It should never be assumed that one or two learning modules on a product or disease are sufficient this industry is far too complex for such a simplistic outlook. Many healthcare providers spend years mastering the same material to which a sales representative may dedicate a few months. After literally centuries, physicians still "practice" medicine. In this environment, a true professional must undertake a never ending quest to continuously hone and polish technical expertise.
Fortunately, there is no end to the resources available to accomplish this goal. Certainly a good start is to begin by probing the home office training department. Many companies pride themselves on having large libraries of learning modules, tapes, and even interactive CD ROMs. Great strides are being made to offer on line continuing education services. Get an index and get started here first.
Local institutions are also an excellent and practically required source of ongoing learning. Even the smallest community hospital will have a library with current journals and computer search capability. While a cover to cover analysis is not necessary, a regular review of this material surely is. Though perhaps daunting at first, this room should soon become as comfortable as your home office. Of course, get authorization to use it first.
It is critically important to read the cuneal and marketing material sent by the company. It is often frightening to observe the cavalier manner in which this material is treated. Not only will customers question the information provided, but the materials are also truly a wealth of information for the pharmaceutical representative. Ensure a solid understanding of all company provided studies and literature and review them regularly, on your own and at local sales meetings. Almost every hospital has an ongoing continuing education program in the form of lectures, case studies, or grand rounds. Whenever possible, attend these presentations. You will not only gain a wealth of information, but have a great chance of meeting influential customers as well. Certainly, do not relent on the day to day business of making calls, but do realize the benefit that these programs provide in sharpening medical knowledge. Recently, many companies have offered through correspondence enrollment at the Certified Medical Representative Institute as a means of furthering education. This is an excellent means of not only enhancing your knowledge of in line products and applicable disease states, but also of increasing your general understanding of other areas that will enhance overall professionalism and competitiveness. Inquire as to how it is possible to get involved in this most worthwhile program.
Lastly, do not overlook competitors' literature. Any form of learning can provide not only benefits, but also tremendous insights into their marketing and sales efforts. This material is always readily available in lobbies, corridors, and waiting rooms, so take advantage of it! Again, the importance of consistently honing, refining, and polishing technical expertise cannot be overstated. In an industry as dynamic as this one, a representative who seeks success cannot hope to remain static.
One need not look far to see the pervasive effect of technology on society. It seems as though absolutely everything has in some way, shape, or form been computerized. Computer skills are a must in this industry. As a matter of fact, most companies have laptops at the territory level, so daily operations alone require competency in these skills.
You are virtually required to have some basic knowledge of Windows and even DOS. Most companies provide training in their own software, but learning it will be that much easier and more effective if you possess some basic knowledge. Furthermore, software today is incredibly powerful and benefits territory operations to such a great degree that it would almost be a disservice not to explore them deeper. For example:
- On line research Allows access to major medical libraries, such as the National Library of Medicine, to research literature on almost any conceivable topic. This information can be retrieved, reviewed, and printed for future reference.
- Forecasting Enables projection of sales against quota and consequent analysis of what areas or accounts may require additional effort and support.
- Graphics Sales in particular zip codes, ac counts, or the territory as a whole can be graphed for clear and ready review and analysis. This program may prove particularly handy during the development of annual business plans.
- Word processing Utilized for professional looking invitations, thank you notes, and coordination letters. Internal reports can also be given a far more crisp and readable edge using any of the vast number of different programs.
- Spreadsheets Instantly program, balance, and monitor support program funding or any other type of financial record keeping.
- Electronic mail Whether on the Internet or only within the company, e mail provides a fast, easy method of corresponding to almost anyone anywhere. Information can be sent directly to accounts or offices almost instantaneously.
- CD ROM This medium provides a wealth of read only data and interactive information on compact disk. Many company training departments are now adding this tool to their basic and home study programs.
Clearly, great benefits can be gained by being even somewhat computer literate, and there is much information available on line to be learned and shared.