Organon France - Pioneering a Physician-focussed CRM System

Pharmaceutical MNC Organon had high hopes that Dolphin, its new customer relationship management (CRM) system, would afford it a critical edge in dealing with physicians over its many and often far larger rivals. The French market was going through a major regulatory reform. Professor of Marketing Reinhard Angelmar studied Organon France, highlighting the firm's employment of CRM concepts in a highly regulated industry, while simultaneously attempting to expand its market base.

by Reinhard Angelmar
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

In autumn 2002, the country manager of Organon France was asking himself if Dolphin, the pharmaceutical firm's customer relationship management (CRM) system, was generating the types of results hoped for. As in most Western countries, the relationship between its sales representatives and physicians was changing rapidly. Organon was the first drugs maker in the country to implement a physician-focussed CRM system, and its impact both internally and on client relationships was exceedingly hard to predict.

But communications with physicians is very tightly regulated in France, even though the average medical sales rep can easily visit up to 1,000 doctors a year. Organon had both less resources than its many much larger rivals, and less experience in dealing with family practitioners, rather than specialists. It was no exaggeration to feel that Dolphin could either make or break Organon France to a very large degree

Professor of Marketing Reinhard Angelmar studied Organon France during a period of critical change in the domestic market. The corporation's top product globally, an antidepressant, had traditionally played a minor role in its French sales. But the government was about to boost the allowed number of all types of generic medicines available on the national market, and the antidepressant seemed to have the potential to become a "cash cow" for the firm.

With a slew of much larger rivals eager to grab as large a slice of the market as possible, Organon hoped to use CRM as its key strategic leverage weapon in this and its other key market sectors. Marketing and sales activities were grouped into three business units, based on Organon's main product ranges: psychiatry, gynaecology and fertility.

The case elucidates the various channels by which Organon now communicates with a very wide range of medical professionals, and describes in concise, yet comprehensive detail the rationale and metrics involved in the Dolphin system. The reader can also gain valuable insight into the rapidly changing status of pharmaceutical maker/physician communications channels. Organon might also stand as an exemplary model in terms of how it set about replacing its previous obsolete and fairly gerry-built territory management system with the standardised Dolphin network.

Angelmar then describes the complexities involved in Organon's definition of the two types of key performance indicators (KPIs) - "permanent" and "steady" - underpinning Dolphin, and how these have developed since the decision to implement the CRM system was taken in 2000. He also comments on how Dolphin was employed by the company's sales force and head office staff. Finally, the author considers the impact of Dolphin on Organon, the response by its marketing division - to date, alas, either mildly positive or negative for a wide range of reasons - and its likely future within the entire organisation.

The study provides a rich source for discussion CRM as a general concept. Specifically, the case aims to describe various issues arising from Organon having multiple channels for communicating with the same clientele. It also provides ample food for thought, vis-à-vis the potential of CRM as an essential vehicle for improving customer targeting, as well as tailoring and synchronising communications channels.

Moreover, it offers a stimulating base of discussion for the potential impact of CRM systems on organisation structure -- most critically the roles of marketing and sales within a given firm - as well as how CRM can impact the skills profiles of a company's marketing and sales force.


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