Great Advice From Great Minds: EMD Serono Field Force Effectiveness Lead: Supercharge Skill Sets!

Tim Moore , U.S. Field Force Effectiveness Lead for EMD Serono, talks with Jill Donahue, Author, EngageRX

Tim Moore is U.S. Field Force Effectiveness Lead for EMD Serono, and he has a great attitude about how change happens. It’s not about focusing on deficits: it’s about looking at opportunities.

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How many people do you know who have had long careers in this industry at just two companies? Tim started at Eli Lilly as a sales rep, moved into sales training in neuroscience, and then to payer planning and strategy, district sales manager, payer marketing director, and Alzheimer’s platform payer marketing director. It was only after all those responsibilities that he moved on to EMD in 2015 as neurology and immunology payer marketing director and ultimately to his current role. After speaking with him, we would ascribe Tim’s tenure and rise to his thoughtfulness, tenaciousness and insight.

We caught up with Tim at the 2018 meeting of LTEN (Life Sciences Trainers and Educators Network) this past June in Phoenix. He’s a real change agent, and not afraid to challenge customs and practices. At Serono he was put in charge of sales training, but then changed the title of the department to Field Force Effectiveness, and for good reason. Training, he says, is an occasional thing. Effectiveness, on the other hand, is a system of continuous improvement.

What needed improving? That in itself was a major question. As Tim explains, Serono has a highly tenured and impressive sales force. When he first introduced the idea that they could do even better, he got some pushback. They were already doing pretty well. But that was where Tim’s view of opportunity vs. deficiency came into play. There was additional territory to be had, if only the company could assess the potential of its people.

The goal was to assess and optimize specific skill sets associated with being effective sales reps. It was based on data, which, as Tim says, doesn’t lie. To discover what the opportunities were, he knew he needed an impartial partner. Here’s how the plan progressed:

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Timothy Moore
  • Impartial partner: He brought in a vendor that helped define the needed skill sets. This avoided self-examination, which is often unreliable
  • Culture of accountability: This revolved around holding not just the reps, but also the DSMs account-able for assessing both skills and performance
  • Continual upgrading: Knowing what you could be doing better, and having a plan for achieving that. It’s not easy with a field force already performing well, but Tim’s attitude was that anyone can do better with a little insight and incentive
  • Dive into the data: This is what you might call evidence-based selling. If the data tells you something different than what you believe, question your beliefs
  • Teamwork: Have the coaches and the field force do independent assessments, and then compare them to see where the discrepancies are. This fosters a conversation about how to measure and track progress. Again, a third party helps bring an unbiased eye to the discrepancies. It’s what Serono calls the Platform for Growth
  • Score! Finally, developing a system for scoring both skills and progress gives everyone a way of looking at success in an agnostic way. It takes the personal out and puts the scientific in

Tim says he really valued his time as a DSM, which allowed him to form a trust relationship with his colleagues and help them develop themselves. He also subscribes to the patient-centric point of view, and says that it, too, requires work to achieve. “It’s easy to lose sight of the end goal, which is helping patients. As trainers, it’s up to us to stay true to that.” In pursuit of this, Serono has brought in patients to talk about their struggles, and how their disease state impacts their day-to-day activities and their families. They also launched an initiative specific to caregivers called Embracing Care, to help these caregivers help the patients.

Tim says that, in designing workshops and training, the key question should always be “How is this going to help the customer?” The mindset is “How would you want someone close to you to be treated?” What he appreciated about being at LTEN was that the natural competitiveness of salespeople is put aside, and they are there to learn from each other and share best practices. Many thanks to Tim for sharing his with us!

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Jill Donahue Principal, Excellerate

Author, Engage Rx: The 3 Keys to Patient-focused Growth

Co–founder, The Aurora Project

Jill, HBa, MAdEd, is a keynote speaker, author and thought leader who has authored two books on Influencing in patient-focused ways and co-founded The Aurora Project, a global patient-centricity group. She also serves as Associate Editor of Healthcare Sales & Marketing.