On-Boarding Sales Trainers by Wally Ward

PharmaDigital recently spoke with Wally Ward about On-Boarding new sales trainers. We at PharmaDigital hold Wally in very high regard as an expert sales trainer due to his passion and years of experience. Wally has worked with top tier Life Science companies such as Bayer and Takeda.  He also headed up his own training firm in which he trained former members of the armed services to better enable their entry into the civilian workforce.  Before that, he served our country as a U.S. Army Infantry Captain and Commanded a Mechanized Infantry Company where he suffered a traumatic injury. Wally’s ability to overcome his injury is inspirational. Currently, Wally is Director of Training for an Assisted Living Company based out of North Carolina.

Here is awally collection of thoughts from Wally about on-boarding new trainers into Life Sciences sales training departments:



Wally Ward on Training Trainers

I was recently asked why I like training sales people so much. I didn’t have to step back and think about it nor did I have to scratch my head and wonder. The answer is quite simple. I like being part of someone’s success.

In the pharmaceutical sales world, we all go to the big national sales meetings at some pretty elaborate locales intended to recognize and award the top sales people across the company. It is like the Oscars and thousands gaze upon the winners as they walk across the stage. One group in sales that is rarely recognized for their contribution to other’s success are the sales training managers. The trainers are there at those meetings and they witness the culmination of their training efforts – The Winners!!  The true reward for any sales training manager is when an individual that you motivated and infused with knowledge carries it into the real world and succeeds.

When a new trainer comes into the pharmaceutical training world, they often have the same thoughts. How can they take their success that they may have had “in the field” and teach others to do the same? We always want our new trainers to keep this mindset. Expectations about the actual day to day environment of their role in our training department, however, needs to be set from day one. Maybe even before their first day during the interview process.

New trainers need to know that the job includes a wide variety of diverse tasks along with opportunities for their own learning. This includes learning about Instructional Design and Adult Learning Principles. It also includes building engaging learning environments and measuring success. Throw in the need for effective project management skills, budget management and a few other key points and you can enable a new trainer to successfully On-Board into your department.

Regardless of how effectively you On-Board new trainers, we will always have the trainers who come into the training department to “check the box”. You know who I mean, the sales training managers who simply view the job as a stepping stone to becoming a District Sales Manager. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that as long as they truly care about the job they do while being a sales training manager. A formal On-Boarding process is especially important for these trainers.

Another type of a newly promoted hire into a training department is the sales superstar. I have always found it interesting to promote someone into training based off of sales numbers because this does not necessarily translate into training skills. Just because you have the ability to sell and achieve great sales numbers does not always mean you can train others to do so nor does it mean you can lead other sales people. A solid and well thought out On-Boarding program for Trainers definitely helps to channel the sales abilities of these types of trainers in your department.

Effective sales training managers put themselves second, behind the needs of their learners, and create an environment where the learners know they come first and the class is a safe place to learn.  Learners need a place where they can try out some new ideas and skills in order to use them effectively with a customer. If a trainer thinks that he or she has to be the shining star and outshine the students, then they are in the wrong job. This does not mean one has to be boring and it also does not mean one can’t have an awesome personality in class. On the contrary – you need to be an exciting role model and create a safe yet energized training environment. Successful trainers ensure that their training programs are all about the learner’s needs and not their own.

Wally Ward