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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 OPERATIONS
We shall roughly divide Sales Management into following broad categories.
- Sales Planning
- Sales Operations
- Sales Team Management
- Sales Performance Management
- Customer Management
- Sustainable Business Growth Management
Sales Operations is in large part execution of planning; and establishing support structure and system to facilitate execution. It also includes the services given to the sale team.
Let us start from the beginning.
First of all, all new employees need orientation; about the company, culture, values, products, colleagues, work environment and expectation of seniors.
A salesperson needs support for making plans, reporting calls and reporting sales. This means providing standardized formats and some system of preserving available information. It is not high-tech work; a simple filing system can do the job.
A salesperson needs tools to work. The tools include customer information, product information promotional strategy, promotional materials and a certain amount of understanding of selling skills. The materials things can be easily provided; the non-material tools are not so easy. The observation is that in most companies, current situation runs like this.
- With the ultra-high turnover of field force (will be topic of a separate blogpost), the orientation or any semblance of it has disappeared. The new med rep only knows her/his field manager. If he is based at the same headquarter as the manager, s/he would get to see him couple of times a week; if the base is in a satellite town away from the HQ, s/he may meet the manager couple of times in a month. Lack of orientation in the beginning and ongoing basis leads to lack of understanding, engagement and sense of belonging.
- Customer information is missing; even a basic customer list is not there, just because the previous guy took it when he left. There is no system to record customer profile and calls history. The new salesperson does not know what kind of person a customer is, which products were selected for her/him for promotion, how much exposure has been given already and so on. So, one fine day, the ‘new salesperson’ walks into the clinic of an ‘old customer’ and starts with the apology ‘Sir! I am new’. And it implies that I don’t know your personality, I don’t know your relationship history with this company, I don’t know your business history, and I don’t know how to deal with you. It also implies that I don’t know much about the products I have brought to you. The call starts awkwardly and ends awkwardly.
- Promotion strategy has changed focus from product to customer. This is fine, but with the customer situation mentioned above, the salesperson is left with no strategy at all. Some tools like folders and physician samples are available or not available, depending upon the company philosophy.
- Selling skills or other relevant skills are not taught; the salesperson is left with her/his natural orientation.
The bottom line is that the salesperson is clueless, supportless, and helpless; no wonder the results are hopeless.
I earnestly and strongly recommend that the salespersons be strengthened. They should be given orientation, information, training and tools necessary for productive work. It is not a favor to them; it is a favor to the business.
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.