When you put the Sales Training and Development Dept. side-by-side with Brand Marketing in most pharmaceutical companies, there is a curious divergence in approach that has always made me scratch my head.
Brands have an agency of record. Training groups have vendors. Lots of them.
Each model has its strengths and weaknesses, but based on the inefficiencies and inconsistencies I’ve seen throughout the years working with training departments, I have to wonder if more of them are now going to experiment with outsourcing larger chunks of training work to a much smaller circle of partners.
Here’s why I think this approach has a lot to commend it:
- Across the industry, there have been major cutbacks in sales forces and training groups. Smaller headcount = fewer internal resources to manage projects, leading to a need to have vendor/partners that can (like marketing agencies) take the ball and run with it, or take over entire functional areas.
- Much training development work is now becoming commoditized. The next frontier is scalable process and efficiency – a business discipline woven into a learning approach.
- Procurement processes are playing a more prominent role. Fragmented vendor selection methods will give way to more efficient, bottom-line-driven long-term partnerships.
- Technology keeps moving at a rapid pace. It makes sense to outsource all technical development to a single source that can bring consistency, integration, and big-picture strategy.
- Relatively rapid turnover of training personnel (it is usually a developmental position) will, as with brand marketing, make it sensible to ensure continuity by having an agency of record.
I see a day coming when more companies will have one or two primary Training Agencies of Record (TAOR) – perhaps one focused more on content, the other on technology – accompanied by a more limited suite of specialized providers (Managed Market expertise, Coaching programs, etc.). Outsourced training departments (not just sales forces) are already emerging for companies just entering the commercial realm with their first product. We’ll see more of these creative outsource models emerging.
I’m already talking to my Impactiviti clients – and partners – about this evolution toward a consolidated partnering approach. Not only do I recommend vendor/partners for specific needs and solutions, I’m also recommending that Training Directors take a hard look at the TAOR approach (and, yes, I have partners who can serve in this capacity). Let me know your thoughts about both the current and this (potential) future model – what does your crystal ball say?
Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors for training, eMarketing, social media, and more.
Learn more about us here.
(Image credit: Richard Schwier on Flickr)