Trainers face two key pharmaceutical sales issues

March 1, 1999

Pharmaceutical Representative

Two issues that have a significant impact on pharmaceutical sales divisions will be discussed at the 1999 annual meeting of the National Society of Pharmaceutical Sales Trainers: teamwork and technology.

Two issues that have a significant impact on pharmaceutical sales divisions will be discussed at the 1999 annual meeting of the National Society of Pharmaceutical Sales Trainers: teamwork and technology.

At one point, sales reps were responsible only for products manufactured by the company that employed them. Today, many are involved in copromotions. In some cases, this has given rise to the concept of "mirrored territories," in which two sales reps cover the exact same geographic territory and present the same product to the same physicians.

Sales reps, who tend to be competitive by nature, are being called upon to cooperate with others to enhance their sales efforts. This new spirit of cooperation can place unfamiliar responsibilities on trainers and managers to help sales reps flourish in a cooperative environment. There is more emphasis on planning, delegation and support of team effort.

Technology has revolutionized the amount of information that sales reps have available to them. Many companies are moving away from the computerized call reporting systems of the past, which only fed information from the field to sales management. These systems did not allow sales reps to have much control of information for use in the field. Instead, some companies are using fully functional sales record management systems that allow sales reps to use their territory information in ways that maximize their efforts to manage, plan, strategize and cultivate their business.

The success of these new systems relies on sales reps shifting from just providing information to satisfy their managers to learning the value of owning and utilizing information. Their training must teach them to make information a tool that increases their productivity.

Many companies are also learning that communication and training do not have to occur at a central location. Computers distributed to sales forces can reduce how much time a sales rep spends out of the field.

Most companies with computer capabilities have some type of Intranet available to their employees. Having a training site on the company Intranet allows the field person to access the training from the field. They can work through the course curriculum at their own pace and at times that are convenient for them.

The pharmaceutical industry continues to be a dynamic and exciting industry for sales professionals. It's up to trainers to ensure that sales forces are well trained and that they remain among the most respected sales professionals. PR