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Back with my journey over the years……
The New Team was called Max.
Max team started working in the field from January 1, 2000. It had five new brands, to start with. All products were selected for non-crowded markets. The generic market was evolving and there were several innovator products whose generics had not yet been launched. The entire range of Max team comprised of first, second or third generics.
The team went in the field with enthusiasm. They had received intensive training; the products were interesting, and the initial training together helped them to know each other and become a ‘team’.
Max team had no history; neither in products, nor in the market; neither within the company, and nor with the customers. The only known factor was the standing of CCL, which could work to advantage or disadvantage.
The team was given certain work standards, which were different from the older teams. There was a risk that the older teams might try to waylay them or showed who was more firmly rooted. I have a lot of appreciation that the older teams rather showed big brother spirit and supported Max team. By now, I was heading the entire marketing and sales structure. This fact also helped to have better coordination because the buck stopped at me, whatever the team.
I must clarify that CCL had very good old teams; as good as you could get. However, like any old standing team, it was a combination of very old, old, and new people.CCL had already passed through a sort of transition under ZK Nagi. We kept the Max team ‘separated’ strategically and tried to minimize the interaction with older teams. It was in any case impossible to achieve that totally, but we did achieve what we wanted to in this area. After a short while, we reversed and promoted integration and harmony. We practically did it by nominating the senior most Field Manager in any headquarter to deal with the distributor on behalf of all teams (then three). This generated a lot of goodwill and we never had any infighting issues.
Max team won in some areas hands down and didn’t do so well in some areas. I worked extensively in the field during that period; meeting customers, listening to market and distributors and training, reorienting and keeping the morale up.
At the corporate level, Max team launch was instrumental in several ways. It brought great new learning, built confidence and removed preconceived apprehensions. It is useful to recount some of these points for the benefit of my readers.
- New Work Standards. As we all know, some issues are universal with all pharma sales team, including but not limited to; not following promotion plan, not following work plan, not updating customer list and information on time, and not reporting on time. Max team had a bit of these but negligible. I would give a lot of credit to Field Managers for following their team and ensuring that the prescribed work standards were followed. It is true that we were very careful with hiring of FMs. Incidentally, Highnoon had at that time dissolved Synthelabo team because this company had been acquired internationally by Sanofi and Highnoon lost the license. Several of them applied against our ad. When I met the first candidate, I was impressed. They had excellent training, orientation and highly cultivated sense of purpose. We hired a bunch of them in Max and it worked to our benefit. The sales managers had long experience of working in developed organizations, and they also played a leading role in establishing and maintaining desired work standards.
- New Corporate Image. Like all older companies, CCL had an established and positive image among the customers. However, it was mostly connected to Pulmonol® and classic brands. Max team upgraded company image in several ways. The customers were happy to see current molecules inCCL portfolio. They also appreciated the quality of team, the quality of promotional campaigns and materials and overall change in corporate. The new company image paved the way for many more steps in the future.
- New Therapeutic Segments. The new products were introduced in those therapeutic segments which were not covered earlier with the existing range of products. This expanded the coverage and opened the possibility of bringing more new products in all teams.
- New Customers. New customers were added; rather most customers enlisted by Max were new for the corporate. The sheer number of new customers in terms of specialties and cadre was a very healthy bolus in the short term and long term.
Max team added positively in many ways. Most of all, it gave the corporate confidence to take major initiatives……