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Tariq Umer worked with all teams but acute care, and particularly antibiotics (Claforan and later Tarivid) remained close to his heart forever.
TU identified most important customers in a simpler way, not through complicated research.
First step was getting whatever information the team had on it. The teams did not have much data at that time, but they had some idea which was not totally incorrect.
Then he would ask the team to run a simple exercise to quantify the customers’ potential. For example, in case of Claforan, it would be to find out how many surgical procedures the consultant was doing in a month; how many doses of antibiotics s/he was giving to patients on average. Multiply the two and you get the quantified potential. We did not talk about value, only units. If a surgeon was doing twenty procedures and was using ten vials (five days treatment), the potential would be two hundred vials.
The hierarchy of customers was set on two things; Status and Potential. Status meant the seniority, recognition, influence and following; potential was calculated on the cumulative usage. Someone with a high status but relatively less potential would still be High Priority Customer.
TU traveled around Pakistan and worked on customer development. Given the scarcity of time, he could only do as much. But he showed the way to the Managers and the med reps and discussed about how to do it. In this manner, he created sort of many clones of himself who didn’t have the same quality but followed the process and brought results.
Product promotion was always backed by and reinforced with good clinical evidence; articles, and research papers. Academic support was ‘the focus’ anyway. Hoechst had subscription of IDIS (Iowa Drug Information System) and the customers could request and get original articles from over 150 medical journals. Hoechst got itself distinguished favorably through these activities.
Sales discussion just for the sake of sales was not done. It was done to assess the result of selling process. This remained a norm and standard. This is a very important point that must be understood by all business management people. Process comes first; outcome comes later, as a result.
Hoechst teams focused on the process, more precisely on the customer development. We did not count sales units; we counted the number of prescribing customers and the number of patients on our products. It was customary to keep a track and record of patients receiving our products in every ward of all focused hospitals.
The undivided and extreme focus on ‘customer development’ helped in two ways. It became a passion which fed itself on achievement and perpetuated on competition among peers.
As the salespersons were dealing with seniors in medical profession, Professors, Consultants, Specialists, they had to have enough knowledge and skills to do it.
Knowledge does not build in a short time or by giving bolus of information. It is a continuous effort which helps to build layer upon layer of information. There was a lot of talk about product knowledge. Detailed product information as well as latest clinical studies were continuously discussed. The retention of given knowledge is never the same in everyone. That is why it is important to keep discussion continuous, consistent, repetitive and progressive.
For skills, the head office arranged training for Area Managers. There was an off-site training for Area Managers in 1986 at Nathiagali. It was six days training conducted by Executive Development Center of Jaffer Brothers. It covered management skills, selling skills and soft skills such as communication and interpersonal relations.
Quality of teams enhanced, work standards improved, desire to achieve came in, and most importantly, a cohesive, well-performing team started emerging.
In a rather short span of time, Hoechst was able to build an enviable customer base……