Healthcare

Pharma Selling Conundrum

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<p>It was a pleasant morning drive. The CEO of a small size pharma company was wondering how to manage the business effectively. The business was 10 years old and had its highs and lows. The challenge according to him was not getting business, but to have adequate fund to invest in getting business. His understanding was simple. Invest in doctors and they will give business. This CEO had spent more than two decades in the industry. In his thought process the only and simplest way of getting business is obliging the doctor to such an extent that he cannot but reciprocate.</p><p>Pharmaceutical drug selling is an ever-challenging issue in India and elsewhere. Making good products is one thing and selling them is another. The industry has been following almost the same process of selling for the last two decades or more. Each state is divided into territories and each territory is manned a Medical Representative (MR). Each of these field sales person will have a list of doctors to visit and are supposed to meet anywhere between 10 to 14 doctors a day. This list can have anywhere between 150 to 250 doctors. There will be a physical or a digital Visual Aid Folder (VAF). The doctors are detailed with the aid of this VAF. Nothing much has changed officially in the sales process and approach in these 25 &ndash; 30 years. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>A lot of changes have taken place in the practice of pharma selling in India. The MR who is also designated as Territory Business Manager or Professional Service Officer by different companies is supposed to convince the doctor to prescribe their products. That is the simple and straight forward way of generating demand. It does not happen that way anymore with most of the doctors and pharmaceutical companies in India.</p><p>Customers, in this case doctors have changed. Most of the Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) are not there to listen to one&rsquo;s scientific information on drugs from the MRs In fact, the MRs are not able to add any significant value to the doctor&rsquo;s practice. There are enough and more resources available with the doctor to access every new development in drug discovery, new indications, or contraindications. There are new Health Tech solutions and start-up companies that are offering curated information to healthcare practitioners.</p><p>Pharmaceutical selling has never been more challenging than what it is today. In today&rsquo;s world managers are supposed to find solutions to problems that never existed before. And they have found &ldquo;Jugad&rdquo; solutions. They have developed the skill of engaging doctors in many ways which are anything but ethical. Many of them have been quite successful as well. Common sense says that for the sales profile one needs to have good communication, comprehension, above average intelligence, and problem solving capabilities. That was then. Now the requirements are very different. MNC pharma companies have been ethical in their approach for a long time. Indian companies have a different rule book of their own. The rules may vary here and there but remain consistent in their spirit.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>
KR Expert - Sukhendu Patnaik