Using Online Training For An Urgent Product Launch

How do you train and certify sales reps as quickly as possible? We’ll review tips and tricks to help.
People collaborating at desk

How do you train and certify sales reps as quickly as possible? When sales are projected to be $3mm/week, there is no time to spare!

A pharma client had this challenge when the FDA approved a new indication earlier than expected. Before reps could start selling, they needed to be thoroughly trained and certified in product knowledge.

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No Time for Traditional Launch

Waiting six months until the next sales meeting was not a viable option. Instead, web based video training was chosen. The key design requirements were:

  • Individual progress tracking
  • 100% understanding for 11 key issues
  • 28 day turnaround
  • Training entirely in the field using smart phones and tablets

Our video team immediately started scripting, shooting, and editing video modules. At the same time, our web developers built the framework for presenting the content and measuring results. On the client side, the medical, legal, and regulatory affairs people reviewed the work and made adjustments as needed.

On Monday of week 4, each rep was delivered a link to 38 minutes of training video with integrated quiz questions. They were instructed to complete the materials by noon Friday.

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Monitoring by Managers

Throughout the week district managers tracked the progress of their reps, urging the stragglers to get moving and praising the completers.

Lessons were formatted for micro-learning – small units of content followed up by quiz questions. When reps left and came back, they were automatically returned to their last point of progress, making serial learning quick and friction free.

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Adjustments Required

Man discussing how to launch a product

At the end of 3 days, we had enough data to evaluate training effectiveness. When reps were quizzed, nine of eleven key learning points were answered correctly by more than 80%. However, two points received less than 50% correct responses, indicating message confusion.

A webcast was scheduled for end of week for product managers to clarify the problem learning points, followed by short video conferences where each district got together for a quick review.

First thing Monday morning a final quiz was given to certify each rep’s knowledge before they were turned loose to sell. Out of 202 reps, 198 successfully completed within the allocated week. Two were medically excused. The other two were given personal attention to get them up-to-speed for the sales push.

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Final Analysis

Just under 30% of the training was consumed in the evenings. Most of it was accomplished during the day in small increments of downtime such as waiting for meetings, commuting, or lunch. It took the average rep 7.4 visits and 55 minutes to get through the entirety of the training material.

Real time analysis was vital. Managers could see shortfalls in training materials as well as the laggards in the field. By monitoring results, managers were able to quickly adjust when needed, while meeting their schedule and budget goal. The five months of earlier time-to-market gave the brand a $65mm topline lift.

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In Closing

It’s not every day that the FDA provides a surprise new approval. It happens daily, however, that brands need to train their personnel about new products, promotions, compliance issues, and new competition. Rapid response time is vital.

This accelerated launch demonstrates how mobile, video-based training can be quickly employed in response to communicate challenges and training in particular.

Click here to see an example.