Statistical Evidence of the Value of Practice for Pharma Sales

woman practicing with virtual coach

Ah, the President’s Club. Perhaps the most prestigious recognition in sales, awarded to top achievers who have met and often exceeded ambitious sales goals. The award often comes with cash prizes or exclusive, all-expense paid vacations to high-end locations. The more indelible benefit is being able to add “President’s Club winner” to one’s resume. 

What makes a President’s Club winner successful? There are several reasons, from their personalities and sales acumen to how much time they spend per day on actual sales efforts versus administrative tasks. But what about practice? Obviously, the more time spent in front of customers, the more field experience they get, but if your pharma reps are not reaching their potential or their sales goals, is the field helping them develop their skills? Apparently not.

As the adage goes, practice makes perfect. Sadly, many reps aren’t getting much practice before an actual sales call, and according to one study, the typical salesperson receives about three days of sales training—ever. And most say they have never had a formal, professional sales training day, mostly because sales leadership doesn’t have the time or tools to do it properly and at scale. Pharma reps who are not getting regular, personalized coaching are most likely not practicing, yet practice is critical to improvement.

Quantified and the Power of Practice in Pharma 

Coaching works. So does practice. Just ask any athlete or President’s Club winner. But both have to be done regularly to have the greatest effect. Companies with a dynamic sales coaching program average at least 28 percent higher win rates than their competitors.

But what matters most is connecting the trifecta of sales effectiveness in a loop: coaching, practice and feedback. 

Without this continual loop, even the best pharma rep can suffer from “performance plateau.” It’s common for salespeople to get comfortable and no longer believe they need practice, even when they’re not reaching their sales goals. They’re getting by, but they’re not adding much revenue to the business and can end up costing you in the long run.

Another driver is that pharma sales coaches rarely have the time to continually coach, asses and upskill reps on a personal level, particularly if the sales organization is large and dispersed. It’s the primary reason we set out to build a web-based sales coaching platform that had several key ingredients that make coaching at scale possible:

  • AI assessments and coaching
  • Behavioral science
  • Conversation capture via live, recorded and realistic simulations
  • Action-oriented analytics
  • Certification and reporting at individual, team and organizational levels
  • Integrations with videoconferencing platforms 

It’s accessible 24/7, unbiased, capable of assessing both verbal and nonverbal skills for performance effectiveness, and delivers personalized improvement paths that develop weaker skills.

Related: Webinar: The Rise of the AI Coaching System

Why not traditional sales decks, videos and role-play? Because those methods aren’t personalized, don’t measure current performance strengths and weaknesses, and aren’t as effective as on-demand platforms that pharma reps can access at their convenience. Pharma sales leaders have no way of knowing why top performers succeed and lower performers fail so often. It isn’t all about reach and frequency.

How does Quantified work? Reps upload call videos or record live simulations to practice in a safe environment on the precise skills that were measured as lower than the benchmark, get feedback and coaching guidance, then get re-assessed. Once they reach the desired threshold across multiple behaviors, the sales manager can send them into the field—prepared and confident. Sales leaders can easily see which behaviors contribute to their top performers’ success so they can replicate those behaviors across teams.

Key Findings

We found in our own research that:

  • Sales reps who have practiced with three or more video submissions have a 26% higher chance of being in the President’s Club. 
  • One of our pharma clients, Novartis, said 72% of their sellers saw immediate improvement after practicing key messaging and skills in a safe place. 
  • They also saw a 22% average lift across sales-critical skills, underscoring the importance of connecting rep behaviors to sales outcomes. 

And what do the Novartis reps say about the Quantified AI sales coaching platform? Things like “Very insightful assessment and tangible steps to help improve” and “Love the analytics.”

We aren’t the only ones recognizing the power of advanced technology in developing sales teams. McKinsey found that the use of behavioral science and analytics for rep training and development leads to a 10-20% improvement in productivity. Let’s dig into more of their findings a bit deeper.

Manager Time

First, McKinsey also discovered that companies where managers spend more than 50% of their time coaching are more likely to be outperformers, with outperformers committing to 79% more coaching than slow growers. But as we said, most managers don’t have that kind of time with a large salesforce that is almost always remote. This data point only highlights the need for a web-based, on-demand platform that is accessible to all at all times. 


Second, the firm said, “Outperformers drill down to the individual, with training tied to the seller’s objectives and skills deployed against real opportunities.” Further, they found outperformers are 57% more likely to personalize their training and 1.3 times more likely to outperform their peers in revenue growth. 

Generalized training cannot compare to personalized training that is focused on the individual. Pharma organizations must take a more strategic sales approach strategy, recognizing the strengths of each rep and helping lower-performing reps develop the skills that are stunting their growth. Humans lack the ability to identify all possible communication skills that lead to a positive audience response. Soft skills, such as likability, persuasion and presence are much harder to measure than the rate of speech, eye contact and filler words. Quantified quantifies verbal and nonverbal skills.

Technology + Engagement

Finally, McKinsey says, “Most sales organizations have plenty of digital tools. The problem is that their reps ignore them. Poor user interfaces, unclear use cases, or confusing recommendations condemn many would-be enablers to the trash heap.”

Again, the value of a science and AI-based sales coaching platform is immeasurable. Pharma reps must have access and control over their own success through self-paced practice and learning. Being able to repeatedly practice the skills that are proven to be effective, especially in a safe environment without fear of judgment, is a differentiator. They can practice as often as they wish without consuming any manager time. Managers can see who is practicing and how each rep is developing their skills, but they don’t have to be present or provide the materials. 

Related: Playbook for Organizing an Effective Sales Training Program

The Quantified platform may be driven by science and technology, but it’s also engaging and fun to use. Gallup defines employee engagement as “The involvement and enthusiasm of employees in their work and workplace” and says business strategy “hinges on employee engagement.” Engaged employees simply perform better, and giving them tools they enjoy using that help them succeed goes a long way in building loyalty and positive company culture.

We Built a Platform So You Don’t Have to

We’ve spent years perfecting our platform, and we aren’t done yet. We partner with our clients to innovate new capabilities and ways to reduce friction and increase engagement. Our live, avatar-like simulator is a first-of-its-kind practice method that you truly have to see to believe.

In a nutshell, we help companies train the avatar with product and industry knowledge, using AI to ingest years worth of customer conversation data and hundreds of possible questions and responses to create a life-like experience. Reps can spend a few minutes talking with the avatar, asking him or her questions and getting various, likely audience responses. Likewise, the avatar asks the rep questions. 

Quantified tracks and assesses more than 1,400 verbal and non-verbal behaviors, and within minutes, presents the rep with objective feedback on their performance with scores across dozens of attributes of human connection. The score indexes individual strengths, weaknesses and opportunities for improvement.

The more the rep practices, the more personal insights they get and the faster they can improve. The result? More President’s Club winners and a more balanced field force with fewer underperformers.

Sales managers and reps don’t have to settle or recreate a wheel we’ve already built. Start making sales coaching individualized, engaging and effective for today’s field force. Your competitive advantage is waiting.