Written By: Steven Rosen
Clearly and concisely communicate your new vision. Describe how the organization will be doing business differently, i.e. what the new sales structure looks like, and what the new roles and responsibilities for team members will be. Make sure you carefully craft the rationale for the downsizing to share throughout the organization.
The annual planning process is the time of year when pharmaceutical sales executives are asked to justify the cost of their sales force. In light of lost revenue with products going off patent, changes in formulary coverage, and evolving decision makers, sales executives are tasked with difficult decisions.
There are several best practices to preparing for a downsizing/restructuring.
Before announcing any restructuring/downsizing initiatives it is important to make sure you have dotted all your “i’s” and crossed all your “t’s.” The following list covers many of the big picture items that are required for an effective and seamless transition to occur.
Check List Prior to Announcing any Changes
Five Steps to Leading Change:
The success of your new vision is dependent on the buy-in of your front line sales managers. For any change management program to work, it needs to be led from the front lines. It is essential at this time to effectively communicate to the entire organization the new vision. Your front line managers will look to you for leadership. You must model the behavior you hope to inspire. Your attitude and behaviors throughout the initial phase will send an important message to the entire team.
Given you have been working on the changes for several months, this time line provides you with the opportunity to deal with your own guilt, anxiety and fears about the impact that your vision will have on the organization. The front line sales managers on the other hand, are just starting to deal with their own emotions. They have lost colleagues, sales reps and friends. They will be dealing with their emotions, anxieties and grief post announcement.
1. Set Post Announcement Metrics: It is essential to set some immediate goals to ensure that the management team is clear on what you are trying to achieve in the short-term. Some goals may be:
2. Win their Hearts: You need to win their hearts before you win their minds. Buy-in is crucial. The managers need not only to believe in the changes but in their future roles within the organization. The real work starts after all the announcements have been made and the layoffs completed. Senior sales management must now shift their focus onto the remaining sales managers and sales people.
3. Be an Empathetic Leader: The key is to be open. Listen. Help your staff deal with their emotions and be empathetic. By showing concern and interest, you will be working towards getting everyone back on board. Set up weekly group meetings to provide feedback on how the transition is progressing. Put out the small fires and try to address them before they become infernos.
4. Offer Support: Your efforts need to be focused on coaching and encouraging people to be successful in transitioning to the new vision. Be available, be present, and be there for your people. You may want to offer your sales manager’s access to an executive sales coach to help them deal with any issues. An executive sales coach can help accelerate the transition by offering an unbiased sounding board and be an outlet for managers to discuss issues that they may not be comfortable raising with you.
5. Promote and Communicate Positivity: You need to exude optimism and a “can do” attitude regarding the transition. Promote optimism and positive thinking in all your communications. Be sure to highlight positive movements and all success stories, no matter how minor. Reward each success and allow the people who adjust quicker to become role models for the team.
These are turbulent times in the pharmaceutical industry and sales leadership is the critical factor for managing success and thriving. I offer sales leaders one on one Executive coaching to help them achieve great personal and professional success in light of the challenges they face.
Steven’s mission is to inspire sales leaders, managers and sales people to achieve their…
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