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7 Biggest Questions Of Market Access In The Life Sciences Industry

At Clarity, we’re here to help our clients achieve success, and to do that, we need to know what are the real issues and barriers of the field-facing account teams that affect their sales and market access. We commissioned a client survey, and the results contain relevant, yet surprising responses regarding the 7 biggest issues of Pharma Market Access. Our survey also revealed some key areas of resolution for the issues mentioned. Read on to learn more!

What Was tHe survey About?

We asked 7 of the most reoccurring questions of our surveyors, covering some of the following topics: the account environment, challenges, market alignment, and some self-assessment-orientated questions. Each question was in a multiple-choice format, with the option to elaborate on some answers. This enabled us to collect as accurate a data set as was possible at the time.

The 7 questions were:

  1.    1.  How would you describe the overall environment your market access customers are operating in?
  2.    2.  What is the biggest challenge facing your market access customers?
  3.    3.  How is the environment your Market Access customers operate in changing how they view working with you?
  4.    4.  How well does your company align with its Market Access customers compared to the competition, in your opinion?
  5.    5.  In what specific ways does your company need to improve its standing with Market Access customers?
  6.    6.  In what area would further development, education, tools, and resources benefit you in working with Market Access customers?
  7.    7.  Which of the following categories of account activity would you most benefit from having additional development in as it relates to effectively engaging your Market Access customers?


With our breakdown of each question and analysis of the answers, we also demonstrated the average of all the results we received on the pie chart diagrams.

Question 1

100% of our clients that responded to the survey agreed that the overall environment is becoming more complex. Of course, this issue is arguably deserving of a survey/study all by itself. For us, this confirmed some things we already knew.

First, it tells us that our customers, and as such we assume the Life Sciences Industry as a whole, are not prepared for the fluidity of the market access environment as it is today. It also relates to us that more due diligence must be performed, along with further research, on how to access who are the customers and how to appropriately assess their needs.

Secondly, it tells us that more than likely the Life Sciences Industry still don’t have the resources or expertise, for the most part, to educate their teams on how to effectively administer and cater to their market access customers.

To assess future opportunities, Life Sciences companies should start asking the right questions: Are we, as an Industry, not engaging effectively? What are really the problems that Market Access customers are facing? As a result of the Market Access challenges, what are the solutions our Industry could provide? Do they know who they really need to speak to within each account? Do Market Access Teams possess the skills and competencies required to mitigate the challenges?

Question 2

As expected, the need for reducing costs is a pressing issue across the board, but 44% of those surveyed said the pressure to reduce the cost of managing the patient population is overall the biggest challenge. The associated costs are only aggravating this problem.

The indicated complexities of managing the patient population itself dominate the discussion in the payer and market access communities. As much as the focus always seems to be around pricing and the adherent behaviour of patients had a bigger impact on the bottom line.

The results also demonstrate that there is a need to be some kind of management of expectations. Nowadays, Life Sciences as an industry must have extra value creation and propositions readily available for their market access customers.

What’s the biggest value-added proposition of the last few years? Strategic relationship building. Or to put it another way, Key Account Management. That would include ways KAM organizations can partner with Market Access customers on the challenge of managing the patient populations. The industry was aware that this is an upcoming issue, but once again there is a lack of real preparation or consideration when it comes to applying this market-changing strategy.

Question 3

There was an approximately 24% to 39% spread of the above indicated three answers. All of them have a rather similar and significant impact on the relationship Pharma companies are having with their market access customers. 

Again, these results indicate that the Life Sciences companies must educate themselves and learn to adopt a new way of selling. The main takeaway here is that the implementation of Key Account Management will have the best chance to solve all the above-mentioned issues.

Question 4

Interestingly, only 0.5% of respondents were willing to state that they are market leaders in aligning their companies. In fact, over 63% of respondents stated they were losing their position to their competitors, indicating a critical need for change within each and every company. 

It could be argued that the mindset change is not yet implemented, which results in shortcomings in the competition. This is where the following questions arise: Is there a lack of opportunity to upskill within Pharma companies?  Or is there a lack of understanding of the environment/competitor landscape that results in less accuracy when attempting to define their position within the marketplace? Is there a need to redefine the value they represent to market access customers? Or is it a simple case of needing to sell more?

Once again, moving to a more strategic account engagement model could resolve the issues that the above-mentioned questions would prompt. However, it may be more evident to suggest that some companies are just not yet able to transition to a new account approach.

Question 5

The data suggests that 50% of companies now know that they need to be more strategic in their MA customers and in the management of their relationships with them. In the category ‘Other’ this opinion amplified that number.

So, if the Pharma companies already know what they need to do, why are they not doing it? Internally, many of the companies Clarity work with do not have the resources or the right tools they need to prepare for moving to a strategic account management model. They may also not have the internal resources to manage change on such a large level.

We, because of this survey, now know that Pharma companies understand the need for change, and where we can help is the articulation of the ‘case for change’, especially when there is a resistance to it.

In any case, there is a clear need to employ external resources to assess the companies’ position, educate their teams, and transition to strategic customer engagement and account management.


Question 6

27.2% of companies reported a need for more education in their account environment and a need to conduct more research on e.g., what the key drives are for their customers when in relation to market access.

The business drivers and triggers for Market Access decision-makers have shifted significantly in the last few years resulting in new challenges, needs, and topics; for example, risk stratification, RWE, and indication-based reimbursement, to name a few.

A significant 41.8% indicated that they need additional tools and resources, as they are not in a position themselves to educate their salesforce, nor can they conduct the research required to elevate their customer engagement or access.

This is building on the trend observed in the previous questions/answers of this survey. Companies need help. They need help identifying the needs of their customers, identifying exactly who it is they need to have conversations with, and what conversations they should have. More than that, they must find the right resources required to gain the knowledge they need.


Question 7

Merely 1.2% of respondents stated they needed further development in the area of Discovery & Validation. This seems at odds with the responses received for previous questions of our survey. However, a huge proportion (61.8%) of respondents stated they need help to develop their Solution Alignment & Commitment stages.

Companies and their sales teams seem to be unaware of the needs of their customers. Because of this, they do not know what solutions they may already have to accurately mitigate their problems.

Ironically, more effort in the Discovery & Validation zone could very well help with these issues. Yet is the very zone they feel they don’t need any further development in. For help with this, we have provided an essential Discovery & Validation Checklist to download.

If account teams are too focused on throwing solutions at the problem and don’t take the time to do proper “discovery” and “validation” of the real issue Market Access customers are facing, there’s a good chance they’ll be out of alignment with their key accounts.

The results also indicate a lack of understanding when it comes to benchmarking their own capabilities and self-assessment. Once again, this comes back to a lack of education in the customer landscape, the tools & resources required, and how to employ them, as well as in the key skills and competencies required to engage with the right stakeholders on the right topics.



It appears that the problems companies are facing when trying to construct successful relationships with their market access customers are complex.

As the influence of the payer community continues to increase, the old market access strategies and tactics have already fallen short; the Life Sciences industry is left wondering where and how they can bring their value, if at all.

It is clear from this survey, that Pharma companies are struggling at best. They need help in the areas of change management, benchmarking & self-assessment, as well as in finding their market landscape.

This means, that Pharma companies most need help with training, strategic planning, and coaching, which is where Clarity can help the most.

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