Want to make your next sales conference a lot more enjoyable while still
getting some serious work done? James Curtis reports on the Evans
Medical trip to Crete
Most marketing directors see themselves as heroic figures, but if you
work for pharmaceutical company Evans Medical, you get to dress up as
This is what happened in May, when Evans launched Spacehaler, its
revolutionary new asthma inhaler. It flew 120 of its sales force to
Crete, where marketing director Richard Bennett, dressed as Ulysses
(complete with toy sword and shield), kicked off a week-long team-
building and product launch conference in an amphitheatre at the Capsis
Evans has gone overseas for its motivational sales conferences before:
last year it went to Ireland and before that to Spain, Cyprus and
Portugal. The difference this time was that it wanted to incorporate
team-building and skills development for the sales force with its
biggest ever product launch.
The launch of Spacehaler is particularly important as it marks Evans’
entry into the pounds 500m asthma therapy market, taking on Glaxo
subsidiary and market leader Allen & Hanburys. A&H commands a 60% market
share, but Evans is hoping to eat into this with Spacehaler, which it
claims is easier to use and more effective than traditional inhalers.
But because Spacehaler uses entirely different technology to traditional
inhalers - principally a vortex which slows down the delivery of the
drug from 70 to only four miles per hour - it was essential for the
sales force to understand every aspect of how it works and the benefits
it brings. Instead of blandly explaining the product to them, Evans
decided to use the motivation of a foreign trip to encourage the sales
force to learn about it.
This marked the culmination of a year-long development programme. A
direct mail and trade press campaign broke during the week of the
conference, preparing the reps to ‘go live’ with the product the
following week. Timing was crucial.
Evans employed LMG International as project managers with a brief to
find a location and organise team events that would motivate while
teaching reps about the product and reinforcing its brand values. It
brought in Tye Phillips to provide the technical support and Corporate
Adrenaline to devise the team events.
‘These people need to be motivated to learn,’ says Graham Keene,
managing director of LMG. ‘They are young people and don’t want to sit
and be talked at. We wanted to combine interactivity, comedy and
business issues to ensure they know about the product and reinforce the
key messages from the marketing strategy.’
Irrespective of whether or not they were motivated by the sight of their
managing director, marketing director and product manager wearing togas,
the ‘opening ceremony’, where the group split into teams, got reps in
the mood with a performance that would have been worthy of ‘Carry On
Down the Windpipe’. If you thought it was impossible to make puns about
actuating, vortex-metred doses and freon effects, think again. Three
reps dressed as inhalers did just that.
The serious business of the team events revolved around a multi-screen,
computer-driven, interactive exercise called Labyrinth, which took the
form of a maze through which it is only possible to travel by completing
tasks assigned by the computer. Devised by Corporate Adrenaline, it
integrated indoor and outdoor challenges into the launch of the new
These included fitting together the constituent parts of an enlarged
Spacehaler to understand how it works and ‘selling’ the product to a
mock GP in a surgery - after having overcome the formidable barrier of
the traditional stroppy receptionist. These role-play exercises were
supplemented by other team events around the resort.
The choice of Capsis Beach Resort was crucial to the overall success of
the event. Keene explains that the destination has to be attractive
enough to be a motivator for the sales force, but also provide
sufficient facilities for the more serious side of the conference.
‘A few years ago, these conferences were just a holiday. Now we want
them to work but have fun as well,’ says Keene.
It is also important that the conference is not seen as too extravagant.
Taking the group to the US might not have been much more expensive on
paper, but might have seemed an unnecessary extravagance to
Needing to find somewhere within three hours flying time from the UK and
with adequate conference facilities, LMG narrowed it down to Marakesh,
Disneyland Paris, the Italian Lakes and Crete.
Capsis Resort ended up offering the best package and an interesting
departure from previous destinations. Although popular with German
companies, Crete has not often been used as a conference destination for
The fact that the resort has 48 syndicate rooms, allowing a large group
to be broken down into more manageable parties, particularly attracted
LMG. Evans also needed a destination where it could be the dominant
party without worrying about disturbing other guests with its toga-clad