Pf are delighted to introduce a new series of articles specifically dedicated to First Line Sales Management. The job of First Line Manager carries a wide variety of names that vary from one organisation to another. An Area Manager in one, may be a Regional Manager in another, or simply a Business Manager in a third. Whatever the nomenclature, two elements are key. Firstly, the first line manager is the most critical factor in producing a successful sales team and secondly, the role is exceedingly difficult. With the stakes so high, it is important that those who wish to develop into management are intrinsically suited for it and those already doing the job are continually developed.
Over the next five editions Pf has commissioned In2Focus to provide an independent, industry wide, perspective on management. The series will explore what management is, the key skills required and most importantly how to continue growing when in the role. It is our hope that the series becomes a reference source in the development of new and experienced managers. To help achieve this the articles will be made into a reference brochure that will be distributed to every reader in the September edition of Pf. We are able to produce the brochure through an educational grant provided by Eli Lilly.
Derica Rice, General Manager, explains why Lilly has become involved in this project. “ At Eli Lilly we believe the role of the sales manager is critical to the success of any company within the pharmaceutical industry. We have invested significantly in the development of career frameworks for managers through competency based approaches. The importance of the role can often be understated so we are therefore happy to support key programmes and initiatives designed to help raise the profile of sales management across the industry.
First Line Management in the spotlight
MANAGEMENT has been called one of the greatest social innovations of modern times. Many people in many walks of life aspire to reach the elevated status of “the manager” and yet this social phenomenon is relatively new and really finds its roots as a profession in the mid nineteenth century. Before this managers were often those in positions of institutional power such as the mine or factory owner. Take a look at the number of management schools and universities that have degree and masters courses in management, there are hundreds of courses on offer now, which is a true sign of a subject coming of age. Yet unlike most other professions, for example law or medicine, you don’t need to have a licence to practice management or have formally recognised qualifications. Your training is likely on the job with some external input. Management is truly a liberal art, which draws from many disciplines and tries to help individuals make sense and get the best out of their work environments; its roots are in people although the outputs are often economic.
A good starting point in reviewing regional management in the pharmaceutical industry is to get the views of some of the senior industry professionals as to the importance of good management. It is clear that excellence in regional management is paramount in the eyes of all the people asked. Dave Moore, the Northern Sales manager, from Solvay said, “High quality first line managers are crucial to any pharmaceutical business. They have an enormous influence on the hearts and minds of their sales people, influencing their attitude, belief and confidence. They also hold the key to successful implementation of company strategies. Mark Blower, the Healthcare Development Manager adds “first line managers are absolutely pivotal, they are the interface between the theory and the reality, they are the people that make the strategies work”. Duncan Morris, Commercial Director at Lundbeck said, “Regional managers are the most important link between the companies product strategies, tactics and the customer. It is vital that first line managers are bought into all plans, because if they are not the company will simply not succeed in the long term.”
Data generated by the Pf Company Perception and Motivation Survey run in 2002 also gives some interesting food for thought as it was clearly recognised by the survey respondents (c 1000), predominately medical representatives, that their relationship with their regional managers was a key motivational factor for them. (Although in all groups of responder’s salary was listed as the single most important factor.)
Survey respondents are saying that their relationship with their manager is critical. Although it is interesting to note that the greater the length of service a representative has, the less satisfied they are with their current manager. This could perhaps be an indicator that it is harder to motivate employees with a long service history.
It is also interesting to see from the findings of the survey that so many representatives see their personal development as a key factor in their own motivation, No surprise then that about 70% of the responding medical representatives wanted to move job within the next year to a new position either within their own company or to a new company altogether.
Drilling down into this particular group reveals some interesting facts in terms of what representatives see as their next move. It emphasises very strongly that regional managers need to strongly manage expectations; (74% of representatives with less than one years experience want to move to a new role within the next twelve months) and be able to develop their staff as much as possible to fulfil the desire for development and also to develop people for a variety of different roles.
In this forthcoming series of articles, we will look at first line management, its complexities and challenges in the pharmaceutical industry. Most companies believe that recruiting and developing their first line managers is critical. Steve Kerridge, Chairman of In2Focus commented, “Recruiting and developing high quality first line managers is critical to any companies success. In the modern pharmaceutical sales environment, with rigorous codes of practice and increasingly complex employment legislation, managers need to be highly trained and capable individuals. The role of the first line manager often requires the finesse and balance of a tight rope-walker, when balancing head office and field commitments. We are delighted to be involved in this series which we hope will highlight the importance of this role.” The purpose of the new series is thus two fold:
- To highlight the importance of the role of first line management in the pharmaceutical sales environment, and to help shape Pf’s reader’s career aspirations through providing information on the role of first line management.
- Pf will look at first line sales management in the industry from a variety of angles over the forthcoming months. The articles will take you through the life cycle of line management looking first of all at the view of what a manager does from a sales representatives perspective right through to the career options a first line manager has.
- A Representative’s Perspective
- What is the role of a first line manager and how is this likely to change over the next few years?
- What is a typical first line managers’ job like today?
- Getting to be a Manager
- The first year as a first line sales Manager
- Management with Experience