Welcome to 2020! Let me specially welcome you to this page. This is the debut article for this column that you will be reading every month in global healthcare Journal (and the best, if you ask me).
It has become necessary to have an offering targeted at the commercial and business segment of the pharma-industrial sector and practice. Readers of this journal are mostly health scientists and practitioners. And they are very good at what they do. However, the reality is that our scientific competence and capabilities may not be adequate for success when we find ourselves (and we often do) in positions and circumstances that require business, commercial, leadership, management, interpersonal relationship and management skills.
Soft skills and commercial competence have been practically absent in the professional training curricula of most health service providers. This column will focus on these skills with a strong bent for pharma marketing, sales, selling, and leadership. Specifically, our target readers will include pharma-CEOs, Pharma C-Level managers/leaders, head of sales, head of marketing, sales managers, product/brand managers, commercial managers, trainers, planners, sales representatives, regulators, other service providers in the healthcare/pharma sectors, as well as allied stakeholders.
2020 success dashboard
2019 is gone and, naturally, we are focused on 2020. For most pharma companies, there are many unfinished businesses of 2019 that may impinge on 2020: national conferences, “thank you” gifts and souvenirs, Q4/2019 outstanding trade and field force incentives, production and marketing collateral for 2020, etc. All of these are important. But below is my list of some items that should be on your “2020 Dashboard of Success”:
Learn from 2019. You need to start with a good understanding of what happened last year. What accounts for your success or failure? What worked for you and what did not? In this regard, data is crucial. For instance, who (distributors, wholesales, institutions, products/SKUs, reps/managers) and what (territories/regions, cities and states, strategies and initiatives, investment, etc.) are responsible for, say, 80 per cent of your sales/collection? Then you can have clarity of purpose and direction for 2020
Set targets and objectives. Targets drive action for most of the field force (FF). Honestly, this ought to have been concluded before the end of 2019. If you haven’t set your targets and objectives, the next best time is NOW! Set and communicate targets by SKUs, month and quarter for each and every member of the field force. Please don’t forget the non-financial objectives as well.
Manage your cost. Most employees, especially salesmen, act as if companies mint money. Daily and periodic objectives must be set for salesmen (and every staff) so that you can insist that they deliver on them. Part of the process is development of KPI and regular appraisal of everyone. Find out your costs and the prices you pay for critical items of purchases and supplies. Benchmark. Get the best from your suppliers by making them to compete. Negotiate price and commercial terms every time and all of the time
Intensify supervision. The days are gone when you can assume that your subordinates will do the needful as agreed. Work ethics, especially amongst youngsters, is on a downward spiral. Demand for reports and evidence (photographs, video, names/phone numbers), check and do independent double-checking. Every assignment and project must have a deadline, timeline and milestone. Walk the shop floor, do on-the-spot and random physical, voice and video checks. Supervise the supervisors. It will be worth the trouble.
Secure your assets. Your money, your stock and your relationships are your assets used to generate profit. You must track them. Follow the stock and confirm it is delivered to the right customer. I find it amazing that some companies do not know where up to 70 per cent of their stock and money is at any point in time: only the reps know. Why would you supply N10m, or N5m or even N550K worth of stock to a customer for which you have absolutely no time for collection? Obviously, you need the money, for operations, payables, year-end/new-year expenses, investments, etc. Let’s face it, there isn’t much sale in this January/Q1. Besides, debts clog sales. These are the reasons you must focus on bringing money from last year’s sales, using conventional and non-conventional methods. Don’t ignore it; do something about it.
Invest in training and capacity building. So you want to grow your business by 200 per cent? or 300 per cent? All well and good. You bought cars, got a new space, and ordered for the largest consignment ever. But you want to use your human capital, as it is. This needs another look. Of all the elements of growth – money, capital, process, human capital – the last is the most critical. You can’t go far with a poorly skilled field force. And you can’t train too much. But, what if you train them and they leave? But what if you train them and they stay? Or what if you don’t train them and they stay? Research shows that people leave mostly because of either their manager (who possibly has poor leadership/management skills) or because of their environment.
Reward what is important. Most pharma companies want to see their brands grow. This requires deep, consistent and extensive demand-generation activities. But what is rewarded is collection, i.e. sales. Nothing is wrong with trading, but just be aware that people do what is rewarded. Most companies have sales, business development and financial goals. The challenge is striking a balance in our reward system. And communicating the respective expectations clearly, using numbers.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. But these are enough for starters. I’ll like to mention a few more: deepen your relationship with your partners (customers, caregivers, institutions, etc.); have a system and SOPs; watch your environment; insist on continuous improvement; walk the talk and keep your promises.
It is about the time you chart a course for yourself in the year 2020. Create a personal development plan (PDP) to see a more focused and more successful you by the end of the year. Personal development planning is the process of creating a SMART action plan, based on awareness, values, reflection, goal-setting and planning for personal development within the context of your career, education, spiritual life, self-actualisation plan, relationship or for self-improvement.
When creating your own PDP, it is essential to make sure it accurately outlines your personal goals, why they’re important to you, and how you plan to achieve them. Although all PDPs are specific to each individual, the plan will generally detail your ideal future, based on your short and/or long-term ambitions. It should also always recognise the potential obstacles you might face, and how you propose to overcome them
Here are the steps to help you create a good personal development plan:
Define your goals.
Set a deadline.
Understand your strengths.
Recognise opportunities and threats.
Develop new skills.
Measure your progress and review.
Tunde Oyeniran, B Pharm MBA, is Lead Consultant, Ekini White Tulip Consulting Limited. Ekini White Tulip Consulting is a multi-disciplinary firm delivering exceptional training, recruitment/selection and sales/marketing management solutions for the pharma/healthcare sector. Contact: email@example.com
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