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All Pharma companies who have built big businesses in the last decades have had a similar history. In their journey toward success, two factors stood out. Making one or more brands ‘Big’, and a Great Team which worked for Ten Years or more. Even making of a Big Brand is dependent on the Team which effectively brings the key success factors to only one, The Team.
MNCs usually have multiple high-performing brands. In fact, they try hard to make every research product a block-buster. Some products achieve that status, and some don’t. Generic companies also work hard to make their brands as big as they can, but not as consistently as the MNCs. In the time past, major generic companies had one or more well-known brands. These brands helped them to gain recognition and business both.
The most important factor has been the team. Given the pervious cultural norms, salespersons generally worked for longer period. It did help in continuity of thought and effort. The companies who equipped them with skills and motivated them to become highly engaged developed much faster than others.
Sami, Hilton, Highnoon went through the same process and became big. In more recent times, Getz has grown higher than market and they focused on team besides other factors.
Hoechst grew more than twelve times in the same number of years. By and large, it carried the same team over this time which was instrumental in making this happen.
Hoechst team structure was lean and rather flat. It was made even more flat because of frequent discussions where everyone could talk to everyone. We didn’t make silos, and actively discouraged making of silos.
What we achieved in Hoechst as a team taught us highly valuable lessons which are worth sharing.
All Hands On The Deck. The managers generally led from the front. They went out and led the customer development, promotional activities and marketing campaigns; not sit in the office and try to run the teams. Managers in MNCs were known to adopt ‘big boss’ behavior quickly. They would consider it befitting to do only selective work in the field and preferred to stay behind, in the office. Hoechst broke away from the tradition and adopted ‘All Hands On The Deck’ philosophy. It included sales team and marketing team both and had several benefits. It infused greater team-spirit, good relations, camaraderie, comradeship, and free flow of information.
Learn From Customers. Customer focus for us meant that we listened to customers, tried to understand what they told us explicitly and implicitly and adapted our working to it. We regularly invited consultants to our offices to deliver a talk on their subject of specialty to our sales teams. We were honored by many top-notch specialists. They were extremely generous. They came to our offices, gave a wonderfully knowledgeable talk to our sales teams, sat with us over a simple cup of tea and spent couple of hours with us. It was an excellent phenomenon. It gave us the insight which we would never receive otherwise. It was all done as a courtesy and no amount of gratitude is enough for it.
Traditionally, marketing managers focus on brand management and have little direct interaction with customers, if any. Hoechst changed it completely. Product managers worked extensively in the field. It helped them to see first-hand the impact of brand strategy. It also gave them brilliant new ideas for new action plans.
Hoechst teams learned from the customers, honored the learning and lived it.
Success story of Hoechst is a classical tale of team effort and team win……