This ‘Guest Blog’ Post has been contributed by Mr. Hasan Jamal, a longtime veteran of Pharma Industry. The Guest Blog Posts are also published on . You are welcome to contribute. You may write your own story or about some memorable events of your career or about Pharma Industry. Please send your posts to .

Importance of Effective Communication in Pharmaceutical Selling

Before I discuss the subject of communication skills in pharmaceutical selling, I would like to touch upon a dangerously burgeoning trend which could be highly pernicious to the talents and potentialities of the sales professionals, if not now, for sure in the near future. That is the unbridled use of communication technology. In our daily lives, we observe that excessive use and dependence on communication technology is on an increase, which may not necessarily be a bad thing but over use by sales professionals pose a potential danger to their face-to-face communication.

The technology has created a number of ways to communicate. We feel insulated and protected as we are becoming overly dependent on emails and text messages and as such are unknowingly, falling victim to the juggernaut of the monster of technology.  This intoxication is leading to the quick depletion of skills and ability to communicate in the influential way face-to-face.

Over reliance and boundless use of technology is the real threat to meaningful communication and professional client relations. The trend has shifted the focus of sales professionals to the ‘object’, not the doctors and what is important for their patients. If we can’t keep the attention of doctors to understand our message, we would not be able to influence them to take action (prescribe). Therefore, failure to communicate effectively, face-to-face, has phenomenal impact on the growth of company’s business and doctor-company relationship, resulting in frequently occurring desperate situations for the companies which has its own hazards.

I come from that class of sales professionals who firmly believe in orthodox communication style and hold the flag of face-to-face communication upright. I am in no way cynical about the technology, rather I am for its sensible and proper use. Technology has its own benefits and beyond doubt has brought major revolution in today’s world. But talking strictly from a sales professional perspective, technology has its limitations and can never be the substitute for one-on-one dialogue. I am thoroughly convinced that calling on the doctor and communicating with him in his chamber is absolutely the best way to actuate action i.e.

  • Motivating the doctor to prescribe our product.
  • Resolving a misunderstanding or conflict.
  • Seeking clarification or explaining to clarify.

Communication technology certainly cannot do it.

This is about time that the chieftains and policy makers of pharmaceutical industry should consciously sense this rampage of technology, specifically when it comes to product promotion and company-doctor relationship. I think bosses should check, contain and clearly define the limits of its use in their respective organizations.

Talking and Communicating

Era of mid-eighties and nineties at Hoechst was replete with many innovative ideas. One of the remarkable things that were brought in was the training culture, which continued, to a lesser degree though, in the later period also.

All levels of employees were exposed to the trainings on various aspects of selling, product, management and variety of other subjects. I strongly believe that the trainings played a pivotal role in the way Hoechst registered staggering growth in sales. These exposures revealed the importance of communications skills in our industry. The company in the formal and informal settings gave assertive value to the subject of communication. Companies invest millions on sharpening the communication skills which is not without reason.

I wish to take up the topic of the importance of Communication Skills in Pharmaceutical Selling.

Beware that there is, a big difference between Talking and Communicating, which is usually taken as synonymous, but this is not the case.

Not merely talking but communicating is the name of the game in all selling situations and more so in pharmaceuticals.

We learnt that in pharmaceutical selling situations the trainers and seniors wanted, demanded and preached to the sales professionals to communicate. Later in our times we carried the torch further.

In fact Talking is defined as: the giving of information without the need of a response. Whereas Communication means: the verbal and non- verbal exchange of information that requires a response and hence results.

This is the reason why the word ‘Detailing’ in pharmaceuticals carries very comprehensive meaning. This is the art which is the deciding factor in the success or failure in our type of selling. Mock detailing sessions were an integral part of all product trainings and most of the meetings. This is the general practice in nearly all the pharmaceutical companies.

It is, therefore, of paramount importance to have Communication rather than just Talking in our selling settings.

Effective communication requires discipline, determination and self-awareness.

In my next blog I would like to give some tips on the mechanics of the effective communication …….

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