Learning Isn't Just for Rookies

Edition: May 2003 - Vol 11 Number 05
Article#: 1539
Author: Repertoire

The Medical Products and Services Division of Cardinal Health (formerly Allegiance Healthcare) is rolling out a continuing education program that offers a variety of face-to-face and remote training options. The program will supplement the company’s structured training program for new reps.

The continuing education program calls for Medical Products and Services’ reps to maintain a certain number of continuing sales education credits each year, says Cindy Davidson, the division’s director of sales training and development.

“Adult learning in general has become very important,” says Davidson, who was a sales rep herself for 14 years with Cardinal Health and its predecessors. Many of the company’s veteran reps have requested opportunities to receive updated training, she says.

Although she was still finalizing the curriculum at press time, Davidson says the program will comprise a number of different elements:

• Cardinal Health University. Launched last year, the University offers close to 50 online courses to employees from all of Cardinal’s business units, and not just those in sales and marketing. Courses offered include: Enhancing Your Listening Skills, Negotiating to Win, Presentation Structure and Delivery, and Instilling Service Excellence. Employees can check out books and tapes to accompany the courses.

• HIDA ADVANCE Sales Training Program, a remote learning program which includes modules on selling skills, account and territory management, introduction to medical sales and selling the value of distribution.

• EOL1, an online product training program primarily for Cardinal reps who call primarily on physicians’ offices.

• An annual two-day “supplier mart,” in which distribution sales reps get a chance to meet more than 100 of the company’s suppliers.

• Field training from suppliers as well as sales management.

“The reps are looking forward to this,” says Davidson. “It’s an easy, process-oriented way of getting development.”

Rookies Not Forgotten

While Cardinal Health develops the continuing education program for veteran reps, the company continues its well-honed, three-step training program for rookies. Called CAST (for College of Advanced Sales Training), the program is designed to acclimate new distribution and manufacturing sales reps to Cardinal, and to advance their sales skills.

In Phase 1, new reps from all of Cardinal Health’s Medical Products and Services group come together for a three-day program, which includes a company orientation, selling skills and critical technology training. “The goal is to orient people to the company and all its businesses,” says Davidson. “Teamwork is an enormous part of our culture,” she says, “and Phase 1 is designed to instill that in new reps.”

Davidson notes that Cardinal Health shies away from bringing reps in for training on their first day on the job. “We like people to get to know their customers a little bit,” she says. “You get more out of the class when you’ve had a little time in the field.”

A month or two later, the new reps are brought back for a weeklong course on the tools and products specific to their businesses (such as Custom Sterile, Lab, etc.).

Approximately one year later, the new reps return to Cardinal for the final phase of their rookie training. The reps make presentations on specific products or services in front of senior management and their peers. “It gets their heart pumping,” says Davidson. “But the goal is to make sure they’re at the point where we want them to be. And it gives us a chance to encourage them to develop that much more."