The Biggest Problem With Pharma Sales & How Training Can Fix It

The Biggest Problem With Pharma Sales & How Training Can Fix It

The Biggest Problem With Pharma Sales & How Training Can Fix It

What is the biggest problem with pharma sales?

Are you satisfied with your job? If yes, will you still look for another job? I guess not. But, while it seems like most pharmaceutical sales reps are satisfied with their jobs, the attrition rate in this industry is strangely high. It is said that the pharmaceutical marketing industry experiences the greatest global attrition rate of 10-12% per annum.

A survey by, a Trusted Industry Resource, stated that 43% of the respondents were either extremely (8%) or somewhat satisfied (35%) with their jobs. Having said that, 88% of the respondents reported that they are either actively (53%) or casually (35%), looking for a new job. Another surprising figure that came forward is that two-thirdsof the respondents have changed 2-3 companies in the last 10 years.

What is the reason for such a surprisingly high attrition rate?

While low compensation is said to be one of the major reasons, it is not the only reason. Monotony, the inability to foresee career growth, lack of motivation, increasing stress, pressure of achieving targets, and lack of recognition are other reasons.

According to the Sales Force Attrition Survey Report of 2015 by HCN (Human Capability Network), lack of career growth, target pressure, and inappropriate goal setting were rated the top three reasons for attrition. However, the same list also cited lack of learning opportunities as another major reason, with almost 55% rating.

How does a lack of learning opportunities contribute to attrition?

When a new sales rep joins the organization, he is sent through a rigorous training program that can last more than a month. This training program takes place in 3 phases – home study, field training, and formal classroom training. In these 3 phases, the sales rep is provided with all the information needed for his job.

The pharmaceutical industry is one of the fastest growing industries. New drugs are introduced, new regulations are passed, or unique objections are discovered. One classroom session might not be sufficient in many cases. Organizations must provide constant support to sales reps to adapt to such changes, and when this does not happen, their performance starts to drop. When this happens, the fear of layoffs takes over their confidence. This is when the rest of the reasons such as stress, target pressure, and shrinking motivation levels fuel the thought of looking out for another job.

How can training reduce attrition?

Employees need continuous training to deal with changes. So, after the formal training program, deliver short online learning modules, commonly known as microlearning, to sales reps, whenever there is a need. For example, whenever a new drug is introduced, sales reps can be provided small microlearning modules, each talking about different aspects of the drug, such as its composition, dosage, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, indications, contraindications, the organ it effects, and its clinical applications. These modules will act as just-in-time support for the reps.

When the organization makes training available to sales reps anytime, anywhere, and of short duration, it helps them deal with most of the problems effectively, increasing their motivation to meet targets and goals. Such a step by the organization, builds trust in the employees, making them feel cared for. This boosts their performance and confidence, extinguishing the need to look for a job change.

While you now have a solution to reduce attrition, the next challenge will be introducing microlearning.

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