Boehringer Ingelheim leverages simulation training to achieve leadership and coaching skill mastery

Family-run pharmaceutical giant, Boehringer Ingelheim has implemented its innovative simulation training, ‘Coach to Grow’ for its first-line managers, helping them master important coaching skills to maximize sales representative retention and revenue.

Making sure first-line managers are there for their reps

With 10,000 sales representatives globally and as many as 1,300 first-line managers (FLMs), the team at Boehringer Ingelheim wanted to take a blended learning approach to improve their coaching offering from FLMs to sales reps on a global scale.

Speaking to Jennifer Quist (Global Lead, Commercial CFT Learning & Development), Rakesh Vashishta (Global Head of Customer Facing Execution Excellence), Bruce Kent (District Sales Manager, Canada), Jouanna Barssoum Omeira (Training and Change Management Lead), and Alice Yi (Regional Sales Training Manager, Asia Pacific, Australia, New Zealand), we learned about the growing necessity for quality coaching within an organization like Boehringer Ingelheim. Alice tells us how particularly after the COVID-19 pandemic, teams want to feel like they have their manager in their corner.

What did Boehringer Ingelheim set out to achieve with Coach to Grow?

Implement a centralized platform for global FLMs and the salesforce
Add an innovative, blended learning approach to the learning and development roster
Better measure the success and impact of learning and development
Train people in coaching in a real, meaningful environment

‘Coach to Grow’ was born

Coach to Grow is Boehringer Ingelheim’s interactive, highly immersive simulation training tool for their FLMs.

So how have they used the tool to address their objectives?


Centralized platform for FLMs and sales reps

Jennifer explains how previously, every country operated their training slightly differently. There had never been a consistent way to make sure every FLM and rep was getting the same high-quality learning.

The mobile-first approach, multi-lingual Attensi simulation training means that Boehringer Ingelheim has been able to roll out Coach to Grow on a global scale, making it the first centralized training platform of its kind for the organization.

Add a blended learning approach to the learning and development roster

Rakesh and the team explain how there has always been a blend of face-to-face and e-learning at Boehringer Ingelheim. However, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need for a highly engaging, blended learning approach when it came to coaching.

Bruce seconds this need for an engaging remote way of practicing coaching for FLMs.

Bruce goes on to explain how he had certain expectations of the solution – that it would be similar to other e-learning with multiple choice etc. that would help with knowledge. What he was surprised by was the interactivity of Coach to Grow. He shares how there were several moments when he had to stop and give his answers some thought. It was at these points that he realized the simulation training was about behavior change in his coaching, rather than simply gaining knowledge.

“It’s a fun and engaging platform that’s going to change the way you coach.”


Better measure the success and impact of learning and development

Ultimately, learning and development need to help an organization deliver on business goals. Rakesh shared Boehringer Ingelheim’s previous challenges around measuring the impact of a solution like this.

However, the built-in metrics and analytics in Coach to Grow have already allowed the team to quantify and measure how successful the roll-out has been globally.

The team have already been able to see reports showing adoption, success and certification. First-line managers have also been able to score themselves on their confidence before completing the modules, and again after completing all five of the Coach to Grow modules.

Train people in coaching in a real, meaningful environment

As coaching is such an interpersonal skill, filled with nuance and soft skills, it’s historically been difficult to create training to be truly reflective of that.

The simulation element of Coach to Grow has opened up a new world of interactivity and coaching training with context for first-line managers at Boehringer Ingelheim.

Rakesh tells us how important it is that the training be realistic.

“It’s important because we’re dealing with adults. We’re not in the business of educating children. We’re dealing with people who have their own opinions and experiences. Unless it’s realistic and relates directly to them, they’re not going to engage with those things.”

The avatars respond directly to what FLMs say to them in a coaching setting, with instant feedback.  

“You have characters to interact with – they’re lifelike, they’re speaking back to you, you’re making decisions. It’s that kind of experience that elevates the product.”

Jennifer Quist

Global Lead, Commercial CFT Learning & Development

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