I attended my first LTEN (life sciences trainers & educators’ network) conference this year and was impressed by captivating keynote addresses and the comradery across trainers from different companies. That said, I was mainly there to learn more about issues life sciences trainers are facing in 2019. Through this endeavor, a few presenters really made an impression on me with their highly useful insights and entertaining delivery. Here’s a countdown of the top 3 people I saw lead sessions. Scroll down for their key takeaways, style & why it resonated. Hopefully these presenters will return in 2020!

#3. Melissa Lowe, Philips

Topic: Congrats on Your New Training Job...Now What?!?

Style: experienced straight talk

Key takeaways:

  • Training grey areas and competing interests between sales, HR and med affairs can make succeeding tough for new training leaders
  • Start by figuring out what to do first, with who and why
  • Seek out open conversations with stakeholders to find common ground and to clarify responsibilities
  • Be a partner, be fair, but have boundaries

Why I wanted more:

  • Melissa comes across as someone who wouldn’t present something that wasn’t useful or thought through – so find her and listen!
  • This thought was reinforced the next day when Melissa won the LTEN award “Training for Change” for creating a new program after only being in a new training role for 60 days


#2. Vicki Colman, LEO Pharma

Topic: You Can't Do That! Building a Competitive Selling Curriculum

Style: Thoughtful envelop pusher

Key takeaways:

  • Despite being highly useful for reps, training on competitive insights presents a challenge to remaining legal, medical, regulatory (LMR) compliant
  • Vicki’s persistent efforts and relationships with LMR teams made it possible to find a solution, which involved reinforcing LMR guidelines and separating information that couldn’t be used together
  • Outcome: not only did sales learn what to emphasize most about their own products, they had to test their new knowledge in an escape room!

Why I wanted more:

  • Vicki’s persistence and collaborative communication style was inspiring – if I was a stakeholder, I’d want to want to partner with her and if I was on sales, I’d want to be trained by her
  • Even though she wouldn’t rest until she found a way to meet the sales team need, she did it within the rules, strengthening her partnerships


#1. Travis Hecker, Abbott Laboratories

Topic: Using Modern Sales Learning Tools to Maintain a Competitive Edge

Style: hilarious but bang-on

Key takeaways:

  • Common challenges to sales training success can include variability in messages, a lack of coaching opportunities, retention of information, too many training/information distribution channels, and a lack of training success metrics
  • To address these challenges, Abbott established a sales advisory council. They involved reps, executives as well as other stakeholders to advise on priorities, content, and systems for sales training
  • They purchased new technology platforms to help improve consistency of messages, improve coaching opportunities, and to allow individual reps to identify skill gaps and gain practice at times & places that were convenient for them

Why I wanted more:

  • Travis was very funny
  • You could save a lot of time following what he had to learn over a longer period
  • His advice was prioritized toward how to make the biggest impact in the job

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