In the first couple of weeks following the rollout of state and local stay-at-home orders, the healthcare industry started to buzz about switching to virtual congresses. Then, every healthcare marketer fired up Microsoft Excel and dove into budget-rebalancing exercises. What’s the next thing CMOs will be jumping on Zoom to hammer out? Given the conversations 2e is having with clients lately, I’m willing to wager that the next big push will focus on a now-idle force of Type A personalities: field salespeople.

While many pharma and device marketers have already forged short-term plans for field teams, the coming weeks will see longer-term plans play out as new revenue forecasts and resulting budgets are handed down from on high. We’ve seen a lot of sales and marketing organizations wondering what the future of sales rep calls and customer relationship management will look like, and that trend isn’t new. However, we’re hearing more and more activity around the following question:

How can our sales teams develop skills during downtime?

As the cement is setting around plans for budget reallocation and staff sizing, sales and marketing leaders are turning to internal training and research teams for easily deployable, snackable skills, as well as knowledge- development opportunities, to help juice the capabilities of their now-grounded field teams. With a few super- simple considerations, it’s possible to leverage sales force downtime for the benefit of employees, teams and companies as a whole:

1. Keep it simple.

Now is not the time to deploy complex new platforms for content distribution or learning management. Instead, focus on smaller, more modular topics that can be broken down and distributed as learning assignments. For example, a topic as seemingly finite as Sales Negotiation can be broken down into further subtopics like Negotiation Dynamics, Active Listening, and Conflict Resolution.

2. Don’t forward and forget.

So, you’ve just read a fascinating report on evolving HCP trends in digital engagement and you’ve hammered out a two-page email to your team providing an overview of the content, a summary of key points, and an inevitably broken link to the original article. Don’t just hit send and move on. Follow through by adding a few minutes to your next virtual meeting to discuss how that report applies to your team members, or even to challenge them to translate it into knowledge they can share with their customers.

3. Reprioritize pre-work.

COVID-19 delayed your launch another few quarters? Consider retooling foundational and prerequisite learning that had been slated for NSM/POA classroom sessions by including a home study that reps can polish up on. That way, they’re primed for deeper content engagement when pre-launch training is back on the agenda.

Of course, these are obvious considerations. But in times like these it’s often the most fundamental things that warrant priority.

Ross Toohey, CEO, 2e