Pharmaceutical Sales Training Excellence: Tools, Processes and Resources That Drive Effectiveness


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The training of an organization's sales force -- particularly in the pharmaceutical sector -- is one of the critical steps companies must take to succeed in a competitive marketplace. Due to the effect they have on the overall operations of a sales training group, the budget and structure of a company's sales training organization have a significant impact on the effectiveness of the group.

This Best Practices, LLC, report delivers performance benchmarks for the size, cost, scope, content, delivery channels, lessons learned, and success drivers of leading Sales Training organizations across the pharmaceutical industry. The study identifies successful training venues, technologies, organizational structures, delivery approaches, performance measurement processes, and resource levels that drive effectiveness in high-performing Sales Training organizations.

Sales Training leaders can use the metrics and insights in this study to evaluate and compare the performance of their Sales Training organizations.

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Pharmaceutical Sales Training Excellence: Tools, Processes and Resources That Drive Effectiveness

  1. 1. BEST PRACTICBest Practices, LLC Strategic Benchmarking ResearchPharmaceutical Sales Training Excellence:Tools, Processes & ResourcesThat Drive EffectivenessCopyright © Best Practices , LLC
  2. 2. BEST PRACTICTable of Contents Executive Summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 3 Research Overview Participating Companies Hallmarks of Excellence Key Metrics at a Glance Key Trends at a Glance Benchmark Findings Sales Training Program Operations & Models . . . . . . Page 12 Sales Training Content Delivery & Development . . . . Page 26 Technology Issues & Applications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 41 Sales Training Budget & Resources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 52 Organizational Structure & Scope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 69 Trends in Pharmaceutical Sales Training . . . . . . . . . . . Page 76 Best Practices of the Benchmark Class . . . . . . . . . . . Page 81 Appendix: Participant Demographics . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 902Copyright © Best Practices , LLC
  3. 3. BEST PRACTICTopics IncludedStudy Overview Sales Training budget trends &management Most utilized types of Sales Trainingincluded in formal curriculum Collaboration level of sales trainingwith various stakeholder groups % Training content developed anddelivered by internal staff vs. vendors Technologies used to deliver training % training outsourced to vendors Key Industry Metrics: Avg. # days of sales training per rep Sales Training budget as a percentageof revenue. # employees receiving sales trainingper trainerResearch Objective: This benchmarking studywas designed to provide pharmaceutical leaderswith metrics and insights they can use toevaluate and compare the performance of theirSales Training organizations.The study identifies successful training venues,technologies, organizational structures, deliveryapproaches, performance measurementprocesses, and resource levels that driveeffectiveness in high-performing Sales Trainingorganizations.Methodology: Best Practices, LLC engaged28 biopharmaceutical training leaders througha benchmarking survey instrument. Researchanalysts also conducted six deep-dive executiveinterviews with selected benchmark participants.Research Project Objectives, Methodology & ResultsBest Practices, LLC conducted this benchmarking to identify performance benchmarks for thesize, cost, scope, content, delivery channels, lessons learned, and success drivers of leading SalesTraining organizations across the pharmaceutical industry.3Copyright © Best Practices , LLC
  4. 4. BEST PRACTIC25 Companies Participated in This Benchmarking StudyParticipating Companies: Benchmark ClassTwenty-eight Sales Training leaders from 25 pharmaceutical companies participated in this study.Sixty-three percent of the participants are directors or senior directors. Logos represent thecompany affiliation of the participants4Copyright © Best Practices , LLCBenchmark Participants: Train sales forces representing an averageof $5 billion annual revenue Train on four continents, with 74% trainingsales forces in the U.S. Provide training covering more than20 different therapeutic areas 100% have a focus on training specialtysales forces, especially inoncology, hematology, immunology &neurology 48% also train primary care sales forces;67% train sales managers
  5. 5. BEST PRACTICBenchmark Findings: Structure & Resources / BudgetThe following key findings and insights emerged from this study. Training Heads Report up to Vice Presidents: More than two-thirds of Sales Training departmentsare led by directors and senior directors. Nearly three-quarters of the department leaders report up tovice presidents and senior vice presidents. Companies Put Sales Training Close to Marketing: About two-thirds of participants locate their SalesTraining groups in close proximity to Marketing Departments. Only 32% are not within the same building. Sales Training Budgets for Participants Average Nearly $6M: Participants’ Sales Training budgetsaveraged $5.87million (US) during the last fiscal year, with a median of $3.35 million. Onaverage, companies in the study allocated 26% for ad hoc training, including POA meetings. 36% of Budget Goes to New Hires: Benchmark participants spent an average of 36% of their budgetsfor new hire training in the most recently completed fiscal year. On average, new hires receive about 32days of training during their first year on the job, compared with about 10 days of training per year forexisting, or experienced, reps. More Companies Expecting Budget Decreases than Increases: A third of participants expect theirSales Training budgets to remain flat over the next two years, while another 40% anticipate decreases.Increased budgets are expected by 28% of the benchmark class. This trend reflects current marketrealities: as blockbusters lose patent coverage, many companies are reducing sales force size.Companies with growing budgets are scheduling new product launches.5Copyright © Best Practices , LLC
  6. 6. BEST PRACTIC6Copyright © Best Practices , LLCKey Trends at a GlanceTECHNOLOGY: Reducing travel costs, increasing field time, & learner preferences are driving companies to movesome live training into virtual classrooms. However, face-to-face learning continues to be important. Technology creates opportunities to further individualize or segment training so new hires &transfers are treated differently, as are primary care & specialty reps. Mobile applications & gaming are gaining usage, but effectiveness has not yet been determined. IT support relationships vary widely across companies.PEOPLE DEVELOPMENT: As sales forces shrink, emphasis shifts from new hire learning to advanced training & development. 24-hour access to on-demand training modules through LMS or other systems is expected. Traditional foundation training content remains in place, but curriculaare expanding to include business acumen, health outcomes & more. Companies are increasingly focused on reinforcement & are equippingDMs with coaching skills & support tools that make training sustainable.COST: There’s a strong correlation between training cost & program size.Those training more reps realize significant economies of scale. Participants stretch budgets with technology & innovation.The following are key trends observed in this study.
  7. 7. BEST PRACTIC“Measurement is an area for improvement for us. We continue to look at ways to measure effectiveness. We get good feedbackthat they were great programs, but I don’t know if that necessarily is translated to effectiveness yet.” -- Associate Director44%59%67%67%74%81%81%96%96%96%Program includes career path developmentProgram effectiveness metrics are used to drive changeTraining effectiveness is measured continuouslyCurriculum includes post-training reinforcementProgram employs (or contracts with) professionalinstructional designersProgram leaders collaborate closely with MarketingSales Training leverages internal SMEs (subject matterexperts) in curriculum development and/ or instructionProgram has active sponsorship/support from seniormanagementProgram is formalized with a dedicated staff and budgetProgram leaders collaborate closely with Sales leadershipQ. Which of the following statements are true of the Sales Training program you represent?7Copyright © Best Practices , LLCProgram Attributes(n=27) % ResponsesKey Program Strengths Are Collaboration, DedicatedResources & Management SupportNearly all participating Sales Training Departments have dedicated resources, good relationshipswith sales leadership and active support from senior management. Career path development anduse of effectiveness metrics are opportunities for many departments.OpportunityAreasStrengths
  8. 8. BEST PRACTICModel:Sales Training Model Integrates Competencies & Curriculum“As important as it is to create competency models based on roles, it’s equally important to ensure that the models andcompetencies are aligned with the corporate culture and values. This is not an overnight process—it takes two to three years.”--Interviewed Associate Director, Sales Training & DevelopmentAlign Program with Corporate Objectives & ValuesEstablishCompetenciesBased onOrganization’sNeedsCreate aCompetencyModel for EachRoleIdentifyIndividualSkills GapsCreateIndividualDevelopmentPlansDocumentTraining &CoachingConsistentlyto EnsureSustainabilityTrainManagers toIdentify NeedsBuildCurriculum toDevelop EachCompetencyMapCurriculum toCompetenciesCoach toCurriculumTrain Managers & Individuals to UseCompetency Map & LibraryCreate LibraryofCompetency-Based TrainingModulesOne interviewed partner described a successful Sales Training model based on identifyingSales competencies and building a curriculum to develop them.8Copyright © Best Practices , LLC
  9. 9. BEST PRACTICTrainee Satisfaction Is Top Metric for Judging Program QualityMost participants use a variety of metrics to evaluate the quality of their Sales Training functions.Those with the highest effectiveness rating are trainee satisfaction, role-play certification, and formalfeedback from management.Q. Rate each of the following metrics for evaluating the quality of the Sales Training function? (choose one for each)9Copyright © Best Practices , LLCSales Training Program Quality52%40%28%28%24%21%12%4%8%16%4%4%8%4%4%16%8%20%16%4%8%16%8%12%16%24%32%36%44%38%36%44%40%8%12%16%16%20%29%32%40%48%Return on Investment (ROI)Employee retention metrics% sales goals met by individual trainee% revenue targets met by sales forceComparison of test results before & after trainingComparison of individuals performance before &after trainingFormal feedback from sales managementRole-play certificationTrainee satisfaction levelsNA/ Not Used Not At All Effective Somewhat Ineffective Somewhat Effective Highly Effective4%n =252525242525252525% Responses
  10. 10. BEST PRACTICCompanies Adding Training Content on Customers & PatientsEvolving role of the patientBusiness of the physicianIndividualizing customer interactionHow to add value for each customerImpacts of Health Care ReformUnderstanding formularies & reimbursementUse of selling modelsAdvanced training/ Management trainingThe need for content in disease state, compliance, product, selling and other traditional trainingremains strong, but some new areas are growing in importance. Understanding customers andpatients are key growth areas.10Copyright © Best Practices , LLC
  11. 11. BEST PRACTICQ. Approximately what percentage of your sales training is delivered using each of the following approaches?(Estimate a percentage for each approach. Total should equal 100%.)11Copyright © Best Practices , LLCTraining Delivery ApproachesInstructor-led, in-personclassroom, 53%Instructor-led virtualclassroom , 12%Asynchronousvirtualclassroom, 3%Self-paced e-learningmodules, 15%Self-paced paper-based learningmodules, 6%Fieldvisits/practiceselling, 11%All otherapproaches, 1%(n=24)”For one franchise, wedeveloped a virtual coreclass with a mixture of iPadcontent, WebEx, video, andinteractivity on the iPad.“It involves pulling outcomponents where we knowwe don’t really need a liveperson.”- Interviewed AssociateDirectorIn-Person Classroom Instruction Is Top Delivery ApproachTraditional instructor-led classroom learning accounts for 53% of the sales training provided by thebenchmark participants. Interest is growing in instructor-led virtual classrooms, however, with 12%of training offered in that venue. For self-paced training, e-modules are used more than twice asoften as paper-based modules.
  12. 12. BEST PRACTICQ. Approximately what percentage of your core training is delivered via the iPad and/or other similar mobile devices?Q. What apps have you developed?12Copyright © Best Practices , LLCMobile Training(n=25)• Custom app where all training content is loaded 24/7• Custom play books for each product, eLearning Systemshoused on iBooks and product specific apps• Deploying a new CRM APP.• Google Drive proprietary product called DOCs(Demonstration of Comprehension)• Handbook app• Training platform launches brand specific new hire training• Utilized for "just in time" training. All learning is no morethen 5 -7 mins long. Allows rep to look up info whenneeded before going into a HCP’s office. All content ishoused on the iPad; web connection not neededPercentage of Core TrainingDelivered to Trainees ThroughMobile DevicesMax 75%75th Percentile 25%Mean 18%Median 10%25th Percentile 5%Min 0%Training Apps18% of Core Training Is Delivered via iPad-Type DevicesCompanies are increasingly moving Sales Training content to mobile devices. Only about 18% of coretraining has migrated on average to date, however. Participants are actively creating apps for trainingpurposes.“The iPad is great for getting things out where speed is of the essence, but we can’t just put everything out there in real time.In our world of compliance and the regulatory environment, the company has to manage what a rep can download, copy, andreplicate.” – Interviewed Senior Director
  13. 13. BEST PRACTICTechnology Comparison: Best Uses DescribedInterviewed training leaders described best uses, pros and cons for various types of trainingtechnology.Tech Type Best Use Pros ConsE-learning ModulesHome study, Preppingreps before face-to-facetraining eventsEasy to track use throughLCM, Available anytimeNot available in field, Nopeer interaction, Nomanager feedbackWebinarsDisseminatinginformation to a groupAccessible in field; Can bearchived for flexible accessLittle opportunity fortrainee interactionConference CallsGroup discussion,Manager feedback, InfodisseminationCan use for individualcoaching or group practicesessionsSynchronouscommunication onlyiPad Modules On the job learningAvailable in field;Interactivity potential;User demandTech requirements;Content developmentcost; UnknowneffectivenessVideo UploadsCapturing rep practicesessionsEnable student coachingoutside classroomLMS limitationsVirtual ClassroomProviding classroom-type instruction overInternetReduce travel; Somestudent/teacher interactivity;ArchivableTech requirements;Cost, Unknowneffectiveness13Copyright © Best Practices , LLC
  14. 14. BEST PRACTIC* Other: Hire highlyqualified trainingmanagers, developcontent in-house, RFP allprojects, scale backon meals andgifts, reduce travelcost, repurposeexisting contentQ. What successful or innovative practices have you used to stretch the Sales Training budget in times of flat or reducedcorporate funding? (please describe)14Copyright © Best Practices , LLCBudget ManagementUse ofTechnology/ e-learning, 36%Increaseinternalexpertise/content, 18%Decentralizedtrainings, 18%Evaluation ofstrategies inplace, 14%Switch tocontractors tosupplytraining, 7%Other, 7%*(n=28)Participants Stretch Budgets with Technology & InnovationBenchmark partners have successfully used technology, e-learning, increased internal expertise ,and decentralized trainings to hold down costs in times of flat or reduced budgets.
  15. 15. BEST PRACTICQ. Please provide the following numbers for number of training days required per rep for a new product launch.15Copyright © Best Practices , LLCNumber of Training Days Required per Rep for a New Product Launch(n=18)New Hires(Reps within first year on job)Existing Reps(Excludes new hires)75th Percentile 23.75 20Mean 16.5 14.4Median 10 925th Percentile 6 5(n=17)Reps Get About Three Weeks of Training for a New ProductNew product training requires an average of 16.5 days of training for new hires and 14.4 forexperienced reps. One quarter of participating companies provides four weeks or more of newproduct training. The survey maximum was 45 days, both for new and experienced reps.
  16. 16. BEST PRACTIC16Copyright © Best Practices , LLCTraining Focuses on Needs of Learners & Internal Partners“It’s important to remember those people are our customersand the stuff that we are putting forth is designed to help themachieve their strategies. So if we understand that and give peoplethe skillsets and the development they need to better achieve astrategy, then that’s how we’re bringing value. So we need to bealigned with our business partners to that to makethat happen.”“For our big products, we have somebody within our traininggroup dedicated to working with each of those plans to makesure that everything we train new folks on is done from acustomer lens. We’re involved from the very beginning.”Interviewed training directors shared best practices on partnering with internal stakeholders andcollecting feedback from trainees to ensure training is focused on meeting internal customers’needs.“We’re big fans of doing everything we can to improve learner satisfaction where we basically ask them at the end ofthe training, “If you didn’t have this training, could you be as successful in your job?””“So learner satisfaction is a big driver for just about everything we do, and we get tons of feedback from our learners.that we scan through after every class we run. Then we use it to try and make improvements.”“We’re trying to get to this culture of continuous improvement where everything we do we take time to analyze thefeedback from our learners, figure out, or evaluate where it falls and what we can do to improve upon it for thenext folks that come through.”Best Practice:
  17. 17. BEST PRACTICBest Practices, LLC6350 Quadrangle Drive, Suite 200Chapel Hill, NC Silverstein Martha HaswellSenior Director, Advisory Services Project Manager919.767.9227 mhaswell@best-in-class.comAbout Best Practices, LLCBest Practices, LLC is a research and consulting firm that conducts work based on the simple yetprofound principle that organizations can chart a course to superior economic performance by studyingthe best business practices, operating tactics, and winning strategies of world-class companies.17Copyright © Best Practices , LLCLink for Report: Pharmaceutical Sales Training Excellence Benchmarking Report