Top 5 Mistakes to Avoid in Online Pharmaceuticals Sales Training

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing”- Henry Ford

And imagine how costly would that be in pharmaceutical sales training where millions of dollars are at stake.

In an earlier blog, I wrote about empowering sales effectiveness for pharmaceutical reps through digital learning. In continuation to that, today I will share my thoughts on the top mistakes to avoid in the pharmaceutical digital learning journey.

As Integrated Delivery Networks (IDNs) gain more prominence, potential pharmaceutical decision makers are no longer restricted to physicians, surgeons, medical specialists, or other clinicians. IDNs are huge networks that manage or own end to end patient care.

What change does that imply for pharmaceutical sales reps? Well, they now need to possess necessary skills to persuade and influence decisions that administrators across IDNs make about the usage of drugs and devices. They also need to learn to negotiate large-sized deals with these IDNs. All this can be catalyzed through online sales training. Hence, it is only natural for pharmaceutical giants to have the largest chunk of their training dedicated towards empowering sales, since it has a direct impact on the bottom-line.

While we talk about what needs to be done, let us also look at what should be avoided. Here are 5 common mistakes that you should possibly avoid in online pharmaceutical sales training:

  1. Designing standard training programs for one and all

When your sales reps have distinct goals, knowledge base, aspirations, and preferences, it is a big mistake not to offer them personalized training programs. Many pharmaceutical companies are moving towards Learning Experience Design (LXD) as a base for a more bespoke and human-centered approach to learning. An appropriate example of this would be spaced learning using assessments. Assume that a sales rep took a course 3 months back on a new product that was launched. Today, when the sales rep logs in to the learning app, a bunch of questions pop-up, based on the same course. If the answer to any of the questions is incorrect, relevant videos or section of the course are shortlisted for reinforcement. These become available in the sales rep’s learning dashboard for them to view and be fully prepared when they pitch the product to prospective clients.

  1. Continuing with legacy content

The new age pharmaceutical reps are in constant need of just-in-time training. They generally undertake this while they are on the field or in some cases, even before a client meeting. This training should ideally be in the form of responsive micro- learning chunks accessible through mobiles or tablets. Legacy content developed using older versions of authoring tools or in outdated formats often acts as a barrier to delivering such modes of training. It is probably a good idea to consider modernization of legacy content for effective online sales training.

  1. Reinforcement is often ignored

Some pharmaceutical companies restrict sales training only to new joiners while for some it is just a one-time thing. Reinforcement of the training content is often ignored. However, companies need to understand that pharmaceutical sales reps are expected to recall and remember everything correctly when sitting through a client meeting. Reinforcement could make this process easier. There are many smart ways to reinforce important concepts and details from past training modules. You could do that as micro-learning nuggets or short videos covering fundamental aspects. Pushing these reinforcement modules at regular intervals ensures high retention of knowledge.

  1. Importance of the training outcome(s) is not outlined

Imagine a scenario where a sales rep is flooded with modules on a new Oncology drug launch. It would be difficult to keep them motivated unless they are told on how the information would benefit them in closing a sale. Highlighting key benefits of new sales training should help sales reps stay curious and ahead of the game during their sales pitch. So companies should make it a point to outline the importance of each and every training outcome of a module.

  1. Ignoring the ‘skills-training’ factor

Successful sales reps need to know their product(s) in-and-out in this highly regulated industry. However, too much focus on product knowledge and less on the skills to sell the same is just a job half-done. It is important to have a dedicated focus on skills like customer probing, persuasion, and negotiation, for the sales training to have the optimum impact.

If you could avoid the above mistakes, there is a high chance that your sales reps will stay motivated and well-equipped for their next big deal. Stay tuned for my next blog in this series on empowering pharmaceutical sales reps trough digital learning. If you have some experiences to share from your pharmaceutical training journey or would like to share your thoughts, comment below or drop a note to info@harbingerlearning.com.

Learning Trends to Watch Out for in 2019

It is that time of year when we all take a pause and reflect on the year passing by and get ready to welcome the new one. My role as a Proposal Engineer at Harbinger Interactive Learning makes me stretch outside the norms and design interesting solutions for our customers. While looking back at 2018, I realized this year was unique in many ways. It challenged the eLearning stakeholders in many ways and got them out of their comfort zone. All these advancements have paved way for an even more exciting 2019.

Here are the trends I foresee for the upcoming year.

Instructional Design to Learning Experience Design

Instructional design seems to be gradually evolving into learning experience design. Instructional designers will now need to think beyond course instructional strategy, chunking content, and storyboard creation. Delivering learning content in newer ways based on learner behavior would be their new agenda. Applying instructional strategies for newer formats like chatbot, AR/VR, short animated videos, would be very different than applying them to an hour long course. Our instructional designers have already started experiencing this change. Have you?

Redefined eLearning Course Development and Design

The ideal duration of an eLearning course changed from an hour or two to about 30 minutes in the last few years. It would further dip down to 2-5 minute long modules. The delivery formats would now also include interactive infographics, AR content, and other such interesting forms. It implies that every course and every learning experience could be unique. This change would also form the premise for a huge transformation in the way eLearning content development units and L&D departments function, since they won’t be using the waterfall model to develop hundreds of hours of learning in the same format anymore.

eLearning Project Management Moves Agile

Agile project management practices have been around in software development cycle since ages. And they have been talked about for quite some time now in eLearning teams as well. With the type of variety in content being developed now, it would be a welcome to see agile project management in action here as well.

CLOs and Learning Directors Ready to Take Risks

In the past, for many of our proposals, we have been asked to put down the ROI for eLearning development in black and white. But in 2018, we saw that quite a few learning stake-holders were open to newer ideas, trying out different forms of learning content delivery, and not being hung upon the ROI. I don’t deny that ROI is important. And it would have to be asked one day. But, what is important is that stake-holders are ready to take risks. The parameters of ROI are being shifted from “number of hours of learning” to “performance improvement” of an employee in areas that matter. If a support desk employee can get a just-in-time learning nugget on how to fill a complex form and completes that form within record time and handle more support queries, the ROI is achieved.

Netflix-like Experiences in Learning

Today, no learner would like to login to an LMS to take up a course even if they have free time. But, if the same employee is on an internal portal browsing some content and there comes a learning nugget in the context of what they are surfing, there are high chances of them clicking on this learning nugget. And that is how learning would happen now: In-context and nudged based on user actions. A seemingly Netflix like experience where movies are recommended based on what the user watches and surfs. And the recommendations only become better with time.

Artificial Intelligence in Learning

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has made great advancements through the past few years and this year will mark its remarkable presence in L&D setup. AI is going to play a dual role here: Providing personalized experiences and learner evaluation through analytics.

AI-powered chatbots are currently being used to answer financial queries, provide customer support, diagnose healthcare issues, and even offer counselling on various topics. They are already starting to make an impact on education and corporate learning. Bots similar to Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana could be developed to frontend a course and provide personalized learning experiences.  Besides delivering learning, a chatbot can also provide information about what people learn, how they learn, and what they need to learn. The data recorded from chatbot interactions can be analyzed to see what is being learned and when. It will also tell you what information is missing by recording the queries that it couldn’t respond to. This means that training can become more relevant and effective as it’s based on the demonstrable needs of employees rather the notional needs determined by L&D.

Interesting time lies ahead for the L&D function as some new learning and re-skilling looks to be the order of the year. Do you agree? Get immersed and enjoy the journey!

5 Essentials to Take Care of When Translating English Content to Asian Languages

More than 16% of the world’s population speaks one or the other Asian language. This implies a high probability of your eLearning localization projects including a lot of translations to Asian language. And as with any other language, translating English to any of the Asian languages has its own set of challenges. Let’s look at some of those.

Font Usage

When translating English to any other language, you need to pay special attention to the fonts you are using. This becomes specifically crucial for Asian language projects since their character sets and fonts are starkly different from English.

Cultural Differences

Asian Languages have many cultural nuances specific to each of them. This also implies that the level of formality used in the content or pronunciation for a specific word is different in an Asian language than what you would use in English. This has a direct impact on your project’s voice recording. You should ideally check with the client for any specific pronunciations before proceeding with the recording. Also check on the usage of right titles, salutations, or greetings beforehand.

Grammatical Differences

Because of different language origins, Asian languages are very different in basic grammar when compared to English. There are differences in syntax, genders, usage of verbs and adjectives. The right way to proceed with these is to engage native translator who could pick these out without an issue.

Image Recreation

When working on image recreation for specific languages, you might come across images that have content written on them. Try and refrain from modifying the original content and language on the image since such kind of recreation might have legal repercussions unless stated otherwise. Translate any content on the image and have it placed separately, preferably next to the image.

Glossary Development

Ensure that your translation vendor includes glossary development as a part of the services scope. Glossary development is an essential step in translation projects to ensure consistent translation and easy updates.

 

With their diverse varieties, Asian languages present many interesting challenges in translation. But overlooking even one of them can threaten the client relationship. Your translation projects need to be carefully managed to minimize risks. Instead of a regular storyboard, it is advisable to create a base document with the entire translation scope and seek the client’s approval on it to avoid any last-minute glitches. Also, as a best practice, before proceeding with closing on a translator, share multiple samples of translated content from different translators and seek client feedback on each of those. A native-level translator who understands the culture and its nuances is ideal. If this translator has also served a wide range of demographics, that’s a plus.

If you have faced any other challenges or follow some other workarounds while dealing with Asian language translations, we would want to learn about. Comment below or drop a note to info@harbingerlearning.com.

Role of Training in Catering Leadership Development

In a previous blog, we explored the exponential growth in the catering industry and the reasons supporting this growth.  A growing industry needs to support their leaders with targeted training to help them in meeting customer expectations and deliver outstanding service. In the catering industry, catering managers are the flag-bearers of the restaurant brand and it is critical to align them with the brand culture and values. This would help in establishing the brand with their crew and eventually with the customers. To achieve this, it is important to groom and train catering managers in certain skillsets and processes. Let’s look at them below:

Interpersonal skills

Interpersonal skills are a key attribute of successful catering managers. Catering industry has a high level of employee turnover and catering managers have to deal with new employees all the time.  It is essential that managers break the ice with employees and get them onboard and ready to perform quickly. Catering managers should be trained in skills like verbal and non-verbal communication, influencing and negotiation skills, and more.

Customer Centricity

Catering managers face customers on an everyday basis and customer centricity becomes a critical skill for restaurant survival and performance.  A manager trained on skills like understanding customer needs, customer behavior, effective communication, and empathy, would work towards building a customer-centric culture. Such a manager and their crew would be able to handle catering events better and deliver exceptional customer delight.

Catering Specific Processes

A catering event is a high-pressure situation with a lot of moving parts. Lack of processes can lead to chaos and bad customer experience.   Catering managers should be able to estimate the right number of crew members to an event.  They also need to keep a close watch on the budget and perform a detailed risk management analysis to make an event successful.

Considering all the above requirements, it is ideal that catering managers are trained to plan activities smartly, follow specific processes, and most importantly, they should be able to take quick decisions. Considering the nature of this industry, a blended learning approach would suit the best. Use of classroom training to deliver key topics, supported by online learning modules supporting micro-learning, gamification, and scenario-based learning can deliver the desired results.

Are you a part of the catering industry? What type of training do you prefer? Feel free to share your thoughts through comments below. If you would like to discuss any training needs or use cases with our experts, drop a note to info@harbingerlearning.com.

Empowering Sales Effectiveness In Pharmaceutical Companies Through Digital Learning

As per Statista, the global R&D spend in the pharmaceutical industry is expected to cross 200 billion dollars by 2024. This growth projection implies that many new products will be developed in this time frame and that is why many companies are investing significantly in digital salesforce training to effectively engage with customers.

Gone are the days where sales team boasted about their product features and deals happened. The traditional approach to pharmaceutical sales doesn’t work today. With the information explosion all around, customers know much more than before and are buying in new ways.  The growth in digitization and associated mobile technologies has led to customers preferring interactive engagement that brings forward information gaps and innovative solutions for the medical practitioners. Digital learning might not be a new concept for sales training in this sector, but the real challenge is to make it effective and figure out innovative ways to train these new age sales representatives.

Let’s look at some digital learning features that we need to consider to increase sales effectiveness in this field:

  1. Quick and easy updatable digital courses

Considering the dynamic nature of this industry and the constantly changing policies, FDA regulations and new product launches, the need of the hour is to select ‘future-ready’ digital courses which can be updated quickly and easily.

  1. Responsive, Byte-sized modules

Sales reps by no means are confined to their office desk all day, so digital learning needs to be made available wherever they are. Byte sized micro-learning nuggets are another interesting way to cater to any just-in-time learning requirements, like as ready reckoners before meeting a client or  for quick reinforcement on the go.

  1. The right mode of training for your needs

While many pharmaceutical companies have started implementing advanced techniques like artificial intelligence, chat-bots, augmented and virtual reality in their product demonstrations and training other functions, but ‘one size doesn’t fit all’. Some companies may still do better with video-based learning while for some gamified learning can bring out the best of competitiveness from their sales representatives. Some may still stick to the classic eBook for effective product training while some are inclined towards scenario based training. Choosing the correct mode for your organizational needs or the right blend of multiple modes is of utmost importance to yield better results.

Effective sales training has direct impact on the bottom-line so it is important to empower sales representatives with perfect training techniques to give them a taste of “what good looks like”. It’s a win-win scenario in which the organization attains higher revenue and also builds employee loyalty.

Have you tried digitizing your sales training programs? What has been your experience? Feel free to share your comments below, or drop a note to info@harbingerlearning.com to share your thoughts.