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Selecting your CLM vendors

Closed loop marketing usually requires both a creative agency to develop your content and a technology partner to provide the platform or software. There are different kinds of arrangements, with different parties taking on different roles.

Data management for example could be an internal task or something that your technology partner handles. However you structure your project, it pays to understand the full competences of vendors. The following guidance will help you know what to look for.


1  Select your content provider

Consider if you want a specialist CLM or a generalist agency. Look at their experience. Are they just putting presentation materials on an iPad or doing real closed loop marketing and working with data?

2 Choose a system

Some vendors offer CLM functionality as part of a CRM system. If you go this route, make sure you know exactly what you are getting. Some solutions can be inflexible, not very user-friendly, and limit how you can engage with customers. Ask detailed questions and make comparisons with dedicated closed loop marketing systems.

3 Content flexibility

Consider how the CLM content can be re-purposed across materials and channels. How easy is it to localize and update your content? Are the materials coded with open technologies like HTML5 or with proprietary formats? Is the content locked into an app or something that can be easily transferred to a microsite or other channel?

4 Data capture & analysis

Evaluate the vendor’s data expertise. Can you get the data you need? How would the data capture work? Does the technology offer an analytics module? Is it possible to compare across regions/brands? Can you integrate the data into your company systems?

5 Scalabity & speed

In the field, it is vital that your presentation materials load quickly on a tablet device in front of customers. If it’s slow, sales reps will be disappointed and may not use it at all. It pays to ask for a demo with one of your existing presentations to test speed and stability before you commit to any system.

6 Proven track record

Closed loop marketing content works differently to other digital media like websites and apps. Be wary of vague ‘digital experience’ and look for expertise with rep-guided presentations and multichannel communications.

7 Global support

Unless you are running a project in just one country, you need to understand the global support that the vendors offer. Your sales representatives need their questions answered and any system glitch must be quickly fixed. Look for 24-hour coverage for the five working days and emergency weekend support.

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8 Device agnostic

It’s a good idea if your CLM solution is ‘device agnostic’, meaning that it can work on different kinds of tablets, laptops, smartphones etc. Priorities may change over the course of a project and new opportunities continually arise. Make sure that your solution is flexible and expandable.

9 CRM integration

It is key that your systems work together smoothly. If you choose a specialist CLM solution, make sure that it integrates with your existing CRM, enterprise systems and channels. Make sure that you involve your IT colleagues in this part of the decision-making process.

10 Implementation support

Be wary of agencies or vendors that can’t support the actual implementation of the CLM solution. This shouldn’t be left to you. Ask how they help companies implement – both from a technology point-of-view and with anchoring/buy-in from your field force.

11 Look to the future

The solution from your technology partner should be future proof, so think about how your needs might develop over time. Perhaps you will want to extend the technology to patient communication. Is there a problem with licenses or platforms? Perhaps you want to add more countries. How hard would localization become? Remember, the technology is an investment for your needs today – but also for tomorrow.

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