Medical sales reps: seven tips for negotiating compensation

So you’ve landed the job, but now you want to be sure you’re fairly compensated. Here are some key tips for to navigate the compensation negotiation process.

You have the offer for the coveted medical sales rep position you desired, yet one critical component remains – negotiating a fair compensation. Preparing yourself with the right tools can make navigating this process much less intimidating. It can also help you earn a salary that will motivate you to work harder and perform better.

Both medical sales companies and their employees will benefit from a balanced negotiation, where each party leaves feeling like they’ve got a fair deal. Check out these seven tips you need to use when negotiating your compensation:

1. Use experience and accomplishments to lay the groundwork

The first step for negotiating a great compensation package is to lead with your past experience and accomplishments. Remind them of what they’ll get when they hire you and use this to further emphasize your experience specific to the position. What other companies have you worked for? How many years did you spend with each? What sales milestones did you achieve? Quantify your past accomplishments with concrete numbers. It’s important to lay this groundwork to justify the compensation you deserve.

2. Know what you’re worth

Prior to beginning the negotiation process, familiarize yourself with comparable compensation packages and salaries within the industry as well as the city you work. For example, medical and surgical device sales professionals received an average total compensation of $150,890 in 2013. Knowing such information will will help you to determine an acceptable range for your compensation.

“While you don’t want to accept something below your market value, you don’t want to set your expectations too high…”

While you don’t want to accept something below your market value, you don’t want to set your expectations too high and turn down a fair offer. This will also give you a bargaining chip. If your employer offers you something well below your market value or questions your suggested compensation, you can fall back on the medical sales industry standards that justify your request.

3. Be familiar with the different types of compensation packages

There are many different styles of compensation packages for sales reps. Straight commission, variable commission, base plus commission and salary plus bonus are just a few of the most common. Foremost, think about what style most effectively motivates you to sell. Your company will likely have a preferred compensation style, but they just may be open to an alternative option if you present a compelling case. Understanding the different types of compensation packages will also help you to know if you’re getting the best deal compared to what some another company might offer.

4. Let the employer make the first offer

Unless you’re a mind reader, it’s hard to guess the upper limits of what an employer is willing to offer you for compensation. Don’t stress about playing this guessing game. Instead, let the employer make the first offer which will likely land in the lower-middle of what they’re actually willing to pay. This provides a foundation for what you can counter with. If you make the first offer, you risk doing one of two things that could hurt your negotiation power. Either you come in lower than what they were going to offer and cheat yourself out of a better package or you come in much higher and risk turning them off completely. In negotiation, they say the first person to speak loses. Keep this in front of mind when negotiating your compensation and let the employer make the first offer.

“Unless you’re a mind reader, it’s hard to guess the upper limits of what an employer is willing to offer you for compensation.”

5. Be quiet

Don’t be too quick to say yes, no or anything at all when presented with an offer. Even the briefest pause can make your employer worry that you’re about to turn it down and they just might throw in an added incentive before you have to say a word. Even if they don’t, this moment of silence will allow you to collect your thoughts and develop a strategy for your next steps, helping you to remain in control of the negotiation process.

6. Consider other perks and benefits

There are many non-monetary perks of being a medical sales rep. These are part of your compensation package as well. Keep in mind the flexibility, control of your income and ability to help others that comes with working in a field such as medical device sales. Also keep in mind traditional benefits such as paid time off for vacation or sick days, health insurance and 401K.

“There are many non-monetary perks of being a medical sales rep.”

During the negotiation process, if you’re offered a lower compensation than what you originally asked, remember that another job with another company will not always be apples to apples. If you want to work for this company for other reasons that are not tied to salary, it may be worth giving a little on compensation to reap the non-monetary benefits.

7. If it’s what you want, say yes!

You may have been given the advice to never say yes to the first offer you’re given, but in certain situations this isn’t always the best move. If they offer you what you ask for, don’t second guess yourself or try and hold out for more – say yes! Keep in mind the acceptable salary range and compensation you had in mind prior to the negotiation process and be willing to accept something within that range. If you let greed get in the way, you will not only lose the negotiation but could lose the offer as well.

Negotiating your compensation is no easy task. It can be intimidating and leave you wondering if you were given everything you deserve. These seven tips will help you to facilitate an educated, strategic and professional negotiation process with an amicable outcome for both you and your employer.




About the author:

Robyn Melhuish is the Communications Manager at, a job board which gives members access to the most sought after medical sales jobs and pharmaceutical sales jobs on the Web. Connect with Robyn and on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Closing thought: What do you think? Share some additional tips for negotiating sales compensation!