In particular, companies wrestle with the delicate issue of when training should take place: on selling time, or on the rep's
or manager's own time. Companies that preach the importance of work-life balance can struggle with this issue, Rauschkolb
says. "While it is always important to maximize field time, we want people to approach training as an activity that the company
endorses because they know that it ultimately will help drive business results, rather than just another chore." What's the
solution? "The key to making technology-based training successful might be to give salespeople permission to do it for 30
minutes at the beginning or end of the day," Rauschkolb says. "But this requires a change in mindset."
Companies also may take into consideration what reps like to do. "Salespeople are very gregarious by nature, and they like
to get with other salespeople," says Otterbein. "DMs and RMs are the same way. They get a lot of energy and ideas from their
peers when in the classroom. If given the choice of a one-day, Web-based course or a three-day classroom course, they will
pick the classroom every time." In other words, the aphorism "build it, and they will come" doesn't apply to e-learning.
Companies like Amgen also are investing in technology and tools that managers can use to track reps' development and assist
them with coaching. Managers don't like ubiquitous training binders or complex computer programs. Amgen's online tool will
be designed to make it easier for managers to set expectations, reinforce learning, perform ongoing coaching, and recognize
reps for their efforts. According to the study, other companies are making similar investments in these tools (see "Intellectual
Mixed Messages for Headcount
While most L&D departments continue to spend the majority of their time focused on sales force activities, trainers also partner
with legal, marketing, and HR departments to deliver compliance and product manager training, and other courses.
"If you were in pharma training 10 years ago, tied into a therapeutic team, and as long as you had the sales message down
and solid presentation skills, you were in pretty good shape," says Mani Chidambaram, director of learning and development
at Esprit Pharma. "Now, our responsibilities have broadened ten-fold. But this is a positive thing. For those of us in training
who want to do bigger and better things in our organizations, our training role gives us a much broader range of experience
than we might get in the field."
According to the SPBT benchmark study, the ratio of learners to trainers is virtually unchanged compared with the same study
they did in 2003 (see "Taking a Headcount"). There are currently an average of 62 salespeople for every in-house trainer.
This ratio, though, differs by company size and type. There are generally more salespeople per trainer at Big Pharma (87 to
1) than at biotech companies (38 to 1).
Taking a Headcount
The industry is adding more trainers to the mix for several reasons. There are more reps to be trained; there is a desire
to improve the learner-to-trainer ratio; and there is a desire to improve the learner-to-trainer ratio. Overall, 41 percent
of the survey respondents reported that their pharma company had plans to grow.