The Long Arc of Training

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You’ve made a significant investment in sales training, pulled the entire sales team out of the field, and it’s now all hands on deck for the marketing, market access, regulatory, and medical affairs teams.
 
Why?  Because you know there is only one chance to make an impact in the market.  You know the next six months will likely predict the trajectory of the product in the market.  Your product has the clinical data to tell a compelling story, but only if those messages can be delivered consistently, effectively, and responsively.
 
One 3-day PoA is great for introducing messages and building excitement, but more often than not, disappointing results in the field may be due to a lack of ongoing pull-through training AFTER the fanfare has dissipated.  So how do you ensure that your initial training reaches its potential? Here are some basic tips for thinking about and getting the most out of your training:

  1. Training is a full meal, not an a la carte menu:  When designing training programs, think of the initiative as a contiguous continuum, not a series of “when-I-have-the-budget” choices. Pre-work, the in-person event, ongoing sustainment, and coaching are not optional inclusions.  They are a prescribed series of steps designed to build sustainable retention and applied skills, so always budget for the entire training continuum at the outset, not each part separately.
      

  2. You don’t know what you don’t know:  You’ve done the market research, calculated the unmet needs and potential in the market, and characterized the competitive landscape.  And yet, suddenly you are challenged by objections, competitive messages, or access issues you hadn’t anticipated.  Now what? It is important to plan for ongoing training and coaching so that you can quickly address the unexpected market dynamics that might be negatively impacting sales.
      

  3. The PoA is not the real world:  You’ve worked hard to make the PoA closely resemble actual situations the sales force is likely to face.  When clinical training and selling skills development are presented in a controlled setting, though, they can look quite a bit different from what reps will experience when they try to use the knowledge in an applied setting. Every training program should provide managers with the ongoing tools and skills necessary to coach to real world situations.  There is only a short window of opportunity to make an impact in the market, so marketing course corrections must be rapid, consistent, and most importantly, minimized. In the end, training is not an event.  It is not even just home study and an event.  The most effective outcomes are contingent upon your ability to deliver the full continuum of training.  This includes initial home study, the training event, and the ongoing applied training and coaching to ensure retention, reinforcement, and refinement of skills in the real-world market.

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