The sunk cost fallacy of pharma CRM

Digital transformation is a critical topic for many companies in the life sciences industry, as they seek to modernize their systems and processes to drive efficiencies and innovation. One aspect of this transformation involves addressing the sunk cost fallacy, especially when it comes to Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems.

The sunk cost fallacy can trap organizations into making decisions based on past investments rather than focusing on future potential and strategic decisions.

Imagine a pharmaceutical company that has invested significant time and resources in developing a new therapy. However, during clinical trials, they discover that the therapy is not as effective as anticipated. At this juncture, the company faces a critical decision: continue investing in a potentially unsuccessful therapy due to the already incurred costs, or abandon it and seek more promising alternatives.

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Credit: WallStreetMojo

The sunk cost fallacy poses a major risk in this scenario. Companies may be tempted to continue investing in a failing therapy solely because of the resources already poured into it. By doing so, they fail to consider the opportunity cost—the value of the next best alternative use of their time and money. The right course of action lies in conducting a comprehensive cost-benefit analysis, weighing the potential benefits of investing in other therapies or technologies against the costs of persisting with the current one.

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Credit: @christinezhu Mental Accounting Example

Adopting a mindset of “mental accounting” can help address the sunk cost fallacy. By mentally separating past investments from current and future decisions, companies can objectively evaluate the potential benefits and drawbacks of their choices. It enables them to focus on strategic decision-making based on present circumstances rather than being emotionally influenced by past investments.

Now, let’s explore the aspect of digital transformation related to CRM systems in the life sciences industry. Many companies in this sector have adopted Veeva CRM, built on Salesforce, as their primary customer relationship management tool. However, as technology evolves and businesses grow, maintaining legacy systems like Veeva CRM can become increasingly expensive and pose potential risks. For more on this topic, I recommend checking an earlier article I wrote: Veeva’s Surprise Departure from Salesforce Sparks Excitement

Transitioning to a more modern and integrated system, like Veeva Vault CRM, can offer numerous benefits, such as increased flexibility and customization options. However, this transformation comes with its own set of challenges. Migrating data and ensuring continuity of service during the transition is a technical aspect that requires careful planning. Simultaneously, companies must consider the human aspect of change management, providing comprehensive training and support to users and addressing potential resistance to the new system.

There are also potential risks associated with moving to Veeva Vault CRM. As a newer system, it may experience growing pains and uncertainties during its development. Additionally, companies need to be cautious of getting locked into the Veeva ecosystem if they choose Vault CRM, as this could limit integration with other systems outside the Veeva platform. Such limitations may lead to higher costs and reduced flexibility in the long run.

In conclusion, digital transformation in the life sciences industry is essential for modernizing systems and processes to drive efficiency and innovation. When considering CRM system changes, it is crucial for companies to overcome the sunk cost fallacy and focus on strategic decision-making. Assessing the risks and costs of maintaining legacy systems can highlight the benefits of adopting an integrated approach or ecosystem approach, while also acknowledging the potential challenges that come with such a transformation. By doing so, companies can position themselves for future success and stay at the forefront of the rapidly evolving life sciences landscape.

About the author: Claude Waddington

Claude is an accomplished marketing leader with a deep-rooted passion for the healthcare sector. Throughout his career, he has collaborated with various SaaS platforms, MedEd, MedComms, and strategic agencies, gaining invaluable insights into the challenges and solutions within the healthcare industry. A staunch advocate for the transformative power of technology, Claude sees digital transformation as a pivotal tool to enhance the quality of care and foster a more empathetic care model. His extensive experience in consultancy and strategic roles, especially in AI-powered digital transformation and data unification, underscores his commitment to driving advancements in care models. As the Senior Director of Commercial Transformation at Trueblue, Claude specializes in leveraging data models, integrating AI technologies, and building global partnerships to optimize healthcare outcomes.


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