Leveraging CRM Information Effectively
How data platforms can be best utilized to formulate personalized sales strategies.
Cathy Hayes, Director of Commercial Solutions - Customer Facing Effectiveness for AstraZeneca, is mindful when looking at an adept and agile CRM strategy that this is a long-term journey. She explains, “We’re currently using CRM mostly to track activity, but we need to evolve to get better customer engagement.” In the interim, as a first step, she ensures that the data already available is being used. As the amount of time physicians can spend with sales reps continues to decrease, she sees the use of CRM data as a valuable tool to assist in delivering information more effectively: "While doctors definitely still need clinical information, our records show that 72% of them would like this type of information through different channels.” This is where flexibility and the correct interpretation of analytics will play an important part.
The vision behind a CRM strategy
“Part of the challenge,” says Hayes ahead of her presentation at eyeforpharma Philadelphia, “is that the out-of-the-box analytics can be very basic. We need to evolve into predicting physicians’ behaviors, and providing prescriptive insights.” She stresses that these insights must be tied in with solutions in the marketplace, and paired with market dynamics, performance data, and business intelligence. Based on this holistic overview and available analytics, it should be possible to provide sales reps with information they can tailor to a specific doctor.
A large part of a successful strategy would be to provide the reps with the insights behind any strategy – a step that is often overlooked but is critical for representatives understanding the value. Hayes accepts that analytics aren't always 100% accurate, while the sales representatives can provide real-time insight. A sales rep, for example, could dismiss a recommendation that an email be sent to a physician, by providing the local insight, such as that the office manager receives all emails, and seldom passes these on.
The amount of data being received digitally continues to increase, but the reps still have a vital role to play, and it’s important that they know this.
“Having feet on the ground will remain essential,” says Hayes, “but the relationship needs to change from being transactional to being customized to a physician in a way that’s relevant and provides value.”
A changing healthcare landscape requires a CRM strategy
With the digital explosion, physicians are no different from the rest of the population and are often tied to their phones, tablets and computers. Hence, there is a need for marketing and sales to become flexible and agile in the way that information is provided. “We need to know more about our customers than ever before,” says Hayes. “Doctors need our content about disease states and treatment options, but we must know their affinity for certain channels so that we remain relevant. The amount of data being received digitally continues to increase, but the reps still have a vital role to play, and it’s important that they know this.”
Concurrent with the existing CRM program, Veeva, AstraZeneca recently launched the approved email capability in 2015. This program allows emails to be sent from an individual sales representative’s account, rather than being a non-personal email. “Thus,” says Hayes, “if a representative is interrupted during a sales interaction, a personalized email can be sent after the meeting to continue the conversation. This is usually based on the rep’s knowledge that the physician has an affinity for receiving information this way. The rep accesses the system and chooses a template for the email, and all content in the system is already approved by marketing and regulatory.”
The success of the Veeva program
The success of the program has hinged on robust, approved content, thorough training, and a good collaboration between sales and marketing. In the future, it is the company’s intention to be able to measure the effectiveness of the program through relating it to sales results. In the interim, “We are vigilant about looking at KPIs for any capabilities we’re rolling out,” says Hayes. “We also look at all the industry standards such as open-rates, opt-out rates, the bounce rate, and click-throughs.” Currently, non-personal emails receive an open-rate of about 3%, but our rep-triggered emails are now getting an open-rate of up to 45%. In time, they plan to get specific details from different brands about what success looks like and will measure these accordingly. “We hope eventually to be able to link this to see which levers drive and support performance with customers,” explains Hayes.
According to Hayes, “The real measure of the success of this program is the feedback we receive from the reps. Operations departments traditionally don’t receive praise – we tend to hear when things aren’t going well. Last year, we introduced an internal communications capacity called ‘Chatter’ and we’ve received an unbelievable amount of unsolicited positive feedback from the representatives about our approved email program.”
New AstraZeneca pilot program
The company is in the early stages of a small pilot that is taking prescriptive analytics and integrating this data with insights about sales performance and business information. “We are piloting this integration of data to provide our representatives with a 360-degree view of the multi-channel relationship marketing activities,” shares Hayes. “We’ll be looking at speaker programs, patient education programs that physicians have participated in, sales information, managed care status, prescribing patterns, and call activity. Our internal analytics team will then produce suggestions to reps for their interactions with doctors. The reps can also provide feedback as to whether or not they agree with these recommendations and more importantly, the ‘why.’”
The hope is that robust quantitative and qualitative data will be produced that will detail the affinity and types of channels that individual physicians are most interested in, and which will be presented in a user-friendly format for the reps. It will be possible to measure the success of the pilot by looking at how many suggestions the reps used (and the subsequent success or failure of these), and how many they dismissed.
Hayes reiterates that enabling better customer engagement is a journey that shouldn’t be underestimated. “We’re building for the long-term,” she explains, “because we know that this is going to be what the future demands. I believe that those who can come up with a successful CRM strategy, and know how to execute it well, will definitely have a competitive advantage. This is the evolution of marketing, operations, and sales.”