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Sanofi Pasteur MSD’s journey to digital has helped sales rep engagement, as well as compliant content creation and distribution.

Nearly three years ago, Sanofi Pasteur MSD1 was preparing to launch three new products and decided to take the opportunity to incorporate new, digital channels for better customer engagement. And, with nearly 1,000 employees across 19 countries, this would be a substantial undertaking.

“Our 2013 product launches were critical for the company, so we proposed to reframe our commercial strategy with new technology. Top management agreed,” explained Alexandre Gultzgoff, Sanofi Pasteur MSD’s deputy director of IT. “We searched for a modern platform that would enable a digital transformation and improve compliance quickly, while providing the flexibility to sustain evolving needs long term.”


Alexandre Gultzgoff, Deputy Director of IT, Sanofi Pasteur

The company chose to standardise globally on a cloud-based multichannel CRM solution. Armed with new digital capabilities fully integrated across email, face-to-face, and web, the company’s sales representatives immediately began sending compliant emails directly from the system to customers and personally engaging with healthcare professionals via self-directed, interactive web presentations.

The company tripled the expected adoption rates six months ahead of forecasts. The number of customer engagements also soared in the first few months after deployment, thanks to new digital channels.

However, over time, a pattern began to surface: after six-to-seven weeks, engagement would drop off for a given digital asset. “It became very clear early on that we needed to change content much more often in order to keep customers fully engaged, all of the time, across all of our digital channels,” Gultzgoff continued.

A new, two-part digital content strategy

To improve the speed of content development and distribution, Sanofi Pasteur MSD took a two-pronged approach.

First, it sought to consolidate its agency partners globally, to harmonise content development and increase content reuse across the company. Historically, Sanofi Pasteur MSD had worked with more than 15 agencies across different markets, with each country using its own agencies to develop content. Consequently, duplicate efforts wasted time and money and often resulted in multiple versions of similar materials, putting the company at risk of noncompliance.

Second, the company looked to streamline content production by adopting a cloud-based commercial content management solution with a critical digital asset management component. This was deployed by the same technology vendor as its multichannel CRM platform, for seamless integration at a business-process level.

The results were transformational, with content production centralised, but with local regions still able to adapt content to meet specific regulatory or cultural needs. And, as it was a cloud-based solution, global agencies now had easy access to promotional assets.

“The impact has been amazing,” said Gultzgoff. “We expect a return on investment in less than six months due to content reuse alone. And, importantly, we can now see what asset is being used where, when, and why.”

Now, the company is bringing its agencies into the content management system so all new assets are developed, reviewed and distributed through the system, bringing better visibility across the entire digital supply chain right from the start.

Faster content development – Check; improved compliance – Check

Sanofi Pasteur MSD expects to cut the time to release commercial content by at least one-third and reduce medical/legal/regulatory (MLR) review time by up to 50% per year. The company projects overall efficiency gains of 17% in the first year, followed by a 33% gain annually in years two to five. And, while faster content development for improved customer engagement was the original objective, additional benefits are likely, with cost savings through greater efficiency and global content reuse.

Another benefit of centralised control is a complete audit trail that puts brand owners in charge and makes them accountable for where an asset is being used and for what purpose. Teams have full visibility of content across regions and partners and – of critical importance – compliance is improved as the system ensures only the most up-to-date, approved content is distributed, directly to the field.

“Ownership and visibility are key to ensure reuse control,” Gultzgoff stated. “Even if content is approved, we need to see that it has been approved for the specific use. Our new solution ensures that content cannot be reused without the knowledge of the product brand owner.”

The digital journey continues

Many life sciences companies want to transform their commercial strategies to put the customer squarely at the centre. Multi-channel engagement is one key part of that strategy, but it’s only as powerful as the customer insight it yields. Sanofi Pasteur MSD’s overarching objective has always been – and remains – to capture more customer insight about channel preferences, interests, and behaviours in order to continuously improve engagement and ultimately enhance patient outcomes.

“This is a journey for us. The next crucial step is to gain richer customer knowledge through better use of content and channels, so that we can customize future interactions and engage with customers in more relevant ways,” concluded Gultzgoff. “We are heading there very fast, and can’t wait to see what else we can accomplish in the future.”



  1. A European joint venture between Sanofi Pasteur and Merck (known as MSD outside the United States and Canada).

About the author:

David Bennett is Veeva’s Vice President of Strategy for the Commercial Vault suite of applications. During an international career, he has held leadership positions in a number of software businesses delivering compliance and productivity programmes in the life sciences and healthcare digital supply chain.

Veeva Systems Inc specialises in cloud-based software for the global life sciences industry. It has more than 450 customers, ranging from the world’s largest pharma companies to emerging biotechs. For more information, visit

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