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Pharma Key Account Managers -Data vs. Discussions

Why crunching the numbers will never replace building relationships.


The world of Big Data has penetrated the daily workflow for commercial teams in a multitude of ways. Many patient data companies have merged with clinical research organizations. The resulting organizations, with the help of artificial intelligence of patient data from clinical to prescriptions to real world evidence.

The business case for its usage is clear: The faster and more efficiently life sciences firms can profile and identify shifts and patterns leading to new capabilities and new treatment offerings, the better.

How far can the benefit of data analysis go in helping these same commercial teams achieve their sales targets while simultaneously closing the value gap with key healthcare stakeholders? That’s an altogether different question.

It’s one thing to be armed with a fresh set of data on clinical trials to make the case for one product over another in the same drug class or to gain knowledge on recent prescription trends to know if a new eDetailing app is likely to influence business in your direction.

But what happens when you encounter a “chief patient officer” or a “senior director of population management?” All of a sudden, the ability to build meaningful relationships, not by “crunching the numbers”, but through discussion and aligned dialog, becomes the pharma organization’s biggest point of exposure on the front lines of customer engagement.

All the data in the world can’t tell you why these new types of healthcare stakeholders were recruited, what mandates they’ve been given by senior management or the board, what they’re being held accountable for and how they are likely to respond to your next approach to them. This can only come from more valuable engagements through multiple channels built on a foundation of mutual, shared interest.

Some of the more disappointing product launches in pharma could have been avoided if there was a bit less over-reliance on data sets and a bit more focus on how to conduct meaningful discussions. True dialogue could build a picture of their issues, needs and challenges and the impact new product introductions will have on them and their health systems.

Pharma executives are saying all the right things about wanting to create value and build long-term partnerships with key account customers. But the way to win the hearts and minds of the new population of health influencers is by seeing their world from their perspective and using that knowledge to articulate how you can help in improving outcomes for patients.

Big data can and should play an important role in shaping offerings and even strategy. But there’s no substitution for the relationship that brings your customers value and partnership.


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