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Recipe for successful teamwork


Pharmaceutical Representative

Any new sales team will have issues and challenges. Here's how to overcome them.

Any new sales team will have issues and challenges. Here is how one team, with three different personalities and objectives, learned to work together.

Pairing up

When Mistie Larson and Carole Medway first met, they were coming from completely different backgrounds. Larson was beginning her career in pharmaceutical sales while Medway had already been on two pharmaceutical sales teams. One team had been horrific; competition between team members caused serious internal communication problems. The other had been very positive, with excellent communication and teamwork.

Not surprisingly, on her first day working with Larson, Medway insisted on establishing certain ground rules:

•Â No secrets. Always send the other a copy of any voice mail or e-mail about business matters affecting the team.

•Â Form a consistent communication system. At the end of each week, report events via e-mail to one other and to management.

Larson was understanding, flexible and willing to comply with these rules. Medway was elated that Larson had a desire to learn. Her enthusiasm was contagious.

The team grows

Partners Larson and Medway were six months into the year when Marjorie Ormsby joined their team, which they nicknamed the West Valley Achievers. Ormsby, having worked previously on her own at another pharmaceutical company, accepted the ground rules and enhanced the team's efficiency by computerizing their information routing system.

When Ormsby joined the team, Larson and Medway apprised her of specific data and the special circumstances of her target physicians. They established a rule to include any new information or changes in the territory in their weekly reports.

Things were going smoothly until one morning, when the team had its first blow-up.

Miscommunication breeds conflict

The conflict arose because of a miscommunication about the time and place for a weekly morning meeting. One person had said to meet at a certain restaurant and the other person changed the venue and time at the last minute.

Ormsby, who had experience as a manager, stepped in to act as facilitator. She asked her teammates to take the following approach:

•Â Acknowledge that a problem exists using "I" language ("I feel uncomfortable right now. Is there something wrong?")

•Â Allow each person to vent frustrations completely.

•Â Never pass judgment, but offer alternatives and suggestions.

After taking this approach and talking through the issue, the team agreed that they would:

•Â Voice their feelings to each other rather than stew.

•Â Probe to find the reason for the conflict.

•Â Contact each other via a personal phone call within 48 hours if a change to the schedule is necessary.

•Â State the exact time when leaving multiple messages on voice mail.

Achieving more together

Due to their teamwork and focused strategic marketing efforts, the group's hospital and retail sales are up significantly.

And because they are working diligently on their recipe for success - sharing the same view of achievement, understanding the rules for working, communicating together and dealing with conflict – they are attaining goals that they established. They are also living the mission statement that they created together: To become the most respected, most resourceful and most successful pharmaceutical sales team in their territory.

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