4 Tips for Maximizing Your CRM Investment

CRM solutions are as ubiquitous as smartphones within most industries these days, and the life sciences industry is no exception. But even as nearly every company uses some version of CRM, many tools are not being used to their full potential, or even for their intended use. According to an industry report, “Navigating Your Way to Insights-Driven Customer Relationships,” the life sciences industry is using CRM primarily as a tactical, activity-tracking tool.

Maybe this is good enough for now, with primary usage—and information input—focused on field sales teams. Still, companies in the life sciences industry spend on average $3.3 million to implement a CRM solution and $2 million annually to maintain it—so getting the most out of those investments is crucial. While data analysis tools are readily available to integrate with most CRM solutions, they are not always considered a powerful way to extend the investment or take it to the next stage. Complementing your current customer engagement practices and tools with valuable, actionable insights and diverse data elements can turn your CRM into a predictive powerhouse.

Here are some tips to increase productivity and drive a higher return on your technology investments with data-driven customer and market insights.

Start with the Basics

How many of you truly know your smartphone? The 25 million results you get if you search for “iPhone hidden features” in Google tell us that, despite using these devices every day, few of us realize what they are truly capable of. The same can be said for CRM. The field force will only ever use the features they are aware of, and they may not be aware that they can use their CRM systems for deeper and richer customer insights.

Starting with the basics means ensuring teams are trained in how best to leverage the value of your technology investments, and that they are consistently informed and trained on innovations. Cross-pollinating the sales force effectiveness role with a data and innovations expert is a great way to ensure that your teams and systems are always up to date, getting the greatest potential out of your investments.

CRM Is a Hungry Beast—Keep It Well Fed

Today’s CRM solutions are feature-rich, but all of the features in the world will not make a system useful if it is not populated regularly with refreshed data. For the life sciences industry, this means going beyond sample signatures, marketing messages, and activity tracking. In fact, there are hosts of global data sources in healthcare today that could be game changers for this industry but are difficult to integrate into and with existing CRM systems. Consider that Big Data for the healthcare industry, the fastest-growing segment, is increasing at an annual rate of 48 percent. And 80 percent of that data is unstructured.

For biopharma companies, integrating (and refreshing) CRM systems with rich data sources such as specialty treatment, prescription history, customer engagement history, provider market access changes, and anything else relevant to a physician or account-customer base is a huge opportunity, but still extremely complex. The commercial side of biopharma—marketing, brand, and sales teams—can no longer afford to work without this data or have different views of their customer because they have outdated insights regarding key customers and trends affecting change in the marketplace. Today, being able to connect the myriad of data sources available with the right technology that bring those together for us in a single, transparent, and refreshed vision of the market is a game changer.

Keep Your Data Connected

CRM solutions, business intelligence solutions, or data management solutions are powerful tools but they are no longer enough—the industry has truly hit an inflection point regarding insights. Now, it’s time to connect systems, data, solutions, and the people and processes that use all of these to get the efficiencies and acceleration necessary to transform commercial initiatives. With the right partners and data, your commercial teams can be unstoppable. Layering real-time updates from external data sources into your CRM systems will enrich and expand the data you have aggregated in-house. This will make your data-driven solutions living, breathing business tools that your field and home office teams will want to use more frequently. Connecting your CRM to a platform that can aggregate, normalize, and process these data sources is the next step in future-proofing your data-driven approach while also giving you a clear competitive edge.

Feed the People Too

People, process, and technology are essential components of bringing about innovation and must work in concert with one another. The life sciences industry is at an exciting turning point where it needs the kind of innovation that is not merely incremental but radical—with radical defined as “based on thorough or complete change.” Innovating customer relationship management means truly thinking beyond current systems and processes, and that includes innovating people as well. Commercial teams need to have the right skill sets to put data at the core of their decision making around customer engagement, and to manage customers in a more coordinated, cross-departmental environment.

When people, processes, and systems are aligned around data-driven CRM, we can adopt the emerging technologies available to us, align our processes with these technologies, and ensure our people have the right skill sets to support the adoption and execution of the kind of innovation that will separate the leaders from the pack.

Leilani C. Latimer is the vice president of global marketing, partnerships, and commercial operations for Zephyr Health, the insights-as-a-service leader harnessing the power of global healthcare data to help life sciences companies engage the right physicians, accounts, and institutions. She leads the strategy, planning, and execution of the company’s global go-to-market efforts including partnerships, marketing, and channel expansion. Latimer’s focus includes product marketing, sales enablement, demand generation, brand marketing, integrated digital marketing, and external/internal communications.

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