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Pharma Key Account Management – The Evolution Continues…

Nowadays, as the pharma industry faces an even faster rate of decline in available HCP access and detailing discussions, the pressure to develop a proper “KAM organization” intensifies.


Many pharmaceutical manufacturers and their commercial teams have wandered onto the new healthcare landscape without fully considering the change in mindset required to shift from commodity-based selling to true value co-creation and strategic account management. The tell tale signs of being unprepared show up differently depending on which corner of the earth the KAM team operates in. In the US, it’s reflected in the concerned eyes of a KAM used to calling on physicians who now has to build credibility with senior leadership in ACOs, Payers and IDNs. In Europe, in can be seen in the lack of expansion beyond a tactical, product and data-oriented approach. And in Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and other regions, the challenge and complexity in following the flow of influence for drug spend and risk, from the government health authority through the hospital, wholesaler and pharmacy supply chain leaves KAM teams struggling to grow revenue.


It’s not that pharmaceutical companies didn’t see this coming. Many correctly perceived the rising influence of stakeholders beyond the traditional decision makers with who past product launches were leveraged and market share built. The issue lies in the response of adopting strategies of paring back the ranks of pharma reps and deputizing many who remain as key account managers in name only, while making the most shallow of changes in accordance with their operating models. This approach has resulted in a lack of deeper understanding of the unmet needs of key account stakeholders, the skills and competencies KAM teams need to build and the commercial effectiveness levers pharma organizations need to put in place to affect real change; the type that shifts the company’s mindset towards strategic customer relationships permanently.


From Clarity’s perspective, it will always start at the top. Senior commercial leadership in pharma need to accept key account management for what it is… a long-term commitment to re-shape the customer relationship footprint in ways that transform the value of the sales organization in the eyes of a wider set of stakeholders and decision makers.


At the moment, too many pharma companies are still struggling to transition through the first stages of KAM evolution. The ones that normally succeed are the ones that recognize the mindset change required and have the necessary patience to slowly build capabilities and operational levers before they jump to the next step.

Companies like Novartis, Roche, Pfizer and Merck have made significant progress in advancing through the 5 stages of KAM:


1ST STAGE OF KAM – Appointing “dedicated” resources to your largest accounts


2ND STAGE OF KAM – The activities of the different roles around KAM are aligned towards a common purpose


3rd STAGE OF KAM – Coordinated KAM team activities target specific account scenarios and customer needs


4th STAGE OF KAM – The KAM is able to create and execute against a strategic account plan with a matrix team with the company and customer metrics in sight


5th STAGE OF KAM – The KAM is seen as both a trusted partner to senior customer stakeholders, represents customer needs to the pharma organization and one who can marshal resources on the customer’s behalf through the process of co-creating value and building long-term, competition-resistant relationships


What stage have your KAM teams reached? More importantly, how well does everyone in your organization understand the critical success factors that need to be addressed to make sure the evolution continues?


Clarity looks forward to hearing your opinion and thoughts!

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