The Argumentative Indian Pharma Manager by Prof Vivek Hattangadi
octors are increasing
the number of
firewalls that restrict
access and limit interaction
with pharma. One doctor
has published a firewall-
list of 20 do’s and don’ts
for Medical Reps (See box
inset). Doctors are finding
it difficult to manage their
time given the plethora
of companies, multiple
divisions and myriads of
Still, few pharma companies
are responding to this
It is the competence of
the field force that will
determine effectiveness and
outcome of not just in-clinic
interactions but of strategic
plans of pharma companies
as well. Some companies are using the brief time to
create additional touch points with doctors through
various activities like CME and awareness camps, where
they can have time to interact meaningfully. However,
majority of the companies are struggling with attrition
and incompetence of their field force, leading to customer
The HR paradigm in
Indian Pharma has to
make a major shift from
(sales) to rewarding
the process (learning &
development) that leads
to good outcomes. And
already fired the first
salvo by redefining field
force performance to be
measured and rewarded
by customer satisfaction.
There is a direct
correlation between field
force competence and
customer satisfaction as
revealed in a survey of
15,000 business customers
including healthcare, by
MEDICINMANField Force Excellence
July 2014 | www.medicinman.net
Anup Soans is an Author, Facilitator and the
Editor of MedicinMan.
Write in to him: firstname.lastname@example.org
Connect with Anup on LinkedIn | Facebook |
Seen outside a Doctor’s Chamber:
1. Be fast.
2. Be to the point.
3. Product name only.
4. No detailing
5. No samples please.
6. My patients are my best teachers.
7. I will ask you, if need be.
8. Books/Journals are welcome.
9. Patients will always get priority.
10. If I refuse to see you, please do not feel offended, I
may have some other important work
11. When there are no patients, I want you to be faster.
12. Please visit once/month only.
13. Appointment may be canceled at last minute.
14. As you know, it is difficult to please everyone.
15. Please keep silence in the waiting room.
16. Keep away from the hospital staff.
17. When patient is in, you lose your right to be inside.
18. Please maintain professional/business etiquette.
19. Maintain your dignity.
20. Please cooperate.
Meet the Editor
A MEDICINMAN Initiative
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- Field Force people responsible for KOL management
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Anup Soans has worked as a Medical Rep, Oncology
Product Specialist and Front-line Manager in Pharma.
Later he moved to IJCP, a pioneer in CME, medico
marketing, healthcare communication, where he rose
to become the Executive Director. At IJCP, he was
responsible for identifying, developing and sustaining
a mutually rewarding relationship with over 300 KOLs
in all major specialties for 12 years. Many of the leading and emerging KOLs
identified and nurtured by Anup Soans went on win prestigious awards like
the Padmashri and Dr. B.C. Roy awards among others.
Former MD (retd.), Galderma India
Brand Director - Classic Brands Europe,
CEO Perspectives on
KOL Management: Key
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1. Building on Your Team’s Strengths ..................5
A strengths-based approach to team building in
2. The Argumentative Indian Pharma Manager..7
Disagreements and arguments are inevitable but
much unpleasantness can be avoided by observing
a few ground rules.
Prof. Vivek Hattangadi
3. Trending on LinkedIn........................................11
The real reason why medical reps quit their jobs.
A comment by Prof. Vivek Hattangadi
4. Brand Modi: Lessons from the 2014
Politics aside, there are several things pharma
managers can learn from the success of brand
NaMo during elections 2014.
MedicinMan Volume 4 Issue 7 | July 2014
Editor and Publisher
Prof. Vivek Hattangadi; Jolly Mathews
Salil Kallianpur; Dr. Shalini Ratan; Shashin
Bodawala; Prabhakar Shetty; Vardarajan S;
Dr. Mandar Kubal; Dr. Surinder Kumar
International Editorial Board
Hanno Wolfram; Renie McClay
Prof. Vivek Hattangadi, Dean, Professional Skills
Letters to the Editor: email@example.com
CONTENTS (Click to navigate)
5 | MedicinMan July 2014
ecently, I accompanied my wife for a consultation
with a special educator for children with learning
disabilities. We wanted to take a second opinion
regarding rehabilitation program for a child known to us.
Sitting across, I was actively listening to the inputs from
the special educator who meticulously went through all
the findings from the reports.
The inputs given were as under:
1. Yes, there is an issue – partly psychological and partly
2. Do not label the boy (as dyslexic, OCD etc.)
3. Identify areas of strength exhibited by the boy
4. Spend 80% of the time on redirecting/reinforcing the
5. Do not ignore the weaknesses if it comes in the way
of progress, but allocate 20% of time for it and gradually
6. Since the boy is 13 years old go through an aptitude
test and based on that work a 5 to 10 year plan to help
him to stand on his own legs
7. Integrate various therapy approaches and synchronize
them. This helps in uniformity of therapy approach and
hence there is no confusing messages to the individual.
Now, why am I narrating all these?
Because my mind immediately saw a lesson that could
be applied to the manager (FLMs & SLMs*) - salesperson
How can sales people be better managed?
First things first – sales people are not mentally
challenged nor have any other disorder. Their
aptitude and attitude may vary. Hence it is all the more
easy to train and coach them to be productive.
K. Hariram is the former MD (retd.) At
He is Chief Mentor at MedicinMan and a
regular contributor. firstname.lastname@example.org
Build on Your Team’s Strengths
instead of correcting their weaknesses
If the weaknesses
are likely to come
in the way of work
then the method of
recruitment itself must
K. Hariram | Build on Your Team’s Strengths
6 | MedicinMan July 2014
Second, avoid labeling them as being lazy, having a
bad attitude, being duffers, being uncooperative etc.
Third, focus on strengths of the individual. This must
start by clearly identifying each individual’s strengths
Marcus Buckingham, who has done lots of work on
“strength based performance”clearly states:“If we want
employees to take responsibility for their own performance
and development, what better place to start than with their
Fourth, accentuate the positives by building on the
strengths of the individual.
Fifth, do not ignore the weaknesses. It simply means
acknowledging that the weaknesses are actually
areas of least opportunity for growth from a short term
perspective. If the weaknesses are likely to come in
the way of work and productivity, then the method of
recruitment/selection itself must be questioned.
Sixth, develop a road map. How often do the
managers with the help of the HR/Training
department make an assessment and work on the future
development with clear road map and follow up?
Seventh: synchronize. Even at the level of FLM and
SLM, one finds different ways of handling and the
messages received are varying and conflicting. Messages
or communication between two departments (typically
sales & marketing or sales & HR) seldom coincide. Can
there be an integrated approach by all concerned in
developing the individual?
So, the above are some guidelines for a better approach:
lighter, more creative, more flexible, strengths-based,
and ultimately more human. The icing on the cake being
the easy availability of current technologies as effective
enablers in helping build a better performing individual.
(*FLM – Front line manager, SLM – Second line manager)
7 | MedicinMan July 2014
t does take great maturity to understand that
the opinion we are arguing for is merely the
hypothesis we favour, necessarily imperfect,
probably transitory, which only very limited minds
can declare to be a certainty or a truth.” - Milan Kundera
(Czech Republic’s most recognized writer)
How beautifully Milan Kundera sums up an argument!
Yet we frequently indulge in arguments with reportees,
peers, bosses, and even members of our family.
Whoever wins an argument often leaves the loser bitter
and waiting to exact revenge.
Nevertheless, disagreements and arguments can be
healthy and even lead to some much needed changes in
the relationship. We have to learn to deal with differenc-
es of opinion. Disagreements need not break a healthy
relationship if some ground rules of an argument are
kept in mind.
“There can be no progress without head-on confrontation”
says Christopher Hitchens, an English born American
writer who passed away in 2011.
There are positive and productive ways to disagree and
opine contrary views. Although they may not save us
from the unavoidable nastiness of arguments, construc-
tive differences can help us to ensure that issues are
solved and the differences do not continue.
Below is a list of don’ts during an argument and the
options of an alternate approach to resolve arguments.
1Do not bring in other issues. While arguing, people
tend to bring up issues that have nothing to do with
the issue at hand. For instance, we might having differ-
ences with our boss on a brand strategy and we sud-
denly rake up an irrelevant, old, training & development
issue, which has no relation to the current one. Not only
does this bring up more questions, it also dilutes the
issue at hand.
Prof. Vivek Hattangadi
INDIANPHARMAMANAGER!(WITHAPOLOGIESTOAMARTYASEN) Arguments are inevitable. These are the ground rules.
8 | MedicinMan July 2014
Alternate approach: We need not avoid the issue and
run away from it. Instead, we should deal with it — and
that’s all. Any other issue can be discussed and sorted
out at some other time. Remind yourself of what started
the current argument, and stick to it. Also make sure that
you do not allow the opponent (here, our boss/ reportee)
to divert from the subject at hand. This way, arguments
will be cleaner and shorter, and may eventually settle a
2Do not make personal attacks. By making personal
attacks, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we
pollute the argument and this can aggravate the situation.
The situation becomes uglier and bitterness creeps in. This
is destructive because we can hurt the opponent in a way
which we may regret later.
Alternate approach: Let the disagreement be based on
specific issues, instead of making the fight personal. Do
not focus on the downfall of your opponent. Instead, be
candid and tell him in a pleasant tone which action of his
has caused hurt. That way, he will know which behaviour
of his has to be modified. You may even end up making
your opponent your well-wisher.
3Do not play the blame-game.‘Blamers’always find
faults in other people. They use and abuse their posi-
tion or power, and will hurt and harm others to gain the
upper hand. They are bossy and dictatorial.‘Blamers’try to
find any feeble excuse to make someone else the‘bad per-
son’. This is a self-protective mechanism. Perhaps, they feel
that acknowledging their faults will work against them.
Alternate approach: admit your fault while still driving
your point home. Apologize and ask for pardon if need be.
Above all, explain what issues bother you. This way, you
still assert your point of view while exposing both sides.
4Do not‘play the victim’.‘Playing the victim’is done to
justify abusing others, to manipulate, or to seek atten-
tion. The one who‘plays victim’actually does not want to
come out as a winner or be triumphant; he/she wants to
be pitied! Do not play victim! Eventually, others will get fed
Alternate approach: Have courage and admit your fault.
Tell your opponent if you genuinely feel crushed, but as-
sert your need for change on that front. Acknowledge your
role in the altercation and move toward a resolution.
5Never use coarse language. Using coarse or abusive
language when angry exposes our weakness and
indicates that we are unprofessional and insensitive. Such
behaviour never eases tensions. If we swear at the person
we are arguing with, we are insulting his dignity. This only
serves to move the dispute from a disagreement of opin-
ions to a personal assault.
Prof. Vivek Hattangadi | The Argumentative Indian Pharma Manager
”Do not focus on the
downfall of your
opponent. Instead, be
candid and tell him
in a pleasant tone
which action of his
has caused hurt. That
way you may even
end up making your
opponent your well-
9 | MedicinMan July 2014
Alternate approach: Keep the professional atmosphere
clean. Do not flog a dead horse, but adhere to the problem
at hand. Concentrate on the behaviour, not the person. Our
point will be clearer if we speak rationally, and things may
actually shift in our favour.
6Never resort to violence! This is very common in
husband-wife arguments and includes actions like
noisily slamming doors, throwing objects, or pounding fists
on tables. All these behaviours are reminiscent of childish
fights between school-going siblings! Nothing is achieved,
and we succeed in making the antagonist angrier.
Alternate approach: if you feel the urge to fling objects,
find an alternative way to vent your feelings. For instance,
write on a piece of paper why you are angry, take a break,
or may be just have a cup of tea. The point is to remove
yourself from the situation while letting the other person
know that you need to do this - so that we don’t look like
the fighter who storms out.
7Do not run away from the scene. When an argument
starts, some people first find the way to put the issue
away. If we are in a foul temper, waiting until we cool down
is a good idea because we can think more rationally later.
We are less likely to say something that we will regret later.
In fact, compared to some of the alternatives, storming out
is a great idea; however, there can be some negative conse-
quences to this. One such downside is that the catalyst of
the dispute can simmer in our head and we may come out
with some mean remarks later on!
Alternate approach: rather than storming out, first regain
your composure. Taking a deep breath can help. This can
give you and your opponent a moment to regain control
over your behaviours, and you can still deal with the issues
at hand immediately. If you need to leave the scene, smile
and inform your opponent that you need to step out to
Differences of opinion are bound to exist between two
intelligent human beings, and a confrontation is the natu-
ral result of such differences.“If two men on the same job
agree all the time, then one is useless. If they disagree all
the time, both are useless.”(Anon)
“The most important tactic in an argument next to being
right is to leave an escape hatch for your opponent so
that he can gracefully swing over to your side without an
embarrassing loss of face”says Stephen Jay Gould, the
non-fiction writer. -KH
Prof. Vivek Hattangadi | The Argumentative Indian Pharma Manager
”The most important
tactic in an argument
next to being right
is to leave an escape
hatch for your
opponent so that
he can gracefully
swing over to your
side without an
embarrassing loss of
Prof. Vivek Hattangadi is a Consultant
in Pharma Brand Management and Sales
Training at The Enablers. He is also visiting
faculty at CIPM Calcutta (Vidyasagar
University) for their MBA course in
“The managers most responsible for a company’s
success or failure happen to be the ones with whom
the CEO spends the least amount of time. The people
I’m talking about are frontline managers—shop-floor
supervisors, leaders of R&D or sales teams, managers in
restaurant chains or call centers. Frontline managers are
a key CEO constituency, as important and deserving of
attention and time as the senior executive team, business
unit and functional heads, or major customers or investors.
Both Pharmacia-Upjohn and Schering-Plough faced
what looked like insurmountable problems. In both cases,
I made engaging and motivating frontline managers a
cornerstone of my turnaround strategy.”
Fred Hassan, the“turn-around man”, made
front-line managers the key to his strategies
as CEO of Pharmacia-Upjohn and Schering-
Shakti-Chakraborty, the Medical Rep to
Board member of Lupin spoke on making
the front-line free from unnecessary
heirarchy and red-tapism at FFE 2013
The key point of Shakti Chakraborty’s keynote address at
FFE 2013 was to reduce the management layers that do
not serve any useful purpose other than putting pressure
on Medical Reps. Instead companies should increase the
remuneration of Medical Reps and FLMs and raise their social
Shakti Chakraborty emphasised the need to train Medical
Reps adequately and also equip the Medical Rep not just
with technical information but with the required emotional
resilience to face the hardships in the marketplace. Most
Medical Reps quit because their training only equips them with
detailing skills and not with realistic picture of the marketplace.
FRED HASSAN: FLMs are the lynch pins
of successful strategy execution.
SHAKTI CHAKRABORTY: Cut through
red-tapism and empower the front-lines
HardKnocks for the GreenHorn and SuperVision for
the SuperWiser Front-line Manager are best-selling
books that have been widely used to develop and
motivate front-line pharma professionals.
Written by industry veteran Anup Soans, these books
will give you the Knowledge, Attitude, Skills and
Habits (KA$H) to succeed in you role as a Medical Rep
or Front-line Manager.
EMPOWER YOUR FRONT-LINES WITH THESE TRIED AND
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Comment by Prof. Vivek Hattangadi
“Medical Representative Turnover is Expensive; yet
Owners of Pharma Companies Have not Realized it.”
One of my clients from Bangladesh did a study in which
I was involved. The attrition rate of field-staff in that
company was 17%. The final conclusion: If the attrition
rate could be reduced by just 1%, the company could
save over Bangladeshi Taka 10 million annually.
The reasons for attrition could be varied but some of
the most important include:
1. The immediate first-line manager – An untrained
first-line manager is a curse to the organization which
the owner does not realize. Many owners expect their
first-line managers to be super medical representatives.
They are not taught how to lead. Hence their
behaviour could frustrate the medical representative.
2. Feeling undervalued - Everyone wants to be
recognized for a task well done. Recognition does
not have to be monetary. A simple pat on the
back in public could be adequate; sometimes the
most effective recognition is sincere appreciation.
Recognizing employees is not simply a nice thing to do
but an effective way to communicate appreciation.
3. Misalignment – the company may have hired
someone whom it should have never hired. Maybe
someone without a ‘selling personality’ or may be with
poor communication skills.
4. Poor salaries and working allowances - money can
play a significant role, although seldom it is the primary
reason. But it does rank high especially in an industry
where there is a dearth of talent and the ‘head-
hunters’ offer even 25-30% hike!
5. Poor growth opportunities – especially when one
has an incompetent first-line manager who blocks the
career progress of the medical representatives. A lot of
good talent can be lost if the employees feel trapped
in dead-end positions. Talented ones are forced to job-
hop from one company to another in order to grow
in status and compensation. The effective companies
find ways to help their people develop new skills and
responsibilities in their current positions and prepare
them for future advancement within the company."
Trending on LinkedIn
”An untrained first-line
manager is a curse
to the organization
which the owner
does not realize.
expect their first-
line managers to
be super medical
They are not taught
how to lead.
“The Real Reason Why Medical Reps Quit Their Jobs”
See the complete discussion here.
11 | MedicinMan July 2014
ll of us have witnessed the overwhelming success of the
BJP in the recent elections. Politics aside, I feel there is
something all of us in marketing can learn. Below are three
takeaways for all pharma marketeers:
2) Effective Communication Vs.“CRM”
3) Preparation and Hard Work
1. Focus: There was a single focus point called“Brand Modi”while
Congress had at least two, if not more. All energies were aligned
to build“Brand Modi”. At times, we in our business get tempted to
promote products in multiple indications just because competition
is doing so.
The“Brand Modi”campaign did not drift; it stayed focused on its
own strengths (e.g. promise of development) rather than respond-
ing to competition, while competition kept on changing position
and also spent lot of resources talking negative about“Brand Modi”.
In our business too, sometimes, we are tempted to talk ill about oth-
er brands/molecules rather than communicating our own strengths.
It does not work. Brands get built on their strengths only. Focus is
critical to success.
12 | MedicinMan July 2014
Politics aside, there are several things pharma managers can
learn from the success of brand NaMo during elections 2014
13 | MedicinMan July 2014
2. Effective Communication Vs.“CRM”: Excellent example of
what an effective communication campaign can do. This has
proven that effective communication is far more impactful
than“CRM”with poor communication. Many parties would
have spent money (“CRM”) in luring voters, as against that the
communication onslaught through various media channels
that was done by the Modi campaign. Resources were used for
“Effective Communication”instead of CRM, for building“Brand
Prescription“PULL”vs prescription“PUSH”which we always
talk about can be seen here. Unless and until the doctor is
“pulled”to prescribe the brand (through science) it does not
last long. Pushing the doctor to prescribe our brands by gratifi-
cation (Inputs, CRMs) can work for shorter duration. Impact of
Effective communication is long standing. It also proved that
CRM cannot be a substitute to strong communication. Belief in
communication is very important for execution.
3. Preparation and Hard Work: The work for“Brand Modi”
started way back in September 12 (Gujarat Election was the
time when TV ads were released about tourism & develop-
ment. It was beginning of building a story around develop-
ment.). Identifying critical success factors (Like winning in
large states like UP, Maharashtra was essential for any party to
come into power), breaking target into smaller milestones and
then carefully crafting strategy to ensure success was done
well before time. Deploying resources and aligning execu-
tion also requires meticulous planning. Many people worked
relentlessly and reached voters in these states. All villages were
tapped by party workers communicating the“Brand Modi”. Mr
Modi himself traveled more than 3 Lac Km conducted 5000+
meetings and addressed 430 rallies in just 6-8 months. That’s
a great example of Sheer Hard work. This proves that there is
no substitute to hard work in the field. Lesson to be learnt is
“attending meetings cannot be the reason for not reaching to
the customers (FW)”. There is no substitute to meeting doctors
and increasing coverage.
There can be many other inferences and learning. However I
thought above three are very apt and directly applicable to
We need to take a leaf out of this and exert ourselves in field to
build our brands. -SD
Satish Dandekar| Brand Modi: Lessons from the 2014 Elections
This has proven that effective
communication is far more
impactful than “CRM” with
poor communication. Many
parties would have spent
money (“CRM”) in luring
voters, as against that the
through various media
channels that was done by the
14 | MedicinMan July 2014
‘WHAT THE PHARMA CEO WANTS
FROM THE BRAND MANAGER -
Overcome the Tough Challenges in
Pharma Branding’- Edition II
Till about three years back, there was no specific book
available on pharmaceutical brand management. Drawing
on my experience as a brand manager and coached by the
giants of pharma brand management like Prof. Chitta Mitra,
Prof. Tarun Gupta and Dr. Raja Smarta, my first book on
pharma brand management was published in 2011
The tremendous response to Edition I and the recent report
by McKinsey & Company:‘India Pharma 2020: Propelling
access and acceptance, realizing true potential’inspired me
to write Edition II. The remarks in this report“New products
will cease to drive growth; existing large brands would
need to make up the gap”are significant. Brand-building
should be seen as the most important activity in pharma
marketing. It is high time that pharma marketers in India get
out from 1970’s mode in pharma marketing. Sadly, the 40
year old Visual Aid and detailing which are now ineffective,
still continue to be the primary genre to promote pharma
brands in India.
Welcome to the 21st Century marketing techniques which
are elaborated in Edition II!
Edition II of ‘WHAT THE PHARMA CEO WANTS FROM THE
BRAND MANAGER - Overcome the Tough Challenges in Phar-
ma Branding’brings in modern brand building techniques
in the three new chapters which have been included in this
1. The building blocks of a Pharma Brand – with particular
relevance to the Asian Pharma markets
2. Blue Ocean Strategy – Can it be adopted by the brand
managers of Pharma India?
3. Patient Centric Marketing – The novel way to promote a
Edition II is a must-read for all pharma marketers in Asia,
Europe, Africa and Latin America. It is also a text book for
students of business schools in India pursuing MBA in phar-
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The Half-Time Coach is based on the concept of half-time
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The Half-Time Coach is a learning-by-reflection program
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ships to build and sustain high-performance teams.
VALUE ADD: Psychometric Assessment*
*Psychometrics assessments give in-depth insights into one’s personality preferences and its impact on
interpersonal relationships and teamwork.
email@example.com | +91-934-2232-949 | www.medicinman.net
Webinars and E-Learning
All programs are fully customizable. A pre-program questionnaire is used to capture the
needs and expectations of the participants. Company’s may request a demonstration of a
particular module at no expense (except conveyance to venue).
Programs incorporate the principles of adult learning and are highly participative, audio-vi-
sual and activity-based. Important truths are conveyed through games, stories and videos.
Companies are advised to give participants the books on which the programs are based for
continued learning and development. The same may be procured from the author at a dis-
Company’s may choose to deliver a program as a webinar
- giving the advantage of scale and lowering costs.
Audiences are kept engaged using visually stimulating
slides and powerful delivery. Emphasis is placed on tak-
ing charge of one’s success, even in the absence of over-
Most recently 1,000 reps of a leading MNC were
trained over four webinars with excellent feedback.
Customized issues of
MedicinMan, with inputs
from the company can be
given to the Field Force for
their continuous learning
reaches 60,000 pharma
Interactive Classroom Training
Management Games Audio/Visual
iSharpenMMy Success is My Responsibiliti