ImageLiving longer offers many upsides.

Good news: We’ve living longer lives, and with a better quality of life.

Researchers expect the number of people who are 65 years of age or older to increase — as a proportion of the population — in the United States from 12.9% in 2009 to 19% by 2030, and in the United Kingdom from 15.9% in 2002 to 23.5% in 2030.

Of course, this is a potential gold mine for pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device manufacturers, as the aging population creates greater demand for their products. They can also benefit from economies of scale: manufacturing more product makes it less expensive to produce, thus lowering product prices, which increases demand, thus leading to greater profits.

But selling in the pharmaceutical, biotech, or medical device industries isn’t easy. Notably, companies have seen their marketing efforts get sharply curtailed, and face challenges to their data-collection practices. As a result, both established players and insurgent startups have been sharpening their CRM practices to better capitalize on every market opportunity.

Pharma, Biotech and Medical Device Manufacturers’ Market Challenges

Time-wise, getting a biologic or drug to market requires about eight years, according to research from Tufts University, although medical devices generally require much less time (perhaps just 18 months). But once a product reaches market, a life sciences company has to sell as much as it can, and grab as much market share as it can, in the allotted exclusivity window.

For new drugs and biologics, notably, manufacturers generally have only seven years’ exclusivity before their product will come under blistering competition from the generic market, which operates with razor-thin margins.

7 Years Or Bust? Hit The Ground Running

Accordingly, we see a lot of sales and marketing teams at pharma, biotech and medical device companies building processes from scratch, to be ready to hit the ground running when their product finally goes to market.

In general, Innoveer’s specialty isn’t working with big pharma, meaning the likes of Pfizer or Novartis, but rather smaller pharma, biotech, and medical device players. And principally, our customers in these industries are now focusing most on:

  • Territory management: Ensure that you have the right sales reps covering the right areas, and not leaving any areas underserved. Because you have to do everything at once–kind of like running a presidential campaign–and any wasted opportunities mean lost revenue that won’t be recovered.
  • Relationship management: Get in front of the doctors who may subscribe your products, in order to promote your product well, and as quickly as possible. Even the best drug in the world (or iPad-based sales presentation) won’t succeed without savvy relationship-building practices.
  • Social CRM: The industry has long targeted key opinion leaders, meaning they pursue well-respected doctors with the hope that these physicians will not just like the product, but widely promote it to their colleagues. But with every company attempting to market their products in this manner, we’ve seen some leading-edge manufacturers now turning to B2B social selling to find new inroads.

Patient Service Operations Target Smaller Groups

Another industry trend we see is the growth in the number of drugs and devices being designed to address smaller groups of people with a specific disease or condition. For example, Cerezyme from Genzyme Biosurgery, an Innoveer customer, is literally a lifesaving drug for people with Gaucher’s disease.

Accordingly, many manufacturers of these more specialized medicines are creating not just customer contact centers, but patient service operations, and staffing them around the clock with a dedicated team that can handle emergencies, such as losing your supply of medicine while abroad. These centers also serve to stay in touch with patients, to help users navigate side effects, as well as to gather feedback that may be useful for refining the product.

Established Medical Device Players Refresh CRM

Another life sciences trend we see is in the medical device industry, where competition from startups is driving many established players to retool their existing marketing and sales practices. Established companies already have established products — oftentimes, very capital-intensive machinery that’s installed in hospitals — and reputations. They know how to sell, and have a good “install base” of customers. But they need to adapt their business practices to deal with new competitors entering their market.

Accordingly, we’ve been helping many established medical device manufacturers review their account management practices and sales processes, and review their overall CRM program — using our CRM Excellence Framework — to identify other opportunities for enhancing their sales capabilities. In addition, we’re seeing a lot of “technology refreshes” as companies discard the industry’s previous CRM software of choice, Siebel, and embrace cloud CRM and social selling. Because while the world’s aging population offers new market opportunities across the life sciences, winning those customers will require not standing still.

Learn More

Want to create a CRM program that excels? Review our “top 10” marketing, sales and service steps to see how your current program compares to best practices and our benchmarks. Also understand how social CRM can help you to quickly reach more customers and key opinion leaders.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Jon Rawlinson.