Merck's Sansan Story

Multinational Pharmaceutical, Life Science & Chemical Company


February, 1968


Multinational Pharmaceutical, Life Science & Chemical Company



Merck began using Sansan in October 2015. Thanks to Sansan, Merck’s client database more than doubled in size, and they have become able to better share information between different departments. We spoke to Head of Life Science Glenn Young and others about the results they have gained from using Sansan in Japan, and how they plan to use it globally in the future.

When we implemented Sansan’s solution, people were really happy, because we removed a huge amount of their administrative workload.

– Please tell us a little bit about your business.

Mr. Young: Merck Ltd. is the Japanese subsidiary of Merck KGaA, a global corporation handling pharmaceuticals and chemicals, with a head office in Germany. We started this subsidiary in 1968, with the main purpose being the importing and selling of Merck products here in Japan.

The Merck Life Science business is part of the Merck Group; Merck Group is involved in performance materials, pharmaceuticals, and tools for the life science industry. In Japan, we operate the commercial organization of our life science business, working closely with customers in research, quality control, and also with customers in pharmaceutical manufacturing.

– Why did you first consider using Sansan?

Mr. Young: It’s very important for us to manage a large amount of data, customer information, sales data, etc. We are always looking for innovative solutions to help us manage that type of information. Due to this, when we got to know about Sansan, we saw that this approach to automating the way that we capture customer information was a very innovative approach, and we believed that this would really help us to manage large amounts of contact information in the future.

Mr. Watanabe: Merck was using across its global organization, but we were really worried that we were not making good use of the information we had about our customers. Before we started using Sansan, each division was managing its business cards separately, and we were not really sharing information around the company. When we got Sansan, to start with, just the upper management had IDs, in order to try it out. After that, many other people wanted to start using it, and it spread throughout the company.


Our customer database doubled in size. Sharing connections across different departments became simple.

– What benefits have you felt since you started using Sansan?

Mr. Young: One of the biggest challenges for us is to operate efficiently. We want our sales people, our customer support people, and our service people to spend their time with customers rather than dealing with administrative work. We are very aware that it has always been difficult to get these people to write down all of the customer details and put them into CRM tools like Salesforce.
When we implemented Sansan’s solution, people were really happy, because we removed a huge amount of their administrative workload and improved the accuracy of the information we obtained.

Mr. Watanabe: After we started using Sansan, we had important information about our customers available to us straight away; our customer database quickly doubled in size. We have become able to share connections across different departments in the company and, since we can visualize those connections, it has vastly increased our sales efficiency.

Mr. Young

– How are you using Sansan in your daily work?

Mr. Sugise: We are using it to share information about how to approach strategically important customers, and how to create synergy between our different divisions.

Each of our divisions handles different types of products. When products are purchased, customers will often continue to use them for around 10 to 15 years, so the next time they buy may be up 10 years later. However, in other departments dealing with reagents or antibodies for research, every time a new product is released they will approach their clients; roughly on a yearly basis. The frequency of customer purchases varies greatly from product to product so, before we approach a client, we want to share information within our company in order to maximize our efficiency.

Mr. Niida: Our divisions are spread across different areas and each sales rep has to deal with a variety of clients. We want our staff to share the information they have about these meetings and make the most of that information’s potential. Until now, it was quite difficult to manage all the different business cards that we had. Now though, we can see client information on our iPads even when away from the office, so when we go to meet the clients, we can check or update the information we have there and then. All of this makes for very effective sales activities.


After Japan, we will start using Sansan in China. We are considering using it in every country in Asia

– Please tell us if you plan to use Sansan in other areas of Asia.

Mr. Watanabe: After we explained the benefits we got from using Sansan in Japan at our Asia meeting, the management in those countries became interested as well and so we are seeing people keen to start using it all over Asia. First of all, we will start using it in China and we are making plans to start using it all over Asia.

– How do you want to make the most out of Sansan in the future?

Mr. Sugise: By connecting the information we have in Sansan with the information we have in Salesforce; the names of clients and departments, in what year they bought which products, and what kind of action we next will take towards them etc. We want to use Sansan to create even more value for our sales activities.

– Tell us how you plan to use the connection with Salesforce.

Mr. Sugise: Recently, we are seeing more of clients expand out of Japan. By connecting the information we have in Salesforce and Sansan, my team members overseas can see what is happening in Japan, and they can put this information to use in their own sales activities. We think there is a lot of potential in this approach.

Mr. Watanabe: Working from the customer information we have in Sansan, we want to be able to provide timely information to our customers. We can now imagine what we can do by connecting it with the Saleforce information we are using globally, so we would like to start using Sansan in every country. We want to be able to share customer information across national borders by utilizing Sansan & Salesforce.

Sansan is getting a lot of attention from other countries. The interest is particularly high in Asia.

– Tell us what you plan to do going forward.

Mr. Young: Six years ago, Merck acquired Millipore Corporation. We’ve also just recently completed the acquisition of Sigma-Aldrich, another American company. We are one of the largest companies in the world in our market (life sciences) and we need to continue to modernize, update, and make more efficient use of our processes to continue our journey of growth.

As we continue to develop our business, we will continue to grow, in terms of business and numbers of people. We want to improve the way we manage the administration and organization of our business. Given this, innovative solutions like Sansan will be essential.

At Merck, where possible, we like to create a uniformed approach across different countries. We have the same IT platforms worldwide and any other tools we use, we try to apply to more than one country.

Accordingly, the work we’ve done with Sansan in Japan has been very interesting to our leaders in other countries, particularly in the Asia Pacific region. With this in mind, we believe that what we’ve done so far with Sansan in Japan can be exported and successfully applied to Merck in many other countries around the world.