Dear Pharma Colleagues! I and my long time friend Javed Akhtar have started writing a book about Pharmaceutical Sales Profession. It reads like a story and will take up all aspects of Pharma Sales. I and Javed started as Medical Rep in 1975 and went through various stages. Javed got assigned to training and left as Head of Training at GSK. I stayed in the line management and reached the top in various companies. This is not exactly our story but it is the story of all of us; the Pharma Salespeople. Reproduced below is ‘PART III’. Kindly read and give your reviews and comments here or at 


Chapter 5 – Induction and Orientation

Nadeem told Jamil about his salary and allowances. These were similar to what Anwar had told him already. Jamil had nothing to say except thanking them profusely. Nadeem asked him to come on next Monday (three days later) at 9.00am for joining.

Jamil went straight home and broke the good news to his mother, brother and sister. They were all very happy and excited. His younger brother and sister asked for ‘treat’. Jamil’s mother said she would pray ‘nafal’ for his getting the job and also that he becomes successful in his job. His father was very happy and proud to know it when he returned home in the evening.

On Monday, Jamil arrived at the distributor office at 8.30am and waited for Nadeem. Nadeem looked fresh today. He shook hands with Jamil and said, “Welcome to Ambria family”. ‘Thank you, Sir,’ Jamil replied.

“We have a lot of work to do. We shall start with your documents first. I need one set containing your CV, copies of educational certificates, copy of CNIC and four passport size photographs. I shall give you a form to sign. This is your joining report. I shall send all documents to Mr. Shahid who will send these to head office.” Nadeem started.

“I shall spend full day today with you and explain to you about the company, products and working of medical rep in our company. There are policies about work and employees which you should know. Tomorrow, we shall discuss about your territory. But we shall not sit in the office. We shall go in the field, in your territory and I shall show you around. One very important thing. How soon can you arrange a motor bike for yourself? Without bike, it will be very difficult to work in the field. It will waste lot of time and you will not be able to do good work.”

“I shall talk to my father today. I understand what you are saying”. Jamil became a little anxious.

“Don’t get down Jamil. Bikes are not very expensive these days. You can buy an old one, or better if you could buy on installments.” Nadeem encouraged him.

Then they sat down and started the ‘orientation’. Nadeem told him about the company background and its business. He talked to him about the structure of company and some basic policies for employees. Then they came to products. Nadeem said this group had seven products. He would brief about all and later they will keep discussing more. By the time they reached the third product, it was almost 1.00pm. Nadeem offered him to go out with him and have a quick lunch. They went out and had a burger from road side with a cold drink. The break made them relax a little. They had a little talk about general issues. Jamil found Nadeem to be caring and courteous.

They started again at about 2.00pm and finished rest of the products by 4.00. Then they started talking about the work. Nadeem explained how Jamil would actually work in the field; the doctors list, weekly work plan and daily report.

It was 5.30pm when they closed their discussion. Nadeem asked Jamil to go home and relax. “Come tomorrow morning same time. See you” Nadeem said.

“Yes Sir” Jamil said respectfully.

Jamil went home and told the story to his mother and brother and sister. He skipped the motor bike thing. They were all very excited.

His father came back in the evening as Jamil gave him detail about the day. His father was happy. After they had dinner, Jamil said to his father he wanted to discuss something. His father said, “Yes, what is it?”

“Father! I need a motor bike. I cannot work in the field without a bike. My manager also said it to me today. How can we buy one for me?” Jamil said softly.

“Yes. It is serious. You do need one bike for yourself. You can take mine for now and then we shall see what to do. It is old, but it is in working condition” Father said in a loving tone.

“No. How will you go to work? No. I cannot do that.” Jamil protested.

“I only have to go to one place. I can go by bus. Look, we do not have money to buy a bike right now. You should take mine and start working. When you start earning, we can think of buying a new one for you. I shall take back my bike” Father insisted.

“Can we get one on installments? I shall be able to pay the monthly installment.” Jamil asked.

“First, we have to deposit advance. Secondly, you have not started getting any money. Work for a few months, save some money and then buy a new bike. As I said, take my bike from tomorrow” Father said lovingly.

“Thank you, Father.” Jamil said emotionally. He felt huge emotions of love and respect for his father. And he also felt a pang of guilt.

Next morning, Jamil went to work as per plan. Nadeem came, and they had a small discussion on the territory assigned to Jamil. Then they got ready to go to field. Nadeem saw the bike and said, “Good to see that you got a bike quickly”. “Thank you, Sir” Jamil murmured but didn’t give the details.

They drove their bikes to Tariq road. Nadeem stopped at a doctor’s clinic. “Dr. Ijaz Ahmad is on our visiting list. We shall go and visit him together” Nadeem told Jamil. “Ok Sir” Jamil nodded.

“We follow this system. First, we shall go to Moon Pharmacy and check if he is receiving prescriptions of our products from Dr. Ijaz. We promote three products to Dr. Ijaz and we shall check about the same.” Nadeem said and went up to Moon Pharmacy counter and greeted the person behind the counter. The guy greeted back. Apparently, he knew Nadeem. “This is my new colleague Jamil. He has started working from today. He will be visiting here in future.” The counter person welcomed Jamil. Jamil thanked him. “How is our business going? Dr. Ijaz prescriptions coming?” Nadeem asked. “Yes, some days more, some days less, but they keep coming” Pharmacy person informed. “How is your stock situation? You have enough?” Nadeem gently asked. “I have enough stock. Your distributor visits regularly” He replied.

“Thank You. We shall go and meet Dr. Ijaz” Nadeem shook hands and so did Jamil.

They entered the doctor’s clinic. Five patients were already sitting in queue, waiting for their turn. Nadeem and Jamil sat on a bench and waited. After fifteen minutes, Dr. Ijaz called them in his chamber.

“Salam Alaikum Sir. This is my new colleague Jamil. He has just joined, and he will come to you regularly.” Nadeem opened the sales call. “Sir, he is new in the profession. Please support him.” He continued. “You are welcome, young man. Work hard and you will succeed” Doctor said encouragingly.

Nadeem then discussed some products with the doctor. Then he closed the call, both thanked the doctor and came out. “This is how we do a sales call. We open the call, then talk about the product and then close the call. While closing, we request the doctor for prescription.” Nadeem explained.

“Selling is a big subject. I keep learning something new all the time. I shall discuss more about selling with you in the next days. For now, you must know the very basics of sales call” Nadeem continued.

“Yes Sir, I shall try to do my best” Jamil promised. He felt excitement and fear at the same time……

Key Learnings

  • Orientation is extremely important. It helps the new joiner to get the first feel of the company and the working. For fresh joiners, orientation is even more important to get them started.
  • Orientation must include introduction to company, working, responsibilities and expectations from the joiner.
  • Orientation should be done formally. The time spent on orientation is well-spent and pays in the short and long term.
  • Good orientation clears the mind of joiner and prepares her/him for a head start.

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