How AI Can Improve Your Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Certification Program

The US pharmaceutical sales industry made $550 billion in revenue in 2021—but despite that high number, only 41% of Americans have a degree of trust in pharmaceutical companies. For pharmaceutical sales organizations, that large market and the relatively low level of trust is a great opportunity to grow. 

While you may already have an in-house training program in place to comply with industry certification standards, improving it can drastically increase expertise, customer trust, and, ultimately, sales.

Once your sales team has the tools and training to answer client queries, speak confidently about technical product information, and build great relationships, you can foster above-average levels of trust in your products and services. 

The process for doing precisely that is simpler than it may seem. You don’t need more aggressive marketing projects, pushy cold sales campaigns, or a sales force that’s double or triple the current size. Instead, your organization can benefit from a better pharmaceutical sales rep certification program that uses AI to create content, assess performance, and track learning.

Sales enablement tools give your sales reps the resources they need to speak knowledgeably and address healthcare professional (HCP) pain points. Combined with modern AI technology for training, role-play exercises, and virtual coaching, reps receive the practice they need to approach every prospective relationship with greater confidence and expertise. Investing in an AI-powered certification program that educates, motivates, and supports your salespeople can completely transform your team.

What Do Today’s Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Certification Programs Look Like?

A pharmaceutical sales rep certification program is a tailored learning course that teaches entry-level or experienced sales reps how to successfully sell and maintain relationships with healthcare professionals. By successfully finishing the coursework, sales reps become certified—this can be everything from a public badge on their profile to a required prerequisite for higher-level positions to a metric considered in employee reviews. 

Depending on the complexity, a pharmaceutical sales rep certification program may consist of different levels (e.g., Essentials, Intermediate, and Mastery), or it can be split into different areas of specialization for different product lines or client types.

Related: How Sales Leaders Are Incorporating Quickly Evolving AI Sales Tools into Their Toolkit

Corporations have seen a massive transformation in L&D over the past several years. More and more companies are offering training as part of the onboarding process, as well as access to internal courses, third-party certifications, and financial incentives for degrees or licenses. Some companies are examining the benefits of internal learning programs even more closely and developing completely customized internal coursework that trains their employees to their exact standards.

Today’s certification programs can include elements like:

  • Gamification to increase engagement and motivation
  • AI elements for more responsive learning, coaching, and training
  • Personalized content based on individual assessments
  • Career implications, such as value for promotions, new internal positions, or access to potentially high-revenue leads
  • A diverse array of learning modules, going beyond basic product knowledge or CRM training to in-depth conversational tactics, messaging, and strategy for every client touchpoint

When you develop your own internal pharmaceutical sales rep certification program that goes beyond regulated minimum standards, your organization can completely control the information, learning and practice methods, and corporate applications. 

Prospective HCPs benefit from more prepared account managers, salespeople benefit from actively becoming better sellers, and your organization benefits from more sales, stronger client relationships, and more motivated salespeople.

Every Element of Your Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Certification Program Can Strengthen Your Business

The core advantage of personalizing a pharmaceutical sales rep certification program to fit your business’s goals and processes is that you can prioritize different elements, refine the content to suit industry- or organization-specific norms, and tie it to your sales team or organizational L&D objectives. Five solid aspects of sales certification programs are:

  1. Building product knowledge
  2. Ensuring compliance with regulations and requirements (the core of many existing programs)
  3. Giving sales reps actual practice sessions so best practices become part of their muscle memory
  4. Teaching reps about prospects, buyer personas, and proven sales methodologies
  5. Giving sales reps tools and answers so they can respond correctly during dynamic conversations, from cold calls to closing the deal to upselling

AI can work within all five of these elements to foster the strongest transformation, and focusing on each one brings some unique advantages to the table. 

1. Enhanced Product Knowledge

Product knowledge is an increasingly important aspect of sales, especially in the B2B market. Organizations are shifting away from the straight sales model—where a salesperson closes a deal, and then the client gets an account manager—to a more consultative and relationship-based model in which the salesperson operates as an account manager and industry expert. 

AI-based training programs can facilitate this transformation by:

  • Teaching new salespeople about the company mission, standard products and services, and best-selling products
  • Releasing engaging modules about new product releases or industry regulatory changes
  • Giving sales reps the approved messages for products and their medical benefits (which is especially vital in the pharmaceutical industry) 
  • Testing reps on their knowledge and generating remedial courses
  • Providing insights to training managers and sales team leaders about each rep’s strengths and the knowledge areas where they struggle.

2. Regulatory Compliance Mastery

The pharmaceutical industry is heavily regulated, and all of your organization’s teams need to have general knowledge and role-specific knowledge of those regulations on the federal and state levels. Pharmaceutical sales reps also need to maintain their licensure and registration obligations. If your organization has in-depth learning programs, those requirements can be integrated into your learning portal through third-party modules and lessons. You can also have reps upload proof of initial and updated licensure. 

Once those basics are in place, your organization can go even further. Train reps to meet the regulatory requirements for handling samples, serving niche medical groups, and providing in-depth consulting. Your HR and compliance teams will have a clear view of what licensure requirements are complete and what is pending, and you can readily build a team of specialists.

3. Elevated Confidence and a Better Professional Image

Presentation matters in the sales world. First impressions still continue to have a radically significant effect on a prospective client’s assessment of your brand’s expertise and fitness to be a supplier. While there is a persistent myth that successful salespeople are naturally charismatic and personable, that simply isn’t the case. Soft skills, confidence, word choice, and professional presentation can all be taught. 

One of the key ways to elevate your sales reps’ confidence and professionalism is through training them on messaging. Consider:

  • Specific messaging on the effects, benefits, and warrants for different pharmaceutical products: Reps need to say the legally approved phrasing with little to no variation in order to avoid making unwarranted promises or leaving out critical details
  • Company messaging that conveys your mission, objectives, values, and alignment with HCP needs: Your marketing and leadership teams carefully crafted this wording. Memorizing, practicing, and naturally using it provides consistent messaging. As it becomes rote, sales reps can more confidently say it and adopt it into their standard sales process. 
  • Verified messaging for different touchpoints and client responses: While salespeople will have a wide range of unique conversations, many of them have a repeatable structure and a strategy to maximize the potential of converting the process. Salespeople can practice the phrasing, tactics, and messaging again and again through virtual sales role-playing until they get it just right.

The key to confidence is practice. More than that, it’s practice in front of a coach that’s available whenever your reps are. Today’s learning resources include AI-powered platforms that can generate unique practice scenarios, assess sales performance based on hundreds of different metrics, and even provide real-time coaching. 

4. Data-Driven Decision-Making

Generalized learning courses provide generalized insight. By creating company-specific learning resources and certification programs, you can teach sales reps how to engage with your organization’s buyer personas: the healthcare professionals, their typical pain points, what responses further a relationship best, and so on. By practicing different real-world scenarios backed by company data, sales reps become much more effective.

Related: Can AI Coaching Platforms Actually Boost Sales Performance? Here’s What the Data Says

A pharmaceutical sales rep certification program with AI also gives internal leaders the data they need to make decisions. At a glance, you can see each rep’s progress through the learning program, their commitment to learning, and what their strengths and weaknesses are. You can use the data to work with individual reps, identify holes in your training programs, and continue to build or refine your L&D resources.

5. Adaptability to Market Changes and Audience Pain Points

A lot of company training centers solely around onboarding and getting new reps ready to start selling. Less attention goes to continually training reps, providing new product knowledge, and giving your sales team resources for the newest sales strategies and tactics. 

Ongoing certification programs provide access to current market demands and HCP pain points, whether it’s ongoing Ozempic shortages, rising concerns about different pain medications, or the pricing concerns of client-facing organizations.

Whether you have a certification renewal program or new modules that you release at regular intervals, a certification program ensures your sales team can respond to today’s HCP needs and problems.

Build Up Your Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Certification Program With AI-Powered Training

A customized sales rep certification program was out of reach for many organizations because it required too much manual attention. But by powering your program with today’s AI tools, you can give every rep a personalized learning journey that makes them measurably better sellers. At Quantified, we provide an AI-powered training platform that can run role-play exercises, give feedback, and virtually coach pharmaceutical sales reps at every stage of their career. Schedule a demo to see how your own pharmaceutical sales rep certification program can change how you do business.