Influence This: The Life Sciences CRM Challenge


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Influencing isn’t the same as selling. Photograph by Clever Cupcakes.

What keeps pharmaceutical executives awake at night?

Pharmaceutical executives in the Americas cite their industry’s changing business model (for 35% of them), pipeline growth (24%), as well as the impact of impending regulatory reform (16%) and generic competition (16%). Those results come from a recent survey of 211 pharmaceutical executives conducted by Cegedim Dendrite and analyzed by GreyHome Marketing and Research Consulting.

Interestingly, the survey also found that when it comes to selecting CRM software to help increase sales in a rapidly changing environment, experience—versus price, customer service or technological flexibility—trumps all other factors.

To learn more about the sales, regulatory and customer-facing challenges facing life sciences organizations, as well as the need for more flexible CRM systems to support rapidly changing business models, I spoke with Lindsay Duncan, vice president of technology & development strategy at Cegedim Dendrite. The company, which develops Mobile Intelligence CRM software, controls 35% of the global pharmaceutical CRM software market.

How different is CRM, by necessity, for life sciences companies, since their sales reps don’t technically sell, at least not directly?

Duncan: Yes, you’re influencing. Influencing doctors to prescribe your product. Influencing key opinion leaders so they’ll influence doctors to prescribe your product. And trying to get your product into formularies in managed care organizations or hospitals, so doctors can actually prescribe your product. As a result, the required workflow is quite different from a traditional, business-to-business type of CRM solution.

One reason Cegedim Dendrite specializes in life sciences CRM is because the company was formed in 1969 from a life sciences data services company. It’s difficult to be a horizontal CRM player and still maintain a really good life sciences focus, because the commercial model is so different from a retail model. That’s why we’ve haven’t diversified into other markets, but instead always focused on life sciences.

What life sciences CRM trends are you seeing?

We’re seeing a lot of activity in what used to be called emerging markets, where the cost of CRM and outfitting people with laptops or mobile devices can be a big problem.

In some markets, not all, we also see companies moving away from a local, offline solution, to more of an online solution. In Europe, we see that transition happening fairly quickly.

Finally, we’re also seeing companies roll out more mobile devices—whereas they may have just used smartphones before, especially in the United States—to handle the signature capture required by regulations for distributing product samples, and also for electronic detailing of products.

What’s happening with electronic detailing?

There are two trends. The first is compliance, and using a mobile device to replace paper-based detailing. Typically, a rep went out, showed material, and wrote that down. But now, many companies have gone to electronic material—via PowerPoint slides or multimedia presentations—and the device can capture which information the doctor saw and even conduct a survey, then feed that data back to the sales and marketing teams.

The second area is in medical devices, where some commercial teams actually work with doctors in how to use a certain devices or applications. So that’s partly training, and partly marketing.

How do you handle SaaS, since sales reps won’t always have guaranteed Internet access?

As life sciences is our focus, we have a hybrid solution. So for reps, their mobile application looks like the online application, and when they are online, they have full features.

But if they’re in an area that doesn’t have connectivity, then it defaults to more basic features, which still include call reporting, doctor lookups, multimedia, and capturing signatures—all of the customer-facing features. But any options that aren’t available offline, such as call-planning tools, just get grayed out in the user interface.

Does providing mobile CRM to sales reps improve their adoption levels?

Mobile devices certainly help, because representatives don’t want to be carrying big devices in the field. But the traditional limitation is, because of screen size, there’s less you can do. For engaging doctors, face to face, for example, it’s not as good.

So the smaller form factors—for signature capture and multimedia, especially in the United States—haven’t been so popular. But with the iPad, which we support, and similar devices, we think they’ll become more popular, with their great screens and good battery life.

Cegedim Dendrite offers a hybrid CRM environment; why is that?

We can take our SaaS architecture—our multi-tenant architecture—and if a customer requires, for regulatory or other reasons, run it multi-tenant in the cloud. Or, clients can run it in their own data center. With our larger, global deals, we actually see a lot of clients wanting to roll out dedicated installations to different locations. But smaller clients are often more interested in having a totally shared, SaaS-based architecture.

Learn More

Pharmaceutical companies don’t sell, they influence. To make pharmaceutical companies more influential, see our WP (PDF) on Revitalizing Pharmaceutical Sales: Taking a ‘Customer Centric’ Approach, which details best practices for maintaining sales levels even as sales reps’ face time with physicians continues to decrease.

Also learn how CRM can help pharmaceutical and medical device companies better influence key opinion leaders in our WP (PDF) on The Path to Greater Influence: Cultivating Key Opinion Leaders.

Finally, which CRM software is best? Read our CRM Smackdown to find out.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adam Honig
Adam is the Co-Founder and CEO of Spiro Technologies. He is a recognized thought-leader in sales process and effectiveness, and has previously co-founded three successful technology companies: Innoveer Solutions, C-Bridge, and Open Environment. He is best known for speaking at various conferences including Dreamforce, for pioneering the 'No Jerks' hiring model, and for flying his drone while traveling the world.


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