Archive for the ‘Sales’ Category

workshopThis year, I’ve had a growing number of requests for workshop recommendations. As 2014 approaches, I expect that to grow – we’re all making plans, right?

So, here’s a short list of workshops Impactiviti can help connect you up with. And, yes, this is just a sample – whatever kind of workshop providers you’re looking for, give Steve Woodruff a call at 973-947-7429.

(the first two listed are ones that I facilitate; the others are by various hand-selected Impactiviti partners):

  • Vendor and Project Management
  • Building Your Professional Network
  • The Digital Future in Pharma (including mobile and smart technologies)
  • Managed Markets Landscape (and ACA update)
  • Critical Thinking/Business Acumen
  • Own Your Room (Effective Facilitation)
  • Communicating and Training via On-line Video
  • Effective Presentations (Executive and Management levels)
  • Effective Business Writing
  • Growing Employee Engagement
  • Questioning Skills
  • Negotiation Skills
  • Hospital Selling
  • Sharpening Specialty Selling Skills
  • Total Office Call/How to Think like a Physician
  • Coaching the Millennial Employee
  • Deploying Your Strengths to Prevent Conflict
  • Delivering the NEW Elevator Pitch

…and many more!

ALSO – if you’re looking for great keynote speakers, I’m connected to some top-notch folks – let’s talk over your needs! Impactiviti is here to brainstorm with you, and connect you with the optimal providers.

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

Over the past couple of decades, we’ve seen the slow, incremental incursion of computers (and the web) into the daily lives & workflows of both patients and healthcare providers. And drug companies. And everyone else.

Computers (and the Internet) are now ubiquitous. Just try to imagine life, and work, without them.

Watching the evolution of processor speed, interface design, enterprise apps, web technology, wireless access, and ever-shrinking form factors has been fascinating, perhaps even painful at times. Then the iPad showed up.

Two and a half years ago, when the first-generation iPad showed up, I predicted it would be a game-changer for healthcare; but frankly, the rapid adoption rate by doctors, patients, and provider companies (including pharma) has taken even me by surprise. The uptake, even in regulated industries, has been phenomenal.

Which means we now need to step back and ask a very important question: Is the mobile computing device destined to be the new (inter)face of healthcare?

My answer is a resounding “Yes” for one simple reason: smartphones and tablets are rapidly becoming the new interface of life and business. Period. End of story.

Within 2 years, portable devices will take on the mantle of “first-screen” status – that is, more people will be accessing digital-everything through mobile devices rather than through desktops. And that trend is accelerating, not slowing down. Already, about 62% of U.S. physicians are using tablets (mostly iPads, currently).

Quibble with me if you wish (you do have every right to be incorrect, after all!), but let’s grant, for the sake of argument, that personalized mobile computing devices will be the interface of life, business, and (therefore) healthcare.

If that is so – and I’m now turning to address my friends in pharma/biotech/med device companies – who is redesigning your entire business infrastructure and customer experience to reflect this inevitability? Anyone?

The “face” of your company to patients and doctors has traditionally been a human face (sales reps, for instance) – but we know where the field sales model is heading. The digital noise of broadcast TV and websites and banner ads – these models are all based on non-mobile computing approaches. The new channel is in the pockets of our customers – all of our customers.

This transcends being merely a training, or sales, or marketing, or technology issue. This is much bigger. It is fundamentally an interface issue. The entire healthcare information and delivery cycle will become “mobilized.” For the smart life sciences companies, that means at least one sure-bet avenue for competitive advantage – get ahead of this trend. Even if you have to take a go-slow approach to social media, the mobile interface is not going to be optional or off-label. It’ll be first-line.

And don’t get hung up on Apple vs Android, etc., etc. Flavors and versions are secondary. The inexorable mobile trend is primary.

Person-to-person contact will never lose its importance in healthcare (or life, or business). But when you look at how patients and doctors and administrators and caregivers and news outlets and everyone else is interfacing with information and with each other, the writing is on the wall. Or, more accurately, on the tablet. And the new “writing” is digital, multimedia, personalized, real-time, geographically aware, and mobile. It’s the new normal. Today.

As the great hockey player Wayne Gretzky put it, you need to “go to where the puck is going to be.” That place is in customers’ pockets. If you’re not in the process of thoroughly mobilizing your business, you’re already behind.


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.

Read Full Post »

Replacing Live Meetings

As I spend time with a wide range of folks in the pharma space (sales, training, marketing), certain themes emerge across the board. One of those that comes up regularly these days is the effort to find replacements for live meetings.

This includes regular meetings during the year (POAs); exceptional meetings (launch); and face-to-face training events (including initial sales training).

We’re a long way into the era of none-too-glamorous e-learning apps, and basic webcasts are a commodity and a yawner. But now we’re moving into a time when internet access is increasingly everywhere, wireless, and fast; when laptops and iPads are video-equipped; when mobile devices break down barriers to access.

Many of my clients are exploring new-generation virtual learning strategies, such as two-way video virtual classrooms and the like. We’re also going to need to move into some interesting digital design work – technology that serves up our content in more dynamic and user-friendly fashion.

What is your company trying out, or looking into? Let’s talk about emerging approaches and new best practices – I’m happy to sit down with you and dialogue about what I’m seeing in the industry at large, and how your strategic plans may unfold in the future.

You can easily reach me via e-mail (stevew at impactiviti dot com) or phone (973-947-7429). Or video Skype if you prefer (I sure do – my handle there is stevewoodruff).

And, here are a few freshly-posted job openings (training) for you to consider:

National Sales Trainer, Daiichi Sankyo, NJ

Director/Sr. Director of Training, Aveo, Boston

Director, Knowledge Mgmt and Training, Amerisource Bergen, Chicagoland

Senior Manager, Commercial Training, Seattle Genetics, WA


Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors for training, eMarketing, social media, and more.

Learn more about us here.


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

Read Full Post »

We all know that the pharmaceutical sales model is being seriously re-thought. Every business model needs periodic review, to see if it continues to be a value-add, or if, in fact, it is losing effectiveness.

The interrupt-driven model of having drug reps come to doctors’ offices for fewer and fewer minutes of discussion, plus dropping off of samples, is rapidly losing market favor. It’s costly and increasingly inefficient for the drug companies, and it fills offices with non-paying people jockeying for time and attention in a marketplace where both are scarce.

So is there a better way? The industry is experimenting – with things like e-detailing and the like. And healthcare professionals are experimenting – for instance, many of them are simply barring reps from the premises.


One start-up (contract sales) services company that I’ve been talking to has an interesting model – make the process doctor-driven. The (contract) reps are called in by the doctor’s office when needed for drug sample replenishment, and they are not there to sell, but to drop off samples and acquire an e-signature (tablet). The tablet also has software that the doctor pages through to request more information, set up an appointment with a trained sales rep, schedule and e-detail, contact a Medical Affairs person, etc.

I could see this approach having value for drugs that are near the end of their patent cycle, when promotional efforts are going to be scaled back, but a drug manufacturer still wants to have a presence in the marketplace. There may be other places for a contract services approach like this as well. But the major point is, all contact is driven by the healthcare professional. And there is potentially a big gain in efficiency – highly-trained reps are not idling away time hoping and praying to see 8 docs a day for a few milliseconds each.

What do you think? Does this have value? Serious drawbacks? Let me know your thoughts! (stevew at impactiviti.com)


Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors for training, eMarketing, social media, and more.

Learn more about us here.


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

Read Full Post »

Today’s anonymous ‘inside-the-department’ guest blogger address an all-too-common problem when co-workers want to reduce a training intervention without considering the loss of impact.

Today, part 1 sets up the issue. Next week, part 2 gives some concrete guidance on helping avoid this unfortunate behavior.


Picture this:  ‘Sharon’, a sales leader in your organization, has told you ‘the reps can’t sell clinically. Can you put together some training on this?’ (sound familiar?) Sure you can! You reach out to key stakeholders, conduct a needs assessment and confirm that the representatives do, in fact, need some help in this area. You then work with your learning team to construct a proposal consisting of pre-work and an assessment, a live 1/2 day workshop, concluding with a certification by the managers. You are proud of this proposal because it is thorough and meets the objective to improve the reps’ knowledge and skill in this area.

You are excited to share the proposal with Sharon. After presenting the plan, Sharon is excited too. She says, ‘This is great! Cut it down to a 90 minute workshop and we’ll roll it out at the next sales meeting.’ You cringe when you hear this last part – and you have heard this before, right?

You know that it is not the right thing to do, but in the moment you can’t express all the reasons why. If you could find the words to explain, how do you do it without damaging the relationship with Sharon, or losing credibility as a learning leader? I’ve witnessed both inexperienced trainers and seasoned learning professionals make the mistake of simply replying ‘sure, we can cut it down’, only to regret it later. I cringe when I think about the times when I have also uttered these words.

Why do we sometimes answer this way when we know we shouldn’t? For the inexperienced or new trainer, it is often a lack of understanding about the impact of this response. They don’t necessarily realize that ‘cutting it down’ also means reducing the chance of meeting the learning objectives, which is the reason why you are doing the training in the first place. For the seasoned learning professional, the motivation could be to keep Sharon happy and give her what she wants, because they are looking to secure a spot on Sharon’s team in the future (feel free to insert ‘Mike the marketer’ in place of ‘Sharon the sales leader’). It may simply be an ‘eager to please’ or conflict avoidance mentality that many of us have. After all, we are in the business of helping people to succeed in their roles, so it can be difficult to push back.

The solution to responding is being able to effectively articulate the impact. This means not only articulating the downside of doing it wrong, but communicating the upside of doing it right. Sharon came to you for a solution.  Unless Sharon has spent time in a learning role longer than 2 years, it’s unlikely she realizes the impact of shortening the learning plan.

There are some best practices that can help you to articulate impact for success. First and foremost planning ahead is paramount. In this scenario, planning ahead means in addition to doing an appropriate needs analysis, you need to be able to articulate a clear picture of the outcome desired as well as how to get there. Next week we’ll look at some practical ways to successfully articulate impact.


Impactiviti is the Pharmaceutical Connection Agency. As the eHarmony of sales/training/marketing, we help our pharma/biotech clients find optimal outsource vendors for training, eMarketing, social media, and more.

Learn more about our free services here


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

Read Full Post »

Ummmm….maybe not. At least, that’s the stance of the FDA, and of pretty much anyone with common sense. But – not all pharma sales reps have common sense.

A self-produced YouTube video to detail a product in an unfair and unbalanced manner? Sheesh!

Note to pharma clients: worth including this as a case study in your compliance training for sales reps.

(hat tip for link: Larry Lynam)


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 »

You know those Powerpoint slides loaded with text, bullet points, statistics?

That’s not communication. That’s content delivery.

That dense, fine print product information that accompanies prescription medications?

Content delivery. Definitely not communication.

Sales brochures so loaded with information that they are just plain hard work (and, you just put them aside for “later,” like I do…right?)

Content delivery. Not communication.

If it’s all up on the slide, then we don’t need you, the speaker. And, in fact, we don’t need Powerpoint, which is a lousy content delivery device. Just write it up and forward it.

A PI/ISI is a CYA device only. Everyone knows it. Communicating relevant product information to patients (and even physicians) requires a whole different method.

And if your sales brochure doesn’t give me the main point in 10 seconds – doesn’t spark interest because I see the WIIFM – then you’ve just wasted all that money putting content together.

If the task is to impart content from one location/person to another, that’s fine – call it what it is. It’s a handoff. But if you’re actually seeking to communicate – you’ve got a lot more work to do. The good thing is – most of your competition isn’t willing to do it.


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 »

There’s been a lot of talk in the past year about how we need to re-think the role and profile of the pharmaceutical/biotech sales rep.

This dialogue needs to happen, given the trends that are rapidly shrinking the size of sales forces. Of course, when you poll the doctors, they are going to focus on the need for greater depth of clinical knowledge. That’s certainly important. And, if you talk to the rest of the staff, then knowledge of health plans and administrative/business issues rise to the surface. As you’d expect.

But now, let’s take a look at it from the shoes of the pharmaceutical company – the executives and managers responsible for outreach to the medical community. What does the new new rep need to look like with their perspective in mind?

The old model had much to do with reach and frequencygetting the message out. Looking ahead, I think it’s going to require a mentality much more focused on opportunity and strategy – that is, approaching one’s job as a business, and intelligently using available information to maximize proper patient use of the most appropriate therapy.

Often this includes training in something like business acumen, but perhaps a more helpful description of the overall mindset would be something along the lines of business opportunism – savviness/insight joined to creative initiative and enterprising strategy (including pulling in other resources) to accomplish the desired business end. And while one means may be messaging with reach and frequency in mind, that is certainly NOT the end!

A business opportunist would look at the accounts in a territory with a thoughtful finger on the pulse of prescribing volume AND current prescribing habits AND treatment practices AND health plan coverage variations AND patient flow AND other important variables, and be empowered to ask this question: “Where is the greatest potential impact for the most (appropriate) patients?” This is a very different mindset than, “How can I make my call numbers this week?”

Better clinical training instead of meal-and-message-delivery services? Absolutely. Healthcare and office process knowledge? Certainly. But perhaps it’s time to re-think the whole sales rep model, and start deploying business opportunists. I’m thinking advanced training for reps who have been in the field for a year or two should be geared more toward strategic business skills. What do you think?

(Image credit)


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 »



Very big news for Vertex75% of hepatitis C patients never treated before achieved a viral cure after receiving a 12-week course of the company’s experimental drug telaprevir plus the current standard of care, according to results from a phase III studymore

Genzyme’s Pompe remedy approved by FDA; meanwhile, more detail on their consent decree.

More on alleged Wyeth tactics to promote Rapamune off-label. If true, yuck! Gold-in Rule at work.

Connecticut passes new pharma ethics code.

Part 2 of my interview over at MessagingLab blog (by Karl Schmieder): Pharma, Social Media, and the FDA.


Coaching skills. Your field managers and other leaders are constantly in need of improvement here.  And we have great partners to recommend for coaching programs. Contact us (stevew at impactiviti dot com, or phone at 973-947-7429) for recommendations.


Social Media in Pharma stuff today: An “Ultimate Guide to Facebook“, from our friends over at Pixels and Pills. And, reporting adverse events on social media. More? Sure – comparing how pharma companies are using social media currently (from @healthcarengage). Even more? OK, you asked for it – Social Media and Celebrities in pharma (from John Mack’s blog)


Examples of Lightning Photography. Stunningly beautiful.


Subscribe to the Impactiviti blog via e-mail (which will bring you Impactiviti Daily – a brief of the day’s top pharma news)

Visit the Impactiviti Job Board

Sign up for the Impactiviti Connection twice-monthly e-newsletter (see sample)


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »