Employee Mindset Is Affecting Your Pharmaceutical Company Performance

Visionary, courageous leadership, R & D retooling, and a new business model are usually the answers given for what is needed to resolve the pharmaceutical industry’s current state of dysfunction.  I believe that unencumbered performance and productivity levels of front line employees is the foundation for resolving many of the issues facing the industry today.  And, I am not suggesting industry people are not working hard today.  So what do I mean?

Industry reports, Wall Street commentary, media exposure, and trade journal articles continue to paint a pretty depressing picture for the pharmaceutical industry. Declining revenues, thinning pipelines, prominent blockbuster products coming off patent, an inordinate number of disappointing clinical trial results, and inexplicable regulatory rejections are just a few of the issues haunting Pharma executives.  Collateral damage from mergers and acquisitions, plant closings, downsizings, and continued regulatory and legal consequences from questionable, if not illegal, activities.  The state of the pharmaceutical industry seems more than just a little challenging as a place to work.

In the midst of this challenging environment, pharmaceutical executives need the support and high level performance from their employees more than ever before.  Unfortunately, executive credibility among the rank and file may be somewhat compromised by uncertainty precipitated by their actions of the past and more recently, the pick slips handed to many of their fellow co-workers.  With the continued threat of even more cost cutting and downsizing,  inspiring and maintaining employee morale will take more than visionary leadership and executive cheerleading.

The single biggest factor company executives have to deal with as they try to manage through to prosperity is the psyche of their employees.  What if I’m worried about my job, the financial viability of the company, the stock price (my retirement), more pipeline failures, litigation losses, and bad press?  Can I really be performing at my highest level?  Do I even care?

So, when are people most productive and performing at their highest level?

When they feel good about themselves, their job function, and their company.  When they are well trained and have the expertise to perform at a high level.  When they have the right mindset about who they are, the role they play in what they are doing, and how well they are doing it.  When they feel they can still grow in their jobs, know they can learn and feel good about finding new ways to do it better.  When they don’t feel like their job is a job but rather what they do makes a significant contribution to the good of the company.  When their efforts and performance level are acknowledge in a meaningful way.

How does your company deal with these issues?  Do company executives and managers have a psyche improvement plan?  Do they have the training to help employees create and develop the right mindset and reach these higher levels of performance?  Or,  are they just hoping things will get better?   mike@pharmareform.com

The Impact of Repealing Healthcare Reform on the Pharmaceutical Industry

There is plenty of discussion, debate, legal maneuvering by state governments, and media coverage dedicated to the potential repeal of healthcare reform legislation in the US.  While many feel comprehensive rejection of the bill is unlikely, others suggest there are several components of the reform legislation that should be redrafted or eliminated outright.

Without getting into all the nuances (e.g., implications of electronic health records or accountable care organizations) of the legislation, the major healthcare reform implications for the pharmaceutical industry include:

  • Commitment for fees, rebates, and discounts totaling over $100 billion over 10 years
  • Additional 30 million potential patients with insurance and drug coverage

Agreements and other negotiated benefits for the pharmaceutical industry:

  • 12 years of data exclusivity for biologics
  • No direct government negotiations on pricing
  • No reimportation of less expensive drugs from foreign countries

So, for pharmaceutical companies, does it really matter if the healthcare reform bill is repealed?

To answer this you have to look beyond the next couple of years and any politically driven tweaks to the legislation that might take effect as a result of trying to pacify special interest groups, including insurance companies, advocacy groups, and state governments.  Any near-term implications don’t and won’t change the fundamental realities of where the US and global healthcare markets are trending.  These realities include:

  • plenty of inexpensive generic drugs to treat many mass market diseases
  • an increasingly cost conscious managed market with direct or indirect (mandatory discounts and rebates) price control tactics
  • increasing market expectations for premium priced new products to deliver clinically meaningful benefits over other available therapeutic options (with sophisticated expert reviews of new treatment options)
  • increasing demands for definitive pharmacoeconomic data to support the relative value of premium priced new products

Any near-term changes, repeals, or tweaks to the US healthcare reform legislation will not impact these fundamental market expectations.  Interestingly, the more the US market moves to a single payer model with increasing government involvement, the more these expectations will drive the prescription drug market.

Regardless, I believe the implications of any repeal of healthcare reform will be inconsequential in the context of the long-term business model implications for the pharmaceutical industry.  Yet, it’s scary to think about the amount of lobbying money being spent right now by big drug companies and the industry to influence this legislation.

I’m sure there are also teams of people at pharmaceutical companies right now working diligently trying to forecast and model all the permutations of legislative repeal.  While a necessary exercise (don’t want to miss an opportunity or provide Wall Street with flawed financial guidance), a laborious review could be a huge distraction and probably a waste of time in the context of what needs to be done for the long-term.

The real focus for pharmaceutical companies should be on enhancing and bolstering their discovery research.  In the end, the pharmaceutical industry and drug company success will be determined by finding better more efficient ways to deliver products that satisfy a much more demanding market that has higher expectations for therapeutic benefits and value.  mike@pharmareform.com

Top 5 Pharmaceutical Sales Representative Posts at Pharma Reform

It has been 18 months, over 100 posts, and 260 comments.  Here are the top 5 most viewed pharmaceutical sales representative related posts:

  1. Who is Killing the Pharmaceutical Sales Position?

  2. What does your CEO think about Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives?

  3. Lasting District Sales Manager Advice for his Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

  4. Healthcare Market considerations for Eliminating Pharmaceutical Sales Representatives

  5. Professional Pharmaceutical Representative Compensation

Thank you.  mike@pharmreform.com

Lasting District Sales Manager Advice for his Pharmaceutical Sales Representative

It has taken me a long time and a lot of reflection to acknowledge and appreciate the sage advice my first district manager gave me over 30 years ago.

Here are some of the nuggets of wisdom I found helpful that might be of interest regardless of where you are in your career.  You’ll notice these apply more universally to business than just to the sales position I was in at the time.  They may seem simple and obvious but like many things in life, holding true to their full intent and purpose is much harder than the words might suggest, especially over the course of a career.

Show up: Put in a full day, everyday.  Not just when you feel like it or want to,  but especially when you don’t feel like it or don’t want to.  Most people don’t.

Follow up: check regularly and return phone calls immediately. You don’t know the customer’s sense of urgency, it could be an emergency.  When you promise to do something, send something, or check back … do it… no excuses.

Make one more call: At the end of the day when you are ready to go home, make one more sales call.  This extra effort accumulates into an additional month of sales calls every year.  You never know when that one extra call is going to make a difference for your customer, a patient, or for your incentive compensation.

You get one shot at trust: If your customers quit trusting you, they quit buying from you.  They catch you once in a lie, misrepresentation, or faking an answer, they have no reason to believe you after that.

Be ready for your next job before you get it: This meant that I would have to find the time, energy, and commitment to stretching my development to include subjects and skills beyond my current position. In other words, take responsibility for my own education and career development.  

As busy as we were the days he rode with me, I always found it interesting that he found quiet time to have a cup of coffee to have these discussions.  He made it a point to make sure I was able to listen, commit my complete attention, and engage in the discussion.  This was never during drive time in the car when it might have been convenient and perceived as a good use of time but he knew I would have too many distractions to absorb the salient points he was making.

I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to pass these along to you.  Hopefully they will be useful in the pursuit of your career aspirations.  Perhaps some of you will share some of the more useful pieces of insight, advice, or coaching that you received in your career.