Dear Colleagues! This is Pharma Veterans Blog Post #200. Pharma Veterans shares the wealth of knowledge and wisdom of Veterans for the benefit of Pharma Community. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi on WordPress, the top blog site. If you wish to share your stories, ideas and thoughts, please email to firstname.lastname@example.org for publishing your contributions here.
Dear Pharma Veterans. This series of Blogs is to have a summary view of Pharma Business in Pakistan. It is a series spread over several parts covering the entire spectrum of Pharma business.
Pharma Business – Sales – SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS GROWTH MANAGEMENT
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
SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS GROWTH MANAGEMENT
Growth is the lifeline of business, and of people. Growth is not a matter of choice; it is a matter of survival. If the business does not grow, it dies; if a person does not grow, she/he becomes irrelevant. Growth brings longevity, health and prosperity.
Business growth is to be based on sustainable basis. But what is sustainable?
Sustainable is what sustains itself without having to support it continually from the outside.
Sustainable is what never falls down due to lack of resources or inputs.
Sustainable is what progresses at the required pace to remain competitive and relevant.
Sustainable is what grows without destroying others around it.
Sustainable is what actually nurtures others around it.
Can Pharma business be developed along the lines of sustainability? Yes, it can be.
Philip Kotler said Marketing was 4 Ps; Product, Price, Promotion, Placement. Much later, Kotler added one P to make it 5Ps; Product, Price, Promotion, Place, & People.
Presently, we are talking of 7 Ps; Product, Price, Promotion, Place, Packaging, Positioning, & People.
Let us focus on the 5Ps model in which the addition of 5th P for People is curious. Actually, it is a natural evolution. We have traveled from Time and Motion Theory which discounted human factor to the times when human factor has been upgraded from ‘resource’ to ‘capital’.
Who are the ‘People’ in Pharma business? Salespersons and Customers. The interaction and relationship of these people builds business on sustainable growth model.
Products can be any; we understand all products have utility and quality. Price can be any; it is always relative to need and comparators. People make the difference.
What are the ways in what People build sustainable growth models?
- Salespersons sell the products to customers to fulfill their patient needs. If this need is identified and satisfied, the product attains legitimacy. Customer is satisfied and keeps using the product.
- Salesperson provides accurate and authentic information to help the customer make right decisions about use in patients. The customer feels comfortable and grateful and keeps using the product.
- Salesperson visits regularly and nurtures the seller-buyer relation with reliability and predictability. The customer considers him his ally and gives him time, attention and business.
- Salesperson provides services (within the ambit of the work), without missing deadline or commitment, never misinforming, never disappearing; the customer develops respect and keeps giving business.
- Salesperson presents his best to customer; communicating well, keeping knowledge updated, showing decent mannerism and learning and applying desired skills. The customer treats him with dignity and keeps giving business.
It is true that the current model of (even) leading Pharma companies is not sustainable. The reasons are obvious.
- High Turnover. Almost all Pharma companies are suffering from high turnover, may be over 40%. It means that half of the sales team is changed in a span of a year. In some territories, change could be many times over. Sustainable growth model cannot be built in this situation, where people are not stable.
- Lack of Training. Product knowledge is missing, skills are undeveloped, mannerism is poor and overall sense of building relations is lacking because the Pharma companies, in their zeal to cut cost from everywhere to invest on customers, have stopped training. What they are forgetting is that training is an ‘investment for customer’; not for the salesperson.
- Centralized Customer Services. One ill will lead to another. High turnover leads to the effort to depend less on sales team for customer services and relations. The center takes over the activity. It is similar to Martial Law taking over Civilian Rule, with all its related complications. There can be long discussion on it, but it is a poor replacement all the same.
The summary is that Sustainable Business Growth is highly desirable but will only be possible if current practices are modified and more appropriate measures are taken.