People frequently ask, "how much can you make as a physician if you choose to leave clinical medicine?"
If you're a medical specialist and you're working for a pharma or biotech company in a "Medical Director" role, then you can expect to see a salary that's close to your current salary (or it's also very likely to be quite a bit higher). On the other hand, if you're not a specialist and if you lack significant industry work experience, then it's probably fair to say that you'll probably start with a base salary of less than $150k/year (and in many cases less than $100k/year).
Now, in the world of sales (or business development), your earning potentials can be much higher if your compensation structure revolves around commissions and other performance-based incentives. The beginning is often the most difficult part because you'll be spending a considerable amount of time prospecting new clients to build your business. It's always exciting when you close a sale because you know that you've accomplished something tangible and you know that you'll be financially rewarded.
I was speaking to one person the other day who makes a base salary of $150k/year, but also has the ability to make over $150k/year with commissions alone. You could actually double your salary if you're talented, persistent and if the market is able to support your business. The flip side is that the economy or industry could struggle and you may lose a lot of business. As a result, your commission-based income could be minimal and if you may need to dig into your savings to support your lifestyle. In the world of sales, it's important to be realistic about your income goals and to set aside a significant buffer so that you can anticipate swings in sales and income.