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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 – Sales – SALES PLANNING
We shall roughly divide Sales Management into following broad heads.
- Sales Planning
- Sales Operations
- Sales Team Management
- Sales Performance Management
- Customer Management
- Sustainable Business Growth Management
Sales Planning includes territory design, placement of salespeople, customer selection, and allocation of targets.
For Pharma salespersons and managers, territories are already defined because the business has been around for a long time. Even for a pharma company starting business today, the basic territory design is already available, and the wheel does not have to be reinvented. Having said that, territory design must not be static. It should be reviewed at least once every year. It is necessary because customers change, customer profiles change, product portfolio changes rather rapidly in this era. If you wish to be current, you must review territories make-up frequently and make adjustments and amendments. There was a time, you could cover entire country with 25-30 medical reps. Now, the mass-promotion teams are in the vicinity of 150-180 people. This has happened because of the changes in territory texture.
Placement of appropriate salesperson is critical. The concept has been around for a long time. You would need differently-capable persons for covering teaching hospitals and suburban territories. The former has to meet consultants while the latter will visit probably private practitioners only. Doing sales calls with various tiers of customers will require different skills and knowledge level.
Customer selection is an always-talked-about subject. The MNCs were talking about customer selection even in 1970s. It was said that 20% customers gave 80% business, and we had to find those 20%. The rule is attributed to the legendary guru Peter F. Drucker and still holds true, though the number of 20% has increased exponentially over time. Customer selection is a vast subject and should be discussed continuously. There is no one-size-fits-all recipe in this case. For every company and product, customer selection will vary. The sales planner must make sure that the customer selection is appropriate to needs and that it remains dynamic. Selling is an effort; it may succeed, it may not succeed with individual customers. Rather than banging head against the same wall, it is logical to move ahead. We shall return to this topic in a different context later.
Allocation of targets is the next step after the territory is designed and the customers have been selected. Targets are given based on history (if there is any), potential of territory and capability of salesperson. The last point is likely to be missed. Managers tend to give uniform targets to all team members, falling into the trap that some team members feel they cannot achieve, and some know they will quickly achieve. Those who feel incapable will have unproductive stress and shall not even achieve what they can; capable people will feel under-utilized and under-appreciated. On an overall basis, they have an under-performing, less-satisfied team.
Very important Technological Support is now available for Sales Planning, Execution and Monitoring. I shall take up this subject in some detail in the upcoming blogs.