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Continued from Previous……

We continue the debate between Professional and Seth Cultures, and talk about more reasons.

Difference of Interests – The interests of two parties are not aligned; these are actually opposite to each other.

The Marketing Professional is interested in the topline, the sales. He wants rapid growth of business for which he may take credit among his peers. For a more known company where sales, growth, market share, and ranking are reported in IQVIA (previously IMS) more accurately, the desire to prove professional expertise and prowess is more intense. It is a matter of personal satisfaction in the short term and a bargaining chip in the long term. Noticeable market growth requires more investment in marketing campaigns and activities. Capital-intensive marketing plans give two advantages to the Professionals. One, the achievement of desired objectives is facilitated; two, the relations of the Professionals become stronger. Relations with KOLs (Key Opinion Leaders) is a marketable and cashable commodity these days. There may be other unsaid reasons, and a combination of all these drive the Professionals to go for aggressive and expensive marketing activities.

The Seth is interested in the bottom line, the profit. He is an investor. In case of a new manufacturing company, he has invested in the plant which took few years to build, get license and operate. The sales team of any size takes 24 – 36 months to reach breakeven. All this while, the Seth has waited for good days when he would earn back his investment and earn more as Return on Investment (ROI). He is surely interested in higher and rising sales, but he is also considering the cost of selling. Any money saved here adds to profit and any money spent here reduces the profit. The Seth would therefore resist aggressive marketing plans which are invariably expensive. There is a point in later life when he has earned enough, when he may be willing to take risk with HiFi plans, albeit cautiously.

‘The Tipping Point’ made the American journalist-turned-author Malcolm Gladwell particularly famous. In the development process, the buildup keeps occurring till it reaches a point where the scale tips to the other side. This is the tipping point. After tipping point, things happen very rapidly. In Pharma, the tipping point may be seen in the sales volume of a product. After a product has been prescribed by doctors and purchased by patients an X number of times (X varies with the product), it reaches the tipping point. The new prescriptions increase faster and the old prescriptions are refilled in larger numbers; the overall growth becomes faster and longer lasting. Paracetamol and Aspirin are two classical examples, which reached tipping point many years earlier. However, this phenomenon is not common in Pharma and the marketing push has to be continued for most products. Rather, it has to be increased to stay at the level which has been achieved. The Seth knows this and is therefore quite conservative in thinking.

The diversity of interest is a cause of conflict between the two stakeholders. The Professional grumbles about stinginess of Seth, and the Seth complains about the careless spending by the Professional.

If we dig down the surface, the diversity is misplaced. The entrepreneur Seth is also dedicated to making more money. He also knows that without increasing the topline, the sales revenue, more money cannot be made. Saving on expenses has limited benefit for a limited time. If it is so, then why is the difference? First, the route to reaching the same destination is different and consensus is not developed on this point. Two, is the historical trust deficit which we talked earlier. The remedy to that is more communication by keeping the other party informed at all stages and at all times about how things are developing. Stream of real time information builds ease and confidence.

Lack of Information Sharing – it is a familiar happening. The marketer would seek appointment from the CEO (Seth) and make a passionate presentation about marketing plan. Of course, all marketing plans forecast revenue and demand expenses. The CEO would be mostly silent, even disinterested, by his looks. He would not ask incisive questions, nor he would make comments, much less raise pertinent objections. At the end of the presentation, he would nod head benignly and ask the Professional to go ahead. Nothing is committed. When the Marketer rolls out the plan, the required support does not come through. It is a suspended kind of situation. There is neither refusal nor acceptance. The plan keeps tumbling around and yields little or nothing as compared to the forecast. This may then be used against him citing that his plan did not deliver. Resistance to further plans increases. The Seth is adamant in sticking to his position, the Professional is frustrated every day and the long-term association does not materialize.

There are issues at the marketer end also. The Professional, while making plans does not inform about all the stages of development. He does not give detail of how the project will be monitored, and how the adjustments would be made if business does not develop as per forecast. The overall presentation is promising but not reassuring enough to build confidence. The Seth might have heard such things before which did not happen as promised. He enters into discussion with doubts in his mind, half decided not to commit and listens with half-shut mind. This does not bode well for the outcome anyway.

Two remedies are proposed.

The Marketer must first build receptivity so that the listener gets out of half-shut mode to attentive mode. It may be done by a crisp, candid and truthful preamble. Later, the plan itself must include control and monitoring mechanisms and course adjustments as frequent reviews and plan B if needed. The Professional Marketer should better not run through the presentation in one go. He should stop in between and invite questions, comments, discussion and involvement. The layout for spending must be detailed and phased out carefully, reconciling investment with ROI at each stage. A presentation is just like a sales call. You open, build receptivity, make your points one by one, and then close decently, seeking commitment. The Professionals coming from their high point and high caliber forget that they are dealing with a customer. They also ignore that the customer has more rights, in fact all the rights.

The Seth must give a clear picture to the Professional about what can be done and cannot be done. There is no point in wasting time on either side. It causes uncertainty, heartburn and disengagement. The Professional gradually loses the energy and either starts looking for other job opportunities or settles down to a low-energy, low-performance mode. Bare essentials are done to survive. The organization suffers ultimately.

Information sharing is vital to all relations; personal and professional. Wherever this fact has been understood and practiced, the organization has shot to great spurts of growth.

We shall take up Engagement next.


To be Continued……


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