On June 19, 1990, Dupont took a huge gamble on a 45 year old dock worker and offered him a sales territory encompassing all of Arizona and New Mexico.
Selling, of all things, nuclear medicine.
I was told later, that the two things I had going for me was my attitude and my personality.
But that was about it.
The VP of Sales at the time, told me upfront, personally, and without hesitation, he didn’t think it was a good idea. At all.
He washed his hands.
But Cardiolite would soon be launched, and they needed warm bodies in a hurry to get the word out about this revolutionary new technetium agent.
I think it was six months before I fully grasped the concept of what I was selling. Scary.
As I caught on, I realized Bob Sullivan was right, “It’s all about people.”
As the years went on, I became a force to be reckoned with. I ate, slept and drank my new career.
I knew everyone personally, professionally and some, intimately.
I could have run for office.
I was in on all the rumors, upheavals, gossip, competitive information and new business plans.
And if you even so much as flew over my territory, I knew about it.
The rep from my main competition became unglued and started seeing a therapist while bemoaning the fact she had to go up against a “wild man.”
I was doing so well, upper management was starting to worry about who might take my place should I leave, or get promoted out of the territory.
I was delivering product, speaking at local SNM Chapter meetings, and hosting lobster dinners at customer residences. Stuff they don’t teach you at Wharton. 🙂
I was setting precedents nobody wanted to attempt.
Then, after a chance meeting with two Aetna nurse reviewers, I secured the first reimbursement approval for Cardiolite at $110 per injection for two injection.
As Aetna goes, so goes the nation. Now we’re playing money ball!
Ken Kasses, the president of the company, called my house that night.
In 2002, I met with my manager, Karen Randall, in a Las Vegas restaurant and we were having our annual career development discussion.
Karen, a sweetheart if there ever was one, listened intently as I told her I was frustrated “just carrying the bag” and had other ideas about how we could be doing business.
Yeah, me, of all people.
You see, I started shooting marketing videos of all my biggest customers. They were actually branded patient education videos featuring Cardiolite.
This idea started as a lark, but got serious in a hurry after the word got out.
The customer got to tout their practice, and we got to tout our product, Cardiolite. It was a win-win…I thought.
I produced a script heavily laden with the features and benefits of using Cardiolite that the cardiologist would have to say on camera.
Now, I started gaining business at a very fast rate.
Pretty soon, I was venturing into other Western District territories to help reps secure business with this value-added benefit.
I thought this should be part of our business strategy and started getting vocal about it. I was sending CDs, DVDs and video tapes in every week.
The idea of shooting customer focused videos was shot down immediately and…repeatedly.
Karen agreed with my concept and thought they should at least hear me out in person, so she set up a meeting back in Billerica.
That first meeting was a “pat on the head” and I was told (gently) to get over myself and go back to doing what I was paid to do.
Disappointed, but not to be deterred, I kept at it. By now, my numbers were veering into screech region.
Some customers were buying Cardiolite just to get the video. Some bought Cardiolite just to get me. 🙂
Dr. Nathan Laufer, the cardiologist in the photos, offered me my own office.
After much back and forth, and with a lot of help from Wally Smith, another meeting/presentation was set for October 25, 2002. My 56th birthday.
I was told to watch myself on this one because the daggers will be out, as Bristol Myers Squibb just bought the company.
No more warm and fuzzy mother ship.
Bob McBrier, the new VP of BMS Sales, told Wally, “We got some clown out there running around the desert with a camera and we need to throw a net over him.”
On the morning of the meeting, in a marketing room in Bldg. 600-2, I showcased my ideas.
I handed out a permission based marketing book by Seth Godin and showed customer examples of patient education videos.
But when I slapped a VHS tape of “Taking The Test” in Spanish, into a tiny portable TV set, you could hear the suction break.
I had ’em. .
Peter Card, the VP of Global Marketing, jumped out of his chair, pushed me into a corner and said, “You have to come back in house. We’ll create a position for you and we’ll build you a studio.”
I called my wife, who was shopping at the Burlington Mall. She thought we would be flying back that night. I told her, “You’ll never guess what just happened.”
Needless to say, my life changed after that, and I had many creatively enjoyable years producing content for sales, marketing, human resources, manufacturing and the executive office.
I produced digital signage, introduced permission based e-mail marketing, streamed company meetings around the globe, and even produced national sales meetings.
My ego survived through it all and I am still grateful for that wonderful opportunity.
What a ride! 🙂