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I had a call recently from one of my preferred training partners, letting me know that a proposed project which had been put on hold some months ago was suddenly resurrected, and is now about to kick off. Awesome – I love that!

Sometimes client needs end up on uncomfortably longer-than-expected timetables, right? So, once a vendor-partner has had a helpful conversation to scope out a potential project, and they’ve submitted a proposal, how should they follow up?

50 shades follow up

I am asked this regularly by my partner companies, and here is my standard advice:

  1. Don’t panic. Initiatives, and even responses to inquiries, just get delayed.
  2. Don’t pester. By and large, clients dislike that. The follow-up process shouldn’t be punishment for expressing interest.
  3. Gently inquire as to the status on an occasional (and by this I don’t mean twice-weekly!) basis. Make it a very succinct e-mail or VM – not an extended sales pitch.
  4. For all prospects with whom you hope to develop a good relationship, occasionally forward interesting and value-adding resources and news items relevant to them or their company. No pitch – just, “thought you might like to see this.” It’s a valuable way to stay top-of-mind.
  5. If you’re going to be in the area geographically, offer to meet for coffee or lunch. Not a capabilities presentation. Just talk. And see if you can make connections and introductions for your client within your network.

follow up 2

I was on the vendor side for years, and carried plenty of sales responsibilities over the past 3 decades, so I know the pressure. But you have to take the long view. I cultivated a friendship with one individual whom I got to know a long time ago (2 or 3 companies ago for him!), and with whom I stayed in touch even though there was little or no immediate business. And then, a referral door opened up into a very large new business opportunity. Had I been a high-pressure pest, that likely would never had happened.

Add value. Not pressure.

Here was one client’s take recently: I hate being oversold and told that they can do everything. Trying to hard to get the business. I also don’t want to get 100 calls and emails; my time is precious.”

That’s my take – now, what about yours, training professionals? What do you prefer, or dislike, as far as a follow-up procedure from a vendor? Add your input in the comments so that your vendor-partners can benefit from your advice!

(P.S. From the vendor side of the equation, this input): One helpful piece of feedback from a vendor perspective to clients:  Please respond to the inquiry or follow-up. It is sometimes the case that a vendor puts in a tremendous amount of effort in developing a proposed solution to a stated need. In follow-up the client goes totally silent. The courtesy of a short email, such as “thanks for the follow-up and the proposal it is much appreciated. Priorities have changed slightly I will be back in touch in a few days/weeks/months” would be extremely helpful. Right now we’re seeing a trend toward shorter response cycles for more complex requirements, accompanied by very poor client feedback (or none at all).

What is the Impactiviti network? It is where Steve Woodruff helps life sciences training professionals get clear on their outsource needs, and get connected to optimal vendor-partners.

This unique “matchmaking” network works so well because Steve also helps training vendors get clear on their message, and get connected to new training clients.

Steve is the eHarmony of the Life Sciences Training community, saving everyone from wasted time and effort.

Working on new training initiatives? Whatever you need, ask Steve!

Our training consultations are free – just ask Steve at steve@stevewoodruff.com.

 

I’ll be co-sponsoring two informative webinars next week, on important topics for commercial life sciences professionals. Here’s how you can join in!

>>The Solution to our Biggest Influencing Mistake

What is the ONE thing that will increase employee and customer engagement, build trust, and open doors for better outcomes? Find out as I join Jill Donahue with EngageRx, for a discussion of the biggest influencing mistake we make in commercial biopharma – and how we can fix it. This event takes place at noon EST on Thursday, March 3rd. Register for the webinar here.

>>Branding the Training Department

In an upcoming LTEN webinar, Jason Zeman (Director of Sales L&D of Valeant) and I will outline how Valeant’s training department developed a purposeful brand identity, and how that brand shapes the vision, leadership, and practices of the training staff.

You’ll discover how “Developing Value” became a key mantra in the Valeant training brand.

Developing Value

Join us on Friday, March 4th (12:30 EST) as we discuss how branding goes beyond just a logo and a catch phrase, and explain the practical impact of a department identity that demonstrates ongoing value. Register for the webinar here.

 

As of March 1st, 2016 this will be my new home and HQ:

Impactiviti HQ

 

On February 22, we closed on this house that is just 10 doors down from the place we’ve been renting here in Franklin, TN.

I love working out of my home, and having a bright sun room adjacent to my office is a real bonus. When I’m talking with you on the phone, I will undoubtedly be pacing back-and-forth between those rooms, which is my favorite way of multi-tasking.

Y’all come and visit sometime!

Since I’m asking the question, you can probably guess my answer: Yes. Here’s why I think so…

With some exceptions, commercial training departments in biopharma companies tend to be thought of as “order-takers” for the more high-profile Sales and Marketing departments. “We need this done – toss it over the fence to training.” Ever seen that sort of approach to the training department before?

Deservedly or not, training tends to be viewed as a place for tactical execution. Add to this fact that many of the roles in commercial training tend to be rotational (successful sales people moving through the training department toward roles in marketing or sales leadership) and it’s easy to see why the default identity for training might devolve to “merely” a support function.

Hence the need to pro-actively create and reinforce a clear value-adding identity for the training department – a “brand,” if you will.

One of my most interesting assignments last year was to work with one training department on establishing a brand identity, including key principles and practices demonstrating the value (to the organization) of the training group. In an upcoming LTEN webinar, Jason Zeman (Director of Sales L&D of Valeant) and I will outline how we developed a brand identity with the department, and how that brand shapes the vision, leadership, and practices of the training staff.

The key question we worked with during our brand session was, “How does the Learning and Development group uniquely add value to our organization?” You’ll discover how “Developing Value” became a key mantra in the Valeant training brand.

Developing Value

Join us on Friday, March 4th (12:30 ET) as we discuss with you how branding goes beyond just a logo and a catch phrase, and explain the practical impact of a department identity that demonstrates ongoing value. Register for the webinar here.

 

When you’ve been in the life sciences industry for as long as I have, you’ve seen dozens of major organizational changes. Downsizing due to patent losses; re-configurations due to M&A; reactions to new market conditions – you name it.

Ch-ch-ch-changes. They often have a direct impact on the field force.

Training is impacted by these shifts, and often needs to participate through training/re-training personnel. Sometimes, a company needs to call on change management consultants to help with the planning and execution.

Here is a case study provided by one of my partners outlining how they worked with a client to successfully execute a major organizational change requiring a re-structured field force: Case Study Organizational Change

Ch Changes

Impactiviti helps you find the optimal vendors for all your outsourced training and consulting needs. Contact us today (asksteve@impactiviti.com) to discuss your needs and we’ll help you with targeted recommendations from our suite of valued partners!

There are lots of coaching programs and approaches, though I suspect that many of them overlap quite a bit. But when I hear that a coaching program “isn’t working,” I generally wonder if it really has anything to do with the quality of the program itself.

I suspect we’re dealing with implementation and pull-through issues, leading inevitably to a lack of coaching quality where the rubber meets the road (out in the field).

Quality pic

Improving coaching practices involves changing habits, not giving out more information or enforcing new acronyms. A half-day coaching training session won’t automatically translate to productive behaviors in the field.

It seems to me that a combination of two things will best lead to an increase in coaching quality:

  1. A data-driven analysis to diagnose the current state of practice, and to define “what good looks like” – along with a prescription to move from A to B (one of my consultant-partners specializes in this).
  2. A structured and realistic roll-out/reinforcement plan that ensures peer-reinforced improvement as the coaching approach is implemented.

I had a chance to interact deeply with one of my established Selling/Coaching partners about this crucial element of reinforcement – they feel that it really is the key to success with any coaching (or selling!) program.

How has your company been doing with improving coaching quality? Do you have some ideas or best practices to share? Send me an e-mail at AskSteve@impactiviti.com and let’s compare notes.

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