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All things Pharma

Managing your career: take control of your future

By Gillian Morgan, Talent Management Director, In2Focus


Career development is a shared responsibility of sales representatives and their managers. Gillian Morgan looks at how you can take control of your career in partnership with your boss.

NEARLY EVERYONE at some point in their career will find themselves frustrated by their boss or exasperated by what can seem a lack of progression. Perhaps getting time to talk about that is difficult because of the pace at which you work. Your career development can therefore seem like an uphill struggle, and you feel you are not getting the direction and support you would like. At times like this, taking a proactive approach to managing your career will reap the best rewards. What’s more, with a structured training and development programme in place, sales representatives and their managers are optimally placed to get the best from one another and help drive the business forward.

Realising potential

The pharmaceutical market is perhaps one of the most complex and challenging sales environments to master. The strength of any people-based organisation lies in its employees. Taking a proactive approach to skill development is therefore an investment in the success of a company – and one that can lead to continued growth and customer delight in what is an increasingly sophisticated industry.

“No-one can help you achieve your goal if you have not clearly defined what that goal is.”

Shaun Parry

Sales representatives who are keen to climb the career ladder must recognise and take advantage of the opportunities and resources available to them. However, the individual is instrumental in defining the direction of their career path and the speed at which they progress along it.
Shaun Parry, Senior Sales Representative at In2Focus, comments: “No-one can help you achieve your goal if you have not clearly defined what that goal is. Managers have a plethora of resources that representatives can use to help build their career should they wish to, but it’s down to each individual to define their development path in the first instance.”

Top tips to manage your career progression

• Career development is a shared responsibility between you and your manager.
• Take advantage of training opportunities that are available to you.
• Define clear career goals at the start of any new role.
• Agree a Personal Development Plan with your manager.
• Use performance metrics positively to develop your skills.
• Listen to and learn from voices of experience.
• Take a proactive approach to developing your career and stay in control.

Setting career landmarks

The best way to define your career pathway is to agree a Personal Development Plan (PDP) with your manager at the beginning of each year. This needs to build in personal development landmarks along the way. Representatives can manage this plan by monitoring the completion of their personal targets, communicating these to their manager at regular PDP review meetings, and building in new targets to ensure continuous career development. Kurt Benson, Senior Regional Business Manager (RBM) at In2Focus, comments: “The representative and manager need to work together to achieve both personal and business objectives.” In2Focus adopts an active management system to encourage representatives to drive their personal growth with the support of their managers. “I work in partnership with each representative to facilitate their skills development by assessing their skill range and providing resources on areas of development,” says Kurt Benson. “Working to make the representative more skilled helps them to progress, helps the manager to meet sales targets as their team is working more productively, and helps strengthen the company’s offering by improving the effectiveness of the sales force.” Initiatives such as In Call Quality (ICQ) audits assess the strength of the representatives’ sales call with real customers, enabling sales teams and individuals to understand their own strengths and development needs in order to capitalise on future sales opportunities. The ICQ outputs can be used by the representative and manager to perfect their selling skills, and provide a method of tracking their development.

The skill of coaching

Managers can also undertake ongoing skills development programmes to help them develop and maintain managerial excellence. One element of this is the Coaching Masterclass, an In2Focus course aimed at first-line sales managers and field coaches. The Masterclass is an opportunity for sales professionals to review their colleagues’ coaching skills with representatives who have conducted sales calls with doctors. This format allows managers and coaches to assess coaching skills and to improve and benchmark these skills, as well as learning new techniques themselves. “The Coaching Masterclass is an opportunity for managers to receive direct feedback on their coaching skills, distinguish where skill gaps lie and also learn best practice by observing the coaching sessions of peers,” explains Kurt Benson. “This activity makes me feel as if my company is investing in me, to develop my skills. This has a knock-on effect on the skills I can share with my sales team, and an overall effect on sales figures.”

“The representative and manager need to work together to achieve both personal and business objectives.”

Kurt Benson

Moving on up

An ambitious sales representative should be instrumental in managing their own career progression. However, this is a shared responsibility between themselves and their manager. Sales representatives should make the most of the opportunities their company offers them by drawing on their manager’s knowledge, experience, company resources and training schemes in order to meet and exceed their own personal targets.
Company investment in sales teams at all levels helps to fill skill gaps where they exist, through ongoing training programmes, ICQ workshops and Coaching Masterclasses. Return on this investment is seen at all levels: improved sales and employee retention from a company perspective, and personal growth and development for the sales professional.

In2Focus is a leading contract sales organisation in the UK, providing high-calibre medical representatives and nurse advisors with high-quality support services to the pharmaceutical industry in order to optimise sales performance. In2Focus is a wholly owned subsidiary of United Drug plc.

For further information please visit www.In2Focus.com or contact the main switchboard: + 44 (0) 1628 488 606.

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