The Salesforce Software Shift - Pharmaceutical Executive


The Salesforce Software Shift

Pharmaceutical Executive

Companies today want to make much more complex changes to their CRMs than just adding fields. For example, if you want to use video detailing, you may have users in a call center. They will need a new way to record the time of a call or the nature of an interaction. Follow-up will be different than in an office detail. The process involves more steps—extending the data model, creating new rules, creating follow-up items, and integrating with the sample disbursement company. Because of the complexity of change, many companies are launching new pilot programs with stand-alone data systems, creating multiple silos of data—a death-sentence in a world so dependent upon shared best practices.

Despite the need to retool business processes, many pharmaceutical companies have no desire to spend more money to retool the existing CRM system that they have already sunk millions of dollars into over the last decade. Who can blame them? In spite of the incredible financial outlay required, more than 80 percent of traditional CRM software deployments either fail to add value, encounter significant adoption issues among end users, or fail outright, according to an AMR Research study.

Put SaaS to the Test

In other industries, as companies have faced the challenges pharma is currently undergoing, many have responded not by upgrading their CRM software, but by moving to a different software model: shifting from client-server programs to "software as a service" or SaaS. SaaS applications are built on a shared infrastructure, where all servers, networks, and functionality are managed centrally. The application is accessible through any Web browser—think Google for business. The host handles all maintenance and upgrades to the system, while SaaS applications are delivered to the customer as a reliable service over the Internet.

SaaS technology enables the development of sales force automation or CRM applications that can scale up or down and that are flexible enough to conduct trials of new strategies across the entire enterprise. New functionality, new users, new fields can all be added or modified "on the fly," without calling in outside resources. Specialized functionality for managed market teams, specialty pharmaceutical reps, or key opinion leader managers can be developed quickly, easily, and economically. The SaaS platform is available as a mobile application, too, for those still-requisite face-to-face physician visits.

Saving $ With SaaS
The net result of operating a SaaS CRM application over a traditional client/server CRM application comes down to vastly increased effectiveness of the sales force as well as vastly decreased IT financial drain—both up front and over time. Based on ROI analyses from Gartner, Forrester, Yankee Group, and Verticals onDemand, a traditional client/server CRM application to support 1,000 sales reps can cost a pharmaceutical company $5,800,000 in the first year versus only $2,075,000 for a SaaS application. Ongoing, the SaaS application will also be much less costly than the client/server application. (See table for details.)

Matt Wallach is the vice president of sales and marketing for Verticals onDemand, Inc. He can be reached at


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