New NHS competition rules toned down

by JoelLane 14. March 2013 15:51

Health Minister Earl Howe (resized) The Government has revised its proposed regulations governing competition between NHS providers, following widespread protest from doctors.

The regulations, published a month ago, were criticised as removing the right of clinical commissioners to make decisions based on patient interests rather than the business rights of competing providers.

The amended version broadens the freedom of commissioners, stating that “integration” and “quality” are both valid reasons for not putting a service out to competitive tender.

However, the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) has expressed concern that the new regulations, by virtue of their statutory nature, are imposing too many conditions on commissioners.

The aim of the new regulations was stated by the Government to be a replacement for the Secretary of State control abolished by the NHS reforms. In other words, having emphasised the “autonomy” of the new CCGs, the Government is imposing strict controls to defend the interests of the private sector.

The original secondary legislation, published in February, appeared to create a legal basis for the forced tendering of nearly all NHS services, enforced by Monitor.

A letter to the Daily Telegraph signed by more than 1,000 doctors urged MPs to force a debate on the new regulations, while the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges expressed concern that services would be disrupted by legal disputes.

Health Minister Lord Howe said: “It has never been and is absolutely not the Government’s intention to make all NHS services subject to competitive tendering or to force competition for services.”

New amendments to the regulations include:

• Commissioners are required to record how their decisions support the integration of services.

• Exceptions to competitive tendering include cases where avoiding competition leads to better quality or integration of services.

• Monitor no longer has the power to enforce competitive tendering.

The underlying purpose remains the same: to protect “patient choice” by ensuring that NHS commissioners have to put services out to tender unless they can justify not doing so in terms of better clinical outcomes.

The publication of the new secondary legislation coincides with that of a BMJ study stating that 40% of CCG board members have financial ties to private healthcare providers.

Clare Gerada, Chair of the RCGP, commented: “The revised regulations do not go far enough in ensuring that commissioners are genuinely free to decide whether or not to expose services to competition. Despite the revisions, they will still be required to show that there is only one capable provider in order to avoid having to put a service out to tender.”

Lords bill aims to restore Health Secretary’s duty to provide NHS

by JoelLane 31. January 2013 15:14

Owen A new House of Lords bill aims to restore the legal duty of the Health Secretary to “secure provision” of NHS services.

The National Health Service (Amended Duties and Powers) Bill, introduced by independent peer David Owen, would reverse the autonomy of the NHS – a key legal plank in its anticipated carve-up by the private sector.

According to Owen, the new bill would provide a Labour government with ready-made legislation to avoid “the worst ravages” of a healthcare market.

Since the establishment of the NHS in 1948, the Health Secretary has had a legal duty to ensure that health services are provided nationwide.

However, the Health and Social Care Act (2012) replaced this duty with a less specific “responsibility” for NHS management, with accountability for services passing into the remit of an “autonomous” NHS.

This transition, Owen claims, ensures that decisions about what services will be freely available to patients will be made by non-accountable bodies, including private companies.

Supporters of Owen’s bill include Clare Gerada, Chairwoman of the Royal College of General Practitioners, and Allyson Pollock, Professor of Public Health Research and Policy at Queen Mary, University of London.

“This bill, if it becomes an act in 2015, will come just in time to save [the NHS] from the worst ravages of an external and full blooded market,” Owen said.

As legislation, he added, it would enable a new government “to reverse the marketisation of health, the treatment of health as just another utility, and to reinstate not just its democratic base but its values.”

The Department of Health commented that clauses clearly stating the Health Secretary’s “responsibility” and “accountability” for the NHS were included in the Health and Social Care Act “after constructive cross-party discussion”.

In responsible hands

by IainBate 5. April 2012 11:02

Pharma Blogs As the industry switches to a key account approach and individuals are given more responsibility, medical sales professionals are basking in the additional accountability now placed on their shoulders. Pf asks why.

Autonomy has always been one of the most important satisfying factors throughout the history of the Pf Survey. Always included in the top five factors yet historically never reaching the podium, it’s officially the nearly man, or woman, of the survey. However, last year, things started to change for pharmaceutical sales representatives.

For the first time in more than a decade the additional responsibility and freedom placed upon the shoulders of sales representatives was finally appreciated. Autonomy was voted as the third most satisfying aspect of the collective field force. It had finally made it. Tears were shed as it stood on the Pf Survey’s satisfaction factors podium listening to the national anthem of ‘belief in present products’ – needless to say, it wasn’t listening to ‘The Final Countdown’.

This willingness to take on more responsibility may have come with the average age of respondents creeping up. In the 2006 Survey, those aged between 25 and 34 ruled the roost. At the turn of the decade, an older, possibly more mature, age group had emerged. Jaeger Bombs for lunch had been replaced with a latte from Starbucks – until the expenses account was closed down of course!

Yet there has been a requirement for medical sales executives to become more streetwise. As the industry has shed jobs in the last few years, employees have been forced to take on additional duties – whether they like it or not.

There’s also the psychology behind it. The more responsibility and duties you’re asked to take on for your boss and the company as a whole, the more you believe you’re trusted. It’s easy to overlook the fact it’s either you given the task of managing and working on an important key account or a colleague who still struggles with the Sat-Nav.

Whilst autonomy can now call itself a leading light in the satisfying stakes, it’s hardly breaking any records in the motivational factors. Last year’s entry in tenth position shows that it’s nice to feel wanted but it isn’t everything when it comes down to it. In fact, it even dropped a position from its listing in the 2009 survey.

But with the announcement from industrial giants that further job cuts are to come as pharma continues to tighten its belt in the face of generic competition on major brands and healthcare budgets being reduced, the responsibility placed upon pharmaceutical sales reps looks set to increase again.

Whether those with added pressure placed upon them still appreciate this responsibility remains to be seen. As does whether autonomy will again take home a cheap bunch of flowers and a medal filled with chocolate around its neck. There’s only one way to find out. Have your say here.

Making it work

by emma 25. October 2011 14:20

Making it work

The switch to Key Account Management is one more companies are introducing to tackle current challenges. Apodi’s Tony Swift highlights the principles of effective execution and making a strategy work for a smooth transition.

More and more companies are now addressing the changing healthcare market by transitioning the sales process from one which primarily involves representatives engaging with healthcare practitioners on a ‘one-to-one’ basis, to the establishment of Key Account Management (KAM) teams.

The rationale for this change is irrefutable. Access to GPs is increasingly difficult and the ‘customer’ now represents a series of more complex accounts with numerous stakeholders and influencers. Furthermore, decision making is both at a national and regional level and there is now a greater need than ever to focus on local healthcare economy needs and requirements.

As a result, pharmaceutical companies have established, or are in the process of doing so, KAM teams in which individuals have increasing responsibility and autonomy in addressing the needs of their customers at a local level. Some pharmaceutical companies have even taken the model further and given team members, or a small collection of them in a specific locality, P&L responsibility – essentially establishing micro business units within the team itself.

 

A different approach

Some years ago it could have been argued that any company transitioning to the KAM model was differentiating itself from the competition. This argument is much more difficult today because most pharmaceutical companies have moved, or are moving this way – in short, almost everybody’s doing it.

However, there is still a key source of competitive advantage in this environment – and that is to actually make the new model succeed.

Our research, and the feedback we have received from companies trying to adopt the new model, is that the execution process is much more difficult than originally anticipated. The type of feedback we receive often includes the following observations:

  • Account managers do not appear to be acting in any materially different way than the sales representatives of the past
  • They are adopting the new model at vastly different rates with a small number leading the way and the rest struggling to come to terms with the new strategy
  • The move to more local autonomy is creating confusion about the role of the centre and its interaction with the decentralised function.

 

Difficulty of execution

So why is it that so many companies are finding the execution process more difficult than anticipated? The primary reason is that there is often an underestimation of the scale of the organisational change required.

For instance, many sales functions in pharmaceutical companies have historically been based on a traditional command and control structure. Here, the sales management instructed sales representatives on which HCPs to target, how many times they should be called on and exactly what to say during any meeting with them.

Within the new model however, many of these individuals are now faced with adapting to a new environment where decentralisation, decision making, autonomy and P&L accountability are now among the order of the day. Given the above, managements’ task of transitioning the organisation from the old to the new model requires considerable skill, focus and expertise.

 

A decentralised approach

Many management commentators argue that decentralisation is a panacea for all ills. If executed effectively, in an appropriate environment, this structure can deliver enormous benefits to an organisation. However, the move towards decentralisation often creates a number of serious problems which, if not addressed directly and quickly, will significantly impact on performance.

These problems are as follows:

A lack of expertise: a decentralised structure almost always requires an increase in expertise in the key roles within the structure. For example, increased knowledge will be required by employees AND management to solve problems, address more complex customers and, in effect, run businesses – particularly if P&L account responsibility is part of the role.

Inertia: many employees enjoy going to work in an environment where they understand exactly what the day will bring; the common challenges they always face and, in exceptional circumstances, being able to refer any unusual problems to their line manager. In a new environment where their decision making authority is increased, many employees will be reluctant to do things differently and may continue behaving much as before.

Lack of responsibility: the new environment is a scary prospect for some people. The last thing they want is more responsibility and a fear of failure and an inability to work in the new way paralyses them – again leading to ineffective execution.

At Apodi we have looked at specific pharmaceutical companies that are struggling with the implementation of KAM teams and researched the reasons for their difficulties. In every single example, one or more of the problems outlined above was prevalent – and in most cases all three problems coexisted together.

In fact, some of our own executives have reported their own first-hand experiences of working with companies in which the almost evangelical zeal and enthusiasm of top management continued unabated whilst chaos reigned and they failed to achieve an effective transition.

 

The way forward

As we have seen, the execution process can be difficult. And because of this, it is critical that a clear procedure for managing an effective transition is implemented. This process needs to address the following:

1. Identify clearly the strategic intent of the company, including the projected benefits of changing the model and how these are to be measured

2. Given the strategy noted above, clearly identify the role of the centre and the role of the decentralised units and how these might evolve over time. In our view, companies are often too ambitious in managing the transfer of responsibilities from the centre to the divisions or KAMs. Clear standard operating procedures need to be driven from the centre in the early stages and KAMs need to understand the rules that they are expected to work to. Think carefully about giving newly formed KAM teams P&L account responsibility. It may be better to transition to this over time, and in some cases, not even to go this far

3. Identify very clearly the roles and responsibilities of management and KAMs at all stages in the change process

4. Given the roles identified in the new structure, carefully recruit the appropriate personnel. Implement a training and development programme focussed on areas such as the role of Key Account Management, the implementation of a complex sale, general business disciplines and other skills

5. Management need to quickly identify any KAM team member who cannot make the leap to the new world of working and deal with this appropriately

6. Instil best practices across the whole KAM team by establishing effective coordination and information sharing processes

7. Establish effective incentives to drive the performance required

8. Put in place appropriate controls, feedback, learning and corrective action processes to improve performance. Key to this is the management team that drives KAM performance. This team needs to be highly experienced and knowledgeable about the requirements of KAM teams and how to manage a change process.

 

Leading the way

As ever, the role of the leader is absolutely critical in driving through the changes to address the needs of the new healthcare economy. Whilst the development of a sound strategy is critical, it is also the relatively easy part of the process. In every pharma magazine, nearly all consultants and most competitors will support the notion of moving towards a KAM driven business.

However, it is the effective execution of this transition that the leader should focus on. They will also invariably experience many of the challenges that are common to such change programmes, such as internal politics, resistance to the new way of operating, lack of appropriate skills within the team and so forth.

It is because of this that a leader needs to draw on commonsense business disciplines to be successful. It is also crucial that the immediate management team are able to do the same. Therefore, before embarking on the process, it is important to make sure that the management team is capable and ready to execute change.

As I noted at the beginning of this article, many companies are implementing similar strategies. It is therefore logical to assume that, everything else being equal, it is the company that has the management capabilities to execute these changes most effectively that will gain a competitive advantage over its competitors.

 

Apodi Tony Swift is the Managing Director of Apodi. He may be reached on tony.swift@apodi.co.uk.

A Time to Shine

by Admin 1. September 2008 05:00

As the pharma industry is experiencing dramatic upheaval, we look at how medium-sized companies are adapting to meet the needs of their customers more effectively. This month, we speak to members of the sales force to find out how working for a smaller company makes a difference to them.

In last month’s article, we looked at how medium-sized companies are reconfiguring their sales models to fall in line with changes in the NHS. We saw that the lack of ‘red tape’ and agility of smaller companies means they are able to respond quickly to their customers’ needs and be ‘agents of change’, rather than constantly striving to keep up with developments in the market.

This month, we find out how these new structures and ways of working are making a difference to sales executives and account managers out in the field. We spoke to sales professionals working for SMEs about their current role, how it is changing to meet market needs and the differences with previous roles they have held within the industry.

Less is more

It seems to be the cultural implications of working for a smaller company that make the most noticeable difference to salespeople. Everyone we spoke to said that in moving from a large pharma corporation to their current company they were instantly struck with how few people there were in comparison and how they were introduced to everybody by name.

Trudi Knight, Area Sales Manager with Napp, likens the difference to the impersonality of big city life compared to village familiarity: “I feel that working for Big Pharma is like shopping in Oxford Street in London, whereas working for a smaller company is more like going into your local village where everyone knows who you are. It’s easy to get lost in a large company.”

Simply because there are fewer people, many of our interviewees said that they felt part of the company much more quickly and also have a greater appreciation for the business as a whole. “At Napp, we know what everyone else is doing and people from all areas of the business come to the annual conference, even from the factory where the medicines are made,” Trudi adds. “Meeting everyone in this way makes you realise that the sales force is only one small cog in the machinery of the company as a whole.”

Smaller numbers also bring other benefits such as a shorter chain to management, so decisions can be made much more quickly and the opportunities for development are more transparent, more individual ownership for your achievements and targeted and personalised training.

Executive Representative Ann Murphy says that it was the training course that really impressed her when she first joined Lundbeck. “There were a much smaller number of people on the course,” she explains, “so I was able to ask questions and get much more individual support from the trainer.”

A little ‘umph’

The new sales force structures in medium pharmaceutical companies mean that sales professionals are more involved with working with PCTs and the wider NHS, and this means a wider range of customers with differing needs. In this kind of environment it is important that sales executives are able to use their initiative in how they deal with their customers and respond to their changing needs, providing solutions and new ways of working.

Ann Murphy explains why this makes such a difference to her at Lundbeck: “I now have much more accountability than I had when I worked for a large company, where there can often be several people working on the same patch. Now I have complete responsibility for sales in West Sussex and I find that much more motivating.”

For Eisai Hospital Business Manager Hilary Fletcher, moving to a smaller company allowed her to spread her wings: “I feel that I have been given a voice and a chance to make a difference,” she says. “I am a true specialist in my therapy area of dementia and I have further job satisfaction in knowing that what I do has a positive impact on patients’ lives.”

Pf research has shown, however, that greater autonomy in your daily role also means you are more accountable for the activity on your territory and that can mean hard work. An anonymous author once wrote that ‘the difference between try and triumph is a little umph’ and this is particularly true in medium-sized pharma companies.

“I find that I am a lot busier since I moved to Napp,” says Trudi Knight. “Less bureaucracy means that I am personally responsible for a lot more, but as a result I find I am more committed to the outcome and feel more rewarded when a project or meeting is a success.” “As a representative or manager within a mid-size organisation, you know and feel that you are in control of your own destiny,” Hilary adds.

Keeping it simple

For salespeople to have this autonomy – to be able to innovate and respond to their customers – it is also essential that the company is able to adapt quickly and that decision-making processes are kept to a minimum. This was another striking difference our interviewees noticed between working for a larger and a smaller company.

“What makes a huge difference is that when I need something I am able to speak directly to the person within the company who will be carrying out the action there and then,” explains Merck Serono Key Account Manager Ivan Rickard. “In Big Pharma you would have to first approach your line manager, who would then speak to someone above them, and your request could go through seven different people before it reached the relevant person. At Merck Serono, the action is carried out immediately. I know ‘joinedup working’ is a popular phrase in pharma at the moment, but I really feel that we are all working together.”

This streamlined approach also means that management are not so far removed from the people at the heart of pharmaceuticals – the patients that are benefitting from life-saving and enhancing treatments. NHS Liaison Manager James Foulger, also from Merck Serono, explains: “Too many processes result in too much ‘box ticking’ that suits the organisation but not the customer. Big companies can loose touch with the individual’s needs and hence the customer’s and, more importantly, the patient-focus, which is so critical, whereas medium pharma can remain fully focused on what really matters.”

Step into the spotlight

Whilst the industry as a whole is experiencing dramatic upheaval, SMEs are evolving to better fi t their environment and emerge successful, and these changes are continuing to benefit the sales force. Our research with executives working in mediumsized pharma companies has indicated that it is these companies that are attracting pharma’s most talented sales professionals.

Ivan Rickard describes how he didn’t initially believe a friend of his that had joined a medium-sized organisation that the “honeymoon never ends,” but having worked for Merck Serono for two years, he admits he was right: “I’m doing a similar job, but in such a refreshing way that I’m seeing it almost through different eyes,” he explains. “I certainly don’t feel like I’ve been here for two years. Everyday feels like the first day.”

It seems that when it comes to your employer, company size really does make a significant impact on job satisfaction in pharmaceutical sales. In a smaller company, not only is it is easier to get to know your colleagues, work as part of a team and be recognised for your achievements, but the agility of a smaller sized company also provides greater focus, autonomy, quick decision making and the ability to adapt more quickly to the needs of the customer. It is no surprise then that experienced representatives and account managers who want to be challenged, to fully capitilise on their initiative and skills and receive the rewards for their hard work are increasingly looking to mediumsized organisations for enhanced and more satisfying working environments.

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Features

Agents of Change

by Admin 1. August 2008 05:00

The phrase ‘adapt or die’ has never been truer for the pharmaceutical industry than it is today. But which companies are able to meet the challenges of the increasingly complex NHS market?

The espionage world of characters like James Bond might seem pretty far removed from the day-to-day life of the medical sales executive – except perhaps for the important role of cars and technology. However, the new NHS landscape means that it is more important than ever that both pharma companies and individual sales people can be ‘agents of change’ in responding and adapting to their customers, who are in turn having to evolve to survive in their changing work environment.

“It is this close dialogue and the ability to listen and respond to their customers that enables mediumsized companies to be ‘agents of change’”

Like Bond’s ‘licence to kill’, it is essential that those working out in the field have a licence to adapt, having the autonomy and responsibility for their sales to work flexibly with different key contacts. More complex local health systems with a variety of influencers mean that the standard GP detail will no longer have the necessary impact. It is those companies that take the initiative to adapt to the new market and are agile enough to respond quickly that will succeed in this new environment.

This article – the first of a series of three – will look at the ways medium-sized pharmaceutical companies are changing how they work to meet the demands of the new NHS. The following two articles will introduce some of the sales executives working for these companies and find out how these new working models are making a difference to them.

Shaken, not stirred

We spoke to managers from the HR and Personnel Departments of several medium-sized pharma companies to find out how they are meeting the challenges of the modern NHS and working to identify the new key players. Interestingly, each company we contacted had recently adapted their sales model to better meet the needs of their customers. To cite two examples, Napp and Lundbeck have both restructured their sales regions to match the boundaries of SHAs, aligning their efforts with the structure of the NHS. Many companies have also introduced new teams or restructured current ones to target the new key customers. Napp has introduced new roles into its Commercial Team, to create NHS specialists who work specifically with PCTs to remove blocks to prescribing.

Another company, which has been aligned to the NHS structure for some time is Merck Serono, one of the UK’s fastest growing pharma companies. Merck Serono has recently taken additional steps to further focus its customer facing efforts into various specialist teams who either focus on specific key therapy areas and/or work with all relevant influencers and decision makers, in both clinical and nonclinical roles within hospitals, PCTs and SHAs. This has also led to the creation of a new NHS Liaison Team. “We have to be flexible and ensure that we are communicating with all the relevant NHS personnel, and providing them with information and services that meet their specific needs,” says Dr Jim ‘UXB’ Golby, HR Manager at Merck Serono. “The one-message-fits-all attitude won’t work anymore. A deeper knowledge of the therapy area is needed along with a full understanding of individual customers’ challenges and requirements.”

We asked why it is particularly medium-sized companies that have been able to respond to the market in these ways: “In a medium-sized company there is a shorter chain between those in the field and the top-level management, which means decisions can be made quickly,” says Julie ‘Armed and Dangerous’ Worth, who works in Personnel for Napp.

License to kill

One thing that all these restructures have in common is that they are empowering sales teams to take the initiative in managing their territory or therapy area. As part of these new business models, the individual sales executive has greater autonomy in how they interact with their customers.

HR Manager Carol ‘Lethal Weapon’ Angell explains how this works at Lundbeck: “Our three values are that we encourage our salespeople to be imaginative, passionate and responsible and these underpin everything we do. All our salespeople have full responsibility for their territory, who they will approach and how they will do this, provided that they are within guidelines. Our key account executives can investigate and establish new business opportunities and take them forward, able to penetrate at all levels of the NHS organisation.”

Sales executives are able to be ‘agents of change’ in dealing with customers flexibly depending on their individual requirements, and the shorter chain within medium pharma means that whenever approval is needed for an activity, the company is able to provide a quick response. Eisai’s Amanda ‘Nuclear Device’ Russell develops this idea: “Our representatives have easy access to head office personnel, so any proposed initiatives can be quickly evaluated, approved and, if needed, be linked with our national strategy. A combination of high company expectations, clear marketing strategies and internal compliance empower the sales force in formulating local initiatives to meet overall business objectives.”

The smaller size of these companies and their policy of empowering the sales force result in a high level of recognition for the individual. Full responsibility for their own territory or market area means that the achievements of sales executives are apparent to everyone in the company, even to director-level. This recognition generates rewards in terms of remuneration for excellent performance, but also leads to increased development opportunities, a topic we will discuss in a later article.

The world is not enough

If we believe what we hear through the media, the future of the pharmaceutical industry is an uncertain one. The headline news is that the major pharmaceutical corporations’ pipelines are becoming blocked and their overreliance on blockbuster products that are facing patient-expiry have left their balance sheets in turmoil.

The outlook from the perspective of a medium-sized company, however, seems to be more rosy. Even a company like Eisai, which has only had a sales force in the UK since 1997, is expecting sales exceeding £70 million this year. The combination of a smaller UK operation that is nimble enough to respond to changes in the market and the support of a large global parent-company seems to give medium pharma the edge during these difficult times.

Each of the companies we spoke to has a positive pipeline of medicines, some of which are expected to launch within the next one or two years. One example is Lundbeck, which launched Circadin for sleep difficulties just last month and currently has five products in Phase III development, three in Phase II and four in Phase I.

Other companies are branching out into pastures new: “We are releasing a new product in pain relief early next year and have up to seven launches planned for the near future,” explains Julie Worth. “However, the real challenge will come in about eighteen months, when we are planning to move outside our comfort zone and launch a product in the respiratory field. One of our company aims is to continue to make Napp a great place to work, so as we grow and move forward we will not lose sight of this.”

Whereas other companies are boosting their chances of positive appraisals for future launches, such as Merck Serono’s new Health and Clinical Excellence Department, which was created to ensure that the company’s submissions to NICE are of the highest quality and exceed the necessary requirements.

This close dialogue and the ability to listen and respond to their customers enables medium-sized companies to be ‘agents of change’ and survive the twists and turns of the NHS market.

However, the real source of the success of medium pharma, is that they have not lost touch with the real focus of pharmaceuticals – the patient. As Dr Jim Golby concludes, “Not only do we need to adapt to the market, but we also need to make sure that all our realignments are always geared towards providing the maximum possible benefits to our patients.”

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Features

Thank You - This is all About You: A people Orientated Sector

by Admin 1. December 2004 05:00

Culture . . . Does it make a difference? Is the culture of your company unique? Are you amongst the best and are you recognised for it? THIS MONTH sees the final article of the series exploring the world of small to medium sized pharma companies and how different they are from the giants. The culture or ethos of small to medium sized companies appears to have a huge impact on the level of job satisfaction and recognition among their sales people.

How does a smaller company manage to recognise their successful people so effectively? Some common characteristics within small to medium sized companies enable them to see, recognise and reward quickly and effectively, which in turn gives a real motivational boost to sales people.

  • Freedom to STAND OUT and be an individual
  • FAST TRACK - personalised promotional opportunities
  • BROAD commercial experience and personal access to senior management
  • Autonomy and responsibility to really manage your OWN territory
  • Opportunity to be RECOGNISED and REWARDED for your successes (£££ and Promotions)

Sharon King, Business Manager LEO Pharma, joining 2 years ago from Pharmaceutical giant GSK, and having worked for the original “Welcome Foundation” experienced the metamorphosis of a small company turning into a large one. She describes “having been there for the transition of going from a smaller company, then evolving to a larger company can be overwhelming. You start to ask yourself questions about your place within the organisation. Where do I fit? How small am I really in this now huge company? Being a manager in a smaller company means you have direct input into strategy, marketing, and can pick up the phone and speak to a director, if you need to. This gives a much greater awareness of the customer needs and allows us to react quickly to customer needs as they change. In a smaller company we do react more swiftly and efficiently, because there is less red tape.”

Komal Rafique, GP representative LEO Pharma, spoke at length about the recognition she received as a rookie rep, and continues to receive after three years in the industry. “My manager is always encouraging us to know everyone in the office and see our names on the website for successes we have achieved. I was nominated as The Most Successful New-comer last year. I felt so valued by the company. I received a Highly Commendable rating awarded on stage at conference. I have been nominated this year for Young Sales Professional 2004 which highlights all my hard work and achievements throughout the year. The LEO culture is unique and I love it!! I have always been impressed that everyone knows everyone, including senior managers, a real intimacy, like a family relationship.”

Glyn Sheriston, Key Account Executive, LEO Pharma, joined 6 months ago and already feels like he knows everyone and everyone knows him. “I was impressed from the beginning and I had other job offers, but LEO was the one I really wanted because everyone I talked to had positive things to say. I feel really lucky to have got the job. Especially, after hearing how many of the sales people had been there for over 25 years. They must be doing something right. There is a large canteen in Head Office and there is an unwritten rule that all staff must leave their desk to eat in the canteen and mingle with everybody. All the staff top to bottom comply, different divisions and departments attend and everyone takes time to get to know each other. After only 6 months, I feel I know everyone in the office. I am not sure what it is about the culture but something makes it a great company to work for. It is the most enjoyable place I have worked so far in my career.” It appears there is a vast difference in culture of small to medium companies and this is further supported by the outcome data in the 2003 Company Perception Survey. The results of the survey showed that nearly twice as many people in small to medium sized companies had a greater job satisfaction in relation to the recognition they received for the job they do.

Why would you make the change from a larger company to a smaller company?

Steve Smith, Primary Account Manager, Schering tells Pf why he made the change. “I felt inspired and motivated to do my part . . . to be responsible for my own business and within a culture that is friendly and supportive, while remaining acutely focused on the business.” Umbereen Mirza, Medical Representative, Solvay, has worked for both small and large companies and is very clear why she prefers a smaller company. “The main benefit of working for a smaller company is the culture. You feel more valued and are not just a number. Your efforts are recognised which means you get noticed by those at the top much quicker”

What would you find different in working in a small to medium sized company?

Gillan Mumford, Medical Rep, Napp Pharmaceuticals, tells us what she finds different. “I feel rewarded everyday. I felt lucky to have this job. I rate my job satisfaction 10 out 10.”

Keith Burston, Hospital Representative, Napp explains what he finds different from his 22 years at GSK compared to his 2 years with Napp. “The whole ethos is totally different. It has amazed me because I am advancing within Napp when I thought I would be going back, but the reality is, I am going forward. The difference in culture has re-energised me.”

How would you describe your level of job satisfaction and personal development?

Stuart Ellison, Business Manager, Merck, described what he felt about his job satisfaction and personal development. “You need drive, enthusiasm for responsibility, and to genuinely care about the business. This absolute reliance on reps who have this self-starting, responsible attitude means that a lot of representatives work their way up through the ranks of a small to medium sized company relatively quickly . . . This involves taking a lot of personal responsibility, but the benefits are real! The focus on the individual‚s performance and success means that personalised career paths and individual recognition, are a very big part of the company culture.”

Sharon King, Business Manager LEO, elaborates on personal development within LEO as compared to a larger company. “Your own job remit is bigger, so you have integrated development within your role. In a large company you are given materials and told what to do with them, in contrast, in a smaller company you can work together to create something along with Marketing and Medical that really meets the needs of your customers. If you want to you can. . .” A move to a small to medium sized company means a move to an environment rich in autonomy, independence, and individual recognition. Indeed it is a unique culture that results in a high level of job satisfaction. It appears after all the exploration and examination that size indeed does matter in the Pharmaceutical Industry, except Bigger is NOT always better. The representatives from each of the 5 companies we have featured here, Solvay, LEO, Merck, Schering Health Care, and Napp would challenge you, their fellow sales people, to ask yourselves some tough questions. Are you getting what you want from your sales career? Are you recognised for your successes? Is it time to take the blinkers off and contemplate a move back to the real world of sales?

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Sales, Sales and More Sales Please - An Accountable Sector

by Admin 1. November 2004 05:00

WHY DID YOU join the industry and become a sales person? Was it to sell through managing your own territory and influencing prescribers, or to simply deliver a list of inflexible key messages with little opportunity to display your initiative? In the past 10 years there has been a huge shift from small, family owned, product linked representatives, to large, matrix managed, faceless entities. A large company 10 years ago had 400 representatives, now you would expect 1000 or more in the UK alone. This begs the question; How can a sales representative drive their business and remain accountable for sales outcomes with large team of people selling the same product to the same customers? This can be a very disheartening prospect for a medical representative who hopes to get noticed and further their career. This isn’t the only option though. Working for smaller to medium sized companies can be very different, and in comparison very personally rewarding. The characteristics of successful people in small and medium companies such as LEO, Merck, Napp, Schering Health Care and Solvay are not dissimilar to those in large companies. Successful people exhibit behaviours such as:

  • Desire for success
  • Goal orientation
  • Taking responsibility
  • Enjoy influencing people
  • Accountability for action
  • Wanting to be the best
  • Entrepreneurial spirit

All of these behaviours support, foster, and nurture high levels of accountability, autonomy, and independence which appear to motivate and reward individuals in small to medium sized companies. These characteristics mean that successful people are automatically more suited to working in a smaller company because their high levels of accountability are more easily noticed and therefore rewarded. The differences felt by representatives working in the smaller sector are that they retain individualism, are more easily recognised by customers and can readily measure their success through their own individual sales figures. To further investigate this we asked representatives from small to medium sized companies about their thoughts on accountability and autonomy.

Keith Burston worked for Pharmaceutical giant, now GSK (Glaxo Smith Kline) for 22 years and left to join small to medium size company, Napp Pharma. He had this to tell us about accountability and autonomy. “Napp is interested in delivering the bottom line and providing you with the support and flexibility to do that. You can decide which GP’s to see and who is going to drive your business and that provides the scope to go after the real business. It feels good to have the ability to run your territories like your own franchise and ultimately if the business doesn’t come in, you’re accountable, and there is no one to blame. You have to conscientious, and at the end of the day… autonomy and accountability come with responsibility. It has been amazing to me the change in me and my business. This ability to run my own business has re-energised me and the change has been the best decision for me and my career.” Foster and supporting high levels of independence and autonomy can impact on all areas of a Medical Representatives career, including their own development and career progression. Career development pathways have been described as highly focused, well-defined, and fast moving in a small and medium size companies. Career progression also appears more rapid for those successful people demonstrating a desire for success and outstanding sale performance.

David Southern, Marketing Manager Napp Pharmaceuticals, began as representative in the field for 18 months, then spent six months as a Health Service Manager, and presently works in head office as a marketing manager. He told us: “Everyone knows everyone in a small company from marketing to production. This can be a real advantage when looking at career opportunities and development. Progression can be very fast and seems to be moving and developing continuously. My career has been driven by the interests I have, not a set path, and I am encouraged to experience opportunities along the way. I have the opportunity in a small company to experience and am involved in every area of the business, internal and external. It provides me with a through understanding of the whole business, not just marketing.”

David Southern carries on explain how autonomy can impact and change the business. “In smaller companies there is a tight relationship to the business or emotional attachment to the business, you are not just a number, you are a person and there is no anonymity whatsoever. However, it provides a great challenge and much broader working experience in all areas of the business.”

Steve Smith Primary Care Account Manager at Schering Health Care had this to say about his level of autonomy, “We are masters of our own trade, following our ideas and running a territory as our own business. Our thought processes become clear as we plan meticulously, and we are allowed to take time to concentrate and fine tune the details leading to high success. We have the luxury to cherry pick who we want to work with to drive our business. This is a small organisation so there is no room for error. We cannot afford mistakes.” These behaviours that characterise successful people are the same, regardless of the size of company, but the question remains . . . will they be recognised and highlighted in a large matrix managed entity? Steve joined the industry 6 years ago from 10 years in grocery retailing and finds he gets more recognition for his work. “I am lucky in that I can speak to the directors about a project and feel confident approaching them. You can expect a quick turn around on approval for projects. It is a great feeling that within a small organisation, you can speak to the decision makers just by picking up the phone and speaking to them directly. It feels good to have the CEO give you a pat on the back and tell you to your face that was a job well done.”

Keith Burston, Napp Pharmaceutical, comments having worked for GSK twenty- plus years and now Napp for two and half. “You have the choice, you can be a big fish in a small pond or small fish in a big pond. I know where I am the happiest and feel I get the recognition for hard work and sales success.” It would seem then, that autonomy and accountability are very much alive and kicking in small to medium sized companies, and seem to be the main contributor to the overall job satisfaction for the representatives we spoke to. The only variable that remains to be investigated is company culture. How does company culture motivate people? How do the representatives feel within that company culture? Does the company culture truly encourage and reward success, in conjunction with a healthy work/life balance?

Culture will be the topic in next month’s final article in the series. We will to looking in depth, at company culture, and the differences in culture amongst 5 small to medium sized companies.

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Leading the Way

by Admin 1. October 2004 05:00

Leading the Way Small to Medium Pharma

. . . those who worked in small to medium sized organisations had 27% greater levels of satisfaction.

This month sees the first of three articles in Pf to explore the world of the small to medium sized pharmaceutical company. We will be looking at the benefits, or otherwise, experienced by representatives working for these companies, as well as the commercial and financial implications. We will also investigate what it takes to work in the small to medium sized pharma sector. The Reality is Better than the Perception!

When it comes to working for a pharmaceutical company, does size really matter? Are the perceived benefits of working for a large company actually borne out by the day to day reality? To answer these questions, we turned to a recent Pf industry wide survey. In the 2003 Company Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey, readers were asked to rate companies according to their desirability to work for (not including their own). The results for small to medium companies were interesting: Out of the Top 10 Most Desirable Organisations to Work For, as voted by 2000 readers of Pf, only two were from the small to medium sized sector. But, when asked how satisfied employees are with their employer, those who worked in small to edium sized organisations had 27% greater levels of satisfaction. In addition to this, Merck- a medium sized pharma company- was rated as one of the Financial Times 50 Best places to Work in the UK. This is particularly relevant, because the FTs results are based on employees’ views rather than external opinions. This would suggest that those individuals working for smaller companies find them highly desirable to work for – but that to the wider industry this is something of a well kept secret. This prompted us to do a little investigating into what it is that makes working for a smaller company so attractive once you are actually there. Of course the term ‘small to medium’ is rather a relative term. These companies are by no means ‘small fry’ in the world of business. Such companies include the likes of LEO, Merck, Napp, Schering Health Care, and Solvay, whose field forces number around 100 each, and whose turnovers can be as high as £72 million each. However, we suspected that there is probably a big difference in the working lives of those employed in this sector, as compared to those working for the bigger pharmaceutical companies. We asked sales professionals from Merck and Solvay for their opinions.

Stuart Ellison Smith, Business Manager at Merck, explains what it takes to succeed in this sector, and the type of people who thrive in it: “In this sector fieldforces tend to be smaller, so as a representative on territory you tend to be much more visible, and this only works for you if what you are doing on a day to day basis is impressive! In a large organisation, with ten of you on a territory you can ‘plod along’ if you choose to, but in a smaller company this is simply not an option. You need drive, an enthusiasm for responsibility, and to care genuinely about the business. This absolute reliance on representatives who have this self starting, responsible attitude, means that a lot of representatives find that they work their way up through the ranks of a small to medium sized company relatively quickly. This is because their efforts really stand out on territory, and their successes are easily identified and attributable. Of course there is a flip side to this, which is that if you prefer working as part of a large team, or to be measured on activity rather than sales, then this may not be the sector for you. The key to being a successful sales person in a small to medium sized pharmaceutical company is definitely to thrive on accountability and autonomy. This involves taking on a lot of personal responsibility, but the benefits are very real. The focus on the individual’s performance and success means that personalised career paths and individual recognition, are a very big part of the company culture.” Umbereen Mirza, a medical representative in Birmingham, left Solvay to work for a much larger pharmaceutical company, but returned to Solvay a few months ago. For her, the benefits of working for a smaller company are very clear. She told us: “Because I am the only rep on territory, whatever goes on, I am responsible for it! If I don’t go out to work – I don’t get any bonus! Its also really great not having to worry about having to stick to strict zones while on territory – I am free from the constant pressure of having to make sure I am not working the same area as other team members on any particular day. The main benefit of working for a smaller company though is the culture. You definitely feel more valued and not just a number. At Solvay head office everyone is known by their first names, which is very different to any head office I’ve been to before. Your efforts are also very readily recognised through the network of management and senior

“You definitely feel more valued and not just a number.”

management via emails, phone calls etc. It means that being noticed by those at the top is a much quicker process.” It would seem then, that the main differences in working for a small to medium sized pharmaceutical company, are the autonomy and accountability you are afforded, and also the culture of individuality you find yourself in. These are factors that influence every day of your working life. Do these benefits really outweigh those of having a heavyweight organisation behind you? In the next two editions of Pf we will be looking at these issues in greater detail.

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