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Archive for July, 2011

It’s not easy choosing the right outsource vendor for any project. That’s why Impactiviti provides a unique “matchmaking” service – introducing clients to optimal providers for their specific needs.

We’ve been doing this for 5 years, and dozens of sales training professionals have called on us to talk through their needs, and then get recommendations on best vendor/partners (that’s why Impactiviti is the eHarmony of pharma sales training and marketing).

Why do your colleagues pick up the phone and call me when they have a need? Here are the Top 10 reasons:

1.  You want someone who is accessible and responsive. You pick up the phone or send an e-mail and who are you conversing with? Me.

2.  You need an expert who knows the vendor landscape – from the inside. That’s my job. And I only partner with the good ones.

3.  You need to save wasted time and effort researching and vetting vendors. Who has time for that?

4.  You want to avoid potential errors. Very costly mistakes are made all the time by having the wrong vendors attempt work that is not in their sweet spot (or just by using bad vendors). I help you avoid those embarrassing incidents.

5.  This matchmaking service is free. No cost. No paperwork. No obligation. I work with vendor/partners on a referral fee basis (essentially, replacing their cost of sales – in a very efficient manner).

6.  My approach is consultative – I’m not here to sell you. I take the time to talk with you and ask the right questions.

7.  I get out of the way. My role is to introduce you and a business partner, not get in the middle of the relationship. But I’m always available in the background if needed.

8.  Connections – There’s a reason why Impactiviti is known as the pharmaceutical connection agent. Apart from vendor needs, I help my clients make all sorts of connections with other professionals and/or companies, as needed. That’s all free too.

9.  Regular brainstorming and update lunches with my clients. One of my jobs is to stay on the cutting edge of pharma, learning, and technology information. I also get to learn from you – these can be very lively meetings!

10. Trust. Impactiviti is a reputation-based business. Ask anybody I work with.

I realize this sounds a bit too good to be true. But when I began Impactiviti five years ago, I saw this huge gap – clients not knowing which vendors were best to use, and vendors not able to access clients who really would benefit from their services. That’s why it’s not just my clients who love Impactiviti – my vendor partners gladly forward referral fees for helping them find business in their sweet spot.

You won’t see too many win-win-win business models. But by calling Impactiviti, you can experience one!

So, what are your needs? Let’s set up a phone call, or an in-person visit (lunch or coffee is always good!). Send me an e-mail for an appointment. Whether your outsource needs are for an immediate project or a longer-term partnership, I have a full suite of personally-selected – and proven – providers in my Impactiviti network to recommend.

P.S. We also send out a weekly newsletter (see link below) with pharma news, commentary, and occasional job postings. It’s free as well!

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If you’ve followed my writing and speaking over the years, you know I’ve been a big proponent of social media as a vehicle for communications, network-building, and new business approaches. And I absolutely believe – more than ever – in the power and utility of digital networked communications

I was among the first in the pharma universe to begin blogging and tweeting pharma/healthcare topics. The first time I used Twitter at an industry conference, I wondered if I might be discovered and tossed out!

In fact, I even put together the first published list of pharma folks and companies active in social media – which, at the time, was a pretty small group! That number has since grown considerably, which is a very good thing.

As the industry has evolved, however, I can’t help but ask the question – is it time to give up on the idea of commercial prescription pharma interactively participating in the open, public social media space using current platforms? (please note the careful choice of words before having a knee-jerk reaction).

I’m not giving an answer – I’m asking a question. Here are the streams of thought feeding into this inquiry:

1. The FDA has shown zero readiness to give guidance about the use of on-line media in pharma communications. They are ready, however, to send warning letters about perceived violations in an ad-hoc fashion. This seriously inhibits pharma companies from getting involved. Regulatory fear does not go along well with open, public discussion.

2. The nature of current social media approaches and tools demands real-time interactive response and dialogue, out in the wilds of digital space. Pharma does not and cannot communicate that way.

  • Facebook demands interactivity and informal 2-way communication. Pharma companies are forced to come up with all kinds of work-arounds to make Facebook something other than it is, in order to participate. It’s like trying to enter a canoe into a speedboat race.
  • Twitter demands short bursts of communication. Pharma communications (prescription brands) demand fair balance, context, long explanation, disclaimers, and all kinds of monitoring/reporting. Would a congressman reading a speech from a teleprompter fit nicely at a cocktail party?
  • LinkedIn is all about the individual professional. Nice platform for recruiting, even in pharma. But my experience with pharma folks (I have years of it) on LinkedIn is that interactivity is almost nil. Pharma professionals live and work in an atmosphere of non-openness. You can sow seed on a gravel driveway, but don’t expect much of a harvest.
  • YouTube is one place where pharma companies can participate on a social platform, as long as you strip it down to, essentially, one-way broadcast and storytelling. It’s not social, but it is media.

3. Pharma companies tend to rotate commercial professionals (sales, training, marketing, etc.) through their job roles every 1-3 years. This means a constant default to short-term thinking. However, successful involvement in public social platforms demands long-term commitment and readiness to innovate. As soon as a little bit of expertise begins to accumulate, it’s time to move on to the next rung up the ladder (personally, I think that this, and the bondage of short-term quarterly profit reporting, are the two biggest hidden killers of pharma companies making true inroads in social networking).

4. Social media is moving rapidly to point-to-point on-demand mobile communications (including real-time UGC of all sorts, location data, commerce, and fragmented data streams). Pharma is all about centralized, one-way, controlled communications. Black, meet white.

We could go on, but the point is this: Public, interactive, real-time social media platforms and commercial pharma communications simply don’t mesh well. At all. And I don’t see that changing any time soon. Stuff you can easily say about other industries really isn’t going to translate well to pharma (as much as I like Chris Brogan, he’s out of his league on this post).

Is that a death knell for social media usage across all areas of pharma? Not at all. Non-branded communications can occur on existing public platforms, albeit often with a good dose of restrictions and care. Non-public networks (private communities) are a fruitful area of valuable involvement. Private, internal social networks (Yammer and the like) are potentially hugely useful apps for digital networked communications. One-way storytelling, while not fully social, can still add value, even in the public sphere (if done very carefully). Mobile apps that provide information or services are great – though again, they are using social-ish platforms in a less-than-fully-social fashion.

Also, the maturation of a platform like Google Plus could lead to more controlled communications to distinct, defined groups – and that is where the future could well be brighter.

Commercial, prescription pharma communications happen within thickly-walled gardens. The open, public social web is anything but that – and it’s not going to change for the pharma industry. Current platforms make it very difficult to marry the two. The future may well lie in walled social gardens, but existing approaches are still maturing through the wild west stage. Maybe we should expend less concern about “getting on Facebook” or Twitter, and architecting a social strategy that fits the industry – rather than trying to fit this square industry peg into a round, shape-shifting hole.

What do you think? Agree or disagree? Add your comment!

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Sign up for the Impactiviti Connection weekly e-newsletter (see sample), chock full of news and resources for pharmaceutical professionals

Get the Impactiviti overview

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New pharma/biotech sales training positions recently posted, if you know anyone interested…

Sr. Director, Sales Training, Novo Nordisk (NJ)

Sales Training Director, Takeda (IL)

Director of Sales Training, Zoll (MA)

Sr. Field Training Mgr, Vertex (Eastern US)

Manager of Training, Genzyme,  (MA)

Sr. Manager, Oncology Sales Training, Millennium (MA)

These are posted simply as a service to my readers. I have no connections to the HR departments posting these openings.

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Sign up for the Impactiviti Connection weekly e-newsletter (see sample), chock full of news and resources for pharmaceutical professionals

Get the Impactiviti overview

Read Full Post »

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