Dear Colleagues!  This is Asrar Qureshi’s Blog Post #777 for Pharma Veterans. Pharma Veterans welcome sharing of knowledge and wisdom by Veterans for the benefit of Community at large. Pharma Veterans Blog is published by Asrar Qureshi on WordPress, the top blog site. Please email to for publishing your contributions here.

Use of data is our critical weakness. To correct this weakness, we first need to exercise to collect proper data, learn to analyze it properly, and then have the heart to take data-based decisions.

What should be done to improve this situation?

Let me start by saying that the industry does not have the choice to ignore data any longer. Much has changed since the beginning of COVID19. The world has undergone unexpected changes in the last about three and a half years. Even if we accept the conspiracy theories that COVID19 was man-made and unleashed on the world with some purpose, even the perpetrators could not control the outcomes. The changes were swift, deep, and irrevocable. For example, home deliveries concept and business flourished during COVID19, and has become a way of life for many people. It has also opened many new business avenues.

Pakistan Pharma Industry ownership is archaic, conservative, and traditional. Unfortunately, the younger generation is also falling into the footsteps of elders. They are playing safe by following the book, but the book itself is changing now.

The first thing needs to be done is to bring in people who are oriented towards current requirements. Preferably, it should be someone from the family because most pharma companies are family owned.

Secondly, the marketing should be discouraged from repeating the same things they had been doing for years. They should be constantly pushed to do fresh thinking and innovating.

Thirdly, and most importantly, market research should be institutionalized. IQVIA figures, sales team feedback must be vetted from the market. Every product manager extracts figures from IQVIA and boasts about percent growth and market share. This is done even when the internal figures do not match the reported ones.

National figures are important but not enough for planning and strategizing. Even worse are the quarterly or annual figures which are hyped unnecessarily. Sales figures must be dissected at every level to understand truly what is happening. Region-wise, area-wise, territory-wise, brick-wise analyses are required to have deeper understanding. It is possible now to see daily sales at every distributor along with the stock situation. This is a great improvement over the past when these figures were available only after the month had passed.

Fourthly, SFE should be employed properly. Sales Force Effectiveness – SFE – is employed by some companies, but not in its real spirit. There were no qualified SFE managers in the organization or market, therefore, someone from sales/marketing was reassigned to SFE portfolio. The poor guy didn’t even understand what it was all about. He was asked to look at figures and make some reports based on the sales figures coming through software or distributor reports or managers’ reports. The concept of SFE is comparing the input in every territory (and even customer) to the output. SFE is a three-dimensional model: one arm is the organizational resources being invested; second is the customer; and third is the responsible salesperson. The SFE analysis determines if the input/output relationship is as per expectation or not, and how effective is the salesperson. This is for the entire territory. Let us say, the organization spends 150,000 rupees in one territory in one territory as the basic, essential expense. It would include salesperson salary, expenses, and the promotional materials provided to him. The organization has to set a standard based on historical sales data, how much return they would consider acceptable, or ‘effective’. A territory may be matching, losing, or going above the line. The strategy for each territory shall be designed keeping in view this analysis. Similar analysis is required for customer investment. I know that a customer service request form asks for the outcome in packs and value, but looking closely you will see it is all a sham. Figures are inserted to justify the request and the accountability is lost because accurate reporting is not there.

Fifthly, pharma product managers must move out of offices, spend more time in the field, interact with customers more deeply and gather firsthand information. They must also drop the ‘head office’ cap and be part of the business process. They should enhance their data gathering ability and analytical skills.

Sixthly, sales managers should also be taught to analyze the performance of their team members and the area under them. You will see sales managers carrying laptops all the time and doing nothing worthwhile on it. A laptop is more of a status symbol, but it should change to ensure growth.

Seventhly, tampering with figures must be severely dealt with. It should not be allowed to fabricate, manipulate, or misreport any statistics at any level. Things are happening in the marketplace, some of which were unheard previously. The organizational vigilance needs sharper focus.


The sum up is that the pharma industry cannot avoid doing better use of data for long. Data gives power to make data driven decisions which are more accurate and can bring more predictable results. It may cause some loss of discretion for the management, but it will be good for the long-term growth, progress, and health of the organization.


Disclaimer: Most pictures in these blogs are taken from Google Images and Pexels. Credit is given where known; some do not show copyright ownership. However, if a claim is lodged at any stage, we shall either mention the ownership clearly, or remove the picture with suitable regrets.

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