The challenge is to keep pay and rewards aligned to the objectives of the organization
In pharma sales, process and targets are equally important - Varun Upadhyaya, Director and India HR Head, Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories.
Q. What are the unique characteristics of the sales teams in the pharmaceutical industry?
Pharmaceutical is not very different from FMCG in the talent requirements and talent management challenges. The main difference is that pharmaceutical has, both a mass general sales process oriented to physicians where the sales team targets the doctors geographically scattered, and reach and relationship building is key, and a specialty driven sales team that is oriented to the specialized groups that require these products such as hospitals, where understanding the product itself enhances the B2B customer experience. The main difference is that the availability of the product is a supply chain responsibility and not a sales responsibility as many of the drugs are on prescription hence the customer to influence to prescribe the drug is actually the doctor.
The interesting and unique element of pharmaceutical sales is that the sales person is discouraged to innovate and must follow the process strictly.
Q. What talent challenges are faced in this industry?
Attrition is a major challenge which is mostly driven by the need to better one’s career. People want to see vertical growth in the careers which is not always possible. So we are focusing a lot on creating horizontal growth by provide learning and enhancement of work to all our sales people by engaging people with the sales team or the sales effectiveness teams, for example.
Another challenge is to keep pay and rewards aligned to the objectives of the organization. We reward for both revenues achieved and diligent adherence to the process.
Q. What are the key trends in pharmaceutical sales management?
Increasingly, there are many products coming in the over-the-counter sales format as opposed to prescriptions. Such a sales process is slightly different and involves sales people approaching the chemist shops in a similar approach to the traditional FMCG.
People who left pharmaceutical to join telecom or insurance are coming back to pharmaceutical as they have realized that the skills and competencies of concept selling are very different from a product selling, and being good at one does not necessarily mean one will be successful at the other.
Recognition will play an increasingly important role. At Dr. Reddy’s we have what we called the URJA (U are just awesome) program that includes a set of formal and informal ways to recognize performance and engage with employees.