Promotional news: Challenging pharmaceutical market requires a change in sales training tactics

by Admin 14. November 2012 14:51

 At a recent meeting of the Pharmaceutical Learning and Organisational Development  network, it was agreed that a change in sales training tactics could help address the challenging market conditions by  increasing motivation and resilience for those involved in the sales process.

To address this need, Sales-Motivations have partnered with Wellards to deliver cost effective e-learning based sales performance solutions to help pharmaceutical and medtech teams maintain and grow their motivation and sales performance in these difficult times, without the cost and inconvenience of traditional training. 

To find out more, please visit, or for a free trial of Sales Motivations, visit,  or contact us on +44(0)845 531 4125.

Bringing it all back home

by Admin 5. September 2012 11:59

Research suggests that the best work-life balance involves strong commitment to both areas.
Does that happen in pharma – or only in Narnia?

 Medical sales professionals are likely to be wary of work-life balance (WLB). The traditional sales model has been associated with a workaholic mindset – the more you work, the more commission you earn – and an attraction to the freedom of the road. But these days, travelling light is likely to mean you have nothing to come back to. As medical sales has developed towards long-term selling and key account management, so its professionals have come to rely more on domestic stability as a support.

A perfect circle
A recent study by Working Families challenges the idea that home life and work are competing priorities. They surveyed over 2,000 high-achieving professionals, mostly female, working in the private sector in South-East England – supposedly the yuppie heartland. What they found was a strong, bidirectional correlation between ‘work engagement’ and ‘relationship quality’. As either factor improved it strengthened the other factor instead of detracting from it.

They also found that problems at work affected home life and vice versa – but whereas many professionals could escape from domestic stress at work, few could leave work issues behind when going home. Where a vicious circle existed between the two, the driving force was usually trouble at work. Where steps were taken to reduce stress at work, the domestic picture normally improved.

Working Families concluded: “Work-life balance is not the bringing together of two separate and competing domains, but rather the two need to be understood as two aspects of the same dynamic. Those who are more fulfilled at work may also be more fulfilled at home.”

These important findings suggest that work-life balance does not have to be seen in terms of managing a conflict. Far more importantly, it can be seen in terms of creating a mutual reinforcement to the benefit of the individual and the company.

Bending the rules
The big question for employers is how they can achieve this perfect circle for the dysfunctional individuals who make up their sales teams. Giving staff more flexibility – in terms of when and where they work – is the most popular solution among companies and staff alike.

However, Working Families notes, flexible working is no bed of roses. For women in particular, flexible working is likely to impact negatively on home life by allowing a conflict to develop. Conversely, men tend to take up flexible working “far less often” than women, perhaps due to fear of such a conflict. Employers should therefore ensure that there is an “embedded culture of flexibility” in which such conflicts and anxieties can be resolved.

The Work Foundation even makes flexible working definitive of WLB: “Work-life balance is about people having a measure of control over when, where and how they work.” But the truth is that WLB cannot be wholly separated from other issues such as accountability and autonomy.

The CIPD’s Employee Outlook for summer 2012 notes that 60% of employees report satisfaction with their WLB. Women are more likely to feel that they have the right WLB (65%) than men (55%). The CIPD reports a strong positive correlation between employee engagement and satisfaction with WLB.

A delicate balance
The Pf Company Perception, Motivation and Satisfaction Survey 2012 shows that for medical sales professionals, work-life balance ranks fourth in a list of 18 priorities (after salary, relationship with direct manager and job security). Overall, 42% of survey respondents are ‘satisfied’ with their WLB and 28% are ‘dissatisfied’.

These figures suggest that WLB is neither a major problem nor a big success for the pharma industry. Given that WLB is a predictor of work engagement, they do not encourage complacency.

Women surveyed are happier with their WLB (44%) than men (39%), which may reflect greater skill in balancing the relevant factors. Employees working part-time are happier (49%) than those working full-time (41%), which may reflect a trade-off between income and WLB.

Industry satisfaction with WLB is fairly consistent across regions in England, but is much lower in Wales (31%) and Scotland (30%). In Scotland, the proportion actively dissatisfied with WLB is 35%, making the issue a negative one for the nation’s pharma companies.

The age-related figures show highest satisfaction with WLB (68%) among employees aged below 25, with lowest satisfaction (35%) among those over 55. That does not suggest that starting a family is a trigger for major WLB concerns – and indeed, Working Families states that such a view is a myth. Rather, WLB becomes steadily more important with age.

Employees whose sales are above average are more likely to feel they have the right WLB (45%) than those whose sales are average or below average (both 36%). However, for those with the highest sales, WLB satisfaction drops to 34%. That suggests that the correlation between professional success and WLB works only up to a certain point.

Roles associated with associated with industry average or better WLB are nurse advisor (57%), primary care specialist (47%) and KAM (45%), while sales management is associated with WLB well below average: 31% for first-line managers, 26% (with a shocking 58% dissatisfied) for second-line managers.   

WLB satisfaction drops steadily with time in role, from 48% after less than six months to 37% after eight years. This contrasts with the effect of time in the industry, where WLB satisfaction rises to a peak between four and eight years (53%) before trailing off.

The whole picture
The Pf survey broadly supports the view that work-life balance is about the mutual reinforcement of work and home life, rather than managing a conflict. But it also shows that conflicts are possible in certain kinds of role, notably sales management, and where individuals may be aiming too high.

Companies need to support WLB, especially with older employees, and understand that WLB is a predictor of good performance. They should promote flexibility without seeking a ‘one size fits all’ model. Above all, they should be mindful that the strongest driver of successful WLB is fulfilment at work.

The mean streets of sales

by Admin 2. February 2012 14:47

 Fearless blogger Maxine Vaccine examines the key issues affecting pharma industry companies and careers – this week, the question of what makes a truly good employee on the commercial side of the industry.

How many times has the following recruitment scenario occurred in your company? The HR Director announces that the new sales executive is going to ‘shake things up’ and ‘make his presence felt’. (Let’s assume the recruit is male – it makes sense in this context.)

The golden boy arrives wearing a smile a yard wide. Pausing only to tether his horse to the railings, he rolls up his sleeves and gets stuck into some serious cold calling, networking and relationship-building. In meetings, he performs death-defying feats of goalpost relocation and extra-boxicular cognition. He lasts a week.

Don’t blame HR. After all, they did what they were supposed to do when filling pharma sales vacancies. Which was to carry out biometric tests and assess all the interviewees’ haircuts, teeth and cufflinks in order to determine who had the most ‘confidence’.

As a result, they hired a space cadet who had spent the last three months training in interview technique, and whose CV deserved to win the Booker Prize. They didn’t look for analysis of customer motivation, ability to connect clinical and economic priorities, or appreciation of the weak links in the customer’s value chain. They looked for someone who could mimic their body language.

Let’s step back a moment. Last year, the Work Foundation published a report calling for greater investment in ‘manu-services’. That didn’t refer to Wayne Rooney’s hair transplant. It meant the knowledge-based and skill-based industries that produce solutions and outcomes rather than things.

High on the list is the pharma industry, which combines expertise from life science, healthcare and economics to find solutions for the world’s under-resourced and over-challenged health systems.

To build a career in pharma sales, you need the ability to learn, calculate, solve problems, communicate solutions, negotiate and inspire – and to do those things well, you need to believe in them. If your skill set is ‘I can sell anything to anyone, end of story’ you’ll be back out the door before the froth on your latte has settled.

If you are serious about health and want to understand the challenges that clinicians and patients are facing and help them achieve better outcomes, you will do a good job in pharmaceutical sales. If not, then you and the HR manager can mimic each other’s body language all day and night – you are, after all, consenting adults. But leave us alone. We’ve got work to do.

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Lundbeck and Otsuka partner to target psychiatric market

by Emma 11. November 2011 15:38


Pharmaceutical companies Lundbeck and Otsuka have formed a global alliance to deliver up to five new psychiatric and neuroscience drugs.

The Danish and Japanese pharma companies, both of which have a strong record in CNS products, have signed a sales and cost share agreement.

The alliance covers two near-term projects from Otsuka and an earlier-stage portfolio of psychiatric disorder treatments, encompassing psychotic, mood and behavioural disorders at all levels of severity, from Lundbeck.

The two companies have identified psychiatric disorders as a major area of unmet need.

Lundbeck is granted co-development and co-commercialisation rights to two Otsuka drugs: aripiprazole depot formulation (which improves compliance in users of the drug) and OPC-34712 (for schizophrenia and major depressive disorder).

Otsuka will have an option to co-develop and co-commercialise up to three early-stage compounds in Lundbeck’s R&D pipeline.

“With the addition of aripiprazole depot formulation and OPC-34712, Lundbeck has significantly broadened its growing psychiatry portfolio with exciting and unique treatments in an area of high unmet needs,” said Ulf Wiinberg, Lundbeck’s President and CEO.

“This collaboration further strengthens our US platform and allows us to be introduced with the US psychiatry community already in 2013."

Dr. Taro Iwamoto, President and Representative Director, Otsuka, commented: “We are very excited that Otsuka and Lundbeck have entered into a co-development and co-commercialisation agreement for aripiprazole depot formulation and OPC-34712, both potential key drivers of future growth for Otsuka’s CNS business.

“Lundbeck’s expertise in developing depression and anxiety treatments and Otsuka’s expertise in developing anti-psychotics will maximise the medical and commercial value of Otsuka’s portfolio in CNS. In addition, our partnership with Lundbeck will enable us to establish a strong platform to deliver these compounds to patients who need them.”

Through the sales and cost share agreement, Otsuka will receive up to US$1.8 billion from Lundbeck – which will see its psychiatry portfolio and US market penetration increase.

The combination of Otsuka’s strong presence in North America and Asia with Lundbeck’s strong presence in Europe, Canada and Latin America mean that the alliance will reach most of the global psychiatric market.

Make or break time for SMEs

by Emma 11. November 2011 11:13


New research shows that SME growth provides the best prospect for economic recovery in the UK. But, as private equity firm ECI notes, finding the cash to reach out to global partners and markets can be a critical hurdle.

With continued pressure on governments across the Western world to reduce their expenditure, together with sustained macro-economic uncertainty and a tightening of bank funding, times are not necessarily easy for the average healthcare company – which often relies on the public purse for reimbursement and debt funding for growth. One might therefore expect the short-term outlook for growth to be somewhat muted, despite the backdrop of positive longer-term demographic drivers of demand.

Hence it is interesting that a recent survey of UK SME businesses by ECI Partners, a UK-based midmarket private equity firm, has found executives to be generally positive about growth prospects over the next 12 months, with 74% of respondents anticipating headcount growth and 60% expecting double-digit turnover growth.

The results met with a warm response from the Government, with Mark Prisk, Minister of State for Business and Enterprise, saying: “It’s good news that despite a tough few months, nearly three-quarters of the SMEs surveyed by ECI are looking to recruit over the next year and half expect to see substantial profit growth in that period. Up and down the country, it is Britain’s SMEs that are driving our economic recovery.”

Reaching out

This year, the survey conducted each summer by ECI Partners gained responses from a total of 246 chief executives from UK growth companies from a range of sectors with turnover between £10m and £200m. The results paint a positive picture against the gloomy economic backdrop of the Eurozone crisis and sluggish UK economy, and suggest that there remains growth potential amongst SME businesses – which account for around a third of UK private sector employment.

Steve Tudge, a Managing Director of ECI, commented: “Despite the barriers to growth, which are principally cited as a weaker macro-environment and funding constraints, we continue to be optimistic about the prospects for good mid-market companies.”

Executives see the key growth drivers to be increasing international sales – with Europe and the USA remaining the dominant international markets, though India and China are becoming more important – and organic growth through investment in sales and marketing and new product development. Over 40% of companies are also planning to increase their use of overseas suppliers to improve their margins.

Internal cash flows are viewed as the most likely source of funding for this growth, though around half of respondents say they are likely to seek bank debt within the next 12 months (despite continued complaints about its cost and due diligence requirements) and around 40% are also likely to look at private equity backing. Fewer than 10% of companies see the public markets as accessible, perhaps reflecting the recent volatility and liquidity issues associated with the AIM market.

Healthcare respondents are less bullish about high growth than their peers in other sectors, and are noticeably less positive about growth than they were last year. This no doubt reflects, in part, the political uncertainty surrounding the current UK healthcare reforms and the public sector spending constraints that are impacting on the health and social care sectors.

Despite this, companies remain more confident of raising growth financing – and of raising it from private equity firms, with over 50% saying that was a likely consideration over the next year.

Financing growth

What does all this mean for SME healthcare businesses in the UK? The sector certainly faces challenges in responding to Government spending cuts, which are tending to put pressure on margins if not always on volumes.

However, opportunities for growth remain amidst these challenges, particularly for companies who are able and willing to venture beyond the UK in order to seek new customers and cheaper suppliers.

Of course, this internationalisation can put a strain on smaller businesses, which may lack the scale to fully support an international infrastructure. Private equity groups with experience and expertise in this process can potentially offer support to management teams in this position – whether by making introductions, sharing best practice or simply financing the required infrastructure.

There are significant sums of capital available for investment from the UK private equity industry, and there remains an appetite to invest in market-leading healthcare businesses. Thus private equity should be considered seriously as an option by management teams in the healthcare industry who are looking to fund growth to help their companies succeed in the current economic environment.

ECI is a private equity group that has been investing in mid-market growth businesses for over 35 years. It invests across sectors, with a focus on UK and Irish companies. Healthcare companies in its current portfolio include a primary care provider (Harmoni), assisted living specialists (Premier Bathrooms, DLP) and medical software companies (Clinisys, Ascribe).

Lundbeck continues momentum

by Emma 9. November 2011 13:48


Revenue was up 10% in Q3 at Lundbeck to DKK 4.9 billion but profit from operations fell nearly a quarter (22%) after restructuring its R&D department.

Growth was driven by an increase in revenue from a number of its key products and milestone payments following the launch of escitalopram in Japan.

Ulf Wiinberg, Lundbeck’s President and CEO, says the company is “very pleased with yet another strong quarter” after its branded products delivered “solid results”.

Sales of Sabril increased by nearly half (47%) to DKK 77 million, compared to the third quarter in 2010, with revenue also up for Xenazine in the US by a fifth, compared with the same period, to DKK 191 million.

Lundbeck’s key products, Cipralex, Ebixa and Azilect, which grew 5%, 18% and 20% respectively, compared to the period last year, helped boost revenue from International Markets up 20% to DKK 901 million.

“We are now entering a new era with many new product launches,” said Ulf Wiinberg. “With the launch of Lexapro in Japan, the continued roll out of Sycrest and the forthcoming launch of OnfiTM in the US, we have expanded on our product diversification and strengthened our long term growth prospects substantially.”

Jobs expected to go at Teva

by Emma 9. November 2011 11:43


Between 1,000 and 1,500 jobs are expected to be lost at Teva Pharmaceutical Industries as part of the company’s cost-cutting measures.

Reports from Israel claim the majority of the layoffs will be made in the US and Europe and mainly focused in Teva’s recently acquired Cephalon’s generic business.

The reports say that Teva is hoping to raise $500 million in synergies from its takeover with job losses expected to raise the majority of its target.

Teva has already said it is planning to cut sales, marketing and administrative expenses by $300 million, R&D by between $120 million and $150 million, and production costs by $50 million to $80 million. R&D savings would be achieved by cutting duplicate operations, the company said.

Teva has a history of job losses following takeovers of generic companies. In 2008 it bought US generic specialist Barr and reduced its workforce by 10%, reports say.

A reduction of 1,000 jobs at Cephalon would represent a loss of 27% roles before the takeover. But one company where job losses will be made, the reports say, is at Mepha, the Swiss generics manufacturer Cephalon bought last year. The company had 620 jobs prior to the acquisition.

Takeda restructures business operations

by Emma 8. November 2011 15:53


Takeda Pharmaceutical Company has created several new positions as part of its “Transformation into a New Takeda”, restructuring the company’s business operations.

The new roles include Chief Medical and Scientific Officer (CMSO) and Chief Commercial Officer (CCO).

The CMSO is set to replace the existing post of Chief Scientific Officer, to be filled by board member Dr Tadataka Yamada, a medical doctor and scientist with strong experience in pharmaceutical R&D.

The CCO will be responsible for the company’s global sales structure, replacing existing positions in International Operations in the US, Europe and North Asia.

Takeda’s Chief Executive Dr Frank Morich will claim this position, who will lead sales strategies in the US, EU and key emerging markets.

The restructuring of the company is said to relect Takeda’s recent acquisition of Nycomed, which the firm described as “another significant step towards globalisation”.

Takeda fully acquired Nycomed in October in a cash deal worth €9.6 million.

GSK pays $3b in criminal and civil settlement

by Emma 3. November 2011 15:38


GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has agreed to pay $3 billion to settle US criminal and civil investigations into whether the company illegally marketed drugs and other matters.

The investigations include a Department of Justice review of the UK company’s controversial diabetes drug Avandia, which has been linked to heart risks.

The settlement follows clampdowns since the late 1990s in the US on unfair pharmaceutical industry practices that may have prioritised sales targets over payer and patient interests, such as marketing drugs for unapproved uses.

Andrew Witty, CEO of GSK, said: “This is a significant step toward resolving difficult, longstanding matters which do not reflect the company that we are today.

“In recent years, we have fundamentally changed our procedures for compliance, marketing and selling in the US to ensure that we operate with high standards of integrity.”

Mr Witty said that the company has put in place a new bonus system for US sales, which no longer focuses on individual sales goals, but is now based on selling competency, customer evaluations and overall performance of the sale representative’s business unit.

Federal prosecutors began investigating GSK in 2004, into whether the company promoted drugs for unapproved indications, and into cases where the company may have potentially influenced doctors.

The inquiry involved nine of the company’s best-selling products from 1997 to 2004, including lung therapy Advair.

Gbola Amusa, an analyst at UBS AG in London, said: “This news essentially draws a line under a 10-year legal saga.”

Both civil and criminal settlements are expected to be finalised in 2012.

Stable sales at Sanofi

by Emma 3. November 2011 14:27


Sales increased more than 10% at Sanofi in the third quarter to €8.7 billion, despite the loss of €471 million due to generic competition compared to the same period a year ago.

Total sales grew 10.1% along with an 11% increase in growth platforms after strong performances in its diabetes, vaccines and consumer health divisions.

Christopher A. Viehbacher, Sanofi CEO, says the return to growth in sales and earnings is an “important milestone as the company progressively puts the patent cliff behind it”.

Growth platforms and Genzyme accounted for 68.5% of total sales after the recently acquired business recorded sales up 6.9% to €768 million.

Pharmaceutical net sales were up a tenth to €6.9 billion and helped year-to-date net sales rise 5.5% to €20 billion, despite generic competition to Lovenox, Ambien CR and Taxotere in the US and Plavix (pictured) and Taxotere in the EU plus the impact of US healthcare reform and EU austerity measures.

Its diabetes division was driven by a strong US and Emerging Markets performance which resulted in a 12.4% increase in sales after Lantus recorded growth of 14.6% and 23.4%, in respective markets. Growth in Sanofi’s vaccine division also increased 16.7% after a solid demand for seasonal flu medication in the US.

The Sanofi Group now expects 2011 business net income to be between 2%-5% lower than last year’s total. “We continue to make strong progress in R&D with the submission of five new products and also in the tight control of our costs,” said Mr Viehbacher.

It was reported this week that Sanofi is set to overtake Pfizer as the world’s biggest pharmaceutical company by 2016.

Submissions have been recently filed for Lyxumia (lixisenatide) in the EU, Aubagio (teriflunomide) and Zaltrap (aflibercept) in the US; Visamerin/Mulsevo (semuloparin) in the US and EU; plus Kynamro (mipomersen) in the EU.

The company released its Q3 performance on the day it announced it was cutting jobs in its US R&D and sales divisions.


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