Tag Archives: layoffs

Salesmanship As We Know It

The first four years of All My Clones collected in a book now available at https://www.createspace.com/4166055

A spotlight centered on a microphone stand in the middle of the darkened stage.  A figure strode up to the microphone and spoke in a low rumble.  “Iron. Heavy.  Hemingway. Light.  Profound, isn’t it?”

The crowd of sales representatives went wild as Iron Hemingway took the stage and screamed through its one-hit wonder from 30 years ago.  The crowd danced and gyrated, even the reps who were born years after the band fell off the hit parade charts.

Rupert Madasheck inserted his earplugs as subtlely as he could and texted ‘Do they really like this stuff @ sales mtgs?’

Gamela Nuryandi looked at Rupert two feet away and at her team of sales reps on the dance floor.  She smiled and texted, ‘They luv this band!’  She added a few emoticons and hit Send.

Rupert frowned, shook his head, and texted back, ‘Do they realize most will be laid off 2morrow?’

Gamela put her hand over her mouth and nodded.  She texted, ‘Why not let them enjoy 1 last fling?’  She glanced out over the crowd, following some of the dancers as the band played its one hit for the seventh time.

Three hours later, Rupert and Gamela left the banquet hall and went into a conference room.  Rupert shut the door, fidgeted nervously, and asked, “Now that we can hear again, could I ask if you’ll have any sales force left over?”

Gamela groaned, sat down, and said, “Tomorrow I’ll lose 75% of them.  I wonder how many more will quit.  Can’t Research make more drugs?  We can sell anything but we need actual drugs to sell.  Now that we can’t spend anything on swag or gifts to physicians, we have plenty of budget left over.”

Rupert paced the room and growled.  “I blame the FDA.  Our drugs are fine as far as I know.  They haven’t killed anyone in clinical trials lately.  But now they complain about ‘efficacy’ and stuff like that.”

“I don’t understand much about all that,” Gamela confessed.  “After the FDA approves ‘em, we sell ‘em.  Someday could you explain how drugs get developed and approved?”

Rupert looked away at the closed conference room door and sighed.  “No, I don’t think so.  Remember I started out selling beauty supply products.”

Gamela leaned back in her chair.  “No!  Really?  How did you get from beauty supply to pharmaceuticals?”

Rupert sat down and leaned close.  “Reverse merger.[1]  I woke up and found myself CEO of a pharma company!”

“But now all my sales force will wake up and find themselves left out on the curb.  I still don’t understand why we need to cut back that much.”

“Your own sales people told you they were getting turned away at the door, right?” Rupert asked.

Gamela sighed.  “Yes, ever since that Dr. Evans spread the word about how to keep sales reps out of doctors’ offices.[2]  They don’t even take our notepads or laser pens any more.  They’d rather waste their time on seeing patients than get the information they really need.  What happens when the nation’s physicians are ignorant of our life-saving drugs and deplete their stock of Cappuccino Pharmaceuticals coffee mugs?”

“Think how bad it must be for all the other companies,” Rupert said.  “It’s not just sales forces, either.  The US pharma industry already laid off about 6400 people this year and it’s only June.”[3]

Gamela sobbed.  “Rupert, that isn’t the least bit consoling.”

Rupert put his hand on her shoulder.  “Well, it’s unbecoming of a professional to cry.  After all, I still have a job.”

Gamela jumped back.  “How is that supposed to help, you insensitive lout?”

“What I mean is, I can’t stop the layoffs here at Cappuccino.  But I can make exceptions.”

“You are planning to keep me employed, aren’t you?” Gamela asked.

“It looks like you are keeping yourself employed without my help,” Rupert said as he closed his eyes.

Outside the conference room, the intensity of the sales meeting swelled as Iron Hemingway  began playing their hit for the 97th time.



[1] Yes, this can happen!  Look up Venus Beauty Supply and Fermavir Pharmaceuticals.

[2] Evans et al., “Breaking Up is Hard to Do: Lessons Learned from a Pharma-Free Practice Transformation,”available at http://www.jabfm.org/content/26/3/332.full

[3] As reported by Pharmalot at http://www.pharmalive.com/and-those-pharma-job-cuts-just-keep-on-coming

Qality Matters!

“Hold on, let me write that down.”  Rupert clutched the phone between his shoulder and cheek, then leaned across his desk to grab a memo pad and a pen.  “OK, go ahead.”  A voice spoke in his ear and he scribbled.  “Got it, thanks.”  He terminated the call and looked at his note.  “Thursday at seven,” he mumbled and wrote on his desk calendar.

Then he looked back at the print on the memo pad.  It read, ‘Qality Matters!’  Underneath, in smaller letters, was ‘Tip #233: Qualaty problems? Try rearranging your Executive Teem!’  Along the bottom of the pad in small letters was ‘Nebraka is for louvers’ [1]

He punched a speed dial button and asked, “Tricia, where did we get these memo pads?”

The voice of Tricia answered, “Someone I know got a ton of them from Novartis for free.  I think they had lots of layoffs at the plant and didn’t want the pads any more.”

“Novartis had layoffs?” Rupert asked.  “Why?”

“Quality issues, that’s all I know.  I thought all you execs keep track of pharma industry goings-on.  I sure don’t.”

Rupert hung up, turned to his computer, and googled ‘Novartis quality.’  This led to several hits including a Forbes article about manufacturing gaffes.  Panicked, he dug through the Cappuccino Pharmaceuticals directory to find a quality department.  His fingers danced on the phone’s touchpad and made several mistakes before he dialed correctly.  Finally a voice announced he had reached Quality Control.

“Hello, this is Rupert.  Get me the head of Quality Control,” he said.

“Rupert? Who the heck is Rupert?”

“I’m your CEO, who are you?”  Rupert began to sweat.

“My CEO?” the voice said.  “I’m a contract employee from Temp-O-Lab, my CEO is someone named Jane.”  The voice paused.  “Here, you should talk to Mr. Caldez.”

“This is James Caldez, may I help you?” a new voice said.

“This is Rupert Madasheck.  How good is the quality at Cappuccino?” Rupert asked.  “Are we square with the FDA and all that?”

There was a long pause.  Finally the voice asked, “You’re the CEO?  You realize this is Quality Control, right?  You might want another department.”

“If I want to know about quality around here, of course I want Quality Control,” Rupert said.  “Don’t I?”  He realized that was a bad question.  Never show fear or indecision, he thought.  Show clear, direct leadership no matter what.  Too late.

“Well, there’s Quality Assurance,” the voice said.  “Then there’s Software Quality Management.  And Quality and Audit Control.  And Quality and Compliance, Quality Control Receiving, Design Quality, Supplier Quality, Process Quality-”

Rupert’s hands shook violently.  “Alright, thanks,” he said and hung up.  He quickly dialed the Legal Department and asked Sosumi Ciyuencourt, “Are we being sued for anything?  Anything like kickback schemes?”

Sosumi spoke after a brief pause.  “No.  I do not believe we are being sued for anything of consequence at the moment.  Why do you ask?  We weren’t giving rebates to pharmacies if they switch patients to our drugs, were we?” [2]

That night he dreamt of being stuck in a Dilbert comic with ‘Qality Matters!’ memo pads dancing around him. [3]  It was the same nightmare he suffered for the last 23 years or more.  Will it never end?