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Posts Tagged ‘Sales training’

Well, that was fun.

DFDidn’t I tell you Nashville was a pretty awesome city? And, judging from the smiles on many faces during last week’s LTEN Conference, I think we all had a good time.

In fact, I’ll be selfish here and put in my vote that we do this conference every year in Music City!

As David Fortanbary put it in his brief tutorial on southern-speak, hopefully we all got “afar” (a fire) lit under us to fuel the rest of this year’s training activities.

OLandThe venue, Gaylord Opryland (more a self-contained city than a hotel!), was quite a source of amazement, and I heard regular references to people “getting their steps in” each day without really trying. Not that the exercise was going to reduce any waistlines, because the eating in Nashville – well, if you were there, you know.

There was music, of course – lots of it. And, there was the largest attendance in LTEN history. So all the ingredients were in place for a fantastic conference experience.

S and A

This year, we had three inspirational keynotes – each of them moving in their own way. Melissa Stockwell (Army veteran, Paralympian, and unabashed patriot) told her story about overcoming disability – actually, pushing forward to exceptional victories – after losing a leg to an IED attack in Iraq.

MelissaS

Filmmaker and funnyman Eric Saperston gave a fascinating account of his shoestring voyage across the U.S. in an old VW bus, interviewing successful people and sharing lessons along the way. My favorite quote from him, about his schooling achievements: “I was in the half of the class that made the top half possible.” :>)

EricS

Personally, I was most fascinated by the thought-provoking message of Frank Barrett, who shared vital life lessons that can be extracted from the world of jazz music. As someone who tends to stick to the sheet music, his perspective on learning to improvise, and allow our competency to rise to the surface in a free-flowing environment, was refreshing and challenging.

F barr

This year, I want to far fewer workshop sessions than usual – much of my time was spent in one-on-one interactions with both clients and vendor/partners. But I thoroughly enjoyed what the group from Merck (Jennifer Iannetta, Carla Buono, Tyrus Barker, Alina Tudor) presented about their evolving trainer on-boarding program – a topic that is a deep concern of my own.

Merck

(in fact, it’s such a concern that I released this video just before the conference. Take 90 seconds and let’s see if we can eliminate Training Project Malpractice!)

There were a number of sessions on global training, a topic of growing concern that I’m glad is being addressed:

GlobalPanel

(pictured here: Chris Platanos of Alexion; Lindsay Kirsch; Alison Quinn of BMS; Trey Morton of J&J; Jamie Capistrant of Smiths Medical)

A JusticeOn the last day of the conference the popular 15-minute LTEN talks were a great way to wrap up the speaking portion, with excellent and provocative addresses by Will Thalheimer, Rob Toomey, Mark Hood, and Angela Justice (pictured here) who heads up Learning at Biogen.

What about the networking and social events? Excellent, of course. Plenty of good southern food and drink. And lots of time to mingle, including extended times in the exhibit area (aka Learning Village).

There was a great collection of vendor partners in the exhibit hall and, by and large, the feedback I was getting throughout the conference was positive regarding the foot traffic, and the quality of the interactions.

Exhib

The conference mobile app was well-utilized once again this year, and Mary Myers of Bayer (current President of LTEN) was ever present in the social stream, even when trying to catch dollar bills at the Red Nucleus booth:

ConfApp

Congratulations to all those individuals and teams that won LTEN Excellence awards – there was a record-setting number of entries and, here on the LTEN website, is the list of winners and a couple of great pictures.

This was my 21st LTEN conference, and one of my favorite aspects is the face-to-face renewal of ties with so many quality professionals who have been in the industry for years. I love brainstorming (and joking around) with the many deeply-experienced vendors who work so hard to provide quality training for our clients. And getting to introduce people to each other is one of my favorite activities throughout the year, but especially at the conference.

vets LTEN

(pictured: David Purdy, Garry O’Grady, Sue Iannone, Derek Lundsten, Pam Marinko)

Let’s see, what else? Well, the LTEN staff did a marvelous job orchestrating the event once again. The Best Hugs award definitely goes to Miki White, because – well, she gives awesome hugs (and we hug a lot here in Nashville…). Some of the attendees had the opportunity to go downtown and experience Predator madness, as hockey’s Stanley Cup playoffs were occurring alongside our conference dates. I saw plenty of uploaded pictures of people enjoying Nashville’s lively spread of honky-tonks and restaurants, and I heard more than a few amazed expressions about how friendly everybody is around here.

So, I hope all y’all come back soon. Next year we’re in Phoenix again, but let’s not wait so long to do this again here in Music City!

P.S. LTEN has posted a nice 4-minute video summary of the conference on YouTube – don’t miss it!


Impactiviti helps fix all levels of “malpractice” between life sciences trainers and outsource vendors. From providing targeted vendor recommendations, to the unique on-demand Best Practices in Project and Vendor Management workshop, Impactiviti has been the go-to resource in this industry for over 11 years. Steve Woodruff is known as the unofficial Mayor of LTEN.

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If you could invest $10 to gain $100 (or to keep from losing $100), would you do it?

I would.

Especially if that same investment could keep my team from embarrassing failures and losses. That’s why we invest in training trainers in Project and Vendor Management Best Practices.

Putting training managers in charge of outsourced training development projects is risky business. Here are some of the common (& very expensive) failures that regularly arise:

  • Poorly-defined specifications that lead to scope changes (always more $$!)
  • Miscommunications with internal stakeholders and external vendors leading to missed deadlines
  • Choosing the wrong supplier for the project and ending up with a costly, sub-standard deliverable
  • Time and money lost trying to get an out-of-control project on track due to lack of clear process

benjaminsI worked on the vendor side for 10 years and saw first-hand how costly it can be to have people running projects who have never been trained in the basic principles of project and vendor management.

I have also served as a vendor/client consultant for almost 11 additional years, and I cringe to remember all the budget dollars I’ve seen floating out the windows of client training departments. One bad decision in just one year’s time can lead to losses of 20K, 50K, even 100K or more.

You’ve seen this happen before, right? Maybe multiple times.

What’s the solution?

Impactiviti offers industry-specific training for Vendor/Project Management. This targeted program (delivered either on-demand or live) is built specifically for Life Sciences training departments, and has been embraced by many top companies over the past 6 years.

We address all the money-saving best practices that lead to successful engagements with vendors. Here’s on overview of what we cover:

pm-outline

It’s time to put an end to lost training budget dollars and preventable mistakes that lead to project failures. Contact Steve Woodruff at Impactiviti (973-947-7429) to discuss the best investment for your training department.

ALSO: Five Compelling Reasons to Provide Project Management Training

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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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How are they doing?

It’s the question we’re always asking in training. We want to know if development is occurring among our employees – but what about those who have moved up the ladder into sales leadership positions?

Turns out they need that feedback, too. And, at Gilead Sciences, Commercial L&D has implemented what are called RD Development “Touchpoints” to help Regional Directors know how they’re progressing in professional development (note: “Regional Directors” at Gilead are equivalent to “District Managers” at many other companies).

c-padovanoI asked Corey Padovano, Senior Director of Commercial Learning and Development, to outline how the process works.

Corey described the three phases of training for Regional Directors that Gilead has designed; Phase 1 is focused on understanding and leading yourself; Phase 2 on leading teams/direct reports; and Phase 3 on leading across the organization. Each of those phases has appropriate courses such as Emotional Intelligence, Situational Leadership, Influence without Authority, etc.

Typically, these phases of training occur as 3-day live events, with 6-9 month periods between.

So, how to gauge progress along the way? Gilead employs a 360-degree methodology to get unbiased feedback for these “touchpoints,” including:

-3rd party conversational interview with each RD

-3rd party conversational interview with Senior RDs

-Survey to direct reports

-Survey to peers/stakeholders

This information is aggregated, then presented in a constructive way to help RDs identify levels of progress. The touchpoint process refers to specific curriculum topics and asks for ratings on a simple 3-point scale:

  • Understands the material
  • Applies the concepts
  • Demonstrates mastery

A straightforward, 2-page report is generated. The process provides very specific feedback for Senior RDs to coach their charges, and provides the additional benefit of looping back input to the training department on how to optimize the curriculum for actual needs (business acumen and strategic thinking are popping up regularly).

Was there resistance? Some, at first – until the methodology was understood and the results generated. Now it is a much-appreciated part of the professional development process at Gilead.

With this approach now in place for RDs, future potential applications may include first-line and second-line leadership in HQ positions.

How is your company monitoring and encouraging the development of its field leadership? I’d love to hear your comments and input!

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

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jsjovallI recently sat down with John Sjovall (past-President of LTEN) to interview him about his transition from heading up T&D at Daiichi-Sankyo, to working with a small startup (Collegium Pharmaceuticals). If you’ve ever been curious about what such a move might be like….well, read on!

Profile of Collegium Pharmaceuticals:

Collegium as a commercial organization is a little over one year old, with approximately 230 total employees. The sales force is about 160 sales reps and managers, broken out into three different teams: Therapeutic, Institutional, and LTC.

Collegium is focused on developing and launching products that use a proprietary DETERx manufacturing process. DETERx takes a drug API and makes it extended release (Q12 dosing), and manipulation resistant. In late June of 2016 the company launched its first product: Xtampza ER is an oxycodone opioid indicated for the treatment of chronic pain requiring around the clock treatment.

What has been Collegium’s biggest challenge launching this new drug for pain? 

Launching a new product and new commercial entity at the same time, particularly with a product in the opioid pain space, has been a very interesting and challenging opportunity. Besides healthcare organizations that are stricter than ever in controlling their formularies, we have found that access to the prescriptions in pharmacies is a real challenge due to the nature of the product. Pharmacy chains are now less inclined to auto-ship new products at launch, especially for opioids. In addition CII opioids require vault space (which is limited) at local pharmacies, and they have monthly opioid quotas for CII’s as well; it is a very intensive “hands-on process” where sales representatives must walk HCP offices and local pharmacies through the steps to make sure that prescriptions are available when they are written. An account management approach to sales is a mandatory mindset for the sales representative in an opioid market.

Lots of people who have been in larger pharmaceutical companies dream of moving over to a startup. The perception is lots of freedom and excitement. What’s the reality?

Joining a start-up has been very exciting, enjoyable…and a challenge as well. I describe it as building a rocket ship after it has already taken off from the launch pad. You are building internal processes and systems at the same time you are fielding sales forces and launching products. The pace is fast, hours are long, and the whole adventure is very fulfilling. One caution I would append is to go into it with your eyes wide open; things are lean, budgets and personnel are tight!

For example, when I was at my last company I had a training team of 30+; teams were focused on new hire training, training development and training technologies. At a startup it was initially a team of three (me, myself and I). Yes, I was doing everything – strategizing, designing and editing training materials and content, while at the same time finding and launching an LMS and other training technologies. I was able to add a second position last spring four months before launch. If you are not willing to work in an environment where you need to roll up your sleeves and be a doer and planner, then a start-up may not be for you.

You joined Collegium Pharmaceuticals as they were preparing for their first launch. What was most surprising to you about the experience?

The biggest surprise was the need to be flexible and build the process when it is needed, because it doesn’t exist. At an established organization, processes and procedures are embedded and are already part of the organizational culture. In a start-up, you have small teams with everybody engaged in building their own rocket ship. For instance, Medical-Legal review may be a brand-new process, so you have to make sure you understand what someone is intending, because they may not be available later when you may need additional clarification.

Of course, there are differences between very small start-ups and more mature companies, but what are the issues that are pretty much the same? 

Interestingly enough, there are many aspects that are quite similar. The same set of priorities drive large and small companies in our industry. Despite the size difference, a SmartCar and a stretch limousine fundamentally work the same way.

The time and cost to build a workshop or a product learning module is the same whether you are building it for 10 or 10,0000. The assumption that we are small and nimble may allow decisions to be made quickly; but the execution/process time is still the same. And effective communication is just as critical; the fact that you are small doesn’t mean teammates will absorb information or know what you are doing. You still need to keep stakeholders informed and check in that your activities are tracking with the organization’s priorities and initiatives.

What have you learned about yourself as a professional through this new role?

The first thing I learned was that I could be more flexible; those who know me understand that I like to follow the process and have a plan in place! In the past I liked to start planning the training for a product launch 18 to 24 months ahead of time; in this new role, I did it in less than 11 months, including the onboarding and training of 142 new sales hires! “You can teach an old dog new tricks!” I have had fun this year dusting off old unused skills and knowledge, and creatively applying all those years of experience into a new and dynamic setting.

More in this series:

Training for the New World of Specialty Pharma

Becoming a Consultant – Should You?

Two Keys to Successful Product Launches

Clinical Training Innovation at Depomed

Impactiviti is devoted to improving the craft of life sciences training, through strategic consulting, vendor recommendations, and network-building.

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d-grazOver the years, I have had countless discussions with training leaders about training for specialty field forces vs. primary care. But my recent conversation with Dave Graziano (AVP, Immunology Sales) was particularly enlightening. Dave has held multiple roles in both sales leadership and sales training with several companies and he has strong views about how companies can – indeed, must – evolve to better equip their specialty sales forces.

Any good discussion begins with clear distinctions, and Dave had a very specific place where he wanted to draw the line between sales forces. For our purposes, “primary care” would consist of Pills/Creams/Prescriptions – the classic model of making enough calls to doctors who would generate enough volume to meet sales goals. This promotional approach involves little or no patient or process assistance, and focuses on the typical tools of influence that we’re all familiar with, including selling models, scripted messages, etc.

And – here’s the thing – it doesn’t necessarily prepare sales reps for success in a specialty market.

By contrast, we have Injections/Infusions/Buy-and-bill, including Biologics, Immunotherapy, and Rare Disease areas. These types of products will often require a company representative to roll up their sleeves and get involved in a process – as Dave put it, “owning the prescription all the way” to actual usage. As we discussed the skill set and activities involved here, it resembled what we might typically think of in a merged role of salesperson, account manager, project manager, and consultant.

Dave uses the analogy of a machine – the complex inter-relationships of the patient journey, the HCP/staff pathway, the specialty pharmacy, and the various other cogs involved in actually bringing together a patient and the specific treatment. Understanding and operating a complex machine (instead of just delivering messages) requires a whole different approach to training, because the nature of the role is more sophisticated and multi-faceted.

In fact, one area of best practices Dave underscored was better, and deeper, training on both the patient journey and the full HCP pathway for the use of these products. Simple sales call simulations cannot adequately cover the breadth of knowledge and situational awareness needed. Multi-stage scenarios which include the range of people and processes that are actually involved will prove to be of far greater value, and specialty training should adjust to those realities instead of mimicking the more basic primary care approach.

Many companies have given lip service to the term “consultative selling” (which may be little more than improved listening and questioning skills), but this part of the marketplace does, in fact, require that company representatives evolve into true consultants and active partners. The competitive advantage of becoming hands-on trusted advisors who understand the complexity of the landscape and who “own the prescription” as it moves all the way down the field should be quite evident.

Hopefully, our training will evolve to include a richer palette of business acumen, including environmental awareness (uncovering of client challenges and pain points), directed communications, and process facilitation. Specialty sales joined to consultative, operational implementation. That’s a real value-add.

One question that this opens up is quite interesting – how will companies alter their hiring practices to reflect the needed skill set for this type of client relationship? And should we be far more hesitant to shift primary care sales reps into specialty roles without a major shift in how we view transitional training?

Food for thought – feel free to add your input in the comments.

Impactiviti is devoted to improving the craft of life sciences training, through strategic consulting, vendor recommendations, and network-building.

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You have a product launch coming up – how do you get ready?

Early, says Bob Holliday, a veteran industry training professional who has been involved in training for over 30 launches. As early as 2-3 years before the anticipated launch, in fact, when budgets are beginning to be discussed.

bob-hollidayBob has worked his way up the training ranks with Novartis, MedImmune, Boehringer-Ingelheim, and Sanofi, and he has participated in product launches with long timelines…and very, very short ones! I asked him to share some hard-earned wisdom for colleagues who are facing their own product launch initiatives. We focused on two main subjects.

First, vendor selection. What is the best way to work with outside resources who will support a launch endeavor? Bob has settled on a two-pronged approach – select one vendor (with deep expertise in clinical knowledge and instructional design) to develop the core learning materials, and then also work with another vendor who will be responsible for the workshops and training activities for the pre-launch and launch timeframe.

Why two vendors? Well, it comes down to skill sets, and capacity. The skills needed to develop core learning modules have more to do with the steady and precise process of creating full-spectrum, approval-ready training. These materials can (ideally) be developed, iteratively and progressively, with the relative luxury of a longer time window.

On the other hand, the inevitable crunch that occurs just before launch requires a company that can move quickly, scale as needed, and turn on a dime as PI approval and marketing messaging often barely come in under the wire. Event companies, with rapid production skills, tend to shine in those panic-mode moments of overnight re-dos and tactical shape-shifting.

Bob has noticed what I have also seen over decades in the industry – event companies tend to be much better at live-meeting workshops and other launch events, but are often unable to maintain a full and well-rounded staff for the longer-term development of learning modules. On the other hand, many boutique training development companies simply do not have the capacity to execute rapidly-changing plans bumping up against a rapidly-approaching deadline. By letting each type of company focus on what they do best, the probability of success is increased.

So, having considered the vendor selection process, how much time do you need to properly plan and execute a launch? The short answer that everybody agrees on is: more than we’ve been given! However, depending on the nature of the launch (New company? New therapeutic area? New indication for existing product? Level of in-house expertise and resources?), the proper time frame might range between 9-12 months on the low end (an established company launching into a familiar area), up to 2 to 2.5 years on the high end. In Bob’s experience, very few companies budget enough time, enough money, and enough advance planning to make an outstanding launch.

(Note: if you’re launching with a co-promote partner, add even more time to the equation. And stock up on aspirin. You’re going to need it.)

This is sometimes because of a lack of company awareness of all the steps and variables leading up to launch, so I asked Bob to create a high-level chart showing the sequence of steps and events that need to occur for successful launch planning. Like an accordion, the actual timeline may be compressed or expanded, but everyone involved in launches should be pro-actively planning with this kind of framework in mind.

launch-sequence2

Because of the rotational nature of many marketing and training positions, and because there may be large periods of time between product launches, there is often a loss of corporate memory (and expertise) when a new launch sequence is initiated. Or, for new commercial companies making their initial foray into the marketplace, there may be no launch experience at all. This can lead to a compromised product launch due to poor planning and spotty execution. I met with one startup company recently whose initial product launch has resulted in very slow uptake, because the actual prescribing obstacles in the marketplace were simply not foreseen and planned for.

With the right level of time, resources, and planning, launch success can move from possible to probable. There is a great opportunity for training professionals to educate their executive leadership on just what is required to succeed.

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