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A Recruiter’s Guide to Hiring a Pharmaceutical Account Manager

Written by: Lucy Walters
Published on: 8 Feb 2024

Hiring a Pharmaceutical Account ManagerIn this guide, we explore the essential steps and considerations for you to keep in mind when searching for and selecting candidates for the role of pharmaceutical account manager.

From understanding the unique demands of the role to identifying key competencies and conducting effective interviews, this guide will provide you with valuable tips to help you focus your candidate search and engage top talent.

Understanding the Role of a Pharmaceutical Account Manager: What are the Key Responsibilities?

A pharmaceutical account manager holds a pivotal role in the pharmaceutical industry, tasked with managing relationships with key accounts and driving sales growth. They play a critical role in connecting pharmaceutical companies with healthcare providers such as hospitals, clinics, and pharmacies. By building and nurturing strong relationships with key accounts, they become a trusted partner, gaining insight into client needs and aligning pharmaceutical products and services accordingly.

Account managers also focus on identifying and capitalising on sales opportunities within their assigned accounts. They develop and execute strategic sales plans, negotiate contracts, and seek out new avenues for revenue generation. This involves collaborating with cross-functional teams, such as marketing and medical affairs, to develop tailored solutions that cater to the unique requirements of each account.

Defining Your Candidate Profile: What Does a Successful Pharmaceutical Account Manager Look Like?

Whilst the candidate qualities you’ll be seeking will vary between roles, some of the key skills and traits to look out for include:

  • Industry knowledge: Look for candidates with a solid understanding of the pharmaceutical industry, including its regulations, market dynamics, and competitive landscape. This knowledge will enable them to provide informed guidance to key accounts and make strategic decisions.
  • Consultative selling skills: Seek candidates who can identify client needs, present tailored solutions, and communicate the value and benefits of pharmaceutical products and services effectively.
  • Relationship management expertise: The ability to build and nurture relationships is crucial in account management roles. Look for candidates who possess strong relationship management skills, including the ability to establish trust, maintain open lines of communication, and proactively address client concerns.
  • Analytical and strategic thinking: Seek candidates with strong analytical skills who can analyse market data, identify trends and opportunities, and develop strategic account plans to drive sales growth.
  • Regulatory compliance knowledge: As the pharmaceutical industry is highly regulated, look for candidates who have a strong understanding of compliance requirements, can navigate complex regulations, and ensure that account activities align with legal and ethical standards.
  • Resilience and adaptability: As the pharmaceutical industry is subject to constant change and challenges, seek candidates who can adapt to evolving market conditions, handle setbacks with resilience, and demonstrate a flexible approach to problem-solving.

Remember that by focusing on skills-based hiring, you’ll allow for a more inclusive and diverse candidate pool, as you’ll be able to consider a broader range of candidates and create opportunities for those who may have been previously overlooked based on traditional criteria.

Interviewing Your Candidates: What Questions Should You Ask?

When interviewing candidates for the role of pharmaceutical account manager, incorporate some of the below questions to help you assess their suitability for the role:

  • Can you describe your experience in the pharmaceutical industry and your understanding of its unique challenges?
  • How do you build and maintain relationships with key accounts?
  • Can you provide an example of a successful sales strategy or campaign you have implemented to drive revenue growth in the past?
  • How do you handle objections and negotiate contracts with clients?
  • Can you describe the steps you take to stay updated on industry trends, competitive activities, and regulatory changes?
  • Give an example of a situation where you had to handle a challenging client or resolve a difficult issue. How did you approach it?
  • What strategies do you employ to proactively identify opportunities for upselling or cross-selling pharmaceutical products to existing clients?
  • How do you ensure compliance with industry regulations and ethical standards in your interactions with clients?
  • Can you explain your approach to developing and executing strategic account plans to meet sales targets?
  • Describe a time when you had to collaborate with other teams (e.g., marketing, medical affairs) to deliver a comprehensive solution to a client. How did you ensure effective teamwork?
  • How do you prioritize your accounts and manage your time effectively to ensure you meet the needs of each client?
  • Give an example of a difficult negotiation you have been involved in. How did you handle it, and what was the outcome?
  • Can you explain a situation where you had to address a customer complaint or dissatisfaction? How did you resolve it?
  • How do you approach customer retention and building long-term partnerships?
  • Describe a time when you had to adapt your sales approach or strategies due to changes in market conditions or client needs.
  • Can you provide examples of how you have utilized CRM software or tools to manage customer interactions and sales activities?
  • How do you stay motivated and resilient in a competitive and fast-paced industry like pharmaceuticals?
  • Describe a time when you had to work independently to achieve a sales target or objective. How did you stay focused and ensure success?
  • How do you keep yourself informed about the latest advancements and research in the pharmaceutical industry?
  • Can you share an example of a situation where you had to align multiple stakeholders with varying interests towards a common goal? How did you manage it?

Assessing Your Candidates: What Tasks Could You Set?

When interviewing candidates for a pharmaceutical account manager position, utilising tasks and assessments can be instrumental in employing skills-based hiring techniques. These techniques focus on evaluating candidates’ transferable skills and assessing their capabilities through practical simulations or exercises.

Here are five tasks and assessments to consider:

  • Role-play: Ask candidates to participate in a role-play exercise where they act as a pharmaceutical account manager interacting with a challenging client. This will allow you to assess their communication skills, negotiation tactics, and their ability to handle objections in a sales context.
  • Account analysis: Provide candidates with a set of sample account data and ask them to analyse and identify key growth opportunities, risks, and strategies for account management. This task allows you to evaluate their analytical skills, market awareness, and ability to identify business opportunities.
  • Sales presentation: Request candidates to create a sales presentation for a new pharmaceutical product, highlighting its features, benefits, and unique selling points. This assessment allows you to assess their sales and presentation skills, their ability to tailor messages to target audiences, and their expertise in conveying compelling value propositions.
  • Case study: Present candidates with a hypothetical case study involving a pharmaceutical account management challenge. Ask them to provide a written plan outlining their strategic approach to tackling the situation. This task helps evaluate their critical thinking, problem-solving abilities, and their understanding of the pharmaceutical industry dynamics.
  • Client relationship exercise: Provide candidates with a scenario where they need to manage a difficult client relationship. Ask them to draft an email or a response outlining their proposed strategy for resolving the issue and maintaining the client relationship. This assessment allows you to observe their relationship management skills, communication abilities, and their capacity to handle challenging situations professionally.

These go beyond traditional interview questions, enabling you to observe candidates in action and gain more insight into their competency and potential fit for the role.

Benchmarking Your Salaries: What is the Average Pay in the UK and USA?

Whilst salary will depend on numerous factors including location, employer type, contract type, years of experience and more, we’ve included below the average salary for an account manager in both the UK and USA, based on data collected by Indeed. The data below is based on account manager roles across all industries, not exclusively pharmaceuticals.


In the UK, the average base salary for an account manager as of January 2024 is £33,263 per year. The highest-paying cities for this role are London (£39,495), Birmingham (£35,922), Bournemouth (£35,187), Manchester (£33,170), and Newcastle upon Tyne (£32,995).


In the USA, the average base salary for an account manager as of January 2024 is $68,327 per year, from a range of between $36,400 to $128,258, along with an average commission of $18,000 per year. The highest-paying cities for this role are New York, NY ($87,335), Los Angeles, CA ($78,517), Nashville, TN ($74,631), Houston, TX ($71,536), and Austin, TX ($69,713).

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