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Archive for the ‘Pharma’ Category

It was over a year in the making. The re-branding/re-naming of SPBT (the Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers) has finally come to pass!

Though the decision was made on the new identity 6 months ago, the annual conference in Dallas last week was the format for “the big reveal.”

Welcome LTEN – the Life Sciences Trainers and Educators Network. A more inclusive name for the more diverse population of learning professionals (including pharma, biotech, medical devices, and diagnostics) that now make up the organization.

As a branding guy, I like it. The name has flexibility. The acronym is simple. The new look is modern. This was a major win (kudos to the LTEN staff and board for the successful re-launch)!

LTEN

LTEN sjovallAnd, it was only slightly disconcerting to have LTEN President John Sjovall march out on stage in a Roman gladiator get-up…!

Over 18 years, I have seen the organization evolve, from its roots as NSPST (National Society of Pharmaceutical Sales Trainers), to the present day as LTEN. And every year, the annual gathering is a highlight of my spring schedule.

The conference this year was held at the Gaylord Texan, a mega-hotel/destination in Grapevine, TX. The vast Gaylord properties can be a little overwhelming, but the facility and the LTEN staff did an excellent job with signage and traffic flow. It was a good choice of venue – especially because there was BBQ (more on that later). Next year’s event will be in the Phoenix area – the first time there in recent memory.

LTEN Gaylord

There was an interesting mix of keynotes. Amy Cuddy opened up the conference with a talk on, for lack of a better term, “power posing” – how the way we carry ourselves physically impacts, not only how others perceive ourselves, but how we feel internally. This was an OK session, though I didn’t feel the theme was uniquely targeted to our particular audience (there was a lot of power-posing going on during the week, however!) On the other hand, double-amputee model and athlete Aimee Mullins had a pretty inspirational story about not viewing disabilities as disabilities at all. Many seemed moved by her message and example. She’s a good public speaker, though with room for improvement on liveliness.

LTEN power

(feeling the Power!)

When Dr. David Rock got up to speak, about Neuroleadership (aspects of brain science on how we learn and lead), one of the people at my table confessed that she was a David Rock groupie after hearing him previously (confession: I tend to snort at becoming groupies of anyone or anything). I then proceeded to become a David Rock groupie after an hour of mind-expanding neuro-psych-analysis. I’ll bet some others were less enamored, but as a college psych major and highly analytical thinker, I was totally energized! The conference keynotes closed with my friend Dr. Karl Kapp (a professor of Instructional Technology) not only talking about gamification, but delivering a thoroughly gamified session – really well done. Karl’s a smart guy.

One interesting twist this year was a series of 3 EdTalks – 18-minute sessions on more limited topics. Other innovations included a much more robust conference app (including a photo game called Play Click), learning stations in the exhibit hall, Dine Arounds (and other networking activities), and early morning fitness opportunties. The fresh thinking that Executive Director Kevin Kruse and his talented staff have been putting into the conference over the past few years really bore fruit in 2014 – I had the sense that we have finally attained a major re-boot in the conference and the organization.

I had the pleasure of co-leading a workshop on Career Choices with the engaging and deeply-experienced Jerry Clor – there is always plenty of professional introspection occuring about staying within pharma, or going out to the “dark side” (vendor community) – we tried to provide some advice and pros/cons about the various options. There were many good workshops – quality is always variable – with occasional photobombers present (thanks, Sue!).

LTEN photobomb

The feedback I was getting from exhibitors was actually quite positive this year, especially regarding the quality of interactions with attendees. The ongoing tweaks to workshop scheduling has led to some very nice, extended times in the exhibit hall. I was disappointed to see that the size and number of booths continues to shrink somewhat, and LTEN has some work ahead to convince past, present, and new exhibitors that setting up a booth at this annual conference is a good return on investment.

One of my favorite aspects of the conference, not surprisingly, is the networking – over meals, after sessions, in the exhibit hall, and during evening events. Getting caught up with folks I’ve known for many years – and always meeting new people -is the chief reason I attend. Many attendees who knew that my family is about to move from NJ to Nashville expressed incredible support and gladness for us – maybe even a bit of jealousy – and this really lifted my heart. My Impactiviti services (consulting and workshop facilitation and client-vendor matchmaking and clarity therapy) won’t change at all; but now, when you make trips to Nashville for business or pleasure, you’ll have someone you can turn to for coffee, or advice. Or BBQ.

Which brings me to the last point. BBQ. Specifically, Bill Lycett‘s suggestion that we try out Hard Eight barbecue pit a few miles away. Bob Holliday, Bill, and I waddled out of there stuffed to the gills with some top-shelf Texas BBQ. I wanted to bottle the aromatic smoky air and take it home with me as a souvenir of a very enjoyable LTEN conference experience (let’s hope Phoenix has something comparable…)!

LTEN BBQ

All in all, a very enjoyable week. The LTEN staff and volunteers were a pleasure to interact with, as always. Looking forward to years of steady progress ahead with this re-energized organization!

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Many consulting groups will gladly trade a 100-slide Powerpoint deck of strategy for a bunch of your money.

And, many outsource training companies will offer you various point solutions for this and that piece of your training needs.

But what about that messy middle? What about the implementation space between the Deck and the Done? It’s awfully difficult to find the bandwidth to take on (and complete) large-scale projects.

Bandwidth

The pull-it-all-together aspect of bringing order out of chaos is where one of our Impactiviti partners specializes. Not only can this group do the more limited training projects, they have the resources (designers, project managers, strategists, technologists, etc.) to be an outsource partner for your 3-12 month “major” initiatives.

If that’s the kind of provider you’re looking for, let us know here at Impactiviti (stevew at impactiviti dot com). We’ll make the connection.

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Pharma and biotech sales (and training) leaders, take note: the FDA is actively training doctors to sniff out your transgressions and turn you in.

The FDA has recently launched an e-learning course in order to educate the medical community on misleading drug promotions.

From the FDA’s press release: The FDA’s Office of Prescription Drug Promotion announced Monday the launch, with MedScape, of the e-learning course, which offers continuing education credits for healthcare professionals. The course is part of Bad Ad, a program designed in 2010 to raise awareness about misleading and untruthful drug ads. It’s aimed at healthcare professionals, but anyone can take it, the agency said. The office has developed several case studies based on warning letters the FDA has sent to drug companies, representing common problems.

You can launch the course here (anyone, in fact, can go through it). The screen shot below shows the structure of the course:

FDA course menu

Of particular interest is Module 5, where actors representing sales reps engage in questionable promotional practices to demonstrate violative sales tactics. This should be examined carefully by every commercial biopharma organization.

FDA Rep ecourse

Hat tip to Corey Nahman for the heads-up.

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I’m happy to announce the Client-Vendor Success White Paper – a collaborative effort between Impactiviti, pharma training professionals, and the outsource vendors who serve them.

What are the Top 10 things clients wish vendors understood (or would do better) – and vice-versa?

Here are the answers, in one brief and engaging white paper.

Download and enjoy! Client-Vendor Success

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ID-10087536I know, I know – we’ve seen lots of articles with titles like this in past. For many years, the imminent death of the pharmaceutical salesperson has been forecast.

And, for good reason – taking into account increasing government takeover of healthcare decisions, past shady sales practices, and the unwillingness or inability of many doctors to even see reps anymore, these are not great times for the pharma sales industry. I’ve seen incredible cutbacks in staff over recent years.

But, for now, the role of the sales rep continues. So we come to the question: what does the future hold?

I think the best way to approach this question is to broaden it and link it to the larger movements (I call them trend currents, as opposed to current trends) that are shaping business and culture.

So, let’s consider this question: What is happening to the role of face-to-face information exchange in all of life and business? Especially, what will be the role of person-to-person exchanges of information that can be easily accessed by other means?

If I want to know about a drug, do I have to wait for the right sales rep to drop by? Or can I, with a few clicks on a tablet, find what I need in real-time (without a potentially biased presentation)? How many of us research information on-line now, that we used to discover only through person-to-person interactions?

If I can use a (free) search engine to point out the facets of knowledge I’m seeking, do I need someone to point out those knowledge bits on a glossy piece of paper, or on their company-issued tablet?

If I can get an e-detail whenever I want it, why would I prefer the model of having people interrupt the office flow in the middle of the day to give a pitch?

Take these principles and apply them to every industry outside of pharmaceuticals, and you’ll see that we are undergoing a major change in the way we communicate and do business. It’s called disintermediation (removal of non-value-adding layers between us and what we need). Every time you use Amazon.com, and not a brick-and-mortar store, you are living in this trend current.

It’s not that face-to-face interactions don’t have value (they do), it’s just that the broader trends across the entire landscape of our culture are driving us to real-time connectivity to whatever we need – especially in the realm of knowledge.

Is pharma sales dead? I don’t think so. But I think it’s losing the race of relevance in our current technology and business climate. Which means we’re going to have to re-think the model – fast.

Your two cents?

Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Impactiviti is happy to announce the finalized version of the very first pharmaceutical Training Vendor Map template (static screen shot below).

ImpactivitiVendorMapFinal

This comprehensive spreadsheet will enable any training department to fully map out its landscape of outsource suppliers, by category and sub-category, in order to better classify existing vendors and identify needs for new suppliers.

How many times have people asked, “Who’s a good vendor for _____?” The Vendor Map allows you to bring all this scattered information together!

Used in conjunction with the Vendor Funnel, we now have a comprehensively designed approach to rationalizing the entire vendor selection process – saving a ton of time, trouble, and needlessly duplicated effort.

There are 10 major buckets (spreadsheet tabs) under which your vendors can be arranged:

  • Training Development
  • Strategy
  • Live Training
  • Technology Platforms
  • Sales Skills
  • Management & Leadership
  • Compliance & Human Capital
  • Trainer Skills
  • Specialized Training
  • Specialized Services

…and under each of those buckets there are sub-categories. For instance, under Specialized Training, there are columns for: Managed Markets | Federal Government Accounts | Marketing Training | MSL/Medical Affairs Training | Direct to HCP or Customer Training

BONUS: There is also a template for arranging your content development vendors by therapeutic specialty - making it much easier for members of your department to select potential suppliers based on areas of proven capabilities.

Want a copy? Just e-mail me (stevew at impactiviti.com) and I’ll send it along.

I extend thanks to the many folks – on both the client and vendor side – who contributed valuable input during the development of the Vendor Map tool. It is a version 1, so it’s not perfect; but, since it’s a spreadsheet, you can adapt it to the needs of your department. And, because Impactiviti’s business is to make vendor recommendations, I am happy to assist you in filling out your map, including making recommendations of targeted vendors for any needs you identify.

By the way, if you have colleagues attending the upcoming SPBT (Society of Pharmaceutical and Biotech Trainers) conference, this is a great tool to help intelligently plan, in advance, targeted visits in the vendor exhibition hall. Impactiviti can help you with that process as well.

>> Speaking of Vendor Selection/Management – did you know that SPBT and Impactiviti are sponsoring another public Successful Vendor Management full-day workshop for biopharma training professionals on May 9th? Go here for all the details, and to register your training managers!

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During recent Vendor/Project Success workshops for clients, I’ve been describing a process that can help alleviate a constant issue that pops up – not having the right vendors properly categorized and lined up when a specific need arises.

In other words, a project comes up, and the question is raised, “To whom can we send this RFP (request for proposal)?” Then suggestions are hastily sought as to potentially workable vendors.

Unfortunately, that means that some vendors are walking in the door for the first time, in the midst of a high-stakes process, AND they may not already be in your paperwork system as a supplier. This creates headaches getting a project off the ground; or, in some cases, simply disqualifies the best candidate because the time crunch is too short – so the project goes to a sub-optimal incumbent vendor.

Here is how to fix that. I call it the 3P Vendor Funnel.

3PVendorFunnel

At one point in time, every department needs to create its pool of potential preferred suppliers (I recommend that this pool be refreshed annually, as new vendors and needs appear, and as current suppliers decline in favor). This can be done through a RFI (Request For Information) process, whereby you seek out possible vendors that you may want to consider for the year ahead, and have them present themselves in a general, non-volatile format (that is, a big project is not on the line). The goal here is to gain familiarity with the vendor, and especially to narrow down to one or two areas of core strength. All vendors in the pool can then be placed in your Vendor Map (see this blog post), according to capability, therapeutic experience, project scope, etc.

Potentially desirable vendors at this point commence the paperwork (Master Services Agreement or equivalent) process so that they are already in the administrative system when it is time to choose vendors and allocate work.

Once the Vendor Map is established/refreshed, and a project needs to be resourced, you have already established a short-list of suitable vendors by core capability, so that the number of RFPs issued can be limited and well-targeted. This saves everyone – especially vendors – a lot of time, trouble, and angst. You really only want proposals from optimal potential providers anyway – it wastes everybody’s time to have a Request for Proposal filled out, to sit through a solution presentation – and then to conclude that the vendor really isn’t even in the ballpark. Or, worse, if time is very short, that a desirable new vendor has to now grind through the entire MSA system.

I recommend that a Decision Grid be used to evaluate vendor presentations (I have a sample – feel free to ask and I’ll forward). This helps make any kind of team evaluation of presentations more systematic and objective.

Finally, the process to Pick a supplier is far more efficiently reached, and the movement to contracting is not delayed because the vendor is already part of the pool.

POOL – PROJECT – PICK.

Make sense? Having been on the vendor side of the fence for many years, and having experienced many….shall we say….sub-optimal RFP processes, I can assure you that an approach like this is better for EVERYone involved. It just takes some proactive planning. I can provide a brief consulting engagement for clients that would like assistance setting up their vendor map and filling their vendor pool with recommended partners. Just call 973-947-7429 and let’s talk….

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- I attended a mid-NJ ASTD session this week on Compliance (kindly hosted by the folks at J&J) – interestingly enough, a discussion I’ve had recently with several involves the role of communications/writing training and compliance. How important is it for people to be trained in what to write/say/present (even just internally)? Well, I heard about a massive, multi-million $$ fine that mainly hinged on a very poorly worded e-mail about some study results. We’ve all read the embarrassing revelations of written stuff (all discoverable in a lawsuit) that really puts a company in a bad light. Lesson: you can pay a little now to train – or pay a lot later to implement a consent decree.

- Making a vendor map – this idea was sparked by a couple of my clients, who have more systematically assembled a list of current vendors, and asked for recommendations of new vendors. This made it immensely easy for me to know precisely which new suppliers would be optimal, AND it was a great way for the department to map out an overview of their current suppliers for discussion and evaluation. So I adapted the idea into a new form which is available by free download: Training Vendor Map Impactiviti. Feel free to adapt and use it, and if you’d like to have a visit (live or by phone) to discuss your upcoming needs, just contact me and we’ll set it up (stevew at impactiviti dot com)

- A couple new job postings, in PA (Manager, Sales Training) and NJ (Associate Sales Training Manager).

- What’s the great un-equalizer when it comes to creating success? Initiative.

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A few new jobs found on-line, for those in the pharma sales/training space:

Associate Training Manager, Virology, BMS (NJ)

Director of Sales Training, Janssen Therapeutics (NJ)

Sales Training Manager, EMD Serono (MA)

Sales Training Manager, Merial (GA)

Director of Sales Training, Managed Markets/Reimbursement, Biogen-Idec (MA)

Director of Sales Training, Core Curriculum, Biogen-Idec (MA)

Director of Worldwide Sales, Medical Device (recruiter) (PA)

Did you know that your company can list open positions on Impactiviti’s pharma-targeted Job Board? Only $295 for a 30-day listing. Go here and get started!

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First, a provocative thought, just to get you in the mood:

Right?

Anyway, last week, I attended the 6th annual Digital Pharma East conference, put on by the fine folks at ExLPharma.

I think I’ve been to all of them – maybe I missed one? – but it’s pretty interesting to reflect back on what the event looked like a few short years ago. In the earliest years, I decided to live-blog the event, which was unheard-of in the industry. Would my laptop and I get arrested for real-time pharma updates?? Now, just about everyone has a tablet or laptop, and we’re increasingly living this digitally-connected reality that once we were only talking about.

Refreshingly, we finally seem to be past yammering over our Phase 1 Problems (P1P) – whether or not we even should participate in social media; what to do about off-label discussions; can (or should) we even be on Twitter; etc. This year, discussions were more focused on practical doing, and less on regulatory hand-wringing. That’s refreshing.

The event was attended by over 600+ folks – a pretty stellar attendance number – and it ran over 4 days. The first day was pre-event workshops; the next 2 days were the main event; and Thursday was Mobile Day. Chairing the event were two pharma digital veterans, Batman and Robin Shwen Gwee and Marc Monseau (each formerly worked inside pharma companies, both now on the agency side).

I like to give high-level summaries of events like this, so here is my string of thoughts and observations:

1. Digital Pharma East was well-planned and well-run. Bryon, Jayson, Jason, Warren, and the whole team did a solid job organizing, and were constantly circulating to make sure things stayed on track. Kudos to the ExL Pharma group.

Random thought: good food really does help the mood at an event.

2. The exhibit hall was packed with some pretty interesting vendor/providers – and I’m pleased to observe that we’re finally beginning to move from first-generation iPad apps (the one-off approach) to more robust system-level platforms. I have some definite opinions about this, and for pharma/biotech/device companies who are looking to do a digital technology audit and roadmap, I can help you with recommendations (commercial plug for my client-vendor matchmaking service).

Random thought: Having the meals and social events in the exhibit hall is smart. Also, if you’re going to give out water bottles, make really cool ones, like Klick Health did! —>

3. The social media backchannel (Twitter) was quite active during the entire event, with good participation from folks who were not physically present. However, live audience participation was somewhat muted, and this is a matter of concern – part of it, I suspect, was due to the lighting (audience in darkness), but also, we’re simply not effectively incorporating audience interaction strategies. Passive listening joined to a few minutes of Q&A at the end of a talk is so 2005. We need to do better here.

Random thought: Do not put unreadable type on your slides and expect the audience to be OK with it. That transgression lights up the Twitterstream!

4. Sometimes panel discussions can be a bore, but we did have some good ones. Tuesday’s Driving Innovation panel, led by Paul Ivans joined by Peter Justason (Purdue), Joan Mikardos (Sanofi), Melissa Bojorquez (B-I), Joyce Ercolino (CSL Behring), Alison Woo (BMS), and Patricia Choumitsky (UCB) was lively and informative.

Random thought: Along with industry expertise, it’s always nice to have a sprinkling of speakers from outside the industry at any event. New perspectives are generally quite helpful!

5. For me, and I believe for many attendees, the two most striking talks were back-to-back on Wednesday – Sinan Aral took us to school on the topic of Social Networks, Viral Hype and Big Data – Distinguishing Hope from Hype with Science. This was followed by the personable and entertaining James Musick of Genentech with a session on Social Engagement & Brands, talking about a unique digital/social experiment they did exposing people to genetics. Great stuff.

Random thought: It’s always a good idea to have some presenters who know how to have a bit of fun, especially if accompanied with an accent – like John Pugh of Boehringer!

6. Mobile Day was a reinforcement of a message that still seems to be very slowly sinking in – mobile is the new normal, and we are woefully behind as an industry even in the most basic stuff like having mobile-ready public-facing websites. This is truly the low-hanging fruit for digital development in pharma. We had sessions underscoring the tensions between centralized site development (to deal with multiple mobile platforms) vs. platform-specific creativity, and the main message here is that all of these details are still quite in flux. But mobile/smartphones/tablets are going to predominate, and it was refreshing to hear at least one speaker advocate for the approach of developing for mobile FIRST, then worrying about a “desktop” version. In my opinion, that’s the only approach that makes any sense if we understand current trends correctly.

Random thought: Presenting to doctors via iPad is not necessarily intuitive – training is necessary (this is also true of facilitating virtual classrooms, etc. – don’t assume that the same skills carry over!)

7. I did lead one magical session/discussion on The Future of Digital/Social/Pharma/Life, encouraging people to skate to where the puck is going when it comes to our new world of People (24/7 human connectivity), Pockets (mobile), and Pipes (data streams from devices and information stores). I think that many are still not aware that networks of things, information, and people are rapidly converging; and that forces of disintermediation/new-intermediation are changing our culture wholesale in ways that will totally re-shape business.

Random thought: Photoshop can make any presenter into a plasma-tossing superhero!

Reconnecting with old long-standing friends (like Wendy Blackburn, Kerri Sparling, John Mack (OK, he’s old), Chris Truelove, Zoe Dunn, Carly Kuper, and Jay Bryant is always a highlight of this conference; as is the opportunity to make new connections. I always look forward to this event and may even venture out to the West Coast next year for Digital Pharma West. Philadelphia is OK and all, but San Francisco + Digital stuff? C’mon…

_________

Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors through our unique trusted referral network. Need something? Ask Steve.

Learn more about us here.

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