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We take a break from the ‘Story of a Pharma Salesperson’ and move on to other topics. We shall return to it again later.
Continued from Previous……
In this last part, we conclude our discussion on this topic.
The other method of planning is to think in short-term, medium-term and long term. We can generate some basic ideas around these. It may be treated more like a blueprint.
In the here and now, agility is the key.
- All marketing tactics should be short, rather immediate term. Investments, if any, should be done with the same view. Rather than making a deal with a customer for three or six months, it should be one or two months with the option to renew.
- Promotional campaigns should be two-pronged. One arm should continue building for longer term, the other arm should be for immediate term. Longer terms are done through developing indications or specialties. They require discussion, focus and some sort of customer experience before he/she may start prescribing. This effort should continue but the required results should be linked to short term things.
- Team orientation should be realigned to the current situation. Last time, it was the first time, and no one knew what to do. Now, there is an experience behind and hopefully we should be able to do better. During the first episode, training was imparted perforce as there was nothing better to do. This time, sales activities in the field should be in sharp focus.
- Supply chains are less disrupted logistically till now. Stocks may be built adequately but not overwhelmingly. No country is interested in putting further dent to their economy through imposing strict lock down. It looks like the talk about COVUD is mere talk and practical situation is quite opposite.
I summary, close observation and agile responses are what we should think of.
Whatever crisis may happen, one part should be damage control in that time and other part should be to see that future is made more secure. During the first episode of COVID which ran for a pretty long time, confusion largely prevailed. Every day people wished COVID away and waited. Action was minimum and understandably so. During second episode, we are acting as if we have become battle-hardened and we don’t care too hoots about COVID anymore. This is also not a good approach.
It is time that some measures may be considered for medium-term.
- The field work may be redesigned to incorporate disruptions like these.
- The possibility may be discussed with customers openly and candidly. Alternative means of liaison in the event of further disruption should be discussed.
- Based on these, actions should be taken. For example, digital contact methods should be evolved which could be put in place as and when needed.
- Centralized control and communication may be evolved which is independent of human interface.
- Allocation of resources should be reviewed and rearranged.
- Crisis Management SOPs should be developed
The summary is that the working system should be redesigned somewhat over time and incorporation of mechanisms to handle disruptions may be considered. It is my thinking that COVID is not going to be the last disruption we shall see. There is a likelihood that more such things may happen.
I suggest that the Pharma companies do some serious soul searching and make fundamental changes to the way work is done.
- Cost of selling has gone too high, even for the bigger companies. It should be reviewed and brought into more reasonable limits.
- Team sizes have grown out of proportion. These should be rationalized.
- Promotional strategies have focused on investment only for too long. In fact, the marketing persons have stopped thinking about anything else. Profound changes are needed to correct and cure.
- Pharmaceutical selling is now labor-intensive and capital-intensive. This is going opposite to how the world is progressing.
- The world is going digital and paperless. Pharma selling is manual and full of junk. This system is so flawed it cannot survive for long. Change may be considered over time.
- Central promotion must be designed over time.
Pharmaceutical companies did not adjust well to COVID. However, COVID is still here and adequate and relevant steps should still be taken.
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