(Case Study, 2011) Cardinal Health Nuclear Pharmacy Services (NPS), the U.S. market leader in compounding, dispensing and delivering radioactive drugs for use in nuclear medicine diagnostic studies and therapeutic applications, transformed its sales organization to better align itself to meet new market realities.
This transformation involved building new role profiles, assessing the sales force, providing targeted feedback and development, and establishing tools for evaluating and hiring new sales personnel. As a result, the company’s sales organization is better positioned to deliver greater customer satisfaction and retention, along with improved sales performance.
Headquartered in Dublin, Ohio, this business unit of Cardinal Health operates 150 nuclear pharmacies that deliver products and services to more than 4,000 hospitals and clinics. To assist with the sales transformation processes, the company worked with international business improvement company AchieveGlobal.
“As soon as we started talking about this transformation, I knew immediately what pieces needed to fall into place,” says Chris Sena, Vice President of Human Resources, “and we brought in AchieveGlobal and its alliance partner and assessment specialists, Chally, to help us execute our plan.”
“Together, we identified future sales profiles, evaluated our existing sales force, realigned sales roles, and established new competency skills,” says Sena. “We also initiated a new sales aptitude assessment for evaluating existing and new sales hires.”
The approach followed a four-step process:
- Develop future role profiles
- Assess the current sales force’s strengths and opportunities
- Leverage existing strengths and develop needed capabilities
- Put tools in place to hire for the future
1. Developing role profiles
Chally Group Worldwide job analysis and validation studies helped clarify the duties, tasks, responsibilities, and observable work behaviors necessary for Cardinal Health NPS sales professionals to be successful in each of the newly identified sales roles.
From these studies, sales role profiles were developed. These profiles helped Cardinal Health NPS determine the skills and competencies that its sales organization would need to develop and possess in these roles. “This role identification process highlighted for the Sales Leadership Team the skills and competencies our sales team would need to win in the future,” Sena notes. “It further helped us understand the changing skills and behaviors our sales organization needs to develop to meet the demands of our rapidly changing markets.”
2. Assessing sales talent
The second step in transforming the sales approach at Cardinal Health NPS was to complete a talent audit of the existing sales team. To drive this part of the transformation, Chally assessed the competency level of the sales personnel using an online assessment. Assessment results were then compared to a large database of validated data, which in turn highlighted organizational and individual strengths and opportunities.
This data was used to assist sales directors give more meaningful feedback to current employees, create group and individual development plans, and introduce roles to employees that were more of a natural fit. “From the talent audit, we recommitted to giving people constructive feedback, providing them with individualized development plans and then worked closely with them to present role opportunities more fitting to their talent set,” Sena says.
3. Selecting and hiring productively
Chally developed selection tools for all sales roles to assess and screen for new role profile competencies. “For some time we discussed changing the way we brought sales people aboard to better meet the needs of the changing business landscape,” notes Carlo Scalia, Senior Consultant for Cardinal Health NPS Human Resources. “The selection tools would help us better predict successful salespeople.”
Chally developed first and second “behavior-based” interviews. Behavior-based interviews assess candidate competencies by targeting specific behaviors demonstrated in the past. The notion that “past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior” is at the core of the behavior-based interviews.
Once candidates pass through the first and second interviews, finalists take the online Chally assessment. This assessment, which targets the same competencies covered in the interview, injects additional and objective candidate data into the selection process. “Phone screening, the targeted first and second interviews, and the online assessment collectively help us make more informed hiring decisions,” Sena says.
While the Chally tools assist in making better selection decisions, they are also useful in the on-boarding of new hires. All new hires receive their assessment results and coaching within the first 90 days on the job.
4. Preparing the Directors for launch
A successful launch required that NPS train its sales directors on the new tools, processes and skills sets. A three-day live session was organized to ensure a successful “go live.”
Day 1 – Role profiles, talent audit results, coaching tools, and new hiring materials were introduced to the sales directors.
Day 2 – Coaching and development skills were learned using AchieveGlobal’s Professional Sales Coaching workshop. This one-day session gave sales directors the skills and confidence to deliver assessment results to their team members and plan for their development.
Day 3 – Interviewing and selection techniques were learned with an internal Cardinal Health program. Selection tools developed by Chally were woven into the course.
Improvements and outcomes
Cardinal Health NPS reports numerous benefits since implementing these organizational and hiring changes. For instance, sales directors report more agreement on which candidates should move forward. This has resulted in a paradigm shift: Hiring preference now is given to candidates exhibiting required competencies versus experience in the nuclear pharmacy industry.
For existing sales personnel, the transformation has yielded emphasis on feedback, use of development plans, and coaching – including sales director “ride-alongs” – to improve performance. Finally, this process informed the creation of better aligned sales incentive plans.
Matt Margolies, Senior VP of Sales and Marketing summarized the experience. ” When Chris introduced my team to Achieve Global, we were skeptical. But after our first meeting it was clear that they understood our needs. The entire process from initial design to roll out was a collaborative effort between the HR and sales teams. The results from the new hires that went through the new assessment vs. our old process are significant. The increase in first year performance is well over 15% above our previous performance metrics.”
Scalia says Cardinal Health NPS is pleased with the results achieved through AchieveGlobal and Chally expertise and programs. “Our old processes had simply become outdated and while we knew this, we found change difficult. We had to be willing to look into new ideas and then do different things than we’d done in the past if we were to obtain our goals,” Scalia says. “The commitment to this kind of transformation does pay off.”