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  • Writer's pictureEd McCarthy

Coach Like a Boss: Delivering Feedback That Sticks in Pharma Sales


In the high-stakes world of pharmaceutical sales, the ability to deliver effective feedback can transform your team's performance. As a sales coach, mastering this skill is crucial. Let's explore how to deliver feedback that doesn't just land but sticks, turning your reps into pharma sales stars.


1. Make it Timely

Provide feedback as soon as possible after an event. The impact diminishes with each passing hour.


Example: After observing a rep's presentation to a hospital's Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee, schedule a debrief within the hour: "Great job presenting our new oncology drug to the committee, Sarah. Let's discuss how it went while it's fresh in our minds."


2. Be Specific

Use concrete examples to illustrate your points. Vague generalities don't drive improvement.


Example: "When Dr. Johnson asked about the long-term efficacy of our diabetes medication, you hesitated before answering. Let's work on having those key data points at your fingertips for future interactions."


3. Focus on Behaviors, Not Personality

Address what a rep does, not who they are. This approach is more actionable and less likely to trigger defensiveness.


Example: Instead of "You're too aggressive with busy physicians," try "I noticed you continued detailing our cardiovascular drug after Dr. Smith mentioned she only had five minutes. Next time, try prioritizing the most crucial information when time is limited."


4. Balance Positive and Constructive Comments

Recognize successes as well as areas for improvement. This balance motivates reps and makes them more receptive to constructive feedback.


Example: "Your explanation of our rheumatoid arthritis drug's mechanism of action was excellent and really resonated with the rheumatologists. To improve further, let's work on addressing potential drug interactions more proactively in your next presentation."


5. Craft an Action Plan Together

Collaborate on specific next steps. Feedback without a path forward is just noise.


Example: "Based on today's discussion, what's one thing you'd like to improve in your interactions with neurologists? ... Great idea. Let's set a goal to role-play three common objections to our multiple sclerosis drug before your next call. We'll meet Friday to practice."


6. Foster a Growth Mindset

Frame feedback as part of an ongoing learning process, not as a judgment of ability.


Example: "The way you handled that tough question about our immunotherapy drug's side effects shows real progress. You're not quite where we want to be yet, but compare this to your knowledge level a month ago. What do you think has contributed most to your improvement?"


7. Follow Up

Don't let your feedback be a one-and-done event. Follow up to reinforce changes and offer support.


Example: "It's been two weeks since we discussed improving your approach to detailing our new antibiotic. How have you been applying what we talked about? Can you share an example from a recent call with an infectious disease specialist?"


The Power of Effective Feedback

When you deliver feedback like a boss—timely, specific, behavior-focused, balanced, action-oriented, growth-minded, and with proper follow-up—you create a powerful engine for continuous improvement in your pharma sales team.


Your reps will not only be more receptive to your insights but eager to put them into action. Watch as they transform from good to great, evolving into true pharma sales stars who can navigate the complex world of healthcare professionals, formulary committees, and key opinion leaders with confidence and skill.


Remember, mastering the art of feedback is a skill in itself. Practice these techniques consistently, and you'll unlock the full potential of your pharma sales team, driving results that exceed expectations and ultimately improving patient care through effective medication advocacy.

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