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May 31, 2019

Avoiding a Product Launch Failure: How Modern Learning Reduces the 3 Biggest Risks

The following post is a recap of a recent LTEN webinar by Pat D’Amico, Founder and CEO of About-Face Development. About-Face Development is a veteran-owned performance improvement consulting firm who’s goal is to bring its clients customized solutions that will advance performance and drive greater individual and organizational success.

According to a McKinsey report on drug launches, more than half of new medical devices and nearly two-thirds of new drugs fail to hit their sales targets.

If you find those statistics surprising, you’re probably not a veteran of these industries. On the other hand, if you have two or more decades of experience in these fields, whether as a rep or a sales trainer, you’ve probably borne witness to the trends behind these unfavorable odds.

From escalating competition and shrinking product-launch windows to diminished training budgets, the risks and challenges associated with new product launches continue to increase. The three biggest risks center on: (1) the cost of product training; (2) the time needed to educate and certify reps; and (3) the ability of trainers to help reps quickly master the new content.

In this two-part article, we’ll see how modern learning tools and techniques can help your organization overcome these risks and increase the odds of a successful product launch.  

The Price of Inadequate Training

In the late ‘90s and early 2000s, the good times were rolling at pharma and medical device companies. Money for training seemed to grow on trees. Fast forward to the present, and you’ll find trainers who are tempted to crack open their kids’ piggy banks to bolster their launch budgets.

Unfortunately, smaller budgets haven’t reduced the price tag for training. The cost of traditional training content development is high and so is the cost of launch meetings and content updates. At some firms, the budget for content updates, especially after the launch is $0.

But if the cost of training is high, the price of inadequate training is even higher. The biggest cost, of course, is missed sales targets because sales target attainment is key to market traction. And when poor training causes reps to miss their targets, this directly contributes to higher employee turnover.

Now for the good news: modern learning technologies enable medical device and pharmaceutical sales trainers to not only mitigate these problems, but to promote better learning outcomes and higher engagement—for less.

‘Clone’ Your Training Team

In addition to smaller budgets, many organizations have smaller training teams, leaving too few people to create the vast amounts of learning content needed.

But with modern learning tools, sales training leaders can now “clone” their departments. More content can be developed with fewer training personnel, thanks to the ease and speed with which mobile videos can be produced. In addition, training staff can leverage the talents of top sellers, marketers, and product managers within the company to help produce the content.

This can significantly reduce the cost of launch-meeting content—and even address the lack of a launch meeting. And by reducing the time needed to develop this content, your staff is freed to focus on tasks such as product messaging and demonstrations, simulated conversations, and competitive positioning. They can use video-based assignments to coach and even certify the reps.

Low-Cost Updates to Training Content

Then there’s the cost of updating content, which can be significantly reduced (assuming that these updates were even being made previously).

Most training professionals put a lot of time, effort, and dollars into developing pre-launch content, but it’s often difficult to find these resources during post-launch to help with any changes in the competition or positioning that need to be addressed from a training perspective. With the aid of modern learning technologies, however, cost-effective ‘just-in-time’ updates can be distributed to drive higher engagement and performance, reducing the risk of missed sales targets and the associated employee turnover.

In Part 2 of this series, we’ll see how modern learning technologies address the remaining two risks to successful product launches.

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