Don Brockway
18 Sills Ct.
Centerport, NY 11721

Excerpt Four:
Post-Merger Field Force Re-Alignment
Don Brockway, speechwriter

"Welcome to Disney World, and P.S.,
we’re announcing a major realignment"

Orlando is the “home of the theme park,” and these days, there are usually two entrances to the rides: the normal one, which offers slow progress toward the objective, and the “Fast Pass” entrance – at Universal, they call it “Universal Express” – where there’s no waiting at all. Park-goers who plan well (and plan ahead) use these new systems to get where they want to go, and do what they want to do, far more effectively and expeditiously than “their competition.”

The result of most industry mergers and acquisitions puts the new company at the end of “the slow line.” Now that we have the numbers for our first quarter ’05 performance, we know without question that the plan and strategy used to create this company are succeeding.

A big piece of that strategy was to hand out “Fast Passes” to the field organization. We were upfront about this decision in our initial communications with the entire organization – we said that in order to preserve value and maintain momentum, we would do everything in our power to minimize the effects of integration on the field. Now, much of the integration is complete in the home office, and we’re better prepared to address change within the field organization.

You may remember… the last time we were here in Orlando together, I quoted Walt Disney, who said that “it’s kind of fun to do the impossible.” The challenges we face in “fine-tuning our field structure” are far from impossible… so, reasoning backwards from Disney… they may not be fun.

But our goal is to “pull things together,” not tear them apart… and we’re now in a much better position to do that than we would have been… had field integration taken place simultaneously with home office integration. What changes we undertake, we undertake with an eye toward an even more successful future. At a time when many companies are scaling back on field personnel, we’re expanding, and it is this expansion which is at the heart of the “fine-tuning of our field structure.”

There are good reasons that other companies in our industry are pulling back. And there are good reasons we’re pushing forward.

We’re increasing the size of our primary care field forces, creating a new neurology field force. In some cases, we’re re-aligning the geography and deployment of certain existing forces… in anticipation of significant new opportunities.

We’re doing what we need to do in order to be correctly positioned when [our new product] comes to market… when [a second new product] is launched… and when additional products currently in late-stage development are ready to enter the marketplace. I’m convinced that whatever discomfort and displacement we may experience over the next few months will be more than compensated by our enhanced ability to succeed in the near-term future.

We’re “on-schedule” with our NDA filing for [product one]. Should we be placed on the fast-track for approval – and that’s a decision that’s entirely the FDA’s – [product one] could conceivably be approved by the end of this year. If the FDA doesn’t give us fast-track status, we’ll be looking at a launch in mid-2007. We’re going to need to “scale-up” field presence, and how that takes place depends – to some extent – on the outcome of [pending litigation].

It’s highly ironic that – in a business where you really can’t take anything for granted – you need always to plan, and to proceed, based on the assumption of success.

If you’re in R&D, you treat every new investigational compound as if it were the next blockbuster… until the moment the research proves you wrong. If you’re in marketing, you’re not only mapping out product strategy long before FDA approval… you’re also creating product training and promotional materials before official labeling exists. If you get lucky, you make last minute revisions… rather than head back to the drawing board to start over.

What you don’t do… in this industry… is “wait and see.”

In field sales, moving forward while maintaining flexibility is essential. But it’s problematic, because you’re dealing in relationships that have value. These range from the relationships between reps and their customers, reps and first-line leaders… all the way up to organizational relationships between the field organization and specific product marketing teams… and the field organization and specific geographies. We recognized these relationships and worked to maintain them when [the two companies] first joined forces.

Now, even where transitions are necessary, as we seek to optimize our field configuration to maximize our ability to capture upcoming opportunities … we’ll work to maintain the excellence you’ve established. This is the excellence that made it possible for our Head of Operations to say, as he did a month ago today, in a teleconference with Wall Street analysts… “We have delivered what we promised.”


- - - © 2007 Jeff E. Winner