What Does It Take to be a Global Leader in Training - Pharmaceutical Executive


What Does It Take to be a Global Leader in Training

Pharmaceutical Executive

Our goal is competency-based training that has a solid business need, sound instructional design based on adult-learning principles, with success metrics that are able to capture, evaluate, and track our training. And it has to be delivered in a number of different ways—a blended-learning approach that can be delivered over the Web or on CD-ROMs, in the classroom, or even paper-based.

Everything is built around our Wyeth global learning strategy. We try to follow it in everything we do, from the materials we send out before classroom sessions, to the workshops we do in the classroom, to the follow-up programs we employ after classroom training, to our virtual classes.

Like a lot of other pharmaceutical companies, we have a large sales force. With the abundance of reps these days, we need to provide our field force with a competitive edge. We need to show that they are on top of their game for product knowledge, fully understand their customers, understand the environment they are working in, and have the proper selling skills.

We employ a program called "Customer-Focused Selling," which has been translated into every language and is the common selling language we use at Wyeth. It is delivered on a routine basis in the classroom for new representatives and existing reps.

We bring new hires on board with a distance program called "FieldSTART," which consists of self-paced e-tutorials and work in the field with their district managers and colleagues to gain an understanding of what the job is all about. New reps have to prepare a number of assignments before they come to the classroom. And once they are in the classroom, we use workshops and role playing to ensure they not only understand the material, but can convey it to physicians and other healthcare professionals.

Do you think that the current environment of intense scrutiny has changed sales force training? Will it drive what the sales rep of the future looks like?

Let me answer your question in a bigger fashion: Because there is an abundance of salespeople getting less time with physicians, they get to say fewer things. They can forget some of the fundamentals of selling. They can forget about providing customers with the information they need. They may go into monologue mode and come out with a 30-second selling presentation regardless of what the customers' needs are. In the current environment, time with the customer is very limited.

But what a sales rep needs hasn't really changed over the years. You have to have solid product knowledge about your products and your competitors' in order to engage in a good discussion with your doctors. The need for selling skills is always there, but it is even more important now, given today's level of competition and the OIG's regulations about fair balance.

You get 30 seconds with a doctor. If you do things right, you can stretch that to a number of productive minutes, because you are engaging the customer with information that they want and need. That is really our intent—to fully understand the customer in his or her environment, know the product, know how to provide solutions that improve patients' lives, stay within policy as far as getting in front of the customers, and make it a professional, one-on-one exchange of information. Tactics like delivering food don't pay off in the long run. If you deliver value when you are with that customer, you are going to be invited back.

Those are the kinds of things we try to do with our reps. Before they come to class, they have to be prepared. We have lots of things that they need to complete between each classroom experience. There are lots of distance programs. We do virtual classrooms and WebEx programs.

We also do some distance application training, using a program we call "Telephone Role Play," where representatives actually role-play situations over the telephone with professionally trained coaches, outside of a classroom. We also provide continuing education for the reps. We constantly give them bite size-chunks of information in our series called "Knowledge Is Power." In the series, we send out information and ask the reps to take a short quiz to make sure that they digest the information.


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Source: Pharmaceutical Executive,
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