Sunday, February 27, 2011

Joint field work (dyad)


One of the important sales building step in pharmaceutical marketing is JOINT FIELD WORK. During joint field work, a Medical Representative and one superior manager work jointly, calling on doctors, pharmacies and stockists. They work in a spirit of mutuality to enhance brand sales. Productive joint field work is described as a five step process: skill identification, training, sales rep observation, manager observation and coaching stage. Joint field work will significantly improve sales outcomes and brand establishment.

Recently I had the joy of joint field work in Bhubaneshwar. As such, there are three types of MRs (in my experience):

a) the difficult type: they are not self starters, these MRs are inflexible, jaded, frustrated, demotivated, and follow the "rules" to the T. Typically, they are always having field problems and few solutions!
b) the systematic type: these MRs work as per tour plan, systematically, and are not used to out-of-the-box thinking or to new ideas of product promotion. They like to do things as they are doing, and feel it is the best. These MRs may be self-starters too, however, they like to do things in the established ways
c) the self-starters and entrepreneurial type: these type of MRs (or managers) are few in no. They are very active in the field. They are constantly at work (mentally and physically). They are capable of accommodating many activities. They have an art of getting along with people. They are looking for higher and higher results. Their EQ (emotional quotient) too is very high. These MRs have empathy and drive. They score very high in the salesmanship equation:

S = ED

S = salesmanship, E = empathy (ability to imagine oneself in the other person's shoes) and D = drive.

It is indeed a joy to work with the third type of MRs. These MRs also typically enjoy a high level of contacts. Ask them to get a taxi, they will do the work in a jiffy - they always have a reliable contact in their radar. Such MRs have good working relationships with a wide cross-section of people. These MRs neither have fear or bravado, such MRs (or managers) have a sense of balance. Such people also enjoy a higher degree of negotiating ability. There is practicality and high self-esteem in them too. Their main motto is to establish results with win-win relationships.

I enjoy working most with the third type of MRs/managers (although some would find them 'pushy'); however, joint field work with such people is a joyous and learning experience.

Another characteristic feature of such involved MRs is their improvisations (and openness to improvisations). This is an important trait that makes their work entrepreneurial. While working with these adaptable type of MRs, it is working with ideas particularly the novel ones, that makes joint field work entrepreneurial.

There were days of the systematic joint field work, then came quality joint field work, today the approach required most is entrepreneurial joint field work. It is important to be innovative and help impart innovative-ness.

Joint field work is also about empowerment. Being a senior the experience and higher skill level will empower the junior during joint field work. The learning process will provide better value to the field work activity.

What do we do in joint field work?

The first thing, that the superior manager must understand is that the MR or subordinate is an internal customer. He is looking for value added service from the superior manager during joint field work. Supervisory bossy behaviour which includes fault finding, policing, cross checking, constantly nagging and correcting, berating, over advising, and high control oriented monitoring will not elicit favourable outcomes from joint field work. It will only be a cat and mouse game, leading to distrust and may be acrimony. So the ideal way would be to map the profile and needs of the subordinate and accordingly offer value added service to the MR.

If the MR is slightly weak in detailing, the better approach would be for the superior manager to detail the product at certain doctor chambers and help the MR or subordinate through such modeling activities. So the central theme of joint field work would be to increase involvement and help the MR or subordinate enjoy the work. When people are immersed in work, results will automatically follow. The idea is improving involvement by addressing the subordinate's concerns (eg., detailing). Joint field work is about mutually increasing confidence.

Joint field work is also a window of opportunity to observe execution of strategy and use of promotional inputs. The observations will further provide ideas for strategy making. Joint field work will help the skeptic MR see the positive results of strategy implementation and the manager can get first-hand feedback.

Joint field work is an important although, little focused on part of marketing process. Most of the focus is on supervisory aspect of joint field work. The idea is that the superior manager should exercise control over the subordinate and make the junior generate results in line with corporate expectations ... or else - the Damocles sword will hang over the head of the junior!!

Up to a point this approach is OK ... but it is fraught with severe limitations. The engagement is not positive and is based more on use of authority. The improved version of joint field work is when it becomes positive, empowering, entrepreneurial (ie., innovative) and value added to the customer and the MR.

There was a time when the superior manager would accompany the MR, he would silently observe the MR's in-clinic activity and other field behavioural patterns. The superior manager also makes observations in his diary and finally, after the day's work provides his feedback, gives assignments to improve the junior's work behavior and - off - goes back the superior manager to his HQ in the evening.

Today, the dyad (superior + subordinate) can ill afford to function in this manner. If the dyad has to be relevant to the organization, the dyad has to generate a synergistic (ie., 1 + 1 > 2) response in the field. This can only come if the dyad is enterprising, entrepreneurial, empowering, constantly improvising, mutually inspiring and result oriented.

These are changing times. And changing times require new ways of dyad working. In an age of empowerment and entrepreneurship, it is a contemporary challenge for trainers and top management personnel to cultivate the traits of 'entrepreneurial dyads'. Thanks for reading, scroll down and also click on older posts to read all other posts, kindly recommend this blog to others too!!

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