“To make a CLM implementation successful, a number of changes are required to the way in which the company goes about their business”
-Jim Sale of IMS Health
NGP. How do you define closed-loop marketing?
Jim Sale. CLM is a set of processes used to improve the effectiveness of sales and marketing interactions a company has with its clients across channels. CLM provides companies with the ability to track and measure the effectiveness of their interactions on both individual and aggregated levels. When successfully implemented, it enables companies to target their audience more effectively (by message and channel), adjust message content by leveraging the real-time feedback that is being captured, and provide personalised content and/or messaging to better meet the specific needs and interests of their clients.
NGP. What has been learned from the pilots performed up until now, and what are the barriers holding companies back from fully-fledged initiatives?
JS. There are some industries that have been successfully using this approach for many years. In direct-to-consumer industries, such as financial services or retail, companies tend to be more dynamic, fast moving, and open to change, as they look for any advantage they can potentially gain over their competitors. Conversely, and evident in the pilots performed to date, the pharmaceutical industry is generally quite resistant to this scale of change and is more risk-averse. As a result, the pharmaceutical companies have been slow to adopt this approach and of those who have implemented pilots or implementations, few have invested the appropriate time, effort, and attention required to fully leverage the power of CLM; those who have are now poised to reap the benefits.Where pilots have been less successful, there has often been too much eagerness to start the pilots or roll-out the new technologies, and not enough focus has been placed on clearly defining the business objectives and leveraging the technologies to support them. As a result, some companies were ill-prepared and ill-equipped to take advantage of the potential benefits and often failed to really “close the loop”.
In order for CLM to be successful, the processes and objectives must be well defined, properly implemented across the organisation, and fully supported by an integrated technology platform.
NGP. What types of analytics are required to actually close the loop, while at the same time making use of all available information on single view of the customer?
JS. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all set of analytics reports as every company sees its customers and targets them in different ways.
Every pharma company will have different types of customers, will segment them differently, and will use channels in different ways. The key to closing the loop is the ability for the company to define what they need to measure, gather the relevant data from the various sources (CRM systems, Tablet PC Details, Web Portals, Sales Data, etc) and create reports that enable them to analyse and improve their promotional strategies, message content, and physician segmentation to better meet the needs of the individual physician whilst continuously improving the effectiveness of their marketing spend.
NGP. What are the key success factors for pharmaceutical clients when implementing closed-loop solutions, and how can they avoid the typical pitfalls?
JS. The key success factors include strong buy-in from all levels within the organisation, clearly defined business objectives, and the commitment to make the necessary changes to the organisation, strategy, processes, and infrastructure to support the initiative.
To make a CLM implementation successful, a number of changes are required to the way in which the company goes about their business. The commitment from upper management is critical to ensure that the appropriate resources are allocated to develop and support these changes. As with any significant organisational or business change, the change management piece is critical to improving the success of the initiative, the rate of adoption to the new processes, and the overall ROI of the solution, but is often overlooked or undervalued. The appropriate level of change management and training is absolutely critical to the success of a CLM initiative.
CLM is an ongoing process that is defined to continuously improve the way the company conducts their business. From the technology perspective, it is important that whatever technologies are selected and implemented fully support the business objectives and provide the flexibility for the company to learn from the interactions they have with their customers and make the necessary changes to meet the evolving needs of their customers.
NGP. How will sales and marketing have to work together to make closed-loop marketing a reality?
JS. To make CLM a reality, sales and marketing teams need to work more tightly together than ever before.
With the increased utilisation of the various data assets available, the completeness and accuracy of the information being captured across the channels will directly impact the effectiveness of the CLM initiative. Since the sales teams are in direct contact with clients and are generally responsible for gathering a significant amount of the required information, their input, understanding, and buy-in is essential to improve the quality and completeness of the available information at the physician level. To improve their adoption and compliance, sales teams should be able to see how their inputs drive changes that benefit them and improve their ability to be successful and marketing needs to work closely with them to demonstrate these benefits.
Additionally, as some of the analytics reports will provide indicators (positive or negative) for particular messages or strategies, feedback from the sales teams regarding what makes those messages or strategies successful or unsuccessful is essential in order to properly identify the appropriate actions to be taken, if any (change message, provide more training, etc). For this to be successful, the sales and marketing teams will need to develop and improve the internal communication channels and remove the silos that existed in the past.
Finally, with marketing having the ability and initiative to change the content and/or strategy based on the more immediate feedback from customers, sales teams will need to be aware of these changes so that they can properly implement and/or adjust their tactics and strategies with customers. Due to the timing and potential frequency of these changes, the traditional annual or semi-annual planning meetings will not be sufficient and thus, sales and marketing teams will need find alternative methods for ensuring that the appropriate information and training is provided as and when required which for some companies will increase their level of interaction significantly.
NGP. How do advertising and communication companies fit into closed-loop marketing initiatives?
JS. As the overall marketing process changes to take advantage of the closed loop, the advertising and communication companies’ involvement will inevitably change, as well. In general, they may need to be involved on a more regular basis throughout the cycle as messages and strategies are modified based on the more immediate results from the market. More importantly, however, their knowledge of CLM and how it can be leveraged to improve effectiveness is imperative.
Those agencies that really understand CLM and can provide guidance to the pharmaceutical companies to help them identify the information that should be gathered to best drive their strategy over the short, medium, and longer term will be worth their weight in gold.
It’s not enough to just convert paper-based details into electronic format. To really maximise the value of CLM, the content must be modified to create an enhanced customer experience that benefits both the physician and the pharmaceutical company and can be deployed to multiple channels with minimal effort.
Jim Sale is a Senior Principal in the Commercial Implementation Services team at IMS Health and former Managing Director of European Operations for Skura Europe Ltd. Skura Corporation’s Professional Services team was recently acquired by IMS Health.