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Posts Tagged ‘pharmaceutical sales training’

Quick – what’s a workshop? What words would you use to express your meaning?

If I ask 5 of you that question, I’ll end up with five different answers. Why?

5-workshop

Because we all have varied definitions, experiences, and expectations built up around the common words we use.

“Workshop” can mean one thing to you, and something quite different to me. And unless we define what we actually mean, what we’ll have is a “failure to communicate.”

ch-luke

Technically, this is what I call the “mental metadata” problem. Metadata can be defined as “information about information” – the words and imagery we attach, to give meaning.

The easiest way to think about metadata is how we use hashtags on-line. If I take a picture of a beautiful waterfall in Tennessee and hashtag it #FallCreekFalls – I’m attaching information (in this case, name/location).

We attach labels in order to define and explain things – it’s human nature. But here’s something else about human nature – we assume that others are thinking the way we are!

The danger is when we assume that when multiple people use the same terms, we actually mean the same thing. Many a “workshop” project has started without a clear definition of what was actually expected – in clarifying detail. This is what leads to misunderstanding and scope creep.

Lack of definition dooms many a project (and leads to serious loss of $$). Your department has experienced this, right? It’s a common pitfall when new trainers are drawn from the field sales force, and they have no on-boarding training in how to manage projects and vendors.

Project definition is one of the key issues we address in the Project/Vendor Management workshop that I provide to my Life Sciences Commercial Training clients. There are 6 vital elements to project definition that will determine whether a project stays on track – or goes off the rails.

proj-definition

One way to help ensure project success is to be sure that your sales managers understand all that goes into project definition, and that they are pro-actively equipped to map out ahead of time exactly what is being developed. That is one of the main emphases of the workshop.

Contact us here at Impactiviti to discuss how we can help your department move toward best practices in project and vendor management (AskSteve@Impactiviti.com; 973-947-7429).

See also: 5 Compelling Reasons to provide Project Management Training

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The Star Wars Rogue One movie comes out this week, so what better time to discuss moving over to the “Dark Side” than today?

(for those not yet in the know, sometimes training professionals within life sciences companies take on new career roles with vendor-providers. This is, tongue-in-cheek, referred to as moving to the Dark Side!)

darkside

In the Life Sciences industry, there’s a close collaboration between people in Training and Development departments, and their outside vendors. In fact, many people cross over from one side to another at points in their career – some for a season, and others permanently.

 Life is not the same on both sides of this fence. We discussed what it is like to launch a consultancy in an earlier post, but for this article, I’ve interviewed three industry professionals who have worked on both the client and the vendor side. Here is the question we’re working with: what are the main lessons learned about the nature of work once we leave the training department and join the “Dark Side”?

andreapagnozziAccording to Andrea Pagnozzi (who has done multiple stints in training within pharma and medical device companies, and also worked for a time with a training vendor), one of the biggest realizations was how many people, and moving parts, were involved in developing training on the vendor side. While clients within T&D departments only see a few faces (typically an account manager and a project manager), there is, in fact, a whole host of professionals involved in a tightly-choreographed dance behind the scenes. Most vendors don’t burden their clients with all those details, and rightly so; however, it is important to remember that every change or delay in a project has ripple effects in the workflow behind the scenes.

Having worked on the vendor side for many years, I know about this first hand. To help clients understand, I often show a picture of the inner workings of a clock – you know, the old-fashioned kind with lots of gears – to build awareness that there is just as much complexity and collaboration on a project on one side of the fence as there is on the other. That’s why a detailed project plan is so important – it keeps everyone on track so that the development process does not spin out of control.

davidboyleDavid Boyle, who has worn a variety of hats within large life sciences companies as well as with training vendors, stated that he has ended up learning far more about learning development from being on the vendor side. Those who cycle into training roles in pharma/biotech/med device organizations often only receive a bare minimum amount of training in project management and instructional design, and many times are not empowered to take a holistic view of existing training assets compared to the short-term necessities of the project at hand. As an outside supplier, David has found that he can often take a more strategic view of any given project and approach the needs more thoroughly. This underscores how important it can be to allow vendors to serve as strategic partners, and to bring their expertise and outside view to bear. This approach can end up saving enormous amounts of time and effort.

sueiannoneSue Iannone has occupied many leadership roles in major training organizations over the years, having worked on countless initiatives both small and large. Recently, Sue took on a leadership role with a vendor/partner, and her input to me revolved around how absolutely crucial it is (for both sides!) to arrive at a very clear project definition. Most of the time, we tend to have a basket of problems on our minds, which, when unloaded on a vendor, may lead to a lack of clarity. Sue suggests a strategic definition session when appropriate, perhaps including a whiteboard, to try to narrow down the scope of the project and arrive at the true strategic business imperatives. This approach helps clients to get exactly what they need.

Those who know me well know that I often promote the phrase, “You can’t read the label of the jar you’re in.” One of the most valuable roles a vendor can play is to bring outside perspective and holistic thinking. All of us get too involved in our own forest and trees, and working more closely with smart and collaborative vendors in the definition process will always lead to greater success.

One interesting point that those on the vendor/partner side bring up is that the opportunity set is different when working with provider companies. Vendors tend to be much leaner, and generally value creativity and initiative more than conformity and narrow focus. The pace is faster, the hats you wear are more varied, and the “cocoon” of infrastructure that one often enjoys on the inside of a client company just isn’t there. Moving in one direction or the other can be scary for some, but refreshing and empowering for others. In either case, it’s a great growing experience!

More in the Impactiviti Interview series:

Training Journey – From Major Pharma to Startup

Training for the New World of Specialty Pharma

Becoming a Consultant – Should You?

Two Keys to Successful Product Launches

Clinical Training Innovation at Depomed

Development of Field Leadership at Gilead Sciences – “Touchpoints”

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Today, I want to pull back the veil a bit on one of the most important parts of my network.

The Impactiviti pharmaceutical network is pretty broad, encompassing a range of professionals in the pharma/biotech/med devices/healthcare sphere.

But then there’s my “Inner Circle,” and that group provides one of the best pools of expertise I can offer you.

The “Inner Circle” is my closer group of industry clients and partners who support each other through recommendations of vendors and other resources.

Inner Circle

How does it work? Here’s a very recent example:

Someone who took on a newly-created training role was looking for a potential vendor(s) who could provide curriculum for a very specialized niche group. I spent time brainstorming the need with this individual and more carefully defining the need. This was a case where I felt I should reach out to my Inner Circle for their advice (these Inner Circle e-mails, which occur about every 2 weeks or so, are anonymous so no identifying client information is shared). In this case, I got back several well-targeted recommendations, including some companies that I was familiar with, but wasn’t sure could extend out to this niche. Today, I’ll make specific recommendations back to my client.

On a regular basis, people in my Inner Circle expose me to previously-unknown companies, some of whom become valued Impactiviti referral partners. In fact, in recent months, Inner Circle recommendations have led me to a great Managed Markets training supplier, a boutique leadership development firm, and a virtual facilitation training company – all of whom I can now bring forward as targeted referrals.

This two-way recommendation network effect makes it so much easier to identify the best resources for specific needs.

When you call on us here at Impactiviti, you get far more than Steve Woodruff. You get unmatched expertise from your peers. So, when it’s time to seek out vendor/partners – contact us. We can provide the best expertise available, without charging you a penny.

(stevew at impactiviti dot com; 973-947-7429)

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Related post: The Pharma Roller-coaster

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I was having a long talk this week with a business partner about workshops for biopharma sales training.

Back when I was immersed in the technology aspects of training, I didn’t pay much attention to live workshops. But 7 years ago, upon starting Impactiviti, I came to realize how big a role workshops play in our environment.

And, I now facilitate my own workshops, on Vendor and Project Management (as well as some other topics).

There are purely off-the-shelf (standard) workshops, semi-customized standard workshops, and fully-customized workshops. And one of the things I’ve always wondered is this: do  off-the-shelf workshops, by and large, truly resonate with the audience and all the surrounding stakeholders? Or are they often too general to really have high impact?

Are fully-customized workshops, perhaps including some up-front assessment and post-hoc impact-measurement, too costly for most needs?

Some material may lend itself to a more off-the-shelf approach, but I’m guessing there are swaths of topics that really need a more custom approach. Which topics are best suited for which approach?

I’d really love to hear which workshops seem to ring the bell best with your customers, and how much customization you feel is needed in most cases. You may not want to leave a blog comment but please send an e-mail to swoodruff at impactiviti dot com with your thoughts. I’m always seeking to better understand what clients need and what seems to be working best.

And if there’s a workshop you need which doesn’t seem to exist, let me know that too! I can try to find a resource…

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I give a full-day public Successful Vendor Management workshop quarterly for my pharmaceutical audience. These principles, however, are universal for all client-vendor relationships. So, for my readers, I’ve decided to capture some of these practices in one-minute videos.

Here is the second principle: Spell out, up front, what your communication style and expectations are:

Give it a listen:

Never assume that people have the same needs and desires for project communications. Talking about it up front can save a lot of irritation and aggravation downstream!

(First principle: Be Realistic)

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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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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.

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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.

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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

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

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