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Do we need to integrate Coaching and E-Learning, for Medical Reps?

I was recently asked by a National Sales Manager of a Pharma company, a question that I have been pondering about.

He asked me: With all the new technology and social media coming in, will the role of MR s diminish? Will there be a time when MR s may not be needed at all?

I was reminded of the much talked about “Death of a Pharma Salesman” paradigm. For a few years now, we have been talking about this.

I said: There is no likelihood that Pharma can do away with the role of an MR. However, make no mistake-role will change a lot. Instead of purely doing an In-Clinic activity, an MR will have to be like the conductor of an orchestra. He has to manage all the off-clinic activities as well and carry out In-Clinic activity. He has to be familiar with what the industry calls, “Integrated Delivery Network”.

We can’t deny the fact that digital engagements with doctors will play an increasing part. However, this will complement the effort put in by an MR in-clinic, not replace that effort.

What should companies do in order to train their MR s better?

The industry believes that MR s will continue to be needed; but there is a need to upgrade their skills. Companies have adopted 3 methods to continually up-skill MR s:

  1. Physical training sessions

  2. E-Learning

  3. Coaching, i.e. one to one on- the job inputs normally through joint field work with the line manager.

coaching

How can we successfully achieve this integrated approach?

We have just said that an MR will be like the conductor of an orchestra. He will coordinate all the touch points through which a company interacts with a doctor. He will need training in product skills, selling skills, and in managing the digital connects. In imparting these, we must implement a Closed Loop Training methodology.

  1. During the Joint Field Work (JFW), analyze what skills need to be improved

  2. Training department takes this analysis, and formulates specific training programs, both physical and virtual

  3. Through training Key Performance Indicators (KPI s), measure the impact

  4. Continue the loop, till cycle’s goals are achieved

This will need the use of a CRM tool that has a good coaching module along with the capability to deliver E-Learning.

We can’t write the obituary of a Pharma Salesman, as yet. But the industry has to seriously upgrade his skills. In this, an integrated approach involving Coaching and E-Learning will help.

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