Why Integrate Coaching and Training for Biopharma Reps?

Alison Muller
February 20, 2024

It’s Getting Harder … How Is It Possible?
With shrinking access and availability of HCPs and patient safety top of mind, communicating accurate, personalized, and value-driven messages is vital but not always happening. 

In fact, there are cases where field reps have used unapproved content, including non-MLR approved content, outdated information, even off-label discussions with HCPs.

What’s To Be Done?
The best strategy to reduce the use of unapproved content and messaging is to build a continuous learning culture. Commercial training can’t be a “one-and-done” exercise – it must be pulled through into the field. Coaching and learning must be linked and become part of the everyday workflow. Integrated coaching joins activities like one-to-one coaching, microlearning, and the centralization of information into a single source of truth that is accessible anytime, anywhere, and at any moment.

Coaching & Training Integration: A Critical Step on the Path to Field Force Excellence
To achieve field force effectiveness in Life Sciences, field reps must be competent and confident in the messaging they share with healthcare providers (HCPs). How can you get them there? 

Through training and coaching. And while both play a critical role, these approaches are typically done in isolation and are disconnected.

Biopharmaceutical commercial leaders are always looking for ways to better support their reps and, ultimately, improve company performance. Learning reinforcement through coaching is a great way to make an impact.

Strategies To Connect Coaching And Training
Commercial leaders can use the following strategies to overcome barriers and connect coaching and training:

  • Collaborate early and often. Engage everyone early on in the process — from District Managers to Sales Support to Brand teams and Medical teams.
  • Give everyone ownership; play to people’s strengths.
  • Set coaching expectations early and have a means to measure success.
  • Foster a culture that rewards self-coaching and life-long learners.
  • Be flexible; focus on creating a solutions-oriented mindset rather than a problem-oriented one.
  • Train and incorporate self-coaching into new hire onboarding.
  • Ensure continuous communication. It’s better to over-communicate to ensure that people can’t misunderstand what we mean.
  • Keep coaching top of mind with constant engagement. Have one-on-ones with District Managers and identify follow-up actions for both you and them.
  • Find people who have “skin in the game” and give them a voice.
  • Hire people with field experience in CL&D, Marketing, and Brand Strategy who know what works and what doesn’t.

Immediate actions to take to connect coaching to training
Making change in an organization – especially a large, structured pharmaceutical or biotech organization – can be difficult, and overwhelming. 

However, there are actions you can implement immediately to connect coaching to training: 

  • Provide recognition and feedback on good coaching — “What Good Looks Like”
  • Use field coaching reports (FCRs) with the mindset of coaching for impact rather than coaching for compliance.
  • Make self-coaching both easier and continuous; give reps options about what to do next
  • Create an environment of trust that supports coaching through modeling
  • Establish a Field Leadership Advisory Council with members from the Sales and Training Departments, as well as other members who can add value to training and materials development
  • Share this blog post with decision makers at your organization and provide them with one item on which they can act — offer a solution that makes them look good

Field reps in Life Sciences face a unique challenge and opportunity because their role has a direct tie to the human condition. Reps are tasked with digesting and understanding a large volume of complex medical information required to communicate with HCPs, who, in turn, use it to make decisions that impact patients’ lives. 

Reps receive intensive training multiple times a year during National Sales Meetings (NSMs), Plan of Action Meetings (POAs), and Product Launches, but learning isn’t a one-time event. To achieve true competence and confidence, reps need continuous support in the field. This is where good training – connected to coaching – can make all the difference.

More About Connecting Coaching and Training Coming Soon!
Want to learn more about how to connect coaching to training and help improve field force effectiveness? Join us for a February 27, 2024 webinar, “Unlock the Potential of Coaching for Greater Impact on Your National Sales Meeting Pull-Through.” 

See how the ACTO platform transforms coaching into an extension of pull-through, making it a dynamic and effective way to ensure success in the field after your NSM. It will cover how to: 

  • Use insight into competency gaps to build purpose-driven pull through.
  • Communicate pull-through strategies to sales managers for guidance on observation.
  • Encourage rep retention with practicing and active engagement with training materials.

Sign up today!