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Internal communication can make or break the productivity of a direct sales force. If properly used, email and voicemail can quickly disseminate educational, tactical and motivational information. However, when district managers and sales reps find their email and voicemail boxes filled with poorly prioritized or even unnecessary communication, personal productivity and work-life balance suffer.
More than any other industry, sales reps and managers in the pharma industry often experience the highest levels of internal communication. Reps not only work in highly matrixed environments with internal and external copromote partners, they also have to stay abreast of regulatory changes and scientific developments for drugs in and out of the market. Although much of this communication is necessary, reps and managers also experience a significant level of “noise” as colleagues in the field or at corporate send communications that are poorly targeted, redundant or inappropriately timed. When managers become overwhelmed with internal communication, they often reduce the amount of time they spend coaching in the field in order to keep up with all of the communication they receive that is self-labeled “high priority.”
When reps receive high levels of unnecessary communication, one of the following three effects often occurs:
1. Reps reduce the time spent in the field with physicians in order to keep up with internal communication received.
2. Reps put in extra hours in the evenings or over the weekend in order to manage communication, cutting into their work-life balance and potentially leading to a fast burnout.
3. Reps begin to self-select the communications they wish to read, oftentimes ignoring critical information because it cannot be distinguished from non-critical information.
Best Practices, LLC launched this research study exclusively for the pharmaceutical industry to help companies build more effective communication practices in the sales force.
Sample Key Finding:
1. Time spent on internal communication: According to this 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 a cell phone. Of this time, 4.4 hours (or 32%) are perceived to be unnecessary.
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