The ‘pandemic opportunity’: How Cadila upskilled its 2000+ salesforce

Cadila Pharma embarked on its journey of digital transformation a year ago, which was accelerated during the pandemic.

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The pandemic and the eventual lockdown put a stop to the conventional way of functioning for the 2000 plus members of Cadila Pharma’s salesforce. These field sales officers were completely off the field with no or little interaction with the customers or healthcare professionals.

That did not put a stop to the business though. What this Ahmedabad-based pharma major did was to turn around quickly and use the lockdown as an opportunity to upskill its salesforce on digital training. The Company strengthened the digital marketing efforts right down to the last sales team member.

O.P Singh

“We are seeing a huge shift in the mindset. The product marketing teams, the sales force, and even customers want to move to the digital platform.”

“There are multiple new opportunities coming up along with digitalisation. We decided to use the opportunity to upskill our employees with the aim to help them adapt to the digitalisation happening within the organisation,” says Biswajit Mitra, chief mentoring officer, Cadila Pharmaceuticals.

“The idea behind this exercise was also to drive employee engagement virtually in the new normal, in the times of Covid-19,” Mitra adds.

The training for the salesforce was imparted through various micro and macro learning initiatives. “We conducted over 50 training sessions during the lockdown itself. These sessions covered topics, such as grooming etiquette for video conferences, objection handling on phone, communication skills in digital detailing, advanced MS Excel for reporting, business planning in the new normal, digital marketing to drive engagement, sales forecasting for uncertainty and teambuilding while working from home,” says Kulwinder Singh, chief communication officer, Cadila Pharmaceuticals.

Singh shares that more than 30 trainers were hired, who provided over 100 hours of training to the field force. Post this, every day, bite-sized material was shared with the team so that they could learn at their own pace.

Once the training sessions were completed, the salesforce used the digital communication tools effectively to connect with the customers to ensure business connectivity as well as to engage with the healthcare providers.

Cadila Pharma embarked on this journey of digital transformation a year ago and has been making strides towards its efforts to enable its teams.

Mitra says, “It’s true that the COVID-19 situation is unprecedented and it wasn’t possible for anyone to have been prepared for it. However, the lockdown meant that this transformation had to be accelerated. All we had to do during the lockdown was to just shift gears and ensure that everything was working like a well-oiled machine.”

“At the same time, it was also important to ensure that employees did not feel that the change was forced upon them. This was required for maximum acceptance of the change,” Mitra adds.

Kulwinder Singh

“We conducted over 50 training sessions during the lockdown itself. These sessions covered topics, such as grooming etiquette for video conferences, objection handling on phone, communication skills in digital detailing, advanced MS Excel for reporting, business planning in the new normal, digital marketing to drive engagement, sales forecasting for uncertainty and teambuilding while working from home.”

That is why, the Company implemented a proper ‘change management’ methodology on a large scale, while continuing to work remotely.

OP Singh, president, sales and marketing, Cadila Pharmaceuticals, believes that the change management and digitalisation has already started taking effect. “We are seeing a huge shift in the mindset. The product marketing teams, the sales force, and even customers want to move to the digital platform,” he claims.

Digital platforms have no boundaries and no physical barriers. Scaling up of knowledge exchange becomes easy. New ideas come up every day and people are equally enthusiastic to execute them. “We believe that this will be the game-changer, and will spur innovation across the board,” says OP Singh.

Biswajit Mitra

“There are multiple new opportunities coming up along with digitalisation. We decided to use the opportunity to upskill our employees with the aim to help them adapt to the digitalisation happening within the organisation.”

The Company claims that this initiative has made its teams future-ready to take up the new challenge of digital marketing, and is now investing in the right tools and content to engage with its customers.

“It has opened newer opportunities for us. We see an accelerated technology adoption in all functions, such as HR, manufacturing and R&D. This is helping us prepare for the future and be more adaptable,” points out Singh.