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How To Continue The Evolution Of Pharma Key Account Management?

Nowadays, as the pharma industry faces an even faster decline in available HCP access and detailed discussions, the pressure to develop a proper Pharma Key Account Management 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 signs of being unprepared show up differently depending on Geo-Location

It is not that pharmaceutical companies didn’t see this coming. On the contrary, many correctly perceived the rising influence of stakeholders beyond the traditional decision-makers, with whom product launches were leveraged in the past and market share built.

1. In the US, it’s reflected in the concerned eyes of KAMs used to calling on physicians who now have to build credibility with senior leadership in ACOs, Payers and IDNs.

2. In Europe, it can be seen in the lack of expansion beyond a tactical, product and data-oriented approach.

3. In Asia, the Middle East, Latin America and other regions, the challenge and complexity in following the flow of influence for drug spending and risk, from the government health authority through the hospital, wholesaler and pharmacy supply chain leaves KAM teams struggling to grow revenue.

The issue lies in the response of adopting strategies

Strategic Customer Engagement is one of the adopted strategies paring back the ranks of pharma reps and deputizing many who remain as KAMs in name only while making the most shallow of changes following their operating models.

This approach has resulted in a lack of a more profound understanding of the unmet needs of Key Account Stakeholders. The skills and competencies KAM teams need to build, and the commercial effectiveness leveraging pharma organizations need to be put in place to effect real change. However, the type that permanently shifts the company’s mindset towards strategic customer relationships is not present.

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From Clarity’s perspective, strategic customer engagement will always start at the top. Senior commercial leadership in pharma needs to accept Key Account Management for what it is: a long-term commitment to re-shape the customer relationship footprint to transform the value of the sales organization in the eyes of a wider set of stakeholders and decision-makers.

Too many Pharma companies are still struggling to transition through the first stages of KAM evolution

The KAMs that typically 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 KAMs, which are as follows:

1st Stage: Appointing dedicated resources to your largest accounts

2nd Stage: The activities of the different roles around KAM are aligned toward a common purpose

3rd Stage: Coordinated KAM team activities target specific account scenarios and customer needs

4th Stage: The KAM can create and execute against a strategic account plan with a matrix team with the company and customer metrics insight

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


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


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