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Selecting A Training Provider

Selecting A Training Provider

1. Relevant Background and Experience

Does the vendor have specific experience with your type of business? Pharmaceutical sales skills are like other sales skills, but also involve more scientific and technical knowledge. Does the vendor have specific credentials that match up to your needs? What kinds of clients has the vendor worked with?

It’s also important to find out how long the vendor has been in business. A longer track record is generally more reassuring. You don’t want to be in the middle of a training project and see your vendor go out of business. Ask for relevant references and contact them

2. Good Fit With Your Company Culture

Training programs on the same topics are far from interchangeable. Particularly in pharmaceuticals and biotech, finding a vendor with relevant experience and a similar approach to sales is necessary. Moreover, your vendor has to have an understanding of regulations that apply to your industry. A training provider with a sound understanding of the peculiarities of pharma sales (like constraints on product claims) is preferable. Ideally, your training program should be built from the ground up with your company in mind. Some training may be modular, but some of it may need to be custom tailored.

3. Product Range and Customization Options

One-size-fits-all training doesn’t provide the best return on investment. Look for vendors with sufficient product range to start out with and those that are willing to customize training. If you know what media you want for training materials, make sure your vendor is comfortable developing training in those media. It’s also important for vendors to understand that shoehorning the same content from one medium to another may not work. Additionally, they should understand why you want the media mix you do and be able to tell you clearly what they develop in-house and what (if anything) they outsource.

4. Technological Capabilities

Your sales professionals don’t wait around to adopt newer, better technologies on or off the job. Therefore, your training providers should be able to demonstrate that they are committed to incorporating new technologies into training programs where it makes sense. Can your training provider offer you a solution that will evolve with your needs? For example, if you will eventually be providing sales professionals with iPads, can they adapt training modules to be mobile-friendly? Do they understand your IT infrastructure and know how to optimize training programs for it? There’s simply no excuse for falling behind technologically today.

5. Coordination With Other Vendors

You may find yourself in a situation as a sales trainer where you need to source part of your training from one vendor and part from another. In these cases, it’s best if the vendors you choose are willing to coordinate with each other. However many vendors you use, you should be able to reach your project manager easily with questions or concerns. Ask project managers to explain how they will keep you up to date on training program development so you can ensure that multiple vendors are operating on timelines that make sense. How vendors handle feedback and quality control are important concerns no matter how small a role a particular vendor has.

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Things to Consider When Selecting A Training Provider

Things to Consider When Selecting A Training Provider

In particular, there are five key questions I recommend anyone selecting a training provider must answer, before deciding who to work with.

1. Do they understand our industry and “day-to-day reality?”

Many training providers are experts in a particular area and/or industry. The best ones know to stay within that industry. Unfortunately, many don’t, meaning they are perfectly happy to work with an automotive manufacturer today, and a telecommunications firm tomorrow. Same material, concepts and stories – only the people in the room are different.

One of participant’s major gripes about training is that “the trainer doesn’t know anything about our industry,” causing them to disengage from the content, and discredit the trainer and their expertise altogether.

2. Do they customize their content?

Unfortunately, I still see training that isn’t customized. Generic, one-size-fits-all case studies, or role plays from an entirely different industry are still common practices in classrooms across the globe.

Customization is key to effective learning unless participants have the ability to connect the learning to their day-to-day, and practice in a safe environment before going out into the real world. How can we expect them to perform any better after training has taken place?

When selecting, insist that any training provider you select customizes core elements of their training program like case studies, role plays, examples and terminology.

3. Do they provide a learning journey?

Learning is not an event. Most of what participants learn in a classroom is forgotten with days, if not weeks.

4. Do they offer multi-channel, hybrid learning options?

Learning doesn’t happen in the classroom alone. Virtually everyone prefers different modes of learning. Effective learning needs to take a multi-channel, multi-modal approach.

Classroom sessions, “live” webinars, post-training reinforcement coaching, online learning modules, Q&A sessions, podcasts/audio and e-mail reinforcement need to be combined into a powerful learning journey.

5. Do they measure progress?

What’s the point of training if not to get better? Would a professional athlete or musician even dream of embarking on a training program without putting in place some kind of measurement process?

Top-ranked training providers don’t simply suggest you measure progress over time, they insist on it. They understand that the true value they deliver isn’t in how great their training is, it’s in how great the results are.

Next time you’re selecting a training provider, feel free to use this short list as a checklist. After all, it took me twenty years to build it, might as well take advantage of it.