Hello Linda,


I'm currently in the process of trying to acquire an associate medical device sales position in Phoenix Arizona. I have updated my resume accordingly and submitted all I can on med reps. I believe I have the skills and experience necessary to be successful at a medical device sales position. I would appreciate any advice and/or comments you have on my med reps profile. Please feel free to contact me at anytime. Thank you very much.




Hello LW,

Thank you for an often asked question, "Is the best way to break into medical device sales through an entry level Associate Sales Role?"  First of all, let me define what most Associate Sales Roles are with those few medical manufacturer firms that offer them: 

  • These are typically entry level positions that have promises of a career path leading to a promotion into a full medical device sales position "IF" the candidate performs well over time "AND IF" the company happens to have an opening "AND" after review of other internal and external candidates.
  • Responsibilities for most Associate Sales Positions are confined to helping the person(s) in the role they ultimately desire, the medical device sales person who has the full responsibility for selling the products and exceeding their sales quota.
  • Most Associate Medical Sales Positions are not assigned accounts or territories that are measured with their own sales numbers and quotas totally isolated from the sales person they are supporting in the field.  

An Associate Sales Role is viewed by Recruiters and Hiring Managers as merely a position supporting a senior sales person by carrying a sample bag around doing the in-servicing (education) and promoting the use of the product to initiate or promote continued or increased sales in the senior person's account. It is viewed as a "sales support activity" position WITHOUT the responsibility of owning the sales numbers.  In other words, as an Associate Sales person, you won't have a measurable sales performance attached to your name for rank and file national sales rankings.

That senior sales person get's credit for the sales and he owns the sales numbers, you will be recognized within the company for helping him, but not given hard numbers you can call your own to market your sales and territory management abilities if you need to seek employment elsewhere.

It is this later point that makes these Associate Sales Roles risky for some people, one is banking almost 100% that the Associate Sales role will result in a promotion to the full responsibility Medical Sales Representative role.  It is very difficult to market yourself from an Associate Sales Role to another company who has a full Territory Sales Manager position, you don't have the sales numbers and rankings to show your sales performance managing a sales territory all by yourself.  In addition, you will be competing with other job candidates for those sales openings who currently manage a territory as a full medical sales or B2B sales representative with top national sales awards.  So it is imperative to ask the following before the interview process.

When interviewing for these entry associate roles you must find out:

  • Is the Associate Role assigned a territory where only YOU are calling on the accounts and own the sales numbers and quota's with sales rankings provided monthly?  
  • Is the Associate Sales Person given their own territory with assigned accounts with no other involvement from a team member (not sharing sales with someone or supporting what really is someone else's account). 

If the answer is "No" to the above, then there are 5 questions you should ask yourself about the type of job and company you are currently employed to help you determine if an Associate Sales Role is YOUR best move breaking into the medical device sales world.  


  1. Are you currently in an outside sales position selling in a Business to Business (B2B) Sales capacity that is recognized and valued in the medical sales industry (ADP, Paychex, Enterprise Rental, Cintas, Copiers, Shredding Companies).  
  2. Are you responsible for your own geographical territory and the sales it produces (with assigned and measurable sales quota performance)?
  3. Do you have forced sales rankings that proves your performance over others?
  4. Do you have yearly sales awards at your company (IE; Presidents Award for top sales people)?
  5. Are you working for a large widely known company that provides excellent industry recognized outside sales training and third party educational courses?

If you answered "Yes" to questions 1 through 3, then NO, an Associate Sales Role is not your best move. As a Medical Device Recruiter I can place someone who is a top sales performer into a medical sales opening where the company is open to hiring a B2B sales person.  These medical companies and won't touch an Associate Medical Sales Person unless it is for a like position (an Associate Role).  

If you answered "Yes" to all 5 questions and are currently a top sales performer then run from an Associate Sales Position.  If you have at least 3 to 4 years tenure at your current company, I can place you in a top company like Medtronic or Johnson and Johnson (a top caliber company) as a medical sales representative, why take a step back?

If you answered "No" to just the 1st question, then grab that Associate Sales Position, because you are either in an inside sales position or working in a gym selling fitness programs or etc.,.  Your best bet is to take the Associate Role and gamble that you will do well enough "AND" an opening will occur that will get you promoted into a medical sales role at that company.

If you answered "Yes" to the 1st question and a "No" to question 2 and/or question 3, then go for an Associate Sales Role.

So, the bottom line is,  if you currently don't have a measurable outside B2B sales position, then go for the Associate Medical Sales Position.  You don't have as much to lose and if, after a 1 or 2 years, you find yourself still stuck in the Associate Medical Sales Role, then go back and get a very strong B2B sales position with ADP, Paychex or etc.,. and then retrace back into medical device sales a few years later for the full Medical Sales Position (see How to Break into Medical Device Sales).

©Linda Hertz, All Rights Reserved  

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