How Crucial Information creates a Competitive Advantage:

The following example shared by Aparna Suresh shows how your curiosity to think beyond the obvious can provide vital information of the market and the competition:


I was a fresher from college, barely 4 months into pharma selling for Cipla in 1995-96, where meeting 12 doctors and 5 chemists per day was a must. In addition to this, collecting the sales data from the stockists/distributors/C&F agents was part of our responsibility. These agents stocked Cipla brands and also other competitor brands. Now how we collect it, is left to our ability because all these people are typical business men and never have time for representatives like us. Yet, we could definitely get it atleast end of the month for planning the next month order.

At the outset, this stock and sale statement could have easily passed off as any other statement. But the true usage of it was revealed to me by my seniors who were excellent sales men and had probably mastered the skills the hard way.

First of all the statement has the following details of all the products,

  • inward stock of all the brands for the month with date
  • movement of the stock to the retailer by name, area and date
  • closing stock for the month

Under the sales pressure I would have just taken the details of my company brands to plan the order booking for the next month. I would have missed all the other valuable information in the same statement like –

  • Identify the competitor brands
  • Mark its movement area wise, date wise, track it to the retailer who has purchased it and from that identify the doctors’ prescriptions to which the retailer must have catered to
  • With this I can judge the potentiality of a doctor in a particular area for – prescribing my brands; if brand loyalty has shifted from my brands to competitors; to co-relate if there were any delay in obtaining stocks by the retailers due to which the prescriptions were bounced
  • Were there any bonus offers for any competitor brands which can show a sudden spurt in its sales and so on

The learning from this which I would like to share is that if we cultivate a habit of looking beyond the immediate requirements, we are bound to get more insight and a bigger picture of the whole thing. We cannot afford to be satisfied with short term benefits in sales as bigger opportunities usually come under disguise.


For more details on Contextual Selling workshops in Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai:in February please visit

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