3 Components of a Great Pharmaceutical Sales Training Program

Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash.

The days of walking into a physician’s office, getting a meeting, and selling a product (as an easy wham-bam) are long gone. Due to regulatory shifts, the days of golf outings, wining and dining, and other sales nurturing efforts are also gone.

There has been a monumental shift in what it takes to sell pharmaceuticals.

Your salespeople have a very narrow window of opportunity. Once shut, it won’t reopen.

It’s time to buckle down on pharmaceutical sales training, keeping in mind the traditional bag of tricks doesn’t apply.

As you investigate how to equip your people to perform, let’s talk through the four components of a great pharmaceutical sales training program.


At ASLAN, we always look ahead to “what’s next,” working ahead of learning curves and creating sales training that accounts for every new dynamic. Truth is, you don’t just wake up one day and find every door shut. There are signs and symptoms, and we’ve seen this coming. We’ve also created a system that can flex and adapt to every change. Connect with us to learn more about the right way to train pharmaceutical salespeople.


The Goal of Pharmaceutical Sales Training

Pharmaceutical sales is one of many industries undergoing major changes. To effectively withstand these changes, any pharmaceutical sales training company needs to accomplish two things:

  1. Teaching salespeople how to gain access with decision makers
  2. Teaching salespeople how to create receptivity where people may be inherently or instinctively unreceptive


This is made possible by sales training that covers the following areas.

1 – Other-Centered

A smile and winning personality isn’t even enough to get in the door anymore. Your people need to be other-centered. They need to tighten up their positioning, and come into the conversation with a clear purpose, ready to listen. 

Their aim should be to put the physician at the center of the conversation: immediately and precisely addressing figuring out what they want and need. 

This is an essential skill that is necessary to engage with the physician.


It gets to the point:

What’s on the physician’s whiteboard?

What are their priorities?

What matters most in this conversation?


It’s a different way of selling, because before you sell, you have to figure out your position… focused on the other person. Then you communicate this in order to engage and win some time with them. 

If your salespeople aren’t trained this way, they’ll be shut out before they even have a chance.

This is a paradigmatic shift for most industries, and definitely for pharmaceutical sales. Dive deeper by listening to this episode of our podcast, SALES with ASLAN.



Even if the rep has a great other-centered position, it doesn’t always work. You may still have an unreceptive physician. 

So, how are your people equipped to handle an unreceptive physician who gives off a closed response?

“I’m not interested”

“I don’t see pharma reps”

“We’re never changing…”

Slammed shut.

Most pharma reps either flee or fight, neither of which will work.


At ASLAN, we teach salespeople the ADAPT response:

A – Agree or Acknowledge

D – Drop the Rope

A – Address the false objection

P – Permission

T – Three minutes


It’s essential that any training program you use has a clear, purposeful, proven way to handle these “false” objections. If your people aren’t adaptive, and capable of quickly countering these, they’ll lose.

For more detail on ADAPT, read this article next: Virtual Prospecting: Using the ADAPT Response to Counter Prospect Brushoffs.


3 – Discover

Discovery is vital to winning attention once the meeting has been won. Salespeople need to ask the right questions to uncover the stated and unstated needs of the physician. 

Too many times reps sit in the car focusing on what they will pitch that day. 

It’s okay to have an objective, but the majority of focus should be on finding out what the physician needs and wants most. This is the only way to get to the bottom of things, have a clear and relevant conversation, and understand how they can serve the physician completely.


4 – Illustrate Value/Tell a Story

Your pharmaceutical salespeople need to illustrate value using more than just logic. Clinical data is everywhere, but “just the facts” isn’t convincing enough. 

“We’ve shown 25% better efficacy than a competitor” makes sense, logically, but people don’t make logical decisions.

They make decisions based on emotion.

Any good sales training program should teach your people how to tell a story, how to paint a picture, how to give an illustration.

Take opioid sales for example: pharmacies prefer to sell generic drugs, but let’s say your name brand drug features an abuse deterrent formulation. They may feel unconvinced by the mere facts (“because the people we prescribe/sell to may not be an abuse risk”) but what about the stories of what really happens in these scenarios? What about their kids and people in their home? Telling a story about this goes miles beyond a fact sheet that compares the two drugs.

Illustrations reach people on an emotional level, and are an essential value-building process that will impact sales.


Conquer Every Challenge in Pharmaceutical Sales

Companies that sell pharmaceuticals need a fresh perspective. Your people are facing major challenges of access & time — they don’t have a lengthy dinner: they have a hallway walk. Or a video call.

What’s more, the public is increasingly skeptical of pharma, which makes physicians’ jobs harder.

These are new challenges that won’t be conquered using old methods.

Other-CenteredⓇ selling, agile and adaptive approaches to objections, and vivid, apt illustrations are the the way of the future, and we can teach your people how to do all three.

The team at ASLAN has spent decades building sales training programs that really work. Reach out anytime to learn more.

As ASLAN's Co-Founder and VP of Training, Tab is responsible for developing our team of facilitators and blowing the minds of our workshop participants. Find him on LinkedIn.

Leave a Comment


The best way to get to know us is to know what we value. If we teach it we live it, because what we do speaks far more eloquently than what we say. We’ll always choose people over profits, and we’re most fulfilled and effective when we serve. It drives our culture, frames our training programs and transforms the lives of the clients we partner with.