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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.
2020 is coming to end. It is a year which will be hard to forget. The entire year has been affected by COVID. And it is going into the next year with an alarming surge in the incidence. Just like COVID itself, the vaccine is also embroiled in the controversy.
Year closing in some industries is more of an occasion than others. Bankers are quite busy in closing in the month of December, till the final closing on 31st. Pharmaceutical companies have different closing dates; some close in December, some in June, and some in November. For most companies, December closing is significant any way. The sales are counted every day and certain targets are to be achieved.
Shall we see the same activity and be able to close the year like always? Or shall we go along with the COVID scene and lie low?
COVID phase II is looking up to be more aggressive and majority of us are not taking it as seriously as we did last time. The number of infections is going higher every day, but the corresponding concern is not rising.
Pharma industry has not taken COVID well generally. It has tried to maintain the same pace and has refused to revise targets downwards. Rather, they have increased the spending and activities and would like to see a robust closing, as per original plans.
Here are some points that may be considered to alter the perception.
Doctors are limiting practice timing – wherever they could, the doctors are trying to limit the number of hours they do practice. Doctors and healthcare professionals are in any case, the most vulnerable population. They are exposed to infections all the time and if there is a reduction in immunity or the infection gets stronger, the HCPs are likely to contract the infection. More than anyone else, they know it. However, since our HCPs are also from the same lot, they are not always careful to the extent they should be. We may criticize this fact, but it is not easy to constantly wear full protection gear and stay on the edge all the time. The merit of this move may be questioned because major exposure is still there, but something is surely better than nothing. There would surely be an impact on business for now and future.
Doctors are restricting visits of Pharma people – this is part of the first reason. As the practice time is reduced, the doctors would like to make the most of it by seeing as many patients as they can. Allowing Pharma people means consuming part of already limited time. The point of view of doctors is fully justified though the Pharma people would not appreciate it. As businesspeople, we need to understand it and accept it. Such restrictions along with time limitation shall reduce the business in major urban areas particularly.
Pharma companies are losing the sense of proportion – the competition is intense; truly the red ocean as defined in the ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’. Everyone is adding fuel to fire by adding more investment, adding more products and adding more people. It appears as if the Pharma companies, in pursuit of their already-committed objectives, are losing the sense of proportion about the cost of selling. All marketers are trying to be aggressive at the same time. This does not bode well for the industry because soon the patience will run out as rewards would not match the efforts.
Staff is tired and tense – It takes time to carve out a career anywhere and it is doubly difficult in performance-based jobs. Sales is the most difficult because performance is judged every day and today’s good performance is good for today only. 2020 had started with big hopes, plans and activities which met the setback very early. Since then, it is an uncertain scenario where threat to lose job due to losing business is at its peak. Lots of people have lost jobs already and this reality has been in the mind of everyone. Losing job means losing the lifestyle built around that job which is hard to accept. Losing job in this time is more difficult because the prospect of getting a new one is rather bleak. The Staff is therefore tense and tired after living through nine months of ordeal which has no end in sight.
Looking at all this, closing this year will be quite different from the closing of yesteryears. It is reasonable to make adjustments that may be necessary.
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