Make your CRM vendor a true partner to your sales team

Pharmaceutical CommercePharmaceutical Commerce - March/April 2014

Today's cloud-based, fast-evolving CRM systems call for a closer partnership between vendor and client

Your Customer Relationship Management (CRM) solution may no longer be working for you. Or perhaps you are a new pharmaceutical company looking for a fully integrated solution to grow and adapt with you, but you aren’t quite sure which CRM offers the best value for the money. How can you, as a small- to mid-sized pharmaceutical company with a sales team of 100 or more, be sure that the CRM solution you choose is innovative, reliable, fast, flexible, secure and designed specifically for the needs of the life sciences industry?

You want a CRM solution that is built from the ground up to address the unique challenges and evolving needs of the life sciences industry. You also want a CRM solution provider that complements your in-house resources with expertise and industry knowledge. Reporting and compliance requirements are becoming increasingly more rigorous and the time your teams spend in front of doctors increasingly reduced. Your CRM system should include features designed to drive your business by generating sales and improving business processes and workflows while adapting to constant change.

To meet these demands, your CRM solution should have flexible software, end-to-end services and onshore support that is easy to access and readily available. It should also offer, of course, clean, accessible data. There are good products out there that run on a generic platform, but you need to keep in mind that many of them will require additional customizations and enhancements to address the specialized needs of life sciences. This leads to a longer implementation period, adding up to more time and money. Implementation can add up to 50% to the cost of a CRM package or service.

Few, if any, small and mid-sized life sciences companies have the in-house resources to build a custom solution. That’s why it is so important to find a solution that is engineered for the life sciences industry and can be configured to your specific needs.

Your answer lies in finding a CRM partner that will not only provide software, but will also provide account management, a dedicated implementation team, field and home office training, technical support, asset management and data management. If your CRM partner doesn’t do these things, you will have to do it or pay someone else to.

Total cost of ownership

If you simply purchase CRM software, you will need to consider that there will likely be additional costs for outsourcing services, such as training, repairs and help desk. You need a common baseline of products and services that can be compared against each other; you must compare apples to apples. For example, ask yourself how much you will spend on a help desk or on asset management of your field equipment.

Your analysis should include all products and services needed to implement your solution. Be aware of hidden or unexpected costs, such as training, data conversion and integration, and system changes. You should know exactly what is included and what can be added to enhance your program at what cost. Every time you need to outsource, it adds time and cost to the project.

At Synergistix, we believe we’re in the best position to carry out the implementation. How your CRM partner implements your system makes a tremendous difference in the way it will work for you. Training and follow-through are essential elements to a successful implementation. We also assign a dedicated account manager who will be fully accountable and knowledgeable about your business.

Today’s CRM technology

The best-of-breed CRM systems today are cloud-based, incorporate new closed-loop marketing (CLM) capabilities, and are oriented toward mobile platforms.

The benefits of cloud computing are well known: it’s scalable, flexible, can be accessed from anywhere, is easily upgraded and enhanced, plus you don’t have to worry about buying and maintaining hardware. Yet, with these benefits also come concerns about the security of your data. You can put your fears to rest by purchasing a CRM with a private, secure and fully managed cloud; one that is not shared by others.

Regarding CLM, one of the primary reasons that you are purchasing a CRM should be to enhance your customer interactions with end-to-end marketing initiatives. The most basic definition of CLM is the ability to present digital sales aids and capture feedback around those interactions. Then, your marketing department can use that data to better understand if they are effectively reaching their targets.

In addition to CLM capabilities, the CRM solution should contain fully integrated dashboards, flexible reporting and comprehensive analytics. It should also allow you to track the behavior of your clients, which in turn will help you to interpret the results of your sales efforts.

Mobile technology is changing the way we interact with our clients and understand their needs. Your sales force wants a slick, easy-to-navigate and efficient system that they can carry everywhere they go. They want to be able to retrieve and analyze increasingly targeted data on the spot, so they can tailor every client interaction to a plan of action. Keep in mind that your management also wants the capability to run detailed analytics and reports. You want a CRM solution that can cater to the entire commercial organization.

The hallmarks of mobile technologies for life sciences CRM include features that can adapt seamlessly and quickly to change, are highly configurable, and can run online and offline on various platforms, such iOS, Windows and Android. Looking ahead, geo-tracking will become an essential tool for any life sciences sales force, allowing reps to identify and locate their potential sales targets from any GPS-enabled device.

For instance, a geo-tracking program can visually display every doctor’s office within a certain radius of your current location using icons on a map. Think about how that one feature could significantly improve efficiency. A sales rep could plan his or her route, calling on all the doctors within, for example, a five-mile radius, while a sales manager could easily identify what areas are the most saturated with doctors.

Digital marketing will also remain a top priority in the life sciences industry. A good CRM solution can help you deliver specific information to a targeted audience and track the impact of those interactions. The best way to engage your customers is through personalized exchanges that are meaningful and customized for them.

Once you have narrowed your search, take the time to do your due diligence: research each company and their key leadership, talk to current customers and make sure everyone at your company is on board, especially the IT department. After all, they are the folks who will have to deal with any headaches down the road if you run into issues. Plus, you don’t want to tie up your internal resources trying to upgrade and reconfigure your CRM to keep pace with the constant changes in the industry.

It’s also a good idea to see if the CRM you choose has a strong partner network. That way, when you need related services, such as sample accountability or product fulfillment, they will be readily available and easily integrated.

Your CRM partner should be considered a member of your team—an extension of your company. This level of personalized service is an important part of the total cost of ownership. At the end of the day, you need to trust your assessment process and your CRM solution.


Don Schenker is co-founder and CEO of Syntergistix (Sunrise, FL; He holds an MBA and MS in computer engineering from Nova Southeastern University and is currently a PhD candidate in computer engineering at Florida Atlantic University.

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