Selecting the best training vendor is essential to engaging learners and ensuring you maximize your training return on investment. It may take some time to evaluate the choices, but it is time well spent. Here are 5 things to look for when selecting a training vendor.
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 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.