It's Time To Get Close To Distance Learning

Edition: September 1999 - Vol 7 Number 09
Article#: 482
Author: Chris Kelly & Brian Taylor

The message is clear. Customers are demanding that their suppliers understand their businesses not superficially, but well enough to provide solutions in addition to the products and services they sell. It has become the norm for successful sales reps both inside (read the results of the H.R. Chally Physicians' Office World Class Sales Survey June, July and August issues of Repertoire) and outside (see Dental Group Broadens NDC's Focus, page 18) of our industry.

Successful salespeople understand their customer's needs, and then provide solutions that will meet those needs. It is our belief that product knowledge is the key factor in many of those solutions. How does a product add value to the practice, hospital or nursing home? Does it save time, reduce costs or make the customer more efficient? Without product knowledge it is impossible for sales reps to answer these questions and be the resource customers need the one they cannot live without.

In the first quarter of next year, Medical Distribution Solutions, Inc. (MDSI), the parent company of Repertoire, will roll out the industry's first Internet-based product training center that will keep sales reps on the cutting edge of product technology. This centralized database of existing and new product information will:

  • Cost effectively train sales reps on products.

  • More effectively launch new products.

  • Get new products to market more quickly.

  • Create an effective retention tool for sales reps.

  • Provide the tools that will enable sales reps to increase volume and profitability.

The financial support for the project will come collectively from distributors and manufacturers ... both of whom will benefit from the project. This collective approach will save both large and small companies a significant amount of time, resources and money. The initial response to those we've surveyed has been simply overwhelming. It is an idea whose time has come in our industry.

The technology is in place today to create a very effective, exciting and interactive model that serves the lowest common denominator (the 28.8 modem) with a lot of interactivity, including testing modules with clear feedback loops, drag and drop ability and audio. However, it's the future that becomes incredibly exciting. As bandwidth expands, technology such as video, video-on-demand, and live classrooms will become reality for everyone ... not just those who have high-speed access.

And while the initial effort of this project will concentrate on manufacturer-distributor and manufacturer-manufacturer training, the future will include different cuts of information specifically for the end-user. Imagine a world where the three-shift hospital inservice becomes a relic of the past. Or, instead of driving from Atlanta to Nashville to re-inservice a new nurse in a physician's office on an ECG, the customer simply logged the site, did the training themselves and then printed a certification! Ultimately it will free up time so sales reps can concentrate on the needs of their customers and the solutions that fit them. So stay tuned. And if you're attending HIDA/99 in Chicago, come by our booth (#1930) and take a look at the prototype we will be demonstrating. We want your shape the future of product training.