Sales Training Program Enhanced

Edition: April 2003 - Vol 11 Number 04
Article#: 1504
Author: Repertoire

With industry consolidation, healthcare mergers and payer problems, a sales rep’s job has never been more difficult. In order to win the sale while providing valuable solutions to customers, field reps must understand their customers, the market and sales strategies. With that in mind, HIDA developed the ADVANCE Sales Training program.

Originally developed in 1940 as the ASTA (HIDA’s former name) Course in Salesmanship, the newly named ADVANCE program was introduced in 1988 to give medical product sales reps a broader knowledge base,higher confidence levels, greater career satisfaction and success.

More than 1,100 reps are already AMS-certified and another 2,800 are actively studying for AMS certification. (AMS stands for “Accredited in Medical Sales.”) Acceptance of the program has been “unbelievable,” says Mike Ford, HIDA vice president of distributor services. “It is such a great tool because it works for everyone, whether you work for a national distributor, independent distributor or a manufacturer.”

Not only is the program important for distributor sales reps, it can also be used by manufacturer sales reps, too, says Ford. “It’s valuable to anyone who’s engaged in the process of selling medical products,” says Ford. In fact, half of those who have signed up for the program are manufacturers.

“To me, that indicates that there’s definitely a need for this kind of program,” says Ford. “It gives manufacturers an opportunity to learn from the same materials as distributors.”

Revised Program

A newly revised ADVANCE program was released last year. “Everything is 100 percent new,” says Ford. “We used the existing program as our foundation – we took elements from it, but it has been completely reviewed and rewritten.”

With 13 core curriculum modules and a growing number of Masters-level modules, ADVANCE is a comprehensive education tool, says Ford. The program consists of a number of self-study modules focused on selling skills, territory management, customer groups and distribution value. It also provides insight into healthcare purchasing and decision-making.

Each of the modules is 25-to 45-pages long and is presented in booklet form, allowing reps to take them on the road. After the rep has completed all 13 courses, he or she is entitled to take the AMS certification exam. Upon receiving AMS accreditation, the rep receives short informational pieces to hand out to his or her customers explaining what the designation means. Reps are also encouraged to put the AMS logo on their business cards.

The Core Curriculum of ADVANCE consists of the following modules:


- Pre-Call Planning and Opening the Call

- Identifying and Targeting Customer Needs

- Overcoming Objections and Closing the Sale



- Time Management

- Managing Accounts for Growth and Profitability

- Managing Your Territory for Maximum Productivity



- The Human Body

- Introduction to Healthcare Products

- Understanding Hospital Customers

- Understanding Long-term Care Customers

- Understanding Physician Customers


- Selling Distribution Value

- Understanding the Distribution Business

Continuing Accreditation

In order to maintain their credentials, AMS sales reps must earn at least six continuing education points every year. Points can be earned by attending education sessions or Product Training Universities at the HIDA MedSurg Conference & Expo, or through Education Online (EOL-1) classes. (See related EOL-1 story below.) Points also can be earned through the ADVANCE Masters Curriculum, introduced in January 2003.

Currently, the ADVANCE Masters Curriculum consists of the following self-study modules:

• Legal Issues in Healthcare Sales

• Negotiating Skills for Distributor Salespeople

• Physician Office Furniture and Lighting

• Rapid Diagnostics

• Using Reimbursement Knowledge to Make Sales

• Using Technology to Improve Sales Effectiveness

Masters modules will be added to the library on a regular basis. Topics scheduled for 2003 release include:

• Bone Density Measurement

• Cardiopulmonary Instruments and Equipment

• Leveraging Manufacturer Partnerships

• Selling Diagnostic Equipment for Exam and Procedure Rooms.

• Safety Products

• Understanding Blood-borne


• Understanding HIPAA.

“We have been using ADVANCE Sales Training and we love it,” says Todd Hubbard, sales manager, Schryver Medical Sales and Marketing. “The sales reps find the content and the way it is presented extremely beneficial. There’s a lot of great information – it’s definitely a great investment.”

The entire ADVANCE core curriculum costs $795, and Masters modules are $149 each. The ADVANCE program also can be customized, enabling customers to purchase discounted all-employee licenses for training large sales forces. Interested students can purchase the entire ADVANCE curriculum, including the core set and all current and future Masters modules, for $1,225. Call HIDA at 703/838-6125 for details.

EOL-1 Signs Agreement with Advance

AMS-accredited sales professionals enrolled in HIDA’s ADVANCE Sales Training program will be able to earn continuing education points by taking designated EOL-1 courses online.

Education OnLine, is a Web-based training center, featuring training modules, general product information, online manufacturer customer service, resource links and industry news. It is owned by MDSI, publisher of Repertoire.

Under HIDA’s ADVANCE program, all AMS-certified sales reps are required to earn at least six continuing education credits each year in order to maintain their professional credentials. HIDA will award reps points toward their requirement for taking designated online courses through the EOL-1 program. AMS-certified sales reps also can earn continuing education points by taking ADVANCE Masters courses and by attending Product Training Universities and education sessions at the HIDA 2003 MedSurg Conference & Expo, to be held October 2-4 in Baltimore.

“Under the new agreement with EOL-1, meeting AMS certification requirements has never been easier,” says Matt Rowan, HIDA president and CEO. “HIDA is pleased to offer AMS credits through EOL-1. We hope this will drive more people to enroll in the ADVANCE program and earn their AMS designation. This partnership with EOL-1 is the first of many HIDA hopes to form in order to help our AMS graduates earn continuing education points that are valuable and relevant to them.”

“EOL-1 provides comprehensive product training for distributors, making it a perfect fit with the ADVANCE selling skills education modules,” says Brian Taylor, EOL-1 president. “EOL-1 is the industry standard for e-learning. By partnering with HIDA, AMS reps now have a wide-range of self-study tools at their disposal to use when convenient in order to enhance their professionalism and to better serve their customers.”

EOL-1 provides an interactive learning environment, tailored to each manufacturer and distributor as needed. Testing modules with clearly defined metrics for feedback and reports are integral to the program. Representatives have access to all the products they sell at one central site as well as on-line resource tools for review and maintaining up-to-date-information.