Leadership & Learning INTERVIEW Series: Episode 01

Audio insights from Tom Ori on the intersection of Leadership and Learning

In a departure from the written blog format, today’s value bombs will be dropped via audio in an interview with Tom Ori, the owner of Next Level Performance.

In less than 15 minutes, we cover:

  • WatchA great quote on the interplay of leadership and learning
  • The ideal role a sales leader can play in the ongoing training of their team
  • (GULP…)  Role playing – does it work?  If so, insight into the best way to approach.
  • An immediately actionable facilitation / presentation tip
  • A learning tool / technology / resource Tom’s really fired up about
  • A book recommendation for leaders on the topic of learning
  • AND – a bonus question you’ll want to ask yourself!

Sound good?

Just jump in the car, grab your travel mug of java and PRESS PLAY on the small button below!  The “show notes” are complied below for use later…


After listening, I’d be grateful to hear what you think in the comments section!

Don’t be shy about sharing, either 🙂

Until next time,



Quote:  “Diagnosis and treatment without assessment is malpractice”

Next Level Performance Website:  nextlevelperformance.com

Check out the Leadership Check-Up

Tom’s article from LinkedIn about Leadership Check-Up

Worthwhile book on learning to check out:  The Six Disciplines of Breakthrough Learning:  How to Turn Training and Development into Business Results

You’ve Become a Creativity Vampire and Don’t Even Know It

6 Ways Sales Leaders Can Stop Killing Creativity

“Creativity now is as important in education as literacy and we should treat it with the same status.”  – Sir Ken Robinson

Do you agree with this bold statement by Sir Ken Robinson from his insanely popular TED Talk?

I do.

He goes on to suggest that schools, and companies, have destroyed creativity because we teach, educate and train in ways that stigmatize mistakes.

People are afraid to be wrong.Oh good...-2

And when people are afraid to be wrong, nothing original bubbles to the surface.  You get the same stuff recycled and regurgitated.



Looking specifically at pharmaceutical sales, there are areas where encouraging creativity and making mistakes is unacceptable.  There is an important obligation to healthcare providers and patients to get things right.  And legally, I get what’s at stake.

And let’s face it, the education and training environment we provide predictably follows suit:

  • High stakes tests
  • Certifications
  • Verbatim responses
  • Coaching checklists
  • Legal attestations

The process of learning is built around making sure that an accurate and fair balanced message is delivered.

Not always exciting – but understandable.

Add to this list the responsibility that leaders have to ensure expense reports are done correctly, that sales calls are entered the right way and performance metrics are in line with expectations.

You can quickly see how a culture lacking creativity takes shape and where trying new things isn’t exactly embraced.


BORING-2“Ok, Dave…but I thought you said that I’M killing creativity?  Sounds to me like the system and nature of the business is the culprit.”

And that’s the problem.

The general acceptance that being wrong and taking chances has no place in our little pharmaceutical world can permeate everything we do and literally become part of who we are as leaders.

We stop challenging our teams to come at problems from new angles because they might not work.  We stop tapping into the unique qualities that we all have as leaders because they don’t fit neatly into the prescribed game plan.

That’s what kills creativity.

And we own that.


As sales leaders, we have an opportunity an obligation to our teams to find appropriate places for them to try new things and risk being wrong.

To possibly fail.

To break away even briefly from the standard way of doing things.

That’s where the magic of creativity happens.

While there is no clear, uniform path for making this happen (given how unique we all are as individuals and leaders) here are a few ideas for re-kindling the creative fire on your teams this year:

  • Measure Failure: If you’re asking someone on your team to work on a particular selling skill (say, opening calls more effectively…) between your field visits – have them report back to you on what didn’t work instead of what did work.   In doing this, you set the expectation that they should be trying new things and that failure is simply part of the process.  If you’re not failing your not trying.
  • Break-Away Role Play:  Break away from stale habits and safe behaviors by having your team practice selling something totally unrelated to your product(s.)  You can simply use a product from the diner your sitting at or plan ahead and assign something fun from skymall.com.  This creates a safe environment to fail in and a fun laboratory to test new ideas.FullSizeRender (1)
  • Blue Sky Panel:  As a group or individually, encourage people to share how they would move their business assuming no restrictions or barriers.  Truly blue sky.  Creatively set it up as if everyone is “pitching” th
    eir ideas to a Shark Tank panel if you want.  Lots of ideas will fail but the debrief involves a discussion of what CAN be done (or some version thereof) from the list generated!
  • Ideal Day Design:  Similar to the Blue Sky Panel, have your team design their ideal, maximally productive day for you – individually or as a group.  Assume everything is possible.  What would it look like?   What could they get done?  Debrief as a team around the items that CAN be done (or at least some compliant version thereof) from the list!
  • Regional Reporter:  Create a list of things you feel your team has stopped thinking creatively about.  These could be anything from asking good questions to call plan routing.  Have everyone on your team reach out to someone else in your region and ask them to share how they approach that topic.  Have everyone share back what they learned and see if any new, creative ideas can be applied.
  • Book Club:  Find a great book to read as a team and run a book club meeting.  Avoid the temptation to use a boring business book.  Pick something interesting or fun that that gets people to think about how they are operating in the field and possibly in their personal lives. Debrief as a team on what ideas were generated from the reading and how they can be applied in the field.

This is just a partial list.

The opportunities are everywhere if we’d simply elevate the importance of creativity to it’s rightful place.

How about you?

What are some ways that you’ve encouraged creativity with your sales team and made failure an acceptable outcome?

Leave a comment below and consider trying one of the ideas above – would love to hear how it goes!

Until next time,



WARNING: Are you a Sales Leader or Super Rep? PART II

3 ways to harness your inner super rep for coaching success

In the first blog of this two-part series we kicked things off with a story of how easy it can be to move into super dad (or super mom…) mode in our personal lives.

It was a simple lesson about AWARENESS.  Thanks coach Sue! 🙂

In Part 2, we will explore how DMs can keep their inner super rep from undermining coaching objectives while avoiding the awkwardness of a purely silent observer.


[PS:  Before you dig in, please know that you can click here to subscribe to the Sales Leader Gear blog and download a FREE PDF eBook version of both Parts 1 & 2 together along with a manager self assessment and leadership team discussion guide…check it out!]


Tom and his team at Next Level Performance use movie clips to generate conversations about leadership and coaching. There is a powerful scene in the cold-war thriller The Hunt for Red October that they use in their situational coaching programs.


Please excuse the brief vulgarity at the start.

During the briefing—his “sales pitch”—an eager and otherwise competent Jack Ryan lets his passion get the better of him as he challenges a 4-star General. Notice the silent coaching Admiral Greer provides his ‘sales rep’ at the 1:14 mark of the clip.Screen Shot 2016-01-22 at 2.28.25 PM

The coach’s gesture (hand on his arm) together with Ryan’s regretful expression suggests Ryan knows he overstepped.

Yes, it’s Hollywood. But think about it. How many of us as coaches have been in the Admiral’s shoes during a field ride?

Imagine practicing the self-restraint the Admiral showed in the clip! The most enlightened coaches are tempted to channel their inner super rep and interject when they see a sales visit going sideways.


As we referenced in Part 1, as coaches we constantly balance two dynamic objectives: 1) achieve financial results; and 2) develop people.

Let’s be clear: there are a multitude of appropriate situations when a leader needs to vocally contribute during an office visit while pursuing the objectives above. Sometimes, however, an over-emphasis on one comes at the expense of the other.

Focus too much on achieving financial results and we end up doing the heavy lifting during a sales call—justifying our super rep actions with something that sounds like, “If I didn’t say something, we were going to miss the opportunity with the gold-level physician.”

The consequence?

Rescuing the sales rep from learning by doing.


Here are THREE TIPS that we’ve found instrumental in harnessing the inner super rep to achieve strong coaching success. We’d like to hear your additions to our short list below as well, just add a comment!


Determine in advance of an office visit how active you will be during the time when both you and the rep are in front of the physician or Physician Assistant.  Be REALLY specific. Share your intention with your sales rep before walking into the office.

What can guide your decision? Ask yourself: What coaching action—my active contribution, my silence, or a blend—will help the rep move further along the Situational Readiness curve from low competence to high self-reliance?

Just as your successful sales reps pre-call plan, we encourage to think through and plan your contribution to the call.


When you decide that supportive silence is the best way to coach, imagine there is a side-line between you and the rep: she is standing in the field of play; you are on the side-lines. She can play; you can’t.

In athletics it’s a sideline or something similar. In music a conductor leads from the dais. In stage acting, only actors occupy the stage during a performance. What if sales leaders could imagine a similar sideline during certain office visits?

Sure, during practice or rehearsal the line is nonexistent. In practice coaches are on the field whispering in the players’ ears, sometimes demonstrating specific actions. During the performance, however, this line is strictly enforced. However, they can still see the performance.


Mustering the strength to plan ahead and create a sideline during a sales call is a great first step, but the power and impact ultimately comes from consistent application.

If you don’t create a habit of staying behind the curtain in appropriate situations, the impact on performance will never come. And that hurts the business and the representative’s development!

For more thoughts on consistency and sales success, check out this post.

Let’s return to the Hollywood version of the Pentagon meeting. We can’t be sure if Admiral Greer determined prior to the Joint Chiefs briefing that he was going to remain silent and let his star analyst express his unconventional opinions.

But it’s fun to consider how any of us as coaches—when the situation calls for it—can intentionally remain silent and let our players play. Even if the result is a bump on the nose.

When we do, the learning will be theirs.

What is your favorite method for determining whether to actively contribute or remain silent during joint office visits? Leave us a comment below!

And don’t forget to download your FREE eBook of Parts 1&2 along with a manager self assessment and discussion guide by clicking on the banner below and signing up for the Sales Leader Gear blog!


Until next time,

Dave and Tom

WARNING: Are you a Sales Leader or Super Rep?

5 reasons sales leaders act more like super reps than coaches

It’s my pleasure to share that this post was written collaboratively with leadership coach and trainer Tom Ori, owner of Next Level Performance.  I’m confident you’ll get as much from reading it as I did from working on it with Tom.  Enjoy!

Super Dads

My daughter has been working with a softball pitching coach, Sue, for nearly a year. I quickly learned that the fast-pitch involves a complex set of coordinated mScreen Shot 2016-01-19 at 11.00.11 PMovements and that I’m officially out of my instructional league.

Anyway, Sue kicks off each session by asking my daughter how the week went, looking for feedback on practice time and game action.

She always asks my daughter directly, who often responds like a typical 12-year old: nervous stumbling, no eye contact and lots of “likes.”

So, like all Super Dads – I jump in to set the record straight and get things rolling in the right direction.

Until this happened.

“Thanks Dad, but I asked her. SHE needs to be able to tell me how she’s doing.”


Did I mention that Sue was an excellent coach? 🙂

The District Manager Super Rep

If you’re a pharmaceutical district sales manager (DM) or front line leader (FLL) this scenario might seem familiar to you.

You have audience with a healthcare provider, the representative you’re working with engages in a conversation and the next thing you know you’ve assumed control of the dialogue and CRUSH IT!

After all, you’ve won 3 President’s Club awards, know the PI like you wrote it and can develop rapport in your sleep. That’s how you rose to the ranks of DM! And it’s great for the folks on the team to see what good (well…great, maybe) looks like – right?

Right. Wrong. Maybe both. This begins the debate of the District Manager Super Rep.

Let’s start with a clear acknowledgment: in certain situations it is entirely desirable for a DM to show up actively during a sales call with a representative. It can be downright weird at times when you don’t. However, the decision around call participation needs to be ultimately driven by two concepts:

  • AWARENESS: DMs need to be highly conscious of where, when and how they get involved in customer conversations
  • INTENTIONALITY: DMs need to use time in front of customers intentionally to drive the development of the representative they’re with – including possibly jumping in and participating

Today, we’ll focus on AWARENESS and diagnosis of the super-rep phenomenon. In Part 2 of the blog next week, we will explore some actionable strategies for getting highly INTENTIONAL with our involvement.

The 5 D’s of Awareness

Here are 5 common reasons that may cause you, the DM, to put on your Super Rep cape during a field coaching ride day and some questions to ask yourself:

  1. Don’t even know: Let’s start simple – you might not even know how often you’re jumping in and taking over calls.
    Q:  Are you aware of how frequently you actively sell when standing next to a representative?
  2. Desire: You love to sell and you’re great at it. Something about being in that moment comes over you and jumping in is just primal instinct.
    Q:  Is your desire to develop your sales representative as great as your desire to sell?
  3. Drive Sales: As a manager, you’re ultimately responsible (and financially incentivized) for hitting your goals and every moment in front of a customer is important.
    Q:  Ask yourself at the end of a field ride, ‘How have I contributed to the rep’s task-level confidence / commitment so THEY can better drive the business?’ (Situational LeadershipÔ)
  4. Discomfort: It can be entirely awkward to stand silently next to a representative and act like an observer.
    Q:  How comfortable are you with being an observer and allowing the representative to own the sales call?
  5. Development: Depending on a representative’s level of development, jumping in and modeling a selling skill might be a highly effective coaching strategy.
    Q:  For your >6 month-experience reps, how often do you intentionally create a vacuum for them to fill?

Do any of these questions resonate with you?

I’ve personally had all of them influence my involvement on sales calls at one point or another in my leadership career.

What other influences are at play when it comes to your involvement on sales calls with your team?

Use the comments section below to share your thoughts. We’ll grab some of your insights and address them directly.

In the next article, we’ll pick up this conversation and share some actionable strategies to help make sure that you’re getting the most out of your involvement on sales calls INTENTIONALLY for the benefit of your team and your business.

Until next time,

Tom and Dave


PS:  If you found this useful – we’d be grateful for a share!  Just use the social sharing buttons above to show the love on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn…we appreciate it!

Beyond the Book: Talk Like TED by Carmine Gallo


Everyone has an idea worth sharing.


If you’re in sales leadership – sharing ideas, information and direction is basically what you do for a living, right?

That is why I was so excited to read Carmine Gallo’s WSJ Best Seller, Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds.

Even if we’re not formally “on stage” – we are routinely in situations that require strong communication of an idea or message:

  • Customer sales calls
  • Coaching conversations
  • POA meetings
  • Conference calls
  • Sales training events

Talk Like TED delivers amazing insights, gleaned from analysis of the most viewed TED Talks of all time, that are as applicable in these situations as they are on the big stage.

Rather than provide a play-by-play review of Talk Like TED (…there have been many of those already written, all better than I could ever do), I’ll share what I’m going to change after having read thUnknowne book.  Taking things “BEYOND THE BOOK.”

(See what I did there? :))

After all, that’s the goal of investing time in reading great

From there, you can decide if any of the information is useful for you or if you’d like to read it for yourself!


Gallo’s research is broken down into 3 main sections in the book and powerfully demonstrates that effective presentations are…

I.  EMOTIONAL: They touch my heart

The 3 secrets revealed in this section of the book revolve around the premise that ideas have real impact when delivered at an emotional level using expert passion, stories and a conversational tone.

Sound like the last conference call you were on?


MY CHANGE: Use more stories. Gallo dissects numerous TED Talks where the presenters used 3 kinds of stories: personal stories, stories about other people and stories about brands that captured the audience at a truly emotional level.

COOL INSIGHT: Researchers have discovered that hearing stories activates language, sensory, visual and motor areas of the brain and can create a “sync-up” or “brain-to-brain coupling” between the speaker and listener.

That’s how ideas spread.

EXAMPLE: Check out this TED Talk by Bryan Stevenson who spent 65% of his 18 minutes telling stories.

II.  NOVEL: They teach me something new

The 3 secrets revealed in this section of the book suggest that ideas have real impact when they teach the audience something new, deliver a jaw-dropping moment and are lightened with humor.

MY CHANGE: Look for and deliver jaw-dropping moments.  OK, that might sound a little over zealous for a sales guy, but opportunities exist to “wow” any audience. Examples from book show that the best presentations contain some kind “emotionally charged event” that the audience remembers long after the interaction is over.

COOL INSIGHT: Molecular scientist John Medina is quoted in the book as saying that “emotionally charged events persist longer in our memories and are recalled with greater accuracy than neutral memories.”

Sounds like the primary goal of all we do in communicating ideas!

EXAMPLE: Check out this TED Talk by Bill Gates from 2009 whose use of an emotionally charged event – releasing “a swarm” of mosquitos – had incredible power.

III.  MEMORABLE: They present content in ways that I’ll never forget

The last 3 secrets shared in the book include data on the ideal length of presentations, taking a multi-sensory approach and the power of authenticity.

MY CHANGE: Always take a multi-sensory approach. It’s so easy to pull a bunch of slides together with data and bullet points and assume that’s enough to communicate an idea – but Gallo’s analysis suggests it’s not. Pictures, videos, props, demonstrations, text – and mixtures of them all – is what gains attention and has power.

COOL INSIGHT: Dr. Richard Mayer, professor of psychology at UC Santa Barbara, shares research insight in the book suggesting that students exposed to multisensory experiences ALWAYS (not sometimes…) have better recall of information than those who only read or hear it.

Finding ways to have an audience hear, see, smell, touch, move is a MUST if you want your idea to stick.

EXAMPLE: Check out this TED Talk by Michael Pritchard, which has been viewed over 3 million times, who uses a masterful multisensory approach to communicate his message.


Talk Like TED was a great read and just filled with highly actionable ideas – the mark of a great book for me.  I recommend it highly and you can grab a copy just about anywhere…I snagged mine off Amazon.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this topic, so leave a comment here.

Or if you’ve already read the book, what did you think?

Now…go spread your ideas.  (And if you liked this post – please spread the word by sharing it!)


In 2016 STOPPING might be your best START


I love this week leading up to a new year.

Lots of family time, an opportunity to reflect on another year in the books and a chance to map out a fresh start.

A real emphasis on personal leadership.  Deep. 🙂

If you’re anything like me, this process always ends up with lots of things to START doing.

  • Start working out X days a week
  • Start reading more
  • Start that thing I’ve been putting off

This is important because there are ALWAYS worthwhile actions to start implementing in a new year to achieve more.  My plan for 2016 has plenty of “starts” that I’m pretty pumped up about.

But what about STOPPING?

Think about it.

You know you just got a present (or a bunch of presents…) over the Holidays and went to put it in that drawer, closet or garage only to say to yourself – “where the heck am I supposed to put this?!”

You end up with two choices that have vastly different outcomes:

  1. Cram it in so that it (or the other stuff in there) never gets used or
  2. Throw some crap out so you can focus on what you’ll actually use

This idea plays itself out in our goal setting efforts too… and it’s time to throw stuff out.

Time to STOP.

I just went through this really enlightening online tool developed by Michael Hyatt that allows you to map out all 365 days of your year out against a revenue goal to see not only where your STARTS fit…but where you need to STOP doing less important things.

My report?

Once I punched all my actions in, the tool said that I needed an extra 35 days in 2016 to accomplish my goals.  Yikes.

I have some work to do around STOPPING some less important things for the New Year to make sure I focus on the stuff that matters most.

How about you?

As you embark on your own goal setting journey for 2016, or reflect on those goals you’ve already set, think long and hard about what you need to STOP to make it all work.

Best wishes for a truly remarkable 2016,


PS:  If you’re still looking for a proven plan for setting strong goals in 2016, my buddy John Crowley is launching 7 Steps to Master Your Destiny today – a step-by-step guide to help define and achieve your biggest goals…check it out!



4 Mistakes Sales Leaders Make Measuring Performance

4 Mistakes

“How do they KNOW that?”

My 9-year old son asked me this question recently as the color commentator for an NFL football game on TV shared some crazy statistic about how the team had a losing record playing on Thursday nights, on real grass fields, against left-handed quarterbacks whose last names have more than 2 syllables.

Or something like that.

It was a moment of awareness for him (and an important reminder for me…) that we live in an age of measurement and data.

This is certainly true for folks leading and coaching teams in pharmaceutical sales.

Having spent time seeing this develop and play out from multiple angles over the last 15 years, here are 4 common mistakes that pharma leaders (myself very much included…) make when measuring the performance of their sales teams:

  1. They don’t

Wait, what? Even with the flood of tools, technology and opportunity out there, some leaders simply aren’t measuring the performance of their sales teams in response to coaching efforts.

It’s easy to let happen.

I’ve written my share of “action items” on field coaching reports and performance reviews which have had zero chance of success because there was no effort made to structure them in a way that could be measured.

That’s a miss.

  1. Use Sales Results Only

This one might get me in a little bit of trouble, but I’m willing to go there. Measuring the impact of coaching solely on the basis of sales results in most pharma markets is impossible to do.

Most individuals operate as part of a geographic pod team and share responsibility for product sales.

And unlike other industries, sales data is derived in part (because it has to be…) from algorithmic projection and with difficult to track influences such as mail order fulfillment and other managed care dynamics fogging the mirror.

So yes, it’s sales and delivering on goals is critical – but the reality is, behaviors and skills drive this success and THEY need to be measured first.

  1. Measure The Wrong Things

Every representative is different and should be coached according to their individual needs.

[“Wow – how insightful, Dave” :)]

Most leaders get that and try to employ some form of situational coaching or leadership. The issue arises when it comes to measurement.

Everyone is getting coached on a situational or behavioral basis – and yet we measure the same stuff across the whole team (test scores, call metrics, activity)…so we end up looking at data on the wrong things.

Well intended, but a mistake.

  1. Don’t Do Anything With It

OK, so lets assume some data has actually been collected…and maybe it’s even the RIGHT data.

The most damaging mistake a leader can make is to do nothing with the insights we have.

Maybe the data is in a difficult format to understand. Maybe there’s too much of it. Maybe your body simply freezes up when Excel app opens up. Maybe you’re just really stinkin’ busy. Every one of those has paralyzed me at some point.

No matter what the challenge is – not DOING something with the data you have is a missed opportunity to help your team get better.

The reality is, it takes courage and a degree of creativity or know-how to measure the performance of a sales team.

Courage because you might not like what you learn from your analysis and you’ll have to respond accordingly with your coaching efforts.

And creativity / know-how because measuring coaching efforts around certain competencies and behaviors can be difficult to do.

But it’s worth the effort.

Curious where you might fall relative to some of these mistakes and where a place to start improving might be? Try a quick exercise in the week ahead as the year winds down:

Go back to your last 2-3 field ride-along reports, check out your coaching action items and ask these 3 simple questions:

  • Is there any kind of measurement approach in place for the prescribed coaching plan?
  • If there is, does it actually attempt to measure the behaviors you’re looking to impact?
  • If you’ve collected data from that plan, how have you followed up and what will you do next to help your representative improve?

Would love to hear any comments you have on this topic!

What are your thoughts on measuring coaching efforts with a sales team? What has worked for you?



I hope you fail this week (seriously)

I hope you

I hope you fail this week.  Seriously.

Think about it, when was the last time you failed as a manager?  And I don’t mean forgetting to submit an expense report or missing a “coachable moment” with someone on your team.  I’m talking about a good, old fashioned belly flop.

If you’re having trouble thinking of something, that’s probably not a good thing.

Like many highly regulated industries, pharmaceutical sales leadership is an easy place to:  find a safe speed, throw the car into cruise control and just roll on for extended periods of time.

Maybe forever.

This can be a pretty comfortable place to hang out, too.  The magical metric generator spits out reports that say you’re doing great, you’re “off the radar” and your performance is right there in the fat part of the bell curve.

Comfy, right?   Everything is awesome… (Check out this quick clip of Emmet from The Lego Movie “following the instructions” and I think you’ll get the idea!)

Emmett follows directions

But let’s face it, that’s not where the special moments happen.

That’s NOT where we truly motivate, inspire and lead our teams to accomplish incredible things in their professional and personal lives.

The magic of leadership happens when we decide to try something new that just might fail.  Fall flat on its face.  Might even expose us to a little criticism or chuckling in the back of the room.

In fact, if we’re doing it right, we WILL fail.


People will think we’re weird, crazy or at least wonder why the heck we’ve left the cozy confines of the easy way.  It’s worth it.

  • Deciding NOT to do the same old field ride, the same old way
  • Giving that presentation the way you REALLY want to and leaving the slide whipping to someone else
  • Having the courage to try that new sales initiative that’s a little off the grid

Our teams are counting on us to do this because when we’re willing to FAIL – we’re willing to WIN.  To help them WIN.  Because out of the pile of misses will come a huge hit – the kind of transformational effort that will really make a difference.

When we don’t take chances, we might not lose but we certainly won’t win.  That goes for sales performance, your next POA meeting and the development of the folks you work with.

So…where will you fail this week?

Until next time,



15 Habits to Supercharge your Field Coaching Days (Part III: Habits 11-15)

Part III Title Graphic

While we find ourselves at the beginning of yet another school year, we are coming to the end of our 3-part series around 15 habits to help supercharge pharmaceutical field coaching days (insert sarcastic “awwwww” and #sadface here.) 🙁

I truly hope you’ve picked up something useful from each post – I know it’s given me a lot to reflect on.

We’ll finish up our discussion starting at #11 this week and work our way to the end of the list.   As a reminder, these practical habits come directly from some of the best pharmaceutical district managers I know, taken right from the field and delivered in this post.

Some of my thoughts are sprinkled in as well.

For a refresh of habits 1-5, simply click here and for habits 6-10, click here.

Let’s get right to it.

  1. Get up early with purpose
  2. Morning workouts
  3. New meeting spot
  4. Wipe the slate clean
  5. Tailor the day
  6. Review prior coaching reports/e-mails:
  7. Set Clear Goals
  8. Slow Down
  9. Learn on the commute
  10. Put your phone down (Be present)

Habit 11 headerIt might not be tagged as the most fun part of a field coaching day (for either party…), but the habit of practicing relevant skills with the folks on your team is without question a powerful way to generate results.

The concept of “deliberate practice” from the book Talent is Overrated by Geoff Colvin was brought to my attention by a friend and DM in New England as support for developing this habit.  It makes total sense and the most successful people in their field are relentless in their practice.  We should be no different here in pharmaceutical sales land.

Drop the formality and unrealistic stiffness of traditional “role playing” and just take the time to practice with your team!

Habit 12 HeaderThere could probably be some healthy discussion on this one but I’m a firm believer that DMs should actively (but appropriately) participate in the sales conversation with customers during a field coaching day.

Being the dude holding an invisible clipboard, staring silently over the shoulder of a sales representative makes everyone uncomfortable, drains energy from the day and brings little value to the table.

I accept that there are times when taking a backseat is necessary for coaching purposes but a truly energized day unfolds when the DM and representative feel like a TEAM working toward the mutual goal of serving the customer.

And it’s less creepy. 🙂

Habit 13 headerThis one is very much related to habit #8 from last week (Slow Down) shared by Tony Ramy from New Hampshire.

I remind my team regularly that my goal is to help them succeed in business and in life…NOT check the box on having done a field ride so I can write a coaching report.

That said, intentionally carving time into each field ride for a discussion of personal and professional development is a habit that can supercharge a field coaching day.  It keeps the focus squarely on the person you’re with and ensures that they have every opportunity to achieve their goals.

Not to mention, it makes for a much easier mid-year and year-end evaluation process…for everyone.

Habit 14 headerSales leadership doesn’t need to be all sunshine and rainbows, but DMs who have a habit of staying positive, building up and encouraging the folks on their team create supercharged field coaching days.

Tom Rath, in his book How Full is Your Bucket?, uses this analogy to describe this idea beautifully, “Each of us has an invisible bucket. It is constantly emptied or filled, depending on what others say or do to us. When our bucket is full, we feel great. When it’s empty, we feel awful.”

A full bucket means a great day in the field.

So fill it.

Habit 15 header OK – debate me on whether or not this is an actual habit but it is SO worth including to wrap-up this list either way.

The most sure-fire strategy for creating supercharged field coaching days?  Make sure the right people are on your team.

A DM from Massachusetts shared this one with me and it really makes sense.  Invest the time in hiring positive, hungry  and hard-working folks and awesome days in the field are sure to follow.

For more insights into the ideal healthcare sales candidate, check out this post from my friend John Crowley and be sure to follow his work – he’s on point.

So there you have it…15 Habits to Supercharge your Field Coaching Days!

I hope there was at least 1 idea included in this series that challenged you to think (and ultimately act) differently in order to make the most of the time you have in the field with your team.

I’m also hopeful that this isn’t the END of a discussion, but rather the BEGINNING of an on-going dialogue in which we can all continue to learn from each other.

Please leave a comment with your thoughts!  What habits have you decided to implement in your field coaching process?  What OTHER habits do you think supercharge days in the field?

Special thanks are in order for Tony Ramy, Steve Soderlund, Amy Parillo, Alan Bundy, Kevin Holtz, Brian Mastrianni, Lisa Angwin, Wendy Keppy and Ian Aisenberg…all excellent DMs whose ideas and insights were used in this series.  I’ve learned a ton from you all and appreciate the help!  The same can be said for many other great leaders who have influenced me over the years…keep up the inspiring work!

Until next time,


15 Habits to Supercharge your Field Coaching Days (Part II: Habits 6-10)

Habits Part 2 Title Graphic

Welcome back!  If you thought Moe (our family’s English Bulldog, first introduced in this video) didn’t care for going outside, just image how thrilled he is when it’s time to take a bath.  That’s him in the tub pictured above.  Not amused.

This week we pick up our discussion of 15 habits that can supercharge pharmaceutical sales field coaching days at #6.

As a reminder, these practical habits come directly from some of the best pharmaceutical district managers I know, taken right from the field and delivered in this post.  Some of my thoughts are sprinkled in as well.

If you’d like a refresh of habits 1-5, simply click here to check out last week’s post.

Let’s get right to it.  My hope is that you’ll find just ONE habit from this list that will inspire an adjustment to your approach and help you create a wildly successful team.

  1. Get up early with purpose
  2. Morning workouts
  3. New meeting spot
  4. Wipe the slate clean
  5. Tailor the day

Habit 6 header

While this one seems obvious, I think we can all check our ego at the door and admit to times when we’ve arrived for a ride day less than optimally prepared.

A DM from New York pointed out to me that his habit of reviewing at least the last 2-3 field coaching reports, and even scanning through recent e-mail communications, has helped him stay focused on his team’s needs and create true progress / continuity in his travel days.

What caught me on this one was the word “review.”

We all have a system that captures ride along information – and we might even LOOK at it – but are we really reviewing it and carrying actions forward?

I can do better on this one.

PS:  a cool new technology built for pharmaceutical DMs to capture, track and measure their field coaching interactions recently hit he market.  Slick iPad app with an awesome visual interface and loads of useful tools – check it out here if you geek out on that stuff!

Habit 7 header

This is another core habit that can easily slip away in the craziness of day-to-day life but was mentioned by several excellent DMs.

Imagine just how supercharged a field ride can be if you’re working together with your team, getting things done and achieving real goals!

This a great place to get creative because you can develop fun, interesting and useful goals in the most difficult part of any territory – but, you have to develop the habit of DOING IT.

A DM in Connecticut put it this way,

“Having a common goal that you are working on together alongside the rep you’re working with tends to make the days more productive and fun.”

That’s the idea, right?

Habit 8 header

This habit comes from a DM in New Hampshire and could easily apply to life in general but is an excellent reminder for field coaching days.

“I was driving 75 MPH down Interstate 89 just wanting to get home.  At some point my attention was drawn to the right and the beautiful, snow-capped Green Mountains.  I had driven on this stretch of road dozens of times but had never really taken note of the beauty that was around me.  This is when the thought came over me:  ‘Am I asking my team to drive 75 MPH? And what are they missing because of it?’”

He has since created the habit of carving time out of EVERY FIELD RIDE, at least 60 minutes, to slow down and simply focus on what is important to the person he’s working with.

Literally anything.  Period.

He calls it “Coffee with the Coach.”

Make mine a Venti, please 🙂

Habit 9 header

This one comes from me and stems from a blog post I wrote a few weeks ago that you can check out here.

The bottom line for me is this:  when I spend my commute listening to and learning from motivational content I am ALWAYS in a great mood and ready to have an awesome field ride.

My creativity level rises and I’m engaged in the coaching process more than ever.  So, I’ve developed the habit of turning off the sports radio (…tough during football season, not going to lie) and listening to a podcast or audio book playlist that supercharges my day.

Click here to download an overview of what I’m listening to right now.

Habit 10 header

This habit from a DM in New Jersey punched me right in the gut because I have BAD habits here.   Here is how she describes her habit of handling the phone during a field coaching day:

“I set times throughout the day to make phone calls to the team either in the morning or afternoon and also set up time in the day to check emails or text messages.  I make the team or representative aware of those times.”

This process of chunking or scheduling time with the phone for communication is so powerful and can help increase engagement and energy.

I’m guilty of snagging my phone between sales calls and firing off a message or two – and in those moments I am not present.

Not fair.

Our teams deserve our attention on field rides and the habit of scheduling time with our phones can help that big time!

So there you have it – 5 more field-tested habits from district managers out there who are making it happen each day.

Any of these smack you around the way #10 did for me personally?  Have you given thought to putting any of habits 1-5 into practice?  Have any other habits you’d contribute to the list?

If so – please let me know in the comments section.  I’m eager to learn from you.

Until next week,