I was speaking with more customers today for sales reference calls, including one customer that operates in the healthcare/pharmaceutical industry. Industry-related CRM issues abounded during the conversation, including that of branding.
My mother works for a doctor’s office, and I hear stories of the office being bombarded by nearly as many sales reps as needy patients. A pharmaceutical salesperson might go to a physicians’ office or conference and try to speak to as many doctors as possible, often times providing lunch for the staff or giving out freebees such as bags and even golf clubs (how do you think I got my latest putter).
Besides being an incredibly expensive, inefficient old-school model of selling products, there’s so much “buttering up” taking place it’s nearly impossible to accurately tell how a customer perceives your brand. The same applies to the consumer market, gauging your company’s public perception by flipping through industry publications or by surveying your sales force is less than ideal.
Until the Internet, perception management was subjective at best. With the arrival of the Internet, that’s changed. Web 2.0 capabilities combined with unstructured search functionality should allow any brand manager to plug RSS feeds and third-party statistical data into any CRM UI, alongside sales data.
Take the pharma example again. Companies should be able to analyze journals to record what medical publications and journals are saying about that company’s drugs or products, and thus gain insight into how to better promote their products. In the B2C model, capturing customer conversations on consumer blogs or other Internet sources should no longer be a hurdle given the right information, resulting in brand perception being more a science than an art.