In this episode of the CSI Specialty Pharmacy Podcast, Brian Maxon, director of sales and training for CSI Specialty Group, shares how sales training and intentional follow up have doubled referrals for one specialty pharmacy.
During this 25-minute episode, Brian is joined by Max, and Crystal, two specialty pharmacy sales representatives, to share how the training has helped them overcome challenges in the field, increase sales, and skyrocket bonus pay.
Tune in to Discover:
- Tips to increase sales, overcome obstacles, and build a winning strategy
- How you can maximize sales without expanding (and even reducing) your salesforce
- Vital takeaways from specialty pharmacy sales training
- How CSI facilitates real-world implementation and structure after CSI University training
About Brian Maxon
Brian Maxon is a highly accomplished Sales, Sales Training, and Territory Development Specialist with over 20 years of experience. Brian brings a wealth of knowledge to CSI Specialty Group backed by his years spent with Pharma companies Wyeth, Pfizer and Takeda, and in Nutraceuticals with Metagenics and Designs for Health in various Sales and Sales Management roles.
Brian has strategically developed territory alignment solutions in his previous roles as well as more recently and successfully for CSI clients. His years of real-world field experience compliment his dedication to bringing the best solutions to the table. Brian is also an expert in field reconnaissance initiatives to vet and capitalize on undeveloped opportunities. His field recommendations have been integral in assessing opportunities and executing on critical business decisions for our clients.
About CSI Specialty Group
CSI Specialty Group is a globally recognized leadership consulting firm dedicated to providing solutions that continually elevate the specialty pharmacy industry and improve the patient journey. By providing inventive consulting, workforce planning and talent acquisition solutions, we uniquely tailor our service offerings to help clients drive sustainable, accelerated growth.
As the producer of the industry’s first dedicated podcast for specialty pharmacy and the publisher of the Annual State of Specialty Pharmacy Report, CSI is at the forefront of pioneering innovative concepts to meet the changing needs of specialty pharmacy, home infusion, mail order/PBM, health systems and pharma/biotech clients across the USA and throughout Europe.
For more information about CSI Specialty Group, visit www.CSIgroup.net.
About CSI University
CSI University is the industry’s leading online training platform specific to specialty pharmacy sales professionals.
After years of conducting successful on-site training, CSI University’s online sales training course offers groundbreaking, cutting-edge and on-demand training to new and existing sales representatives of specialty pharmacies. The program is built from the ground-up to ensure individuals and entire sales teams are ready and able to take their game to the next level and optimize sales to expand their company’s foundation in the ever-changing marketplace.
Speaker 1: Welcome to the Specialty Pharmacy Podcast, your prescription for specialty pharmacy success.
Brian Maxon: Hello and thanks for listening to today’s podcast from CSI Specialty Group. This is Brian Maxon, Director of Sales and Training with CSI. And today I’m excited to come back to you again with some more live updates from the field, with a couple of sales reps, excuse me, that I’ve been working with over the past year, to help them not only in a CSI University Sales Training, but as well as to help them in the field for the last six months or so on a management basis to help improve and grow their business. I’ve talked to you a few times before about a couple of these programs, but again, so I’m director of sales and training with CSI Specialty Group and a couple of the main areas that I focus on are number one, our CSI University program, which is a really great program for anyone in the industry that’s looking for training and or education.
Brian Maxon: The CSI University platform offers value to those looking to understand the industry at a lot of different levels and there are two different platforms to do this. We have an online training program which is really a great, learn as you go option, for those who maybe don’t have the time to sit in a live training class for a couple days. Or, for those folks that maybe work remotely and don’t have the opportunity to come into an office setting where they can sit in on a live training. That’s a great program for someone who needs to take their time. Nice 101 level training for somebody, either new entering specialty pharmacy sales, or even a more veteran sales person that just needs a refresher.
Brian Maxon: And then the second part to CSI University, which is a really great program, is our live in person training program where we’ll come out for, a few days over a week and actually do a live classroom training program, teaching best practices and everything there really is to know, to help improve your sales organization’s performance. And that’s usually done over, again, two or three days in a classroom. And then we follow that up with some live field time to reinforce some of those learnings, and it’ll help your team move forward from there.
Brian Maxon: So those are some of the things we do and then one of the things that we also have done is contract sales. Where if you either don’t have a sales force now, or maybe you’re looking to grow into a new territory, even a new disease state, you can look to CSI to help you with a contract sales program. Where for various different periods of time, whether it be a one year program and other customizable needs, we can actually send a certified CSI University salesperson out into your territory and actually develop business for you. And not only as a sales rep, but if you are also struggling in the area of managing your sales team, we can help you in that regard, too.
Brian Maxon: So that’s what brings me to my podcast today. I’m excited to work with you and again get some live updates from the field, from a couple of the sales reps that I’ve been working with for the past year in the Mid-Atlantic region of the US. So today I’m going to be talking to you with both Max and Crystal. Two sales reps I’ve been working with who have been through, from the beginning have been through CSI University Sales Training online as well as the live training session and follow up meetings, post-training.
Brian Maxon: And then that’s all, this project has also turned into something where I’ve come out and helped be the sales manager for the team for the past six, seven months. Again, help reinforce those things that we’ve done over time, as well as a lot of other things we’ve helped implement within the pharmacy to help improve their sales. So without further ado, I’m going to come back to you in a second here with Max and we’re going to just talk about a few of his experiences and we’re excited to talk to you today. Thanks.
Brian Maxon: So I’m back live in the field with one of the representative, Max, from the pharmacy we’re working with. Max, thanks for taking some time today to join us on the podcast while we’re out in the field. It’s always fun to do these reports live, very informal, but if you would real quick, maybe just give us a little brief overview of your background. And then also, if you would just talk about maybe where you see the state of the pharmacy prior to starting to work with CSI and our sales training program, that’d be great.
Max: Yeah, sure. Thanks, Brian. So yeah, my name’s Max. I’ve been with the pharmacy now for about five years. I had actually very little sales experience before coming on board. The little bit I had was selling tourist videotapes to people that were going on tour boats down in Mexico. I was terrible at it, but I was convinced to come on with this pharmacy because they needed some help with some bilingual programs they were starting and that’s kind of how I got my foot in the door.
Brian Maxon: Great.
Max: We’ve been working in the biologics and Hep C arena for about, coming on almost five years now, and it’s been a bit of a roller coaster. We used to, we had a pretty big slice of revenue in the Hep C and gastro areas a couple years ago, and that had started to slow down as more people were being cured from the Gilead medications and, MAVYRET and such. And so, and then with the biologics we are doing pretty well until the insurance companies started kind of snagging those.
Brian Maxon: Yeah, they made things a little more difficult for the independents.
Max: Exactly. So once those contracts, the forced transfers started going into effect, we started seeing a slump in sales and what we’re keeping. And so, we kind of have tried a few different ways of targeting these different disease states, but we just were not, we weren’t increasing the business like we had wanted to.
Brian Maxon: Right. Okay. And I think that’s around the time possibly where your pharmacy engaged with CSI to see how maybe we can help stimulate the sales growth and things like that. So if you wouldn’t mind, take me back to, I guess it was back in July, this last summer when we went through CSI University Sales Training with you and the team. Just if you wouldn’t mind, tell me about your experience with that and maybe if you had a few key takeaways from that program.
Max: Yeah, yeah. So that was the beginning of July and there was four of us at that time and we were all kind of just trying to figure out what we needed to do. So when we met you guys, this is our first real formal training in terms of sales, in terms of specialty pharmacy. So it was pretty eye opening for us. We had kind of had this idea of sales embedded in us from a former … Our boss who was a sales manager, was a sales rep in big pharma beforehand.
Brian Maxon: Right.
Max: And so we, he kind of trained us in a certain mode, a way of thinking that mirrored pharma sales rep experience.
Brian Maxon: Yeah. That’s very common that happens.
Max: And I think that it kind of put us in a box, that we didn’t realize we were in until you guys came by. So that was, so what happened was we realized that there was a kind of different way of selling in terms of conversational selling and to preplan, post-call plan. A lot of stuff that we hadn’t really taken into consideration or been trained on before that. So that’s about three days intense course and it was extremely helpful, I think for all of us. We’d all got … A couple of us were brand new to some of those techniques and, and other ones like myself who thought we knew it all kind of learned some new tricks of the trade.
Brian Maxon: Yeah. And I remember, Max, a couple common things I heard from you and the team as we were ending the training. A couple of folks said, “Oh boy, where have you guys been over the last couple of years? I wish you around sooner.” So for those of you that are listening, maybe in a similar situation with your sales team, it’s never too late to kind of do things a little bit differently. Take a look, an inventory of what you’re doing and see if you can improve. So I did definitely notice that is a common theme from you guys.
Max: Yeah, absolutely. And in fact I was probably the most skeptical of our group because I had been doing, I’d been in this, these disease states kind of the longest. I think I just thought that I had kind of hit the ceiling on what there was to accomplish, and incorporating some of the things you guys taught me about, asking for the business, making sure that there’s the communication between the PA team and them. A whole litany of things that we just had taken for granted before. I mean it’s the proof’s in the pudding. Our business now, so that was back in July, it’s … We’ve almost doubled our number of referrals coming in. New prescriptions coming in on the biologic side. And that’s with half the sales force.
Brian Maxon: Yeah. And that’s great. And you kind of bring me to you … We’re kind of jumping ahead now as far as some of the questions I have, but which is great. So I kind of look at, so after we did sales training with your team, we then looked with leadership at your pharmacy to engage CSI, post CSI University to come out and help manage your sales team and create some structure and do some things.
Brian Maxon: So as we fast forward now, obviously we’ve gone down from four, even at one point maybe five territories, now we’re down to two well-defined territories and disease states, and reps are being really effective out there in the field. And as you mentioned, the numbers have had a nice increase in that time, even with fewer reps. So I think that’s a great testament to not only you guys as sales reps, but also taking all of the things that we tried to teach and implement in CSI university and actually using them in the field to help you be successful.
Brian Maxon: So, that’s great.
Max: And I think having the clarity and kind of mission statement in mind, now knowing what we need to be targeting is it’s helped us.
Brian Maxon: So Max, talk a little bit more about in the last six to eight months, maybe some of the different things we’ve maybe changed or implemented into your sales team to help you guys along with, just your regular sales activities and ask for the business. But what other process improvements have you seen?
Max: So one of the big ones for myself, and I think a couple of the other reps found this extremely helpful, was the emphasis on integrity. And not promising too much. So the initial urge is to go in there and tell them you can get them the world in order to get them to start using you, and then hope that they don’t ask for the world once they start. And so we were losing some business because of that. Once we started realizing what our limitations were and what our capacity was to help, we kind of integrated that into our sales pitch and that made a big difference for us. If you’re honest and open, you guys really trained that into us.
Brian Maxon: Yeah. And knowing what you do well and doing that consistently, right? Making sure that the consistent thing is a big thing.
Max: Yeah. That consistency was a big part of it I think. Having the same level of services and promoting that for all of our offices and for all the disease states was something else we learned from you guys.
Brian Maxon: Right.
Max: Yeah, the equitably divided territories where it was a big part of, there was no one holding any grudges against each other because now we have the same bonus structure, where we’re both getting more or less the same number of referrals.
Brian Maxon: And knowing your territory again allows you to, again, something that I talk about a lot in my experiences, having a very structured day-to-day routing. Right? So you know where you’re going to be this day, that day. It’s going to help. You can be on calling on these offices on a regular, consistent basis. Right?
Max: Yeah, absolutely. The call cycle that you guys introduced to us along with the routing design that you assisted with, that was big.
Brian Maxon: Yeah. So one other piece, too and just talk about, I know we implemented one other thing which was big that you guys didn’t have, and a lot of sales organizations have a CRM or client relationship management program. I know we did help, suggest to your pharmacy to start using salesforce.com to manage your daily activities and kind keep track of the progression of the sale with your clients. So just tell me about how that’s maybe impacted your day-to-day.
Max: Yeah, so first off, in terms of our route design, it’s allowed us to have a consistent consistent day-to-day, high number call cycle that keeps us, A, in touch with the offices so they can reliably count on us to come by on certain days of the week. But also, so we can really see what we’re doing is producing what. So we can kind of tell once we’ve made, “Oh, I’ve called in this office seven times now, on these days and they’ve been promising this and that and nothing’s coming through.” We can kind of start figuring out what we can drop and what we can focus on into our three week call cycle. The other thing that’s nice is having that salesforce.com is being able to keep a record of that on our phones and on the computers, so we can go back and see.
Brian Maxon: You can see that call continuum. Right?
Brian Maxon: Yeah.
Max: On top of having the notes that we keep whereas before, I’m jotting things down on our little pads, maybe losing them on occasion. I’m able to even read them. This allows that continuity on our, my daily call cycle.
Brian Maxon: Yeah. So your pharmacy investing in that CRM program has definitely had an impact.
Max: Oh, for sure. Sure.
Brian Maxon: Yeah, no, that’s awesome, Max. And I appreciate you taking this time out of the field to talk about these things, and I know you guys are going really in the right direction. And I’m looking forward to actually catching up tomorrow in the field with Crystal, and kind of getting her feedback on these things. But I really appreciate you taking time to talk with us today about some of these things. And if you have anything else you want to add, feel free.
Max: Yeah, no, you bet Brian. It’s my pleasure. The uncertainty of where our pharmacy was going was nerve wracking. And we really needed, whether it was some sort of leadership or someone to help guide the ship, and we do appreciate you guys coming on board.
Brian Maxon: Thank you very much. All right. And we’ll be back soon with updates in the field from Crystal. Thank you.
Brian Maxon: Okay, so I’m back in the field today with Crystal and it’s our second day of doing some live field updates. And I just wanted to, again, thank you for your time getting on this podcast today, Crystal, taking some time out of your day. I know it can be a little bit uncomfortable, but it’s really nice to get these live field updates and talk to folks that we’ve worked with in the past. So if you wouldn’t mind, just maybe tell us a little bit about your background and also tell me about your experience as you went through CSI University Sales Training in the summer. Any key takeaways or learnings that you had from that experience.
Crystal: Oh, thanks, Brian. So I started with the pharmacy about seven years ago and just started calling on accounts. I was given a list of accounts to call on. Really had no structure. They were like all over the place.
Brian Maxon: So you were just given a list of offers and just told to go get them.
Crystal: And just told to go get them. Really didn’t know what I was doing. I was pretty much just winging it, and surprisingly I was successful in doing that for a very long time. I don’t know how I survived as long as I did until CSI came along. When we were told that we were going to be doing a training with CSI, I must admit I was regretting the training. I was thinking that, “Okay, another one of these trainings where I got to sit in a room for three days and listen to the facilitators talk at me,” but it wasn’t like that at all. I had a great time. I learned a lot in the training. I learned things about myself that I didn’t know. Things in the field to help me succeed.
Crystal: CSI training was great. I feel more successful and more confident while when I’m out in the field calling on accounts. I’ve learned some key takeaways, like always asking for the business. I now have my own territory, so I have a little more structure now and more organized. And it’s just been awesome since I’ve gone through the training with CSI.
Brian Maxon: Yeah. And that’s great feedback, Crystal. And that’s one of the things we always try to … I let folks know when they’re considering some sort of sales training program is, this is a very real world program that’s updated regularly. We’re out there in the field regularly so we can adjust as things in the market change. But we really try to leave you with some skills and knowledge that you can use in the field. And we’re seeing that firsthand as, now as we fast forward a little bit since the CSI University training, your pharmacy has brought CSI in and myself to essentially help be your sales manager for the last six to seven months, and help kind of pull through some of these learnings and continue to progress.
Brian Maxon: So, as we talked yesterday, I won’t repeat too much, but we talked with Max about some of the things that we implemented where, we’ve actually, there’s fewer reps now, but you’ll have well-defined territory. So you own it. There’s a lot of accountability there, but you also reap all the rewards yourself because of that’s your territory and you’re doing the work. We also implemented a CRM program like salesforce.com so you can document your call history and notes and pre-call and post-call plan effectively. And so things like that, that we’ve done. So I kind of wanted to have you just talk and even personally for yourself, what you’ve seen as far as the results in your territory performance over the last six months, compared to what it was.
Crystal: Oh, yeah. Great. Yeah, so within the last six months Brian, I have noticed that my numbers have skyrocketed now. I’ve seen an increase in the scripts that we’re getting in the pharmacy. My bonus pay has increased tremendously.
Brian Maxon: That’s important.
Crystal: And yeah, absolutely. And one of the things that, that I really, really am so thankful for CSI, is introducing us to Salesforce. I don’t know how I made it this long without Salesforce. I am so more structured now. We call on multiple accounts during the week, during the day, and there’s no way. You have all these conversations and there’s no way you can remember every conversation that you have with each account. So Salesforce helps me. I could go back into Salesforce when I call on that account again, look at my notes to see if I needed to find something or did I have an additional conversation with the MAs or the PAs. It’s just been a great tool for me out in the field.
Brian Maxon: Yeah. And that’s great, Crystal and I appreciate all that information. As a sales person, and any of you salespeople that are out there listening, that’s one of the biggest thing is, “Hey, does this impact my paycheck?” Right? Your bottom line.
Brian Maxon: Not only is it helping the pharmacy and ultimately you’re helping patients, but as a salesperson, you’re being compensated for your work. And as we always talk about, if you can get better at what you’re doing in salesperson, that’s a great thing. And it’s those that are willing to take those extra steps and continuously evolve and get trained, you’re going to get better. So again, I appreciate you taking time to talk with us today and I definitely have enjoyed the last six, seven, eight months we’ve worked together and looking forward to continuing that.
Brian Maxon: And for those of you that are listening, if you don’t have a sales team now and you’re thinking about that, if you have a sales team that maybe needs some help and some structure and some training, or if you’re looking to look at somebody to maybe come in and be your sales team on a contract basis, whatever that might be, that’s all part of what CSI University and our contract sales training programs can help you with. And I hope we have the opportunity to work with many more of you in the future.
Brian Maxon: So again, thanks. Thanks for your time in the field and we’ll talk with you all again soon.
Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to the Specialty Pharmacy Podcast. If there’s anything we mentioned in today’s show you missed, don’t worry. We take the show notes for you at CSI group.net/podcast. If you’re not already a subscriber, please consider pressing the subscribe button on our podcast player so you never miss one of our future episodes. And if you haven’t given us a rating or a review on iTunes yet, please find a spare minute and help us reach and educate even more of our specialty pharmacy peers. The Specialty Pharmacy Podcast is a production of CSI Specialty Group, your go-to firm for all things specialty pharmacy. Thanks again for listening and we’ll catch you next time. Doctor’s orders.