Pharmaceutical industry

Successfully transform the medical sales force

Novartis is a global leader in medicines, using scientific and digital technologies to address some of the most complex healthcare challenges.

Converting medical sales representatives into hospital delegates

Within the pharmaceutical industry, digitalization and the emergence of new regulations have led to a sharp reduction in the number of medical sales representatives, who traditionally visited doctors in a region promoting drugs and their benefits. The management at Novartis France wanted to be as proactive as possible in addressing this issue and to increase the long-term employability of its representatives. Therefore, the company organized targeted efforts to train (or retrain) volunteers to become Hospital Representatives. This role that could be considered as similar in some aspects also involved new skills to learn and understanding the dynamics of working in hospitals. 33 medical sales representatives were targeted to transition towards a Hospital representatives position, securing the right skills developed but also the right operational experience required on the job to perform in their new role and environment.

Validating interest, skills and experience required to perform

A dedicated hybrid pathway allowed a smooth transition from one job to the next and enhanced performance in the role for targeted individuals. The pathway was carefully designed based on the gaps to cover between a medical sales representatives and a hospital representative. While some skills were common (including the proper understanding of regulations), new skills had to be learnt and other reflexes had to be unlearnt as they were not necessary anymore. The roll-out, along a full year, included clear steps for the target audience, with:
1- Collective times to get energy from the group in this transition phase and learning the new skills to acquire, like the design of a targeted communication and promotion plan within a hospital for example. Activities were also designed to simulate typical situations in the new role.
2- A dedicated digital pathway also allowed introspection and continuous support along the transition, getting familiar progressively will all topics to master (incl knowledge of the hospital, Staff facilitation, Brief/debrief of speakers, Project management skills…) with the support of a coach.
3- Key times were also organized with a senior Hospital Representative as mentor. The iNNERSHiP project manager (in that case also the facilitator of collective times) was hands on and involved for the success of the programme, ensuring we stayed agile to meet the needs of participants in the transition (respecting their own pace) and of sponsors wanting to make this initiative a success.

Employees took the lead despite impact on their current role

The power of customization was key here to fit this specific context and need. Thanks to this hybrid approach, former medical sales representatives benefited from the right mix of theoretical training, immersion in the field, and strategic mentoring and coaching. The genuine readiness of sponsors to provide a tailor-made development opportunity in this changing scenario was also positively acknowledged. In the first 3 months already, commitment and satisfaction were detected and grew strongly. Knowledge sharing kept increasing among participants and mentors until all would have a proper understanding of what success look like in the role of Hospital Representative so they can make a conscious choice of entering this new step and career direction. Each participant felt supported and was empowered to move forward in a spirit of dual accountability. A detailed report was prepared on a monthly basis for the management team and a closure analysis too (confidential figures) showing progress.


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