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Training MRs - key issues
by Dr Cedric Nazareth

Training can help anyone, and more so a Medical Representative (MR), whose work is largely independent of day-to-day supervision. Key issues involved in training of MRs are:

Basic Concepts

Start at the very beginning. A new MR would need to know that this is not just another job, but rather that the MR is an “ambassador” of the company, who can make or break the company’s fortunes in the territory. It would be a good idea to spell out what the job entails, career prospects and reward system. In other words, help the new recruit to clearly understand his role, and make him feel enthusiastic and proud of his new assignment.

Scientific Knowledge

For a worthwhile discussion with his customer, the doctor, a MR needs a good scientific knowledge. Sound product knowledge can be built on a good foundation involving basic anatomy, physiology and pharmacology. There would also need to be a detailed understanding of the disease(s) for which the product is indicated. And of course, a thorough knowledge of the products’ features and benefits.

A knowledgeable MR would command more respect and is likely to be in a better position to communicate the product message or get feedback from the customer. He would be able to handle highly scientific material such as clinical reports and discuss relevant points with the doctor.

Market Information

A brainload of scientific information alone will not deliver success at the market place. The dynamics of the market place, with an updated knowledge of the competition and competitors’ strategies is a must. Only then will a clear idea about his own company’s strategy fall into place.


To begin with, the MR should be clear about his own company’s strategies for individual products. Good communication and selling skills can help to get the customer more interested in the MR’s presentation, and with ever-increasing competition, salesmanship could be the key ingredient to help the MR get his product remembered. But while knowing about various selling techniques does help, there is nothing to beat several sessions of good old detailing practice (role playing) as a rehearsal for the real thing.

Objection Handling

An objection should be considered to be an opportunity to win over a doubtful or dissatisfied customer. It needs both, good product knowledge and salesmanship. Since objection handling is often considered to be the difficult part, if a MR can do this effectively, he is sure to be a winner!


Having participated in a training programme, the MR should be rearing to go. But training cannot be considered to be a one-time affair. The MR’s skills will need to be refreshed and enhanced periodically.

The means

Training is often associated with a classroom. However, training can also be imparted through quizzes, programmed instructions, films and multimedia presentations, among others. A good mix could make the learning process more interesting.

Ideally, learning and development should be a part of the MR’s work routine. Regular introspection, communication and feedback will help. The MR should be aware about the need to learn and can constantly be learning on the job. That’s because the learning process is continuous, with every situation providing valuable experience.


Pharma Marketing Page.
This article appreared in
Pharma Business, September 1, 2000.
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