Pharmaceutical sales training is not similar to other sales training programs where reps must have the selling skills and acquire product knowledge. Here, apart from product (read as drug) information, reps need to learn about the anatomy and physiology of the human body, the diseases affecting it, and their cures. Also, convincing doctors, who are more knowledgeable about the effects of drugs, to prescribe them is another challenge medical reps face.
Most training programs for medical reps consist of three segments – home-study, field training, and formal classroom training. Most reps find this training quite boring as they have to go through large manuals for a couple of weeks, shadow the field trainer for a couple of weeks, and attend long classroom sessions. To make training more interactive and interesting, e-learning can be used.
Let us now see how you can use e-learning in each of the three segments of pharmaceutical sales training.
1. Home Study
In this segment, sales reps are expected to read the manuals provided by their managers. These manuals are scientific and medical resources about the anatomy and physiology of the human body. Later, reps are tested on these manuals, and the passing grade is usually 90%. It is difficult for many sales reps to remember the scientific information presented in these manuals as they do not have a background in life sciences.
So, by moving the content of these manuals online and converting it to a curriculum of micro-learning modules, medical reps can be trained in an effective and convenient manner. And in e-learning, designers comprehend the content to identify the relevant and eliminate irrelevant content. Also, not every learner learns the same way; online courses are designed considering various learning styles. So, converting these manuals into introductory e-learning modules can be an ideal solution to engage reps, decrease cognitive load, and improve retention.
2. Field Training
In the second segment, sales reps will be asked to shadow a field sales expert in the latter’s sales territory. This goes on for a couple of weeks, depending on the drugs the reps will be selling. For the first few days, the reps will only observe the selling techniques used by the expert – how to present the drug to the doctor, how to answer the physician’s questions, and how to convince him to prescribe the product.
During this period, reps can be provided online courses containing scenarios that show the selling techniques to be used in different situations.These scenarios can also be used to test learners’ abilities to handle these situations.
3. Formal Classroom Training
Classroom training too spans about a couple of weeks, covering all the products the company offers. Reps are also trained on the technological aspects such as the use of the company’s marketing information systems. Classroom training is very intensive, and often, sales reps find it hard to remember all the information presented.
E-learning can be used to complement and reinforce instructor-led training. You can convert classroom training material to different online formats such as short videos, infographics, and mobile learning courses and gamified learning modules to reinforce learning and ensure its effective transfer to the field.
So, this is how you can use e-learning in the three segments of pharmaceutical sales training. I use the terms use e-learning in the three segments of training because e-learning is not a substitute for classroom training (or any training approach for that matter), but only a supplement.
How do you plan to use e-learning in your pharmaceutical sales training? We would love to hear from you in the Comments section.