Fearless pharma blogger Maxine Vaccine prepares for her new job with a trip to Matalan, the Body Shop and the online NHS.
Yes, it’s true. After the Bank Holiday I’m starting a new job. Those lovely people at Pharmajobs helped me look for the right role, employer and region, put me in touch with specialist agencies and companies that matched my aspirations and talents. And then my line manager at Munchkin Pharma said “Would you like a new role?”
She explained about key account management. No more sales pitch blues, no more marketing message Mondays, no more NLP courses, no more free samples. A new life of consultative selling – providing solutions – being an expert on who you’re selling to rather than what you’re selling. In short, a proper grown-up job. Finally, she asked me: “Do you have any questions?”
I said: “Will I need a new outfit?”
My manager gave me her famous tight smile. “Ah yes, that’s something else we need to discuss. That attitude of yours.”
But seriously, what is changing in my professional life is the shift from a ‘lone wolf’ approach – hitting the road with one goal in mind, only talking when there’s a product to be sold, regarding my colleagues as deadly rivals, living just to put ticks beside names on my list – to a sense of being embedded in a dynamic professional network of stakeholders across various sectors. Every day brings new people and new ideas.
I’m not just a lonely sales functionary, I’m one of many points of contact between a changing company and its changing customer base, and my role is to communicate and learn, to work out how Munchkin Pharma can meet customer needs across a local healthcare landscape that is changing so fast it feels like the NHS has become a computer game. I feel more connected to my own colleagues as well as to the people with whom I’m building commercial relationships.
Instead of the false personalisation of sales – the fake smile, the fluttered eyelashes, the lowered voice – there’s the real personal engagement of understanding what your customer wants to achieve, the customer understanding what you want to achieve, and the common ground on which you both take a step forward. That only happens when you think hard instead of just talking hard.
Farewell to the black book, hello to the iPad. And what’s commanding my attention for much of the working day is the increasingly widespread and diverse character of the NHS online. It’s not just who is commissioning and prescribing, it’s how, for whom, on what basis and according to which budget. If the NHS had a Facebook profile its relationship status would be ‘It’s complicated.’
This weekend, I’m getting my hair reshaped and my wardrobe restocked. I’m partying in my usual restrained style. Another day for rest and recuperation, and I’ll be ready for the working week. And then the real fun will start.