Saturday, November 18, 2006

Importance of pharma sales training

Training is a powerful medium to elicit required behavioural modes. Behavioural training is of utmost importance as it contributes to a corporate's identity. By ensuring demonstration and repetitive practice in training sessions behavioural modifications can be achieved.

Training creates an empowered attitude. It results in morale boosting and confidence building. After all, sales is a game of confidence. The company imparts confidence on the products to the MRs first. The MRs in turn ensure confidence among doctors on the brands. When doctors fearlessly use products, the marketing efforts ensure delight. The combination of doctor's delight and doctor's confidence is enough to ensure good consumption of brands, which is the core of marketing.

Learning during training sessions takes place by:
- Listening
- Seeing/reading
- Writing
- Discussions / interacting
- Practise

To train and ensure effective message transmission and reception (by the receiver), it is vital to use the above processes.

Interactive technique

Consider the following illustration to drive home the importance of detailing, by way of an interactive technique:
1) Ask your MR trainees to instantaneously write down the names of five most popular bath soaps in about a minute.
2) Ask a few of the participants to read aloud brand names written by them.
3) Assume LUX is the most popular response
4) Ask the participants why LUX has top-of-the-mind recall? (Is it because of samples or gifts? This can be a corollary query to the participants.)
5) The responses will typically vary from "Constant brand hammering," "Regular advertising", "Models", "Regular usage by participants" and "Availability".

This sort of an interactive opener will not only engage trainees; this will certainly open-the-eyes of MRs/filed personnel to the fact that efficient detailing / communication is a crucial link in brand building. This does not overlook the importance of promotional tools (like leave behind cards, table top items, gifts and samples) in creating brand experiences and brand building.

Training is not just presenting 'new' learning. It comprises a lot of practice sessions and polishing: Typically, a trainer may lay more emphasis to his/her presentation to the trainees. However, this is only a part of the learning game. The more interesting and important part is providing more f time to trainees for practicing the techniques. That is what coaching is all about, making the players play and practice.

The coach should observe, monitor and polish the trainees. This is where real learning takes place resulting in "charged trainees".

Edward de bono and the SIX HATS: Dr. Edward de bono is a revolutionary thought leader of the modern age. He has produced breakthrough concepts to enhance organizational efficiency and effectiveness. A common thread in his works is his attempt to explore beyond traditional thinking and ideation. One of his innovations is parallel thinking as encapsuled in his SIX HAT METHOD. The essence of his SIX HAT METHOD is to look at an issue from different perspectives. By looking at an issue from different angles we get to understand a subject completely and produce fresh ideas. When applied in group meetings, the SIX HAT METHOD helps avoid conformity pressure. It appeals to the audience since it accommodates all thought flows. Best of all it is interactive, encourages discussion, participation and involvement. Overall, using SIX HAT METHOD in-group meetings makes the meeting successful, run faster and free of egoisms.

"Modelling" during training: Most trainees pick up cues and behavioural styles through observation. In the context of explaining how a successful doctor call is to be made, it just doesn't suffice to explain the dos and don'ts. A trainer can drive home the message more successfully by demonstrating a "WRONG DOCTOR CALL" and "RIGHT DOCTOR CALL" typically by asking a MR to be the doctor and trainer being the MR (with a detailing bag). A case to point is the usage of a pointer while detailing. One can very clearly make the point of usefulness of a pointer by detailing a page of the visual aid, once with a pointer (to the audience) and once without a pointer.

Have a packet of chocolates: A handy tool to engage the audience and elicit desired levels of participation and alertness is by use of chocolates. When a participant gives a positive point or answers a query give a chocolate or ├ęclair instantly to the respondent. One can even sense a competition among participants to gain most ├ęclairs. Ensure eager participation through a small sweet device - chocolates, during training session.

End of Training Feedback: The barometers of training or learning effectiveness is CONFIDENCE BUILDING. As referred earlier, sales is a game of confidence, building on the feeling "I AM OK" among trainees. An acid test of training effectiveness is how the learning session results in quantitative results. For this a trainee feedback is useful.

The written feedback at the end of training session should reflect their GAIN IN CONFIDENCE and the visualization of how the knowledge/techniques/practice session will yield quantitative results.

Hence, the typical objective or questionnaire training feedback should include:
A) What did you learn/practice in the training session.
B) Explain with examples how the learning/practice will generate extra sales. Give specific examples where certain techniques/procedures will be employed to generate more results. Typically, a MR may respond (with Dr. names)of how a technique may be applied to get a desired quantitative result.

Training and learning are ongoing processes. These processes can take place in classroom settings, on location, through mailers and even via internet. Training involves information sharing, deeper understanding, gaining wisdom and suitable behavioural modifications to align in the direction of corporate vision and mission. As the going gets tougher it is training, which empowers the system to overcome hurdles. Training creates imagery, after all, "What are really being bought and sold are ideas and images" (Quote: Jeremy Rifkin, Economist and author)

- SUNIL S CHIPLUNKAR

- (The author is Marketing & Training Manager, Juggat Pharma, Bangalore)
http://www.pharmabiz.com/article/detnews.asp?articleid=24616§ionid=50

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