Harnessing CRM to drive innovation, strong customer experiences in life sciences
Life Sciences companies are embracing Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms to streamline operations and drive business growth in an increasingly complex landscape. These cloud-based solutions have transformed the management of customer, physician, patient, and caretaker relationships, enabling companies to boost sales effectiveness, expand their customer base, improve revenue streams, ensure compliance, and gain valuable insights as they venture into new products, therapies, and markets.
Whether it's a medical device company seeking a CRM solution to identify sales opportunities in hospitals and clinics, or a biopharma aiming to engage with patients, physicians, and stakeholders - choosing the right CRM platform can significantly contribute to the success of an organisation’s operations.
Benefits of CRM for life sciences companies
CRM brings several advantages to life sciences companies, particularly in driving revenue growth. Modern CRM solutions provide highly visible opportunity pipeline tracking to ensure timely action from the sales team. Standard workflows and eSignature capabilities reduce risks and expedite deal closures, facilitating contracts with wholesalers, managed care insurers, hospital systems, and other healthcare providers.
Moreover, CRM solutions can assist in enhancing product branding and customer expansion through the use of portals. For instance, life sciences companies can create stakeholder portals - equipped with preapproved, compliant literature - for patient, caretaker, and physician communications and support, addressing inquiries about product usage, dosing, side effects, and other disease-related information, in addition to fulfilling physicians’ sample requests.
CRM solutions can also make the best use of advertising and marketing campaigns by coordinating efficient planning, launching, and monitoring of omni-channel marketing campaigns. The analytics it provides on campaign effectiveness, derived from various data sources such as call-ins, click-throughs, insurance claims, and prescriptions, enables companies to identify the most successful strategies.
Lastly, in the highly regulated life sciences industry, compliance with regulatory standards is of utmost importance. Robust CRM tools and features, like those offered by Salesforce, help companies centralise regulatory data, automate compliance processes, and mitigate the risk of non-compliance, thereby avoiding penalties and reputational damage. By leveraging specialised CRM tools, life sciences organisations can streamline operations and prioritise their core mission of delivering innovative products and services to help improve patient outcomes.
Why CRM solutions are so effective for life sciences companies
As mentioned, streamlining workflows is a key capability of CRM solutions. By automating manual tasks and integrating disparate systems, organisations eliminate redundancies, enhance operational efficiency, and minimise errors. For instance, Salesforce workflow automation capabilities facilitate patient recruitment and physician involvement in clinical trials by connecting trial teams, patients, and physicians on a unified digital platform.
Additionally, the flexibility and scalability of CRM platforms make them ideal solutions for life sciences organisations. As market conditions evolve and customer needs change, companies must swiftly adapt to stay competitive. Cloud-based architecture enables easy customisation and integration with existing systems, empowering companies to tailor the CRM platform according to their specific requirements. Whether it involves adding new functionalities or expanding into new markets, CRM provides the scalability necessary to support growth and foster innovation.
CRM success story
For instance, consider a company specialising in essential products and services for pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, government agencies, and academic institutions. This company experienced significant growth in its client services group, which supports the research models & services division. However, the client services group required a more cohesive case management system to improve communication, access their knowledge base more efficiently, provide real-time data for Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), and ultimately enhance the overall experience for both employees and customers. To address these needs, the company opted to implement Salesforce as their CRM platform.
The project's primary focus involved three teams of customer service subject matter experts, who, while typically working independently, frequently interacted with similar clients, each other, and the sales team. These team members were utilising either shared or individual Microsoft Outlook inboxes, which proved to be an unsustainable and non-scalable approach. The influx of hundreds of emails to each team created numerous challenges, such as identifying the responsible person for each email, effectively managing tasks, and determining whether customers were still awaiting responses. Additionally, the setup, tracking, and measurement of activities became problematic.
By implementing a transformative CRM solution like Salesforce, customer emails were channelled into the CRM platform and automatically linked to the relevant account contacts. This new system offers comprehensive visibility throughout the entire organisation. The upgraded case management system has established a strong foundation for ongoing improvements in the operations of the customer service team, enriching the perspectives of both customers and employees. Crucially, it enables effortless tracking of customer response time and staff productivity, both of which are vital business Key Performance Indicators.
CRM software also serves as a seamless communication channel, fostering collaboration and synergy across different teams and functions within organisations. This centralised hub, which is essential in the life sciences industry, facilitates cross-functional coordination, empowering sales teams with enhanced servicing capabilities, compliance maintenance, and efficient communication with operations and production.
By eliminating communication gaps, CRM effectively strengthens customer relationships and increases satisfaction through faster response times and smoother operations. CRM’s level of control and visibility empowers life sciences enterprises to drive better business outcomes, stay competitive, foster innovation, and ultimately help improve patient health.
About the authors
Fran Daly is senior director of life sciences at Apps Associates. He is a seasoned life sciences technology executive with extensive experience in senior IT management consulting. Daly possesses a blend of business acumen and technical expertise, particularly in ERP systems like Oracle, SAP, and AS400 and navigates well complex compliance frameworks, such as GxP, FDA 21 CFR Part 11, CSA, Sarbanes-Oxley, EU Data Privacy, and PCI, ensuring adherence to the highest regulatory standards. Daly holds an MBA in Finance from Fairleigh-Dickinson, and is both a CPA and CMA.
Molly McGee is marketing manager at Apps Associates. With over a decade of experience in digital marketing, Molly has dedicated the past four years to honing her expertise in tech marketing within the Salesforce CRM domain, with a keen focus on the dynamic relationship between technology and customer experience. McGee actively contributes to her community by running a special program in Manchester, NH, where she helps high school students explore and master Salesforce CRM technology, aiming to inspire and equip the next generation of tech enthusiasts.