New Thinking Required for Pharma Front-Line Managers Building a new form of leadership at the “Shocho” level

New Thinking Required for Pharma Front-Line Managers Building a new form of leadership at the “Shocho” level

The traditional style of MRs competing on the number of visits they make to physicians cannot survive the current era. New ideas are required from the field leaders who organize these teams. The training content 3Rock provides is highly effective in improving the current situation.

Analytical and explanatory skills – “shocho” needs both

Anabuki: Recently, sales area management based on objective data has become a requirement. Shochos need to analyze the situation in their areas logically, formulate precise plans, and lead their subordinates forward, gaining buy-in by providing evidence and explanations.

Matsuzaki: Making maximum use of data to identify medical issues in the area is also essential for maintaining the company’s competitive advantage.

Anabuki: Since the COVID-19 disaster, it has become more difficult for MR’s to actually visit medical institutions. Now they need to develop the reputation and presence that makes doctors want to talk to them. To achieve this, I think it is important to be able to identify issues in the area and present relevant solutions.

Matsuzaki: Post-Corona, communication between shochos and MR’s tends to be more remote and psychological distance tends to develop. Even in such a situation, how can we improve the motivation and performance of subordinates? I believe that management, coaching, and leadership skills are becoming more important than ever before.

Anabuki: The shochos at most pharmaceutical companies are excellent. They have keen intuition and are highly insightful. But because they understand their subordinates’ work so concretely, they tend to micro-manage in an over-involved manner. As a shocho, you are also required to keep a different perspective than your team members.

Let’s start area planning from the customer’s needs

Anabuki: Being a shocho has never been easy, and the hurdles that shochos must overcome are rising. That is where our training content can be of help.

Matsuzaki: I really think so. We are well-versed in the pharmaceutical industry, so we can create content that is easy for shochos to understand. I think there are few companies that can offer this level of full customization.

Anabuki: As we interview our clients, we try to capture even issues that they might not yet themselves be aware of, and provide solutions that are in line with the company’s position.

Matsuzaki: In addition, what we emphasize is to make sure that the training content takes root within the company as part of its “culture.” We do not limit ourselves to one-way classroom lectures, but rather focus on correcting the area plans that participants actually create, often following up with them online.

Anabuki: What do you think are the most important specific points in drafting an area plan?

Matsuzaki: Is it in line with the local customer needs? We consider this to be the basic point. In the past, the idea of “selling one’s strengths” or “making things we want to do see” was prevalent. Of course, if it’s a good drug, these informational activities will get people to prescribe it. But after receiving our training, our clients develop an additional viewpoint that “Needs are not simply the company’s needs, but the needs of doctors and patients.”

Anabuki: Most people in the healthcare industry are highly ethical by nature, so the mindset of “I just want you to prescribe the drug I’m in charge of” has not ever been dominant. But if you have the mindset of considering how to “contribute” first and foremost, I am sure you can act even more positively in your work.

Matsuzaki: Indeed. I think many people can generate more power when it comes to working to solve customers’ issues.

Our workshops are popular for their hands-on view of the entire process, from area analysis, through strategy creation, to action plan development.

Anabuki: It is important that strategies are developed according to an appropriate process. For example, if you only think about what you can do with your company’s resources without analyzing the market, you will not get good results. 3Rock’s contents do not focus only only on one section of the strategy planning process, such as “only data analysis” or “only 3C analysis,” but rather offer a complete series of steps in a systematic manner, which has earned us a high reputation. Our initiatives are highly regarded for their ability to teach a series of concrete steps in a clear manner.

Matsuzaki: What tends to happen is that companies start planning strategies without sufficient analysis of the environment and end up with a plan that is action-oriented. If it does not respond to the needs of the market, it will not be effective.

Anabuki: It is also effective in helping to explain the activities to MR’s by following the process of strategic planning. If you explain why the action should be taken, starting with a strategy based on analysis, the MR’s will be more convinced.

Matsuzaki: We often receive comments from shochos that they now understand better the original meaning and usage of KPI’s as they learn this overall process. No matter how many course corrections you must make, these will always help you to reach the goal in the end.

It is only through action learning that you can achieve real change

Anabuki: We ask participants to think for themselves while actually working with their own hands. I think that is the best feature of our training content. It is truly action learning.

Matsuzaki: It is said that only 20% of knowledge acquired in classroom lectures sticks. When you participate in discussions or take on the role of teaching yourself, that percentage jumps to 80%. Our facilitation skills that encourage discussion are our real strength. It is something that is highly valued by our clients.

Anabuki:We sometimes assist our clients in the form of workshops when they are defining the ideal image of their shochos.

Matsuzaki: After conducting internal interviews and sorting out what the company is looking for in a front-line manager, we construct a custom ideal image and tie it to the area plan. We do not impose one fixed image prepared in advance, but rather consider each client situation individually, according to their organizational needs.

Anabuki: When it comes to area planning content, our offering comes in many different forms. We may offer workshops, consulting & correction of strategic plans, assessments… And sometimes we may also create and provide original strategic planning guidebooks.

Matsuzaki: The form of the content provided changes according to the needs of the client. We are always conscious of that. If we don’t take the initiative and put that into practice, the training will lose its persuasive power.

Izumi Matsuzaki, Consultant

While working for a domestic pharmaceutical company, Izumi worked as a medical representative (MR) mainly in Tokyo, where she received internal awards and was in charge of training new MRs.  Since moving to 3Rock, she has leveraged that experience to develop educational content for a variety of companies. 

Mie Anabuki, Consultant

Mie has worked as a medical representative (MR) for both domestic and foreign pharmaceutical companies, and also has experience working as a coordinating pharmacist, utilizing her pharmacist license. At 3Rock, she is involved in MR education and the development of marketing programs.


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