Category Archives: CRM

Stock Your Thought Leaders’ Shelves With e-KOL Management

Pharmaceutical companies are running out of KOLs (key opinion leaders, also referred to as external experts or thought leaders) the same time they run out of medical science liaisons. And by no means do their established software systems provide them with the adequate tools to effectively build relationships between the first and the latter. It’s a triple whammy.

If you talk with global brand leads from multinational, pharmaceutical and life sciences companies, they will probably tell you that they are increasingly faced with the challenge to accomplish even more but with fewer sales force. And the same people who mentioned ten years ago that they began to worry about their companies leaving opportunities on the table through lack of personnel, are now convinced of the fact, and share so openly.

Source: ZS Associates


Established brands can no longer suffer

It’s not that these pharma giants are missing ideas or good people. It’s just that they now focus so much on their must-win brands that they begin to neglect the long tail of products that made them big in the first place. Haunted by the upcoming expiry of their former cash cows, which will open up their flank to attacks from generics, they struggle the same way Kraft-Heinz would if it tried to promote all 57 varieties of its ketchup right next to the shelf of private labels at Tesco’s.

The Internet as a source for health and the medical-related information is a force to be reckoned with. Meanwhile, the digital channel between physicians and pharmaceutical marketers has barely surpassed the bandwidth of a garden hose. It’s time to fetch a spade and pickaxe and get ‘digitally’ dirty.

Taking inventory of your digital assets

Digital marketing teams across the globe naturally produce a lot of assets, such as awareness websites, campaign landing pages, microsites, and other touch points. You need to do an audit and prioritize them for what is most relevant and effective for your audience.

Here’s a way to perform a digital assets audit:

REVIEW YOUR WEBSITES – You need to get a picture of everything that exists for your brand online. This might include booking some time with the IT department and checking out the different marketing branches of your brands content management system. There are many software tools available which can help you quickly get a view into what the lay of the land is here.

CREATE AN OVERVIEW – Then you want to compile a full list and status with key facts and descriptions for the various resources. Who is the owner? Who is the target group? Which year has it been created? Are approval number and copyright still valid?

REMOVE OLD ASSETS – Finally, categorize your assets and uncover which are outdated and no longer performing. You want to make sure that your medics can rely on a live, functioning websites when they reach out to external experts.

Establishing a single point of truth

You want to create a digital assets hub for all internal and external stakeholders working within your portfolio of brands. Think of it as a one-stop shop from which your medical science liaisons can access and discuss with you, all the materials they need to approach a certain physician:

  • Websites
  • Detailers
  • Mobile Apps
  • Social Media

If your technical ecosystem supports external access, this will be the only link your MSL will ever share when they follow up with an external expert. No more forgotten passwords, gone are the days of hilarious QR codes printed in conference batches.

Such a portal can be added to the existing infrastructure or built with any good content management system such as Drupal.

Closing the loop with your experts

Now for the secret sauce that holds it all together. The key to engagement is to establish a community where you enable thought leaders to provide advocacy and key marketing feedback about your initiatives. A place where they can mingle in a trusted environment and can be reached by your medical liaisons.

You might find that you have a primary network of thought leaders, those who are already working closely with your medicals, and a secondary network of experts, who are a bit harder to reach. Of course, your sales staff probably won’t have the time and resources to engage the secondary network with the same impact. Wouldn’t it be great if the first line of experts could share points of interest also with their peers who are further away from you, allowing you to engage them as well?

The way the life sciences industry connects with healthcare experts will be changed by adopting proven frameworks based on collaboration and expert co-creation. Nitro Digital has developed a suite of customisable products and managed services to help you work in partnership with your external experts.

Putting the E in KOL-Management

As sales representatives find it increasingly difficult to get time with doctors for face to face detailing, e-promotional activities emerge and are quickly changing the pharmaceutical marketing landscape which becomes more and more fragmented.

With each new touch point, that needs to be maintained and kept up to date, your digital marketing strategy gets harder and harder to manage. Which is exactly why you want to have a custom-tailored communication hub in place that allows you to work with thought leaders to spread disease awareness and messaging that aligns with what your company is trying to establish.

You can also read further about a more structured approach to planning for KOL engagements here.

Feel free to get in touch with us at, we would be glad to hear from you and discuss more. 


Watch Out for Veeva Q4 Results on 3rd March as a Proxy for Pharma’s Switch to Digital!

On  3rd of March 2015 Veeva Systems (Veev) releases their Q4 2015 earnings report and I am keenly waiting to see what the company reveals about it’s fortunes and prospects. This is not because I’m a re-training to rejoin the ranks of the iBankers or indeed because I’ve got a fetish for B2B Saas providers results (although before anyone asks and by way of disclaimer I’m long despite the hearty valuation ($4 billion) that the company is currently trading at and our company are Veeva development partners). Need some context – $4bn, it’s a big number. Royal mail is around $6bn) and Veeva was only founded in 2007.

Why then? Well to answer that a bit of context. Veeva achieves it’s high valuation because it is regarded as the primary disruptive technology in a largely reactionary (for justifiable safety and regulatory reasons) industry, the pharmaceutical industry. It’s also in a global industry with a consequently large market and it’s a company that has historically demonstrated fast growth on the back of it’s SaaS + marketing automation approach. Clients value the regulatory needs Veeva fulfils at a time of great change in the industry that is struggling to get to grips with marketing in a world where not all doctors want to see a sales representative, and, for those that do want to see a representative they want a more experiential and discussion forming engagement than that provided by a sample set and paper sales aid.

Enter the world of the iPad armed representative. Veeva while not the first has proved to be the master of applying internet economy SaaS principles to the still in demand traditional human based sales process by hooking up an iPad armed sales representative to the companies based CRM system. Thus providing a compliant and updatable environment along the way, increased content flexibility and breadth to the representative and datafied effectiveness measurement back to their sales managers.

Sounds good right? Well it’s not perfect and indeed if you took the view that using sales representative to deliver drug product information (as opposed to a more collaborative co-creative representative approach) is somewhat old school you could well be given to thinking that Veeva’s just another CRM and will become commoditised in a market where there are less reps and legacy competitors who won’t be sitting on their laurels.

I doubt that’s Veeva plan and in their Approved Email and Digital Asset Management (DAM) products you see the nub of delivering the ‘omni-channel’ strategy that pharma wants. Roadmap items give a nod to greater interaction experiences.

Good luck to them and anyone else who can crack it I say. We build alot of iReps (Veeva’s iPad detailing framework) but it would be great to see the deployment of a full marketing automation suite.

But, what does all this mean for their results and in turn why am I interested in what it means for the industry?

In general terms good numbers for Veeva (>8 cents per share earnings for q4 2015) will reflect not just a greater uptake for them but more generally be a proxy for the rate at which the industry is embracing digital / multi- / omni-channel marketing and the switching of budgets more generally. So good news for Veeva investors is good news for the industry IMHO. Beyond the headline it’s worth considering the breakdown and any guidance given on the uptake of revenue from their emerging product lines or markets. Again, that in turn is good guidance for the industry and good strategically for Veeva.

So I say good luck Veeva, here’s to 8 cents per share for the quarterly number and if not it’ll be hands on the sell button, although long term I’d be inclined to look for opportunities to buy it as it’s one of the very few companies that have discovered real scalability in the pharmaceutical marketing sector.

I’d love to hear what you think about Veeva or pharmaceutical digital marketing.


PS: Our service is a wonderfully innovative game changer for a social marketing service to tag onto your Veeva multi channel suite campaigns 🙂


A (Sales)Force to Be Reckoned With

We’re not talking about Star Wars—this time. We’re talking about a ‘force’ that took a bad situation and made it good, a force that spoke out when others did nothing, a force that changed the face of an industry. The name of this ineffable hero? Salesforce. In 2013 it was named the ‘Most Innovative Company in America’ by Forbes Magazine and Number Seven in Fortune Magazine’s ‘Top 100 Companies to Work For’ lists. With an HQ based in San Francisco, California and offices worldwide, it’s no surprise that it’s one of the world’s top ranking companies and has dominated the market from the off.

Who are they?

Fifteen years ago, was launched. Their main aim was to improve customer relationship management (CRM) using cloud technology. The previous infrastructure was clunky; using software that had limited number of ‘seats’ or ‘x’ amount of expensive upgrades released in a year involving large scale rep coordination was both expensive and inefficient for both large scale corporations and smaller sales teams. Salesforce revolutionised how business is done today by creating a way of integrating many essential business components under one umbrella and streamlining internal communications in companies more than ever before.


Bayer Pharmaceuticals has employed Salesforce’s services to great effect. As Dave Shum, manager of business solutions says, ‘Pharma is going social, and Salesforce keeps us connected.’  As on-board advocates for Salesforce, Bayer has already committed to a case study published on Salesforce’s website explaining the benefits of harnessing its  capabilities for a traditional, 130-year-old business. And that is important: the fact that despite being a more mature business, Bayer has adapted and adopted new technology easily, and to great effect.

With Salesforce, they have transformed how how their reps spend time with doctors, who are notoriously hard to get hold of because of increasing restrictions (by the medical industry) on their time. By transferring all the data they need to the Sales Cloud they can automatically update iPhones and iPads that their sales team use with the latest information and sales tools. They can also pull up customised reports and share data in real time using apps built on the SalesforcePlatform1.

Additionally, using the Salesforce Chatter online forum employees can share information and work together to help customers. This approach streamlines the conversations brands can have with customers, as everyone is on the same page. Through this internal social network the conversations are kept private to the company but visible to all on the inside, which proves useful when bringing new employees up to speed. Shum says ‘. . . we’re using Chatter to share and collaborate across teams and more efficiently onboard new employees. The world is going social , and now Chatter helps us serve out customers in new ways.’

Bayer isn’t the only example of successful integration of Salesforce into pharma, as Accenture is also taking the helm and adopting the Salesforce Service Cloud, and in doing so, they have reduced client costs, increased efficiency and flexibility and are able to respond to their customers easily.

So what does this tell us about Salesforce?

It tells us that this 15-year-old company has the smarts to help businesses grow and connect better with their customers. Charming the ‘old boys’ of pharma with their new tech: it’s not a gimmick, it’s an ever evolving business. This evolution has also brought about a partnership with Veeva, a company that has built on Salesforce’s platform with a target focus on the life sciences industry and their specialist needs. Find out more about Veeva in a post coming soon!