Sunday, April 11, 2010

Training, strategy and activities

The recent tragedy in which, 76 brave CRPF jawans died due to an attack by naxalites has a lesson for us in India. Gen V K Singh, our army chief, reflecting on the above incident said that the ill fated 62nd battalion of CRPF was not trained for jungle warfare. Hence, when this battalion went on a patrol influenced by an 'intelligence plant' they were sitting ducks to the bullets by maoists. This incident is a chilling reminder to people involved in military or armed forces or MARKETING (yes, marketing) that training, strategy and activities are very vital.

The above image obtained from here.

Training is an important process that equips people in military operations to handle 'objections' to their presence. Obviously, these 'objections' come from individuals hostile to the armed forces involved in military operations. In marketing too, there are many objections that sales personnel and marketing people handle. In fact, marketing is ultimately about overcoming objections and converting prospects to customers. Training helps boost confidence, communication skills, vocalization, body language, and detailing to ensure doctor and chemist conversion by pharma marketers. Training is not about teaching in classroom settings alone. Training is an ongoing process. Training in the military or in marketing arenas is vital.

Let us try and understand what military trainers do and how it may be adapted by pharma trainers!!

Improve capabilitities

The basic motto of military training is to establish and improve capabilities of military personnel in their respective roles. So training programs ensure that there is an acquisition of skills, knowledge and competencies that enhance role performance. A MR becomes better in his role as a front-line pharma marketer converting doctors to patronize his products. A first-line manager correspondingly becomes better. So the capability has to be improved.

To improve capability, outcomes should be clearly defined. A simple routine may be, taking out the visual aid smoothly while maintaining eye contact with doctor during in-clinic activity, handling the visual aid, and using pointer to ensure effective detailing. Many MRs do not do this properly. So the pharma trainer's goal can be ensuring correct visual aid handling and this itself will enhance in-clinic capability of MR.

Recruit training

New jawans are put through training modules that toughen up recruits physically, psychologically, and technically. MRs too have it tough on the field finally, they have to go yonder to unknown areas, where terrain is unknown, most companies (except professional companies that have a robust database) do not provide new recruit MRs with doctor list. So the MR has to seek doctors, chemists, understand the sampling strategy or tactics, clinic entry tactics, chemist POB tactics, and so on. If MRs are given role training through appropriate actionable intelligence (market data), mock exercises and drills it will do wonders for the company. So MRs ought to finally get toughened up physically, psychologically and technically.

In most companies, the first-line manager handles the initial training. But recruit training is a key to building a solid MR, since he is very mouldable at the initial stage.

Advanced training

After the basic training, jawans may get slotted for specialized training for eg., handling explosives etc or higher levels of skills. However, the basic training is the versatile one. Although MRs do not have such specialized roles to play, still training on new products, new concepts in marketing like campaign activities, in-stall activities etc will help the organization reach new heights.


This is a type of enculturation. Jawans are made to orient towards the nuances of a military culture. Jawans have to re-culture in to a military culture. Mannerisms, presentation etc change. This resocialization is a very important process to ensure highest motivation and dutifulness. Resocialization creates a personality change, a jawan is born!!

Resocialization does happen in pharma marketing - over the years the boy MR becomes a professional MR, his communication attributes sharpen up, presentation improves, crisis management skills become wonderful, customer handling is excellent ... however, there are no focused training modules in pharma marketing that help in resocialization. It is time the pharma biggie companies who can afford to do this, start emphasizing on the same. Resocialization will help the civilian new recruit MR become a sharp professional MR very quickly. Resocialization will show up in the way the MR talks, walks, dresses, communicates, has social skills, the way he uses words to telling effect, the way he gestures, eats ... and so on.

Hand-to-hand combat

Military training also focuses on hand-to-hand combat skills. For marketers, the equivalent is the skill of handling doctors, chemists and stockists. Most MRs bumble and learn it on field or seeing how other company MRs particularly senior MRs do it. Or they observe managers and learn the face-to-face skill. But MRs could do with more of drill sessions to master hand-to-hand 'combat' techniques.

First learn to march!!

Roman soldiers were taught the first basic thing - LEARN TO MARCH!! Don't sit at home, pick the bag and go to the market, meet doctors, chemists, and stockists - LEARN TO MARCH!! This is perhaps the greatest of the training attribute that needs to be strengthened in MRs.

Take orders!!

After learning to march, soldiers are also taught to TAKE ORDERS! Not disobey orders. Marketing success can improve with the training to take orders!

Weapons and equipment training

March, take orders and be masters at handling weapons/equipment! This was the focus of training in the Roman army!! For pharma marketers, handling of weaponry/equipment - samples, leave behind sheets or literatures, gifts, visual aid, CDs, the MR bag, and other promotional inputs is the key to effective communication and doctor or chemist conversion.

After training comes MILITARY STRATEGY

Strategy means the direction of efforts and resources. In the military there are many strategies like blitzkrieg, ambush, charge, counter attack, human wave attack etc. Sun Tzu is said to be the most successful of military strategists, and he had elaborated 13 principles of warfare in THE ART OF WAR. The US army talks of a nine point broad strategy objective, offensive, mass, economy of force, maneuver, unity of command, security, surprise and simplicity. So strategy ie., the way we work and use our resources, is very vital to produce justifiable marketing outcomes.

With marketing complexities increasing due to customer empowerment, higher literacy, internet & media, the informed customer, liberalization, privatization, and globalization, it is imperative pharma marketers go back to strengthening training, strategy and then activities, to get the best bang for the marketing buck!

Surely, this article has made you think a thing or two, do scroll down, click on older posts, read all other posts, and pls recommend my blog to your colleagues.


smith said...

Training Health Care

What a blog I have read. Here you have great opportunity to learn in fabulous manner. Blogger has described everything in very effective manner so that you could get information what you want.

Sunil S Chiplunkar said...

Thanks for your kind comments, you seem overwhelmed!! In any case it is only a hobby blogging, an activity that helps me express and gives satisfaction