5 Things We Learned at LTEN 2023 Conference

Written By: Mercy Ehrler

June 27, 2023 – 7 min read

Performance Development Group (PDG) was honored to both sponsor and participate in the prestigious LTEN 2023 conference, held June 12-15 in Phoenix, AZ. The event showcased an impressive array of learning opportunities, including a dozen learning tracks, numerous micro-learning labs, and dozens of workshops facilitated by over 150 learning leaders and subject matter experts.

The conference was brimming with inspiration, making it difficult to pinpoint our favorite moments. However, after engaging in thoughtful discussions within our team and networking circles, we’ve identified the top five takeaways from this year’s LTEN event.

1. Coaching is the most important talent management process there is.

Successful organizations are distinguished by their ability to establish a coaching culture that seamlessly integrates into the fabric of their everyday work.

Why is coaching the most important?

  • Coaching is directly linked to performance, delivering tangible results.
  • It serves as the most effective way to reinforce training and ensure knowledge retention.

Quality Managers and Team Leaders are Key

According to Gallup, the quality of managers and team leaders is the single biggest factor in an organization’s long-term success. Astonishingly, up to 70% of the variance in team-level engagement can be attributed to the manager. This finding is the most profound and distinct discovery in Gallup’s 80-year history.

Manager and employee sitting at a table discussing business)

“According to Gallup, the quality of managers and team leaders is the single biggest factor in an organization’s long-term success.”

Embracing a Shared Coaching Process  

The optimal results come from a “shared” coaching process that promotes:

  • Collaborative, two-way interactions, empowering coaches to take greater accountability and ownership of their coaching and development.
  • Managers adopting a more consultative approach, focusing less on being directive.

Key Components of a Strong Coaching Culture

Strongest coaching cultures incorporate the following elements:

  • Coaching Capabilities: Coaching knowledge, approaches, and skills grounded in a cohesive coaching model that supports behavior change to drive performance
  • Coaching Champions: Establish a community of coaching champions who advocate and facilitate the organization’s coaching culture transformation.
  • Coaching as a Service: Develop an internal coaching program that combines the expertise of both internal and external coaches to provide comprehensive support.

2. Partnering with the right solutions/tech partner is key to success

It’s not feasible to develop every solution in-house. Frequently, enlisting external assistance for creating a framework, devising a solution, or implementing technology becomes necessary due to limitations in internal resources and time constraints.

Outsourcing can provide the essential expertise needed in specific areas. An external perspective is often crucial for objectively identifying challenges and introducing innovative solutions that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Team of six people in a conference room discussing business partners

“Outsourcing can provide the essential expertise needed, help objectively identify challenges, and introduce innovative solutions that might otherwise go unnoticed.”

Selecting the ideal partner can be a complex process. Utilizing a checklist to guide the decision-making process can help ensure success. The following checklist offers a straightforward approach to evaluating a potential partner for compatibility:

  • Alignment with Kirkpatrick’s Model: Ensure the partner’s ability to measure behaviors in accordance with Kirkpatrick’s Model.
  • Pre- and Post-Event Assessment: Check their capability to evaluate pre- and post-event behaviors for both new hire training and national meetings.
  • Dashboard Creation: Confirm their proficiency in creating comprehensive dashboards.
  • Support for All Therapeutic Areas: Verify their capacity to accommodate all therapeutic areas.
  • Project Management and Ongoing Support: Ascertain their commitment to providing project management and continuous support.
  • Partnership and Digital Learning: Assess their willingness to collaborate and share knowledge in digital learning.
  • Cost: Consider the overall cost of partnering with the tech solutions provider.

3. Technology can be key to drive to performance as long as you use a high-touch approach.

Technology continues to play a crucial role in sales enablement, with coaching and microlearning emerging as the two most popular platforms, according to a recent L&D study. Organizations are increasingly leveraging technology to drive behavioral change.

Sales Skill Development Applications

Numerous applications are available to help sales representatives refine their selling skills, enhance product knowledge, and boost sales. One life sciences organization created an in-house application to improve reps’ client engagement capabilities. The app recorded sales presentations and provided feedback on aspects such as eye contact, keyword usage, body language, filler words, and other non-verbal cues. Participation in the program was voluntary, enabling the collection of performance data comparing reps who used the app with those who did not.

Key Findings

The study revealed the following insights:

  • Sales professionals who used the application more frequently than their peers sold more products against their targets.
  • Sales reps who consistently utilized required words in their presentations outperformed peers who used these words less frequently.
  • Speech speed had a more significant impact on sales performance than the number of words used.
Man in grey suit with glasses holding blue folder talking in mirror

“Technology alone cannot capture context. Managers are essential in guiding sales reps to understand the subtleties of specific sales situations and adapt to customer needs and preferences.”

The Role of Managers in Coaching

While technology is an invaluable tool, program owners emphasized that managers play a critical role in coaching for performance. Technology alone cannot capture context; managers are essential in guiding sales reps to understand the subtleties of specific sales situations and adapt to customer needs and preferences.

4. The top three most in-demand topics and competencies for life sciences companies are coaching skills , leading change, and DEIB (Diversity, and Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging).

  1. Coaching Skills for Managers – Retention and internal mobility are closely tied to each employee’s relationship with their manager. As a result, many leadership development professionals in 2023 are prioritizing training managers to conduct effective coaching conversations.
  2. Leading Change – The life sciences industry is constantly evolving, requiring managers to excel at leading change within their organizations. Effective change leadership relies on strong communication skills, cultural adaptation, and coaching abilities.
  3. DEIB (Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, & Belonging) – The importance of promoting diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging has gained significant traction in recent years. To attract and retain top talent, stimulate innovation, and drive business growth, leaders must prioritize cultivating an inclusive environment where all employees feel acknowledged, valued, and respected.

5. Self-development is not selfish, it is selfless.

Professional development is one of the best thing you can do as a leader. When we commit to self-development, we set a positive example for others to follow. We inspire those around us to also invest in their personal growth, creating a ripple effect of self-improvement throughout our social circles.


  • Boosts self-confidence—We become more competent in our abilities which leads to an increase in self confidence
  • Enhances adaptability—By focusing on self development, we become more adaptable and better equipped to handle change, a crucial skill in today’s ever-evolving world
  • Improves decision-making—As we broaden our knowledge and perspectives, we are better able to make informed decisions that benefit not only ourselves but those around us.
  • Fosters resilience—Through self-development, we cultivate the ability to bounce back from setbacks and face challenges with determination and optimism.
  • Promotes a growth mindset—By embracing the idea that we can always improve, we encourage a growth mindset, which is key to unlocking our full potential and inspiring others to do the same.
white piece of paper with arrows pointing from New Mindset to New Results and back

“Self-development promotes a growth mindset, which is key to unlocking our full potential and inspiring others to do the same.”

In Sum

The LTEN 2023 conference provided so many valuable insights and lessons. We are always grateful for the opportunity to learn, collaborate, grow, and innovate alongside our clients and peers. We hope these takeaways help spur your own ideas to unlock your full potential and drive success in your organizations.

Sales leadership is a business skill just like building spreadsheets — it can be taught. Contact us if you’re interested in what we can do to turn your sales leaders into sales champions, or read our ebook, The Future of Sales Leadership, to learn how to prepare them for what’s next.

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