Former GE CEO Jack Welch's no frills—and sometimes
cutthroat—approach to business helped him make General
Electric a $400-billion company by the end of his tenure in 2001.
Though criticized for his desire to make GE a more competitive
company, Welch is probably most admired for his leadership style.
The CEO enjoyed tailored suits, private jets, and an eight-figure
salary per year, but that didn't stop him from sitting face-to-face
with a team of 15, 150, or 1,500 employees to talk about what they
needed to do to make GE a better company. He knew the value of his
team and customers, and he knew that strong leadership made for
In spite of pharmaceutical employers' best intentions to the contrary, sales rep compensation is being squeezed in a vise that is gradually narrowing the gaps between what top, average, and bottom performers are earning. According to the Hay Group's Pharmaceutical Sales Force Effectiveness Study, co-sponsored by Pharmaceutical Executive, reps in the 90th percentile are earning just 40 percent more than the average performer. This is not to suggest that reps aren't being paid handsomely (they are), but that the pay-for-performance model is showing signs of weakness.
Years ago, a cereal maker ran a commercial in which children who'd eaten oatmeal for breakfast floated to school, snug in a protective bubble of warmth. Today, the same imagery comes to mind with respect to the country's 85,000 pharmaceutical salespeople.
Last year's average turnover among general physician sales reps was 19 percent-up 2 percent from 2000-making retention the number one human resource issue for pharmaceutical companies today. Industry employers are discovering that despite all the resources