When it comes to a Division Manager in pharmaceutical sales, these professionals wear many hats. In some companies they are responsible for everything from leading the POA meeting rooms, to performance reviews to teaching sales techniques, to furthering local, regional or national initiatives and so much more….they do it all. Being that I have worked for more than one pharmaceutical company, I have learned that the role of the division manager slightly differs from company to company with regard to the amount of responsibility. But one consistent responsibility for all Division Mangers is having to conduct field rides.
Many times representatives loathe the field ride. Some simply cannot handle the scrutiny or just simply do not enjoy being told that they have developmental opportunities. Some look at a two-day field ride as pure torture. They get stressed out, put together a milk run, and ask physicians to go easy on them when they arrive with their manager. But with all of the stress that the representatives go through….is it the Division manager that hates field rides more?
Here are some of the stressors or reasons why a managers may loathe the field ride more than the rep:
Having to write a lengthy Field Ride Evaluation: When I first started in this business, my poor Division Manager was required to put together a ridiculously long review after every two day field ride. If I recall correctly I believe it had about 10 competencies (with sub-competencies) that all representatives were measured on. I mean this thing was long and typically put me to sleep about two pages in. But in time the company cut the document down a bit taking out all of the nonsensical items. Even with the mitigated document, it is still quite a bit of work for a manger. As a division manager that cares about the development of his/her representatives, you want your field ride reviews to be accurate and truly reflect what you witnessed on field rides and what developmental changes can be made to further the professional growth of the representative. This is a lot of responsibility because many representatives are smart, type A personalities who will notice if you are phoning it in. It doesn’t matter if you didn’t get much sleep the night before because your baby was sick or if you had a couple of drinks on a date, if you put in a half-ass’ed effort on your reviews you will lose the respect of your team. Just having to write one and deliver the review in itself is annoying. It is even more annoying when the representative doesn’t agree or believes you do not know what you are talking about. Of course the skill levels of Division Managers differ from person to person, and it is up to you as the division manager to gain buy-in on the developmental opportunities, but there is always that difficult rep that has to challenge every single statement.
Representatives who simply refuse to grow: Every division manager has had one of these representatives. That millenial representatives who could care less that you have spent many years honing your abilities. To this person your experience means nothing. They are a “know it all” and they refuse develop or even agree on developmental opportunities. These representatives want respect without putting in the time. Many times they are battling you every step of the way. Imagine if you will, being on a two-day field ride with someone with this type of personality. It sucks!! And managers must continue to try to influence this person despite them fighting you tooth and nail on every constructive point you deliver. As a manager you typically have 8 to 12 reps under your direction. If you are systematic with how you schedule field rides when you see that field ride coming on the calendar you dread it immensely.
The Division Manager has a Manager too: Crazy as it seems, the Division Manager has to answer to their manager…the Regional Director. I have been lucky to have smart Regional Directors that have looked after my own growth, but if I am being frank, they were not all roses to deal with. In some cases my RD’s and I had personalities that jived and in other cases I had to flex my style hard to come to common ground. It seems easy from the outside but when someones style is so much different than your own, this creates stress on the manager.
Additionally, as a Division Manager your numbers (rankings, performance) dictate the RD’s performance. If for some reason you are not doing great, you will get immense pressure from the top down. If this pressure is applied enough, a field ride with a low performing rep becomes difficult because you know that you MUST get this person performing and if you do not, it will reflect in your own performance reviews.
Hiring/Firing: As with any business, people leave (or are fired), creating an opening. Anytime their is an open territory this is a territory that you cannot influence. The numbers in that geography are being left to chance. That is why as a manager you want to fill that position as quickly as possible because it takes a ton of time to get that person trained and executing on a level that can start to influence the numbers. Additionally if you hire the wrong person, you know have a tremendous headache on your hands. You have to phone screen candidates, have face to face interviews, then have a second set of face to face interviews, and lastly place a candidate in front of your manager…the RD. You have to sell your RD on why you think this person is a good fit and if the RD doesn’t like them….guess what, you are back to square one. Now think about doing all of this…having the weight of this on your shoulders…while conducting field rides with your team. It is hard!!! You are on a field ride but you know there is urgency to get an open territory filled. You’d rather be interviewing.
Conducting Field Ride in a Territory where the Lunch Choices are Horrendous: Crazy as it seems, there are places where you simply cannot find good eats!! And though this one is meant to be a little comical, the truth of the matter is that there are many times where all you want is a good solid meal to escape the rigors of the day and perhaps talk about something else other than business over lunch. But you end up eating a terrible restaurant because of the territory of which you are conducting the field ride or because the representative just doesn’t get it. As a Division Manager I trained all my reps to understand that it is important to get a great meal in to recharge the batteries and getting a second wind from some good old fashion blood sugar increase. If there is a territory that you are responsible for that simply does not have good restaurant choices…as a manager you dread this 2-day field ride!
There are plenty more reason why a division manager may hate the field ride more than the rep, but a post can only hold your attention for so long!!