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Continued from Previous……
Innovation is another important area to work on as part of Post COVID strategies.
Innovation is multidimensional and should be regarded as such, rather than taking it in the narrow sense of the product innovation. Innovation may be considered in multiple areas.
First of all, innovation is needed in workflow and work procedures. I understand we are dying to return to the old, pre-COVID routine. This should be corrected. A hundred percent return may never happen actually, and we should stop looking for it. Instead, we should bring innovative means of communicating with team members working from home. I also understand we shall insist upon everyone to attend office routinely. It may not be necessary. COVID may be down, but not out yet. Certain amount of caution will pay in the long run.
Innovation in communication with customers is needed. During COVID peak, every salesperson insisted on sending WhatsApp messages to remind. It was a waste if the doctor was not attending the clinic at all. It would have been better to keep them engaged through more pleasant approaches. It is needed now as well. Rather than rushing for doubling the frequency of calls, better means of communication should be developed. Digitizing the conventional detailing is not a great thing to do and may not be received very well. Variety of information is a better approach. Information may include product information, disease information and related development, management in general, interesting anecdotes and a roundup of important world events. A flavor of sports roundup may also be added. All said and done, digital presentation has to be more lively than personal call.
Innovation in work routine is in order. Pharma sales calls are many a times accompanied calls. The number of accompanied calls may be increased to enhance effectiveness. Most likely, the previous frequency of calls may not return for quite some time, because the doctors would like to focus on patients after extended break; Pharma salespersons may not be their priority at all. This fact should be respected. Two effective calls are more productive than four regular calls at this time, hence the need for increasing accompanied calls.
Innovation in customer services is worth considering. Traveling is restricted anyway and shall remain so for some more time; outdoor activities are also not accepted universally. The overall variety of current array of customer services has squeezed considerably. It is therefore important to think about new ways of serving customers. Protection themes may be added such as offering fumigation of clinics and homes, installing sanitizer dispensers, making posters for education and so on. As mentioned in previous blog, some rationalization of marketing expenses is certainly required. Doling out cash amounts is not a great thing to do at this time; offering life insurance may be better, offering insurance of assets may also be considered. It is my considered view that long duration customer service is better at this time as compared to short term one.
Innovation in supply chain is utmost important. The procurement patterns, buying quantities, ordering frequency, logistics, and distribution channels should be reviewed, reinforced and updated.
Innovation in products is always necessary and it has become more urgent at this time. In our country, where most common molecules are manufactured by an average of 150-200 manufacturers, innovation is the only way to stand out and get differentiated. This is the time when tenders for the new financial year are being floated all over the country. I have my serious reservations about institutions getting enough funding for buying in this year. Winning a product in tender would not automatically generate business, and the amount of business will be likely less than last year.
Innovation is a large subject and the above is definitely not an exhaustive list of things-to-do. It is just to emphasize that innovative thinking should be applied in all areas of business, operations and management.
Last but not the least, the government should also consider innovation. For example, appointment at key positions should be on merit rather than politics. In fact, politicians should enjoy politics, get elected, sit pretty in assemblies and relish their perks. The country management should be largely given to qualified managers, not to unqualified elected politicians.