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    3 Things That Make A Good Detailing Bag For Pharma Sales Reps

    good detailing bag

    What qualify as a good detailing bag for a pharma sales rep?

    Well, the answer will depend on a few factors, which I might touch on the following paragraphs, and a lot is depend on common sense.

    You see, when I got started back in 1998, medical reps got to carry with them this huge black bag, often called, the "pilot" bag.

    But of course, that were reps from that particular company ...

    ... There were reps from other companies who carry smaller, even larger bags.

    The point is:

    The size of bag was determined by the number of products a rep cover.

    detailing bag content
    A product has certain promotional materials attached to it.

    A product might have just a handful material, and others might have thousands of materials.

    What constitute a promotional material?

    It could be brochures, clinical papers or reprints, leave behind materials, gimmicks, or samples.

    But starting from late 2000, reps were not allowed to carry samples or at least some product samples due to regulatory issue.

    There were some reps who being too "entrepreneur" and become their own retail outlets.

    So, basically, right now, a rep need to put papers and gimmicks in their detailing bags.

    And here are 3 things that make a good detailing bag:


    bag compartment

    I prefer to have a few:

    One to put in my mobile gadget, external charger, and connection wires.


    I need compartment to put in the brochures.

    At this juncture, I don't mind mixing up all the products' brochures but if I can separate them, it's better. But a compartment to put brochures is preferable.


    I need place to put in the gimmicks.

    Now, certain companies had stopped giving them to customers but the company I'm with now, still giving them. Most of the time, gimmicks were just pens, but we got creative product managers who come up with other stuff like paperweight, paper bags, etc.

    The reason why we need such compartment is because we, reps, would not want to broke the gatekeepers heart by not giving them the gimmicks. It's not that we don't want to but we couldn't afford to ...

    ... Some gimmicks were made just enough for customers.

    So, what do we have?

    Compartments for brochures, mobile devices and gimmicks.


    bag compartment two
    Medical reps are all over the places:

    They travel a lot and if they bring something to accompany them, that things need to be durable. They do not necessarily made from "hard to find", expensive materials, but durability is a must!

    The pilot bag I talked about; that stays with me for more than five years.

    I returned it to the company upon my resignation.

    When I worked with a diagnostic company at one time, I used a back-pack with a very reputable brand, but one of the zipper give away after a few months ...

    ... And threads were coming out from one of the pockets too.

    That qualify as not being durable.

    The current one I'm using is also a back-pack, and it's been with me for more than a year now with no defect whatsoever.

    It also carries no big brand name!

    But I just wish it have more compartments (see the "compartment" point above).


    bag design

    When we talked about detailing bag design, we're going to talk about overall design, like how many pockets it has, and colors.

    Yes, colors, to a certain extent, is important!

    Since pharma reps carry this "professional" images, and they always "mean business", the bags' colors are, preferably, fit their images.

    To me personally, that means, single color like black or dark brown ...

    ... But that's just me.

    I mean:

    If the product the reps are promoting need to convey cheerful images, for instance, paeds patients, by all means knock themselves dead with multiple colors.

    The one I'm using now is blue (light blue), and I'm quite happy with it, unless I happen to sit with another rep who carries the same color!

    There's no permanent and standard color code here, but do use common sense when choosing a suitable bag to put your detailing stuffs.


    Imagine a rep carrying a cloth-knitted bag, made of multi color threads and it's a sling bag: how's that appears to you?

    Imagine that for a second.


    In choosing a suitable detailing bag for pharmaceutical sales reps, common sense is always the most important mental filter they can use.

    The bags, not only need to be functional, they need to be durable and appropriate for the image the reps are portraying.

    In fact, there are times when the bags need to be "minimally suspicious" as detailing bags. There are eyes watching, and they might think you're keeping boxes of Viagra or Cialis or Versed in there. Things happened, so it's better to be safe than sorry.

    Sling Bag Or Backpack To Work?

    sling bag

    I used to have two backpacks and not a single sling bag to carry my things to work early this year.

    But things change just 2 months back.

    Now I have 2 sling bags and one backpack that I rotate for my job.

    Yes, I'm always on the move and to me, last time, I carried a lot of brochures, file folders and gimmicks along.

    Things slowly change:

    The economy change, which causes less stuffs produced and less things for me to carry
    My area change. From 3 states I now cover only one.

    In short, these changes allow me to carry less things now.

    I prefer backpack last time because it's really easy on my back.

    back pack
    The burden falls largely on my sturdy, muscular shoulder and I don't feel much even I got like tons of stuffs inside it.

    Then I recall following my wife to buy perfumes ...

    ... She bought one and as free giveaway, she got a damn nice sling bag!

    The bag is light brown color with leather-colored straps and shoulder pad. It was (and still) really cool.

    I rearrange some of my things from the backpack into the sling bag. I thought it was OK right until the time when I carry it out with me to work.

    Well, I look fine, judging from the reflection I saw along the shops' mirror but my shoulder was giving 'uneasy' signal. It was probably the stuffs moving back and forth inside the bag. I don't blame them. It's quite spacious in there.

    But I just carry on and pretend like business was as usual.

    One day, I was helping my wife clearing some old stuffs from the store room. I was pretty amazed to see the amount of stuffs we buy and keep all these years. If only they're like shares, I would be pretty darn rich by now!

    Anyway ...

    ... As I help along, I noticed one sling bag, black color, and smaller than my current one, was still nicely wrap in plastic.

    I took it out and wow!

    It feels brand new.

    I throw away the plastic wrap and started to investigate my newfound sling bag. At this point of time, I totally ignored what's going on with my wife. I was preoccupied with the black sling bag.

    The bag has 3 nicely compartment, separated by soft cotton-like material between each compartment. Plus one more zipped pocket outside, it has 4 compartments altogether.

    "This is nice," I shouted inside me.

    I straight away went for my old sling bag (sigh! Old already) and started to sort them into the new sling bag.

    Because of the smaller size, things fit into the new bag just nice. I tried walking around with it from bedroom to the kitchen.

    "I'm gonna love this," I told myself.

    As you can imagine, the black sling bag is now my official bag. I carry it most of the time I go to work and when I attend official function.

    If you asked me right now, would I change my style down the road, my answer would probably be:

    "YES, I may."

    But as of right now and perhaps a few more years to come, the backpack is going to take the back seat.

    Does my back still transmitting the uneasy signal?

    Once in a while and it probably got killed by the awesome look of myself every time I saw the reflection of myself in the mirror ...

    ... Every time!

    They said looks can kill.

    Well, it could be true, if I refer to my uneasy back feeling.

    How to Choose Bags For Medical Sales Rep

    choose bag

    Medical sales rep will have a number of materials to carry when they’re on their job. They’ll have to bring along brochures, samples, giveaway materials (we’re seeing less of them these days), and clinical papers.

    Of course, some companies have moved to paperless by providing iPads, tablets or laptops but most pharma companies still going with the usual way ...

    ... And that means MR still have to carry stuffs when making their calls.

    I’ve been through both: the high-tech and the √≥ld-school’ stuff.

    My take on either way is to always be prepared:

    What if the iPad got stolen?
    What if you drop it and it broke?
    What if the system is attacked by virus?

    And there is more scary stuff from that point of view.

    Same goes to the old way:

    What commonly happen is either you’ve left the material somewhere and you can’t recall or you’ve run out of supply. Both can spell disaster especially when the rep has their Sales Manager (SM) tailing them.

    It’s an awful state to be in. Believe me. I know.

    A good, professional sales bag can hugely help in such dire situation.

    Not only that, the same bag can tell stories about the salespersons that carry it and the company that the reps represent. It’s a good idea to convey favorable messages about the rep and the company.

    All that begins by choosing the right bag for medical sales professional.

    Here are the tips on how to choose the right sales bags for medical sales professionals:

    choose bag tips

    1) Sales bags that have been designed and improved by active medical sales representatives.
    Who would be in the better position to recommend bags for medical sales use than medical rep themselves, right?

    2) Heavy-duty bags built for everyday use.
    Those materials and stuffs that reps have to carry, in my experience, can only add on as time goes by. If the bag give away while these reps were on their line of duty, it could only mean disaster!

    3) Wheel system that glides smoothly and quietly over all surfaces and compartments.
    Doesn’t this remind us of the bag that we carry with us at the airport?
    Really can imagine how easy it is to have those wheels installed.

    4) Specifically customized to organize your unique supplies.
    Not two reps are the same. Nor two departments are the same. And no two channels are the same. Those reps who cover GP would not appreciate huge, bulky sales bags but those who cover the hospital?
    It’s a different story altogether.

    5) Perfect for your trunk stock or other storage needs.
    The right bag size can save space for typical sedan car which the type of car that many reps can afford anyway. For something bigger, then medical sales rep might not be the right profession already.

    On top all the above, some added features (as listed below) would not hurt a bit:

    bag added features

    Interior foam padding and exterior hard plastic to protect your equipment
    Commercial-grade materials
    Multiple color options available
    Zipper pockets for literature and product storage
    Customizable interior with removable/adjustable divider system
    Lid pouch pocket to carry long boxes on exterior of bag
    Add-on strap that wraps around the handle of a briefcase, laptop bag, purse, etc.

    Bag-less Pharma Sales Rep

    I used to carry an organizer only when I go see my customers during my stint as pharma sales rep.

    I only carry my detailing bag when the bosses follow me for fieldwork (wink!).

    You know why?

    I can afford to carry an organizer only because of the ground work that I had done previously.


    You probably thought that I didn't carry my detailing bag from day one!

    You can do that actually if you're replacing another medical rep and he did helluva good job.

    Otherwise, better roll up your sleeve and get your hands dirty.

    And it won't take you forever to ditch the detailing bag aside once you know what you're doing ...

    ... And the customers are familiar with you, your product, and the company you represent.

    But do carry the bag if the bosses (or aspired to be bosses) are around.

    Lets just say they wouldn't understand why you just carried an organizer.


    It doesn't matter how many compartment your detailing bag has:

    You can carry bag with a single compartment and put everything in
    You can carry a bag with multiple compartments, like the pilot bag I used to carry when I first got started.

    The compartment doesn't really matter when you don't carry one.

    And these days they have iPad!
    rep with ipad

    Last time you need to bring along, at least, few brochures, product catalog, and sales order.

    But the pharma sales reps of today have iPad ...

    ... All that you used to carry inside your detailing bag can now made available in the iPad.

    You key in all the info you need or you communicate with the other party, and your task is done.

    It's that simple.

    The pharma sales reps of today are moving towards bag-less environment.

    I've worked my way for that since I got started.

    That's how advance I was (ehem!).

    Are you working towards bag-less as well?

    PS. While you're at it, give these tips on choosing the right sleeve for medical rep, and the right choice of pants a quick read.


    1. Great article! The best bag I have found for toting all of my pharma samples around is from www.detailedproducts.com. The four wheeled bag has been fantastic!

      1. Great info! Thanks for sharing. I'm pretty sure many medical sales reps can benefit from this.