Here's a little secret about Eli Lilly's U.S. president Deidre Connelly (photo): She likes to go undercover. At a recent industry conference, Connelly confided that she sometimes goes on the road as a mild-mannered pharma rep. That way, she gets the on-the-ground skinny on what her sales force is up against. (Recently, she tried to strike up a conversation with a doc who'd ignored her; he demanded to know who she was. When he saw her title on her business card, he asked, "President? President of what?")
The main thrust of Connelly's speech, though, was about what she sees as a necessary evolution in pharma sales techniques. Reps can't be all about one-way communication, but need to promote give and take so they can actually help physicians solve problems. That sort of approach requires knowledge, and lots of it, so Connelly's in favor of building up specialty sales teams from within the company.