The Five Pillars of Pharmaceutical Sales Training Excellence

Three pharma reps looking at a laptop with sales training

Complex pharmaceutical products, strict regulations, and the uniquely critical role healthcare professionals play in decision-making form a challenging selling landscape for pharma reps.

To be successful, reps need a distinct skill set, comprehensive product knowledge, and a sharp awareness of ethical considerations. Given these circumstances, efficient and effective sales training is especially important in pharmaceutical sales.

In this blog post, we’ll outline the unique challenges faced in pharmaceutical sales training and provide practical solutions.

What are some challenges in pharmaceutical sales training?

Pharmaceutical sales training faces several unique challenges that require tailored approaches and solutions. These challenges include:

  • No insight into field activities

    Traditionally, it has been difficult for sales managers to gain visibility into the daily activities of their sales reps in the field. This lack of insight makes it challenging to provide timely feedback, identify sales coaching opportunities, and assess the effectiveness of sales strategies.

  • Hard to ramp new reps with breadth and depth of offerings

    The pharmaceutical industry offers a wide range of products, each with its own unique features, indications, and benefits. Onboarding and ramping up new sales representatives quickly and effectively, ensuring they have a comprehensive understanding of the product portfolio, can be a big challenge.

  • Less time in front of healthcare professionals

    COVID-19 drastically reduced the amount of face-to-face time sales reps have with healthcare professionals. This shift to virtual interactions requires sales training programs to adapt and equip representatives with the skills needed to engage effectively in a digital environment.

  • Strict regulatory requirements

    The pharmaceutical industry is subject to strict regulatory guidelines, including compliance with laws such as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations. Sales representatives must be trained to ensure they adhere to these requirements in their interactions with HCPs. Furthermore, with compliance requirements changing regularly, pharmaceutical companies must ensure their field team has the most up-to-date versions of collateral.

5 must-haves for an effective sales training program for pharma reps

In order to tackle these challenges and develop pharmaceutical sales training that actually enables your reps, follow these five pillars.

1. Onboard and ramp new reps fast

To address the challenge of onboarding and ramping up new sales representatives quickly, leading pharmaceutical companies leverage technology-driven training solutions. E-learning platforms and virtual training sessions can provide comprehensive information on product portfolios, disease states, and selling techniques. Additionally, interactive modules and quizzes can assess knowledge retention, ensuring new reps are well-prepared to engage with HCPs.

Gone are the days of in-person onboarding and hours of snooze-worthy training videos. By using a platform created to train and enable sellers, you can transform your training approach from stand-and-deliver to engaging, real-world practice and reinforcement.

Key elements of your pharmaceutical onboarding and everboarding should include:

The ability to deliver bite-sized, engaging training in multiple modalities like videos, quizzes, and presentations.

A mobile-friendly delivery of content and training for reps to complete as they commute across their territories.

Everyone likes healthy competition, especially sellers, ensure you are incorporating leaderboards, badges, and scoring as part of your training programs.

2. Enable reps on new products & regulatory requirements quickly

Pharmaceutical companies frequently introduce new products and updates to existing ones. Training programs should incorporate efficient methods to disseminate information on new products and regulatory requirements. Utilizing online training modules, just-in-time content, and virtual workshops training and development departments can enable reps to quickly understand product features and newly issued regulatory guidelines.

Having a centralized and searchable platform for training and enablement means pharmaceutical reps can find the most up-to-date information on the products they are selling at any time, from anywhere. Ensure this platform supports offline browsing so that reps can access training and content even in remote areas or while commuting across their territory.

Ensure your sales training platform is compliant with applicable regulations, like HIPAA, ISO (ISO 9001:2015, ISO/IEC 27001:2013, and ISO/IEC 26580:2021), and FDA 21 CFR Part 11

3. Scale role-plays to practice before reps are in office

Leading sales training platforms facilitate role-play exercises to enhance sales representatives’ communication skills and fine-tune their product pitches. Previously done largely in-person or over a conference call, AI-reviewed role-plays allow reps to practice their presentations, handle objections, and refine their selling techniques remotely.

By setting parameters and giving examples of top pitches, reps can hone their messaging and pitches virtually, before they are in front of HCPs. These pitches are not only reviewed by AI, but managers, business unit leaders, as well as marketing can all review and provide feedback.

This scalable approach ensures reps gain experience and confidence before engaging with HCPs and verifies their ability to be on-brand and on-message.

Top role-play use cases for pharmaceutical reps:

Before launching a new product, test the effectiveness of your training on how well reps can pitch the new talk tracks with a new product launch role-play.

If there are critical regulatory changes that affect how reps can pitch products in front of HCPs, test their delivery with a regulatory role-play to ensure they are on-brand and use compliant language.

Have marketing set-up a role-play to test pitches of new collateral to see how comfortable reps are pitching updated or new marketing materials.

State common objections HCPs bring up to field reps, give a sample ‘top response’ as well as talking points, and have reps record how they would respond.


4. Document coaching and ride-alongs

Manager ride-alongs and coaching sessions are invaluable for sales representatives’ development. However, tracking and documenting these activities can be challenging. Oftentimes, there is no streamlined way to gather feedback from ride-alongs, resulting in a manager waiting until the end of the month or quarter to document their feedback to reps. This results in varied and generic feedback that doesn’t help the rep grow and perform better.

Utilizing a sales training platform, managers can review a rep’s performance during and right after a ride-along. This feedback can then be used to deliver targeted training and coaching for the individual to continually improve their in-person interactions and performance.


5. Improve rep coverage with data-driven insights

Pharmaceutical companies can leverage technology to gather data on sales representatives’ activities, including call frequency, territory coverage, and engagement levels with HCPs. Integrating their sales training platform with their CRM, like Veeva, enables training and development leaders to analyze what programs are most effective in driving business results.

Furthermore, leaders can uncover which managers provide the most valuable and consistent coaching, improving rep churn and performance.

Pharmaceutical sales are ever-evolving, especially with less and less time granted for reps to get in front of HCPs. With a data-driven approach to sales training, learning, and development leaders can ensure their reps are prepared for every interaction, are staying compliant, and delivering value to HCPs.


Supercharge Pharma Rep Training

Let's show you how Mindtickle can help you build a sales training program for your pharma reps that helps them win more deals. 

Request a Demo