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Posts Tagged ‘biotech’

In my discussions with dozens of training clients over the past year, one theme that came up regularly was the difficulty of finding long-term vendor/partners for POA meetings.

Here are the kinds of concerns I’ve heard:

“A training vendor will start off well, but then things get stale after a few quarters, and we move on to someone else.”

“Our partners do great with modules and workshops, but the POA training is often a mixed bag.”

“We’re not seeing much creativity.”

I’ve wondered about this problem/opportunity for quite some time, and while I think there are probably multiple factors at play, here is one thing that may be at the root: fundamentally, POA training is driven by last-minute scrambling.

Most of our training projects, which involve long cycles of design (including instructional design), review, and implementation, require a set of skills and practices that are more systematic and long-term-ish. But POA meetings are often marketing-driven, and marketers are used to a different agency type of relationship that regularly involves rapid change and quick turn-around. And a lot of stuff is going down in the couple weeks before a very hard deadline.

Are training vendors equipped for that? I think many are not.

Marketing agency relationships (retained AOR) and training vendor relationships (project-driven) run on very different business models. I wonder if this isn’t why it’s difficult for vendors to succeed with POA training.

Maybe there are some other reasons as well. What are your thoughts? What are you doing to make your POA training effective?

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In the commercial training arena for life sciences (pharma, biotech, diagnostics, medical devices), we do a lot of outsourcing to vendor-partner companies.

I worked for one of those partner companies for 10 years, and, for the last 9 years, have served as an intermediary between life sciences training professionals and outsource vendors.

I’ve seen good. I’ve seen bad. And I’ve seen ugly.

So, how can you partner more successfully with your vendor/partners?

Let me give you three top perspectives, and then offer you a Top 10 download list:

1. Always bear in mind that vendors can be a GREAT resource. Your vendor-partners typically have unique expertise in an area you need help with – managed markets, instructional design, curriculum development, technology, meeting logistics, and a whole host of other disciplines. But beyond this, the people you get to know on the vendor side have networks and contacts that can be of immense value. As you develop vendor partnerships, don’t forget to sit down over coffee or lunch periodically and just TALK. Your next job role, or a crucial new resource, or some vital bit of industry insight, may come from getting beyond current client/vendor titles and just enjoying some human networking. Further reading: Networking is Gold-Mining.

2. Your current role is only temporary. There is no job security – only network security. Therefore, you should not only network pro-actively with your peers inside your company (and in other life sciences companies), you need to remember that your vendor-partners most likely have a breadth of contacts across the industry. You not only open doors for them; they can open doors for you. When you realize that you should continually be transition-ready, vendors are not bothersome entities – they are valued friends. Further reading: Career-transition Ready is the New Black.

NetworkSecurity

3. Working with vendors with a win-lose, scarcity, competitive attitude is a losing game. You’re not there to “beat” your vendors, winning some game such that they lose. That’s incredibly short-sighted and counter-productive. Burning bridges by being a jackass is going to come back to bite you. Your most successful projects will involve working collaboratively with your partners so that everyone looks great at the end.

Want to learn more? Here’s a white paper, assembled with the input of people on both the client and vendor side, giving the top ten ways (from each perspective!) to work together: Client-Vendor Success White Paper

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Impactiviti provides vendor-client “matchmaking” services in the life sciences training area, built on a unique trusted referral network model. We consult and provide vendor advice at no charge for life science companies. Contact Steve Woodruff at asksteve@impactiviti.com

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new drugI imagine we’ve all been closely following the Ebola outbreak in Africa. Although we’re a long way from the finish line, how encouraging is it that a very experimental biotech drug may be saving the lives of a couple of infected healthcare workers.

Moving toward the integrated  display of a glucose monitoring system, and insulin pump system for diabetes (Dexcom and Insulet).

Will animal testing eventually go the way of the dodo bird in drug development? Maybe – now that scientists are developing “human body on a chip” technology. Fascinating stuff.

Big investment money going after CARTs (leading-edge cancer treatment based on re-engineering the patient’s own white blood cells).

Alliance between BMS and Allied Minds to speed R&D developments in university research insititutions (data-, expertise-, and resource-sharing).

Novartis on the threshold of a new chronic heart failure treatment.

BONUS: will there soon be a blood test to detect ANY type of cancer?

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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.

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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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Are you a vendor/partner servicing the biopharma training and development space? Well, then, I have some counter-intuitive advice for you.

nothankyouLearn to turn down some new work.

Radical? I hope it’s not. Because, according to the input I’ve gotten from many of our colleagues on the client side of the business, one of the fastest ways to lose a valuable new potential business relationship is to sell outside your strike zone.

Clients despise when vendors position themselves as one-stop-shops; “Sure, we can do that!” “Yep, we do that, too!” “Oh, yes, we’ve done those before.” Intuitively, they know that your concern is maximizing revenue for you, not providing maximum value to them.

Vendors that take on work outside their sweet spot almost inevitably end up scrambling, failing, and endangering the client relationship.

I like how one of my clients put it recently – here’s the question he asks prospective vendors to narrow down to their strike zone: “If I have only one project for you to work on so you can lock in your skill set with me, what would it be?”

I always advise my partners in the vendor arena to narrow down their key offerings to one or two – even if you can possibly do a few other things, let that wait until you’ve already established a successful reputation by doing great work in your sweet spot. In fact, I won’t recommend vendors who refuse to be clear on their differentiating offerings and strengths.

This is where there has to be a clear commitment, from the executive level, that strategy will shape sales. If salespeople are given the charge to maximize revenue even it means blurring the boundaries and pursuing high-risk-of-failure work, that’s a recipe for a bad reputation.

Now, there are cases where I think it is OK for vendors to pursue a piece of work that requires some stretch. And that is when they already have a great reputation with the client, AND where it is explained to the client clearly that taking on this work will be a stretch. Some clients so value their vendor partners that they are willing to share that risk because of the mutual confidence level that exists. But, a lack of transparency, accompanied by some glib notion that “we’ll figure it out as we go along,” rarely ends well.

Know how you differentiate. Find your fit in the marketplace. And remember: not all business is good business.

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