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Is there a need for “Wave 2” CRM automation in the Pharma Industry?

Before I pose this question, the first thing to clarify is: What is Wave 1 automation, and what do I mean by Wave 2?

By Wave 1, I essentially mean automation of all manual processes, such as Call Plans, Tour Plans, Daily Reporting, Expense reimbursements and some of the associated areas. By and large the Pharma industry in India, has gone through this phase. This was a phase that started about a decade back where the most important objective was to get automation in place. So, what next?

I have asked a few senior people from large reputed multinational IT companies the question – What next for CRM and what do you expect in Wave 2? Most of the responses were towards Mobility! Whereas when I have asked the same question to people from the Pharma industry – all they expect from a wave 2 is to get more out of their existing CRM solution. It is no longer a mere capture of day to day activity by a sales person but it’s a means through which they want to analyze relevant data that will help them in improving sales. To me, this is the single biggest problem that Pharma industry faces when they interact with IT vendors. It is always technology and not much else! Pharma CRM companies have now ported the same automation forms onto a smaller mobile device, and they even believe that they are ready for Wave 2 offerings!

Far from it. To me, technology is only an enabler: the industry needs far more in Wave 2. Wave 2 from my perspective involves focusing on the first line managers a lot more, bringing effort v/s result correlation, identifying means of capturing qualitative parameters than quantity parameters and having a robust CRM in place which can cover all touch points for a sales and marketing team. Just to set this discussion going, I am identifying just 2 challenges faced by the industry today, and I venture to offer some suggested Wave 2 solutions.

First challenge: Doctors do not want to meet MR s and MR s get face time which has reduced to merely 2-3 minutes

And so, what is the solution? Most said E-Detailing, little realizing that, “it too shall pass” and that E-detailing helps, but is not the answer to shrinking Face Time. To my mind, CLM (Closed Loop Marketing) is the answer. There is a difference, and only evolved CRM vendors are bringing true CLM possibilities into their offerings, going way beyond E-Detailing.

Second challenge: Companies need far greater efficiencies. All over the world, with dwindling margins, sales force size is reducing-which means that companies are looking for more Dollar Sales per MR year after year, even in the face of reducing NRV s (Net Realizable Values), many times driven by drug price controls.
How can software solutions help improve efficiencies? This again, is an evolving process and I find that very few technology companies think beyond technology to assist in efficiency improvement.
Efficiency of an MR cannot grow multiple times overnight. It is a series of small steps that he takes, nurtured in a structured manner, by his or her manager. These steps are taken every call, every day and not just in “cycle meetings”. To define these steps, measure them, improve upon them and collaboratively record the progress, is something that a good software solution can do. And that is a key part of Wave 2 automation, in my view. To give an example: Compliance to Targeted Call Frequency cannot happen by just preaching that in Cycle Meetings. It needs help and guidance from managers every day.
Managers need to review real-time short term data, take action, record their action, and communicate almost real-time with MR s. This alone will yield results, and very few software vendors are even addressing this.
Before I pose this question, the first thing to clarify is: What is Wave 1 automation, and what do I mean by Wave 2?

By Wave 1, I essentially mean automation of all manual processes, such as Call Plans, Tour Plans, Daily Reporting, Expense reimbursements and some of the associated areas. By and large the Pharma industry in India, has gone through this phase. This was a phase that started about a decade back where the most important objective was to get automation in place. So, what next?

I have asked a few senior people from large reputed multinational IT companies the question – What next for CRM and what do you expect in Wave 2? Most of the responses were towards Mobility! Whereas when I have asked the same question to people from the Pharma industry – all they expect from a wave 2 is to get more out of their existing CRM solution. It is no longer a mere capture of day to day activity by a sales person but it’s a means through which they want to analyze relevant data that will help them in improving sales. To me, this is the single biggest problem that Pharma industry faces when they interact with IT vendors. It is always technology and not much else! Pharma CRM companies have now ported the same automation forms onto a smaller mobile device, and they even believe that they are ready for Wave 2 offerings!

Far from it. To me, technology is only an enabler: the industry needs far more in Wave 2. Wave 2 from my perspective involves focusing on the first line managers a lot more, bringing effort v/s result correlation, identifying means of capturing qualitative parameters than quantity parameters and having a robust CRM in place which can cover all touch points for a sales and marketing team. Just to set this discussion going, I am identifying just 2 challenges faced by the industry today, and I venture to offer some suggested Wave 2 solutions.

First challenge: Doctors do not want to meet MR s and MR s get face time which has reduced to merely 2-3 minutes

And so, what is the solution? Most said E-Detailing, little realizing that, “it too shall pass” and that E-detailing helps, but is not the answer to shrinking Face Time. To my mind, CLM (Closed Loop Marketing) is the answer. There is a difference, and only evolved CRM vendors are bringing true CLM possibilities into their offerings, going way beyond E-Detailing.

Second challenge: Companies need far greater efficiencies. All over the world, with dwindling margins, sales force size is reducing-which means that companies are looking for more Dollar Sales per MR year after year, even in the face of reducing NRV s (Net Realizable Values), many times driven by drug price controls.

How can software solutions help improve efficiencies? This again, is an evolving process and I find that very few technology companies think beyond technology to assist in efficiency improvement.

Efficiency of an MR cannot grow multiple times overnight. It is a series of small steps that he takes, nurtured in a structured manner, by his or her manager. These steps are taken every call, every day and not just in “cycle meetings”. To define these steps, measure them, improve upon them and collaboratively record the progress, is something that a good software solution can do. And that is a key part of Wave 2 automation, in my view. To give an example: Compliance to Targeted Call Frequency cannot happen by just preaching that in Cycle Meetings. It needs help and guidance from managers every day.

Managers need to review real-time short term data, take action, record their action, and communicate almost real-time with MR s. This alone will yield results, and very few software vendors are even addressing this.

Wave 2 automation is here to stay for a long time and IT CRM vendors who succeed in detecting and adapting this now are the ones who will be able to derive the benefits the most.

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