Pharmaceutical Sales Communication Excellence

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Internal communication can make or break the productivity of a direct sales force. Sales reps and managers in the Pharma industry, more than in any other industry, often experience the highest levels of internal communication. According to our benchmarking research, reps spend on average 13.7 hours a week managing internal communication. Most of this time is spent managing email, checking voicemail and talking on the phone. Unfortunately, 4.4 hours of this time is perceived to be unnecessary “noise” that decreases personal productivity and can cause reps work-life balance to suffer.

Building more effective communication practices and reducing the distraction of unnecessary communication within the sales force is a challenge that many pharmaceutical and biotech companies are struggling to understand.  The cost of poor communication can be detrimental to a company’s time, finances, and sales opportunities. As depicted in the slide below, the annual costs of poor communication can be financially crippling.

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Consequently, this is a major concern for many pharmaceutical sales forces.  Promoting & ensuring communication effectiveness can be challenging, but provided below are just a few best practices that leaders have implemented to encourage sales force effectiveness. 

  1. Employ District Managers as “Air Traffic Controllers” – District managers need to be provided with the tools & coaching to act like air traffic controllers who direct and coordinate field communications within team-based selling models. Managers must coordinate, sequence, screen, prioritize, generate and block communication flows within the organizational structure in order to reduce unscheduled communications.
  2. Limit the Use of Broad-Group Emails & Lists for Non-Essential Business Issues – Email messaging has become an easy means for broadcasting non-essential communications to hundreds of people in a single click. Many sales reps and district managers noted that better limits and cautions should be added to using broad-group distribution lists for non-essential internal emails.
  3. Set Higher Standards for Best Practices & Innovative Approaches – Share only practices that are major landmarks. One study respondent suggested that managers should only deem a story a ‘success story’ if it’s the kind of incident worthy of telling the entire sales force.

Learning how to effectively manage tools within an organization that can steal time away from field activities is essential for success. While training sales reps and district managers on effective time-saving techniques can help to encourage productivity, executives must also be able to identify areas of unnecessary internal communication within their organization. By better understanding the best practices for encouraging productivity, leaders can ensure that internal communication will not hinder sales force performance.

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