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Bonus Focus - Selecting Field-Based Trainers

 


By Dawn Brehm

Field-based trainers are high performing individuals on a path to greater responsibility, according to SPBT members who recently provided feedback on how those field-based trainers are selected.

Vicki Colman, senior manager, sales training, Aptalis Pharma, stated that for the newly launched field-based trainer program at Aptalis Pharma, candidates must apply and participate in a targeted selection process that is a collaboration between sales leadership and HR. Applicants must have at least five years industry and 18 months experience at Aptalis Pharma and delivered excellent sales performance. Once selected, a criterion to maintain high sales performance is required in the role. Another key selection factor, Colman said, is the importance of the trainers demonstrating the Aptalis Pharma values.

B. Braun takes a similar approach, according to Connie Murray, director, sales training & clinical education. Murray noted that sales management plays a key role in selecting the field-based trainers.

"Ideal candidates must be intrinsically motivated to help others succeed. They must also be committed to continuous self-improvement and possess a desire for increasing levels of responsibility at B. Braun Medical,” Murray said.

In addition to the selection criteria of strong performance, leadership aptitude and respected by their peers, Derek Lee, director, training & development, Ikaria, shared that field-based trainers are required to be committed to the role for at least 18 months.

"If they are "flipped” too soon, for example after one year, they might not have gained the full experience of the role and we as a training function may not have received the full ROI and development in that individual,” Lee said. Lee did note that although 18 months in the role is the ideal, top performing individuals are not held back from opportunities.

Tom Crouser, senior training manager, management & leadership development at Genentech, shared that the selection of field-based trainers at Genentech involves input from three business leaders: Division managers, regional managers and brand trainers. Crouser shared that criteria includes an in-depth understanding of the relevant therapeutic area(s), brands, competitors and needs of patients, clinicians and accounts, as well as the ability to appropriately segment and organize multiple field development strategies, programs, plans and activities.

Allergan Medical utilizes both parttime and full-time field trainers, said Marty Babbington, director, training and development. In order to vie for one of the full-time field trainer roles, an individual must have excelled at sales and had experience in the part-time field trainer role. Beth Aust, director U.S. eye care sales training at Allergan, noted that screening for a competency toward coaching, leading and mentoring others is part of the extensive interview process.

One thing is clear, the selection standards to become a field trainer are stringent and the process is rigorous. Criterion for selection often includes demonstrated high performance, a desire to help others learn and desire for greater responsibility in the field or in the training department.

Dawn Brehm is SPBT’s chief operating officer. Email Dawn at dbrehm@spbt.org.

 

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