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Antenna Aims to Help Pharma Reps Pocket More Sales

By Erika Morphy CRM Buyer ECT News Network
Oct 8, 2010 5:00 AM PT

Antenna AMP Pharma Sales
Antenna AMP Pharma Sales

Antenna Aims to Help Pharma Reps Pocket More Sales

CRM applications for the pharmaceutical vertical are complex and highly tailored for this unique space. Building a comprehensive mobile CRM app that takes into account the varying needs of a pharma rep, therefore, would be a major undertaking.

Antenna Software, which offers a mobile CRM app called "Antenna AMP Pharma Sales," skirted that issue by building a mobile user interface -- with several value-add touches -- that can integrate into just about any pharma CRM application. These include Siebel's pharmaceutical vertical, now under Oracle's umbrella; SAP's vertical; and a number of home-built applications that many reps use, according to Matt Torgersen, director of Antenna life sciences.

The value-add the company embedded in the app includes sample tracking functionality, digital signature capture, the ability to read barcode, the ability to incorporate non-CRM systems into the workflow, and a feature the company calls "smart copy," Torgersen told CRM Buyer. The latter feature enables a sales rep to generate a form or brochure on the fly, populating it with the relevant data.

Other add-ons include integration with GPS location-based services to provide turn-by-turn directions, he said.

There is also integration with hardware, such as a camera, enabling reps to send or take pictures relevant to their sales rounds.

"Basically, what we have done is put a mobile face on the back end of an enterprise application and then added more value," said Torgersen.

Today's Hot Gadget

Antenna's AMP Pharma app can connect to just about every smartphone and is compatible with the iPad, said Jason Wong, director of product marketing. The iPad upgrade was delivered a few weeks ago.

"We also support Windows, Android, RIM [and] most laptops," he added.

Getting the app on the iPad was important from a marketing perspective, as well as to meet demand, Wong told CRM Buyer.

Physicians tend to like gadgets, and having the latest device can be a conversation point for a rep, he said.

The iPad is the hot gadget right now -- both as an item of interest for doctors and as a new business tool, observed Wong.

"Many organizations are putting iPads in the hands of their reps," he said. "But six months from now, that device could be the RIM tablet, for instance. The point is, we stay on the leading edge of devices."

A Sales Rep's Life

Antenna AMP Pharma Sal`es is tailored to a pharma sales rep's life in other ways as well.

"A meeting with a physician could take place in the hallway as he runs from the OR or in a pre-arranged meeting in his office," noted Torgersen. "Either way, the device and the application have to be ready to perform -- to answer any questions that might arise."

It also has to be equipped with the latest data to prepare a rep for a meeting, he said. "For example it is very useful to look at a physician's prescribing history to see if she has been using your pharmaceuticals or your competitor's."

The rep in the field can then either reinforce the sales message of a drug that is being prescribed -- presumably the one he is recommending -- or tailor the content to show why his competitor's products are not as good a choice as his.

Common Features

There are some common features to the mobile app, but much of the interface -- and the functionality -- depends on the back-end system and the type of information the company makes available to the rep, Torgersen said.

The typical features one can expect to see include calendaring, content management, and so forth. Features that might differ include knowledge management -- the type and level of research and data that is available to the rep.

Integration Questions

Given the app's foundation -- it is a mobile interface to a back-end system -- integration is a concern for users. Theoretically it can run straight out of the box, but much depends on how customized the back-end systems are, Torgersen said. "If a lot of work has been done to a back-end system, then you can expect that a lot of integration work will be necessary for the mobile app."

A pharma sales application that uses Oracle OnDemand for its back-end would likely need little integration or customization work, he pointed out. A Siebel pharma app, on the other hand, in which a company likely invested millions of additional dollars in customization, would be more work.

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