people dislike being short-changed – especially in their wage packet.
The Pf Company Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey – now in its 11th year – again highlighted the importance of salary to those working within the medical sales industry. It’s of little surprise that in an era of austerity salary came out on top as the main motivating factor for respondents. While the significance of money is there for all to see, the satisfaction respondents feel when they open their wage slips is somewhat surprising – despite being paid well above UK average. Satisfaction ratings showed salary placed as the 13th out of 18 options.
Figures from the website Payscale.com show that the average salary for men in the UK is now a slightly more than £30,000. For women it’s around six thousand pound less. Short change when compared to figures from the Pf Survey where the median salary from men is £45,000 and women £40,000. Despite nearly all pharmaceutical companies announcing plans to tightening its belts, employees in the medical sales sector are clearly still extremely well paid.
Overall figures from the survey show that annual remuneration packages range from £11,000 up to a wallet-busting £107,000. The median salary for full-time workers travelling from job to job around their territories was £43,000. Even those on part-time hours earned a medium salary of £26,702 – with the highest earner working reduced hours taking home a cool 54k.
The going rate
A career in the medical sales industry pays. The median salary for respondents who have less than six months’ experience within the sector was £23,000 - see Figure 1. One individual began their career within the industry taking home £58,000 per year! The median salaries of those with additional years of experience continued to rise with those clocking up eight years or more earning an average of £45,000.
Age also plays an important factor. The median salaries of those aged 25 and under continue to rise to respondents aged between 45 and 54 years old. Individuals in that age bracket reported a median salary of £45,000, yet those aged beyond their 54th birthday saw their median annual wage fall by two thousand pound. With an ageing workforce, has the medical sales industry targeted this age group to make savings?
Patients may suffer as a result of the postcode lottery but it also seems that medical sales executives do as well – see Figure 2. Median salaries ranged from £42,125 in Scotland up to £47,000 in London. The south east, south west and Wales all clock up median salaries of £45,000 with the north east and Midlands/east slightly behind.
Pharma’s switch in methodology away from a traditional headcount approach to a key account model is reflected in the survey with the median salary for Key Account Managers being £10,500 more than that of a Primary Care Representative (£33,000). Primary and Secondary Care representatives reported a slightly better median salary at £38,880. However, that figure is almost doubled by the median salary of second-line managers at £74k. At the other end of the pay scale, nurse advisors reported the lowest median salary at 30k – as highlighted in Figure 3.
Although public sector workers may have had to endure pay freezes, the same can’t be said of medical sales executives. For the second year running respondents have again reported hearty pay rises – one lucky individual banked a £20,000 rise! Overall, the median salary increase was slightly more than a thousand pound. Key Account Managers reported £100 on top of that figure with second-line managers again enjoying the largest slice of the pie, after receiving a median rise of £2,778.
On top of generous salary increases, respondents also enjoyed bonuses the majority of workers from other sectors – banking aside – could only dream of. In total, the survey found that sales executives received a median bonus of three thousand pounds. The maximum bonus was £50,000. Key Account Managers saw their bonuses fall in line with the average median figure, primary and secondary care representatives were rewarded a thousand pound less than everybody else, and first-line and second-line managers again enjoying generous gratuity sums.
However, very much like salary, respondents were clearly unimpressed with their bonuses. In the satisfaction stakes, only share scheme finished behind bonus in the minds of respondents. It would seem, much like pharma’s shareholders, medical sales executives are a difficult bunch to please – despite enjoying above-inflation rewards.