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Assessment of CRM in Indian Pharmaceutical Industry & Future Projection

- Chandradarshan Jain
Earlier days, Pharma companies were relying on bringing blockbuster drugs to market but now it
is not enough. Pharmaceutical companies as a group were able to grow revenue at a 20 percent
compound annual rate during the 1980s, but many are now struggling with low to negative growth,
increased competition within each drug category, loss of patent protection and pressure to reduce
prices. As a result, pharma companies quickly alienated their sales and marketing efforts,
supporting their physicians and customers through a new tool named as CRM. CRM is nothing
but an approach to supporting customers in a structured way and to develop long-term and
sustainable relationships with the clients.

Adoption of CRM by Pharma MNC’s:

After completion of blockbuster era, the majority of pharma MNC’s started to lose their revenue.
To overcome that situation, they started to shift their focus from products to the customers. They
started to make good relationship with their customer to ensure future growth of the company.
After seeing good results of CRM in other industries, they adopted CRM approach as a sales force
automation tool (SFA) and made a part of their core strategy.

Currently, majority of MNC’s are using different CRM software in their organization Like
Novartis, Pfizer, Merck, Abbott, AbbVie, Actelion, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Biogen,
Boehringer Ingelheim, Daiichi-Sankyo, Eisai, Otsuka, Mundi pharma, Shire, Takeda, Mylan,
Teva, Gilead, Eli Lily are using Veeva cloud-based CRM software. Merck is also using Johnson & Johnson is using

Companies like GSK has shifted its “Transactional” approach to “Relationship” approach
completely after bribing case in China. Now, it has changed its DNA completely and adopted
relationship approach as a central part of its strategy. Earlier, use of relationship approach was
limited to certain subsidiaries only but now every subsidiary is using it. Now, the sales force of
GSK is monitoring and evaluating on the basis of a relationship with doctors whereas earlier it was
evaluating on sales target basis. GSK has adopted certain relationship based matrix to incentivize
its sales force. In order to improve and maintain a relationship with the customer, GSK is now
working with Veeva systems which are a cloud-based CRM software.
Merck is ahead of other rival’s companies in terms of CRM initiatives. Merck is using CRM
software for not only to maintain a relationship with the doctor but also to boost its clinical
management systems. By the help of, it has integrated is sales and marketing cloud
to create seamless customer journeys, for segmentation and to make a stronger one-to-one
relationship. Apps developed on salesforce app cloud connect patients to doctor. It uses analytics
cloud to gain deeper customer insights and foresees a future in which patients will share biometric
data collected on wearable devices with their physicians. Merck is using cloud-based Veeva Vault
eTMF, Vault clinical suite of application to transform its clinical operations and enable real-time
inspection-readiness of the TMF (Trial master file).

Adoption of CRM by Indian Pharma companies:

The evolving global and domestic market dynamics are likely to result in significant opportunities
and challenges for Indian pharma companies. In the evolving market dynamics, the traditional
sales structure, processes and sales reps skills are not enough to succeed today. Companies are
starting to explore ways to assess their current sales capabilities, identify and priorities gap areas,
and invest in ways to systematically upgrade themselves in the prioritized areas through a
combination of talent management and enabling tools and processes.

More and more pharma companies in India are starting to think about the best return on their
investments in CRM by strengthening their marketing capabilities. Decision-driven analytics to
support marketing investment decisions is an area that many companies are taking a serious look
at. Evolving customer needs require sharper segmentation, targeting and positioning.

Just like MNC’s, Large Indian pharma companies have also started to move from transactional to
relationship approach adopting CRM tools. Companies like Lupin is using in-house CRM software
for SFA. It has launched MYUDAY app for its sales force which is developed by Anant infomedia.
Cipla, Biocon, Alembic has adopted Cirrius PharmaCRM Digital Platform which is on Microsoft
Azure. Sun Pharma has started its CRM initiative from 2004 with Sugar CRM software and now
it is using Sage CRM. Alkem is using, Aurobindo is using Sales vision CRM,
GSK is using iKoach I-pad app. All CRM software used by Indian pharma companies are limited
to sales force automation only.
In India, there are lots of challenges are there for the adoption of CRM like Lack of senior
management sponsorship, Organizational silos, High attrition rate, Lack of value proposition, the
High expectation of returns in short span, High cost of adoption etc.

Next 5 years Projection of CRM in India:

In next 5 years, lots of things going to be changed in Indian pharma sector but not much supposed
to be changed in terms of CRM. Indian companies will be struggling with the implementation of
CRM in their organization as there is no proper framework for implementation of CRM software.
Only Top 20 Indian companies will be adopting CRM in next 5 years as there are lots of challenges.
Companies will use CRM tool as a sales force automation tool only, not for integration of all
department. Few companies will change their systems in order to adopt the CRM. Veeva will be
the no. 1 cloud-based service provider for CRM followed by Cirrius CRM. MNC’s CRM adoption
rate will be higher than Indian companies. Use of newer technology, Digital media, Customer-
centric focus, increase in competition will be the major driver for the adoption of CRM. The high
cost of adoption, lack of facilities, Improper regulatory framework, High attrition rate, Volatile
market environment, integration related issues, Organizational silos etc. will be the major
challenges in adoption of CRM tools.


1. Bryan Souder, essential document manager at Merck, discusses key considerations for a
global Veeva Vault eTMF deployment.