Tips for Recruiting and Training Pharmaceutical Representatives

Is Biopharma Missing the Mark on Recruiting and Training Sales Representatives?

In 2011 81% of physicians surveyed said they wanted Higher Quality Sales Representatives. Higher Quality means sales representatives who were better educated and trained, more experienced and consultative and competent when discussing clinical studies. This issue will focus on two things you can do to improve the perception doctors have of pharmaceutical and medical sales representatives, Recruiting and Training.

Recruiting
Over the past decade biopharma has been focused on recruitment of new sales representatives with the objective of winning the “share of voice” or “arms” race. Many people believe we have sacrificed quality for quantity. Years ago we used to hire nurses, pharmacists and nutritionists as sales representatives who had extensive clinical backgrounds.

Now that the “Arms” race is over, it is time to begin to hire representatives with more clinical expertise. There are a lot of reps with prior pharma experience to choose from now so make sure you determine during the interview if the candidate possesses a knowledge of understanding and presenting clinical data and discussing evidence based medicine.

A good way to do this is to ask the candidate to speak extensively on their previous product and look for depth of disease state knowledge. Determine if they understand treatments other than their own and if they can discuss clinical data.

Training
While the biopharma industry is known for rigorous training, our current methods are lacking. Physicians are willing and eager to see representatives who provide value by expanding their focus beyond product to include disease state knowledge and clinical research.

It can be as simple as understanding clinical problems your products can solve and discovering which problems the doctor is experiencing. The percent of doctors wanting more discussion of clinical studies has risen from 80% in 2005 to 89% in 2011.

This leads us to believe that the industry has not improved on this measurement, rather we are getting worse. I suggest a return to the basics of presenting clinical studies the way they are set up in the study abstract. Each study abstract is organized according to the SOAP communication format.

Biopharma may be missing the mark on recruiting and training sales representatives who are competent at discussing clinical studies and evidenced based medicine, but this can be reversed by improving the way we recruit and train new sales professionals we hire into this industry. It is up to us to give doctors what they want and need in industry representatives.