Client Story

Case Study: A major pharmaceutical company improves performance by empowering staff to deliver great customer relationships

Result: a more customer centric sales force, differentiating themselves as trusted advisors, and out-performing targets 


Janssen is a major pharmaceutical company and is part of the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies. They believe that they have an opportunity and an obligation to make a significant positive impact in the world by addressing the most serious unmet medical needs of our time. They have more than 30,000 people working in 150 countries to prevent, treat, cure and stop some of the most devastating and complex diseases of our time. From heart disease to HIV, Alzheimer’s disease to cancer.

Janssen Czech Republic engaged Open Water to help them build a more customer-centric sales force.

Retaining market share in a highly competitive market

The pharmaceutical industry is complex and crowded, with new drugs and treatments being developed each year. Traditionally, lack of trust in pharmaceutical sales consultants has been an issue, and Janssen Czech Republic wanted to differentiate itself, by being expert and honest in all its customer engagements. As a business, Janssen is committed to developing its staff, and it needed to maintain and grow its market share in the face of stiff competition. Dr. Martin Minarovic, Managing Director of Janssen Czech Republic explains:

“We wanted to bring our interaction with our customers to the next level. We wanted to be more competitive, perform better and gain a competitive edge over the competition by implementing customer focused concepts”.

Janssen had an ongoing relationship with Open Water, and engaged them to implement their Connected Program for its key employees.

The brief was clear; Janssen wanted Open Water to deliver the Connected Program, focusing on:

• the personal leadership journey,

• helping staff, and the organization as a whole, to become more self-aware,

• increasing staff’s ability for self-management, and

• empowering staff to be more responsible for their own motivation and performance.

The intention was to make a significant difference helping the individuals, and the business, mature further. It was not just about teaching new sales skills.

“We had 55 people in total, sales reps and managers, that we put through the Connected program. There were 2 levels, as the management team also did an enhanced leadership module,” explains Minarovic.

The Connected Program

The Connected Program consists of 4 modules, each lasting 2 days. The whole program was delivered over a period of 12 – 18 months. It is a personal leadership program with the ultimate goal of improving how individuals perceive and understand themselves, so that they can understand and exceed the expectations of their customers.

1. Connected self: Emotional awareness foundation. Self-awareness and self-management.

2. Connected Communicator: How your emotions affect your behaviour, and how to apply that rationale to influence others.

3. Connecting with your customer: Focus on personal purpose and values, delivering structured messages, and practice.

4. Connected Consultant: Using the questioning process in sales to understand what customers really want.

Open Water delivered the coaching and training, and also created three super trainers within Janssen, who were immersed in the content and who were equipped to sustain momentum and support staff development going forward.

Changing mindsets

The program challenges traditional mindsets and provides staff with a range of strategies to understand themselves, and therefore their customers, better. One strategy is “Cha Cha Cha”: win, learn, change. This encourages people to embrace being a never-ending learner. A mindset to set them up for life.

“While the immediate goal for us was to improve how we interact with our customers, really what we wanted was to create a vision of what the business should look like, and what its purpose is. This was not just a customer focus program. Open Water took us to the next level, looking at how to make all our interactions the best they can be, from the point of view of the customer,” continues Minarovic.

Business benefits, employee benefits – a win/win

• Better leaders. Open Water ran the Connected Leader program for the senior management team, to bring them into the learning mindset and enable them to sustain the journey. “The Extraordinary Leader module is a good way to make leadership more effective as it is built on strong research. It helped to improve the leadership abilities for our senior people,” highlights Minarovic.

• More customer-centric. The main focus of the brief was to help Janssen become more customer centric in their sales and operations. Using emotional intelligence, self-management and mindset techniques has motivated front line staff to genuinely connect with their customers, building trust and differentiating Janssen from the competition.

• Good business performance. Despite some products being removed from the product list, which should have reduced revenues by around 15%, sales have remained strong. “Business is good. Janssen is doing better than the market, and I believe that the Connected Program has contributed strongly to our success”, says Minarovic.

• Good “organizational health index” score. A recent independent health index survey confirmed that Janssen’s leadership and teams are now very strong. The score has improved compared to before the Connected Program, and it is higher than Janssen’s competitors in Europe. “I think the Connected Program contributed strongly to this result,” says Minarovic.


The sales culture development framework is changing. There is a move away from the historically negative association with sales. By embracing the customer centric approach, and supporting that culture change across the organization, businesses in all sectors can mature to become trusted advisors in their market.

A key element of this is for businesses to hand back to individuals in their business the responsibility for their emotional state, their behaviour and their performance results. It is a move away from traditional corporate management structures, and empowers staff. It is a process of helping the business mature by motivating, driving and creating a sense of personal ownership.

“Open Water is a solid, specialist company that I trust. The Program and their trainers are excellent, and I would go as far to say probably the best trainers I have ever met.” Dr Martin Minarovic, Managing Director of Janssen Czech Republic

If you would like to find out how to get the very best out of your staff, and mature your business, we’d love to talk to you.