But that might be changing. Training departments are starting to take a high-profile role at many pharma, biotech, and medical device organizations.
The Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers (SPBT) and Health Strategies Group worked together to create a 2007 benchmark study of 47 companies' learning-development practices. The participants represent more than 1,600 full-time employees in training, 83,000 salespeople, and more than $200 billion in 2006 US revenues (see "Methodology of the Study,"). The organizations' joint venture uncovered the training trends found throughout the industry.Trend 1: More Development for More People
Sales training continues to be the bread and butter for many pharma and biotech learning and development (L&D) departments. Yet in recent years, upper management has halted the arms race in the field. Training departments are no longer churning out class after class of young sales recruits. Instead, heads of training are being asked to develop programs that make representatives better businesspeople, armed with negotiation skills and financial knowledge.
In concert with this trend, training departments have developed more formalized development programs for their senior sales management staff and regional and district managers. Marketing training, too, has become an area of focus. In 2005, only 14 percent of organizations offered training for brand managers. Today, 43 percent provide that training—with another 7 percent planning to add this offering in the next year. Genentech's commercial training and development organization—which comprises the marketing and sales groups—recently built a targeted curriculum for managers, marketers, account managers, and thought leader liaisons. One area of focus is compliance training. Genentech trainers worked with their company's healthcare-compliance office to develop comprehensive course content for training within the commercial organization. "Training is about being able to translate strategy into execution through skills development," says Carol Wells, senior director, commercial training and development, at Genentech. "Outside of the clinical and sales training that is typically provided by companies, Genentech also provides the support for several functional skills—including compliance, management development, selling and account excellence, marketing, and thought leader liaison training—which we believe will enhance the success of all our clinical specialists."