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Dear Pharma Veterans. This series of Blogs is to share my learning about Pharma Business in Pakistan. It will be a series spread over several parts covering the entire spectrum of Pharma business.

Pharma Business – Marketing – SALES

We had a good look at Marketing. The book says that Marketing functions include Marketing Planning or Brand Management, Sales, and Distribution. What we had been discussing was about Marketing Planning or Brand Management.

If I may digress a little and comment about how business management has evolved over time. When I joined Pharma Industry 44 years back, there was no marketing in Pakistan. The MNCs were supreme but their promotional strategies and materials came from the principle office. The local Pakistan office simply followed. They reprinted the folders in Pakistan and used these. The Marketing Manager was the Chief Honcho of business to whom the National Sales Manager reported, along with other related staff. Things did change quickly in some companies where product management came in and became quite active whereas the overall structure remained the same. If my observation is correct, the American companies like Abbott, Lederle, Wyeth took the lead in this. British and others took longer.

During the 1990s, the concept of Business Unit was introduced internationally. Originally, it was Strategic Business Unit concept, which meant an independent unit responsible for its own activities but connected with the main company through selected, shared services. The SBU was to deliver its own profitability. The companies had grown too big and had lost agility. SBU would bring about agility in a smaller unit within a large conglomerate.

In Pakistan Pharma, BU was a modified thing. A Business Unit Manager would be responsible for marketing and sales of a group/team; product managers and sales managers both reported to him. Distribution, HR, Finance, Training stayed with the center. Practically, BUMs faced some challenges. If a BUM came from product management, she/he would be good in marketing management but weaker in sales management. Similarly, if the BUM came from sales management, the marketing management would be weaker. In most companies who insisted on BUM structure, the business suffered due to partial deficiency. In addition, the BUMs have been more like glorified sales managers, without adequate authority and independence. Many companies abandoned BU structure and returned to classic one.

Back to our discussion, we summarize the topic of Marketing so that we move on to Sales.

Marketing Planning, in spirit and practice, is the leading light, the perspective-provider, negotiator-of-the-present and peeper-into-future. It should be understood as such, accepted as such and practiced in this manner. Some companies have done the experiment of merging brand management with sales. They may call their product manager, ‘Business Manager’ and ask her/him to work both in the field and office, preferably more in the field. It may be a ‘marriage-of-convenience’ and an effort to save money. However, the delivery of results in either segment leaves something to be desired.

With this background, we move into Sales. Sales Management in itself is a full-spectrum activity, independent in thought and actions. While Marketing Management leads to future, the Sales Management works in the present and is the bread-winner for the organization and its principles and associates. Over the years, there has been an integrated effort to undermine the importance and independence of Sales Management. To say the least, it is counter-productive and damaging.


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