How to Optimise Key Account Management in the Life Sciences

In recent years there have been huge changes in the healthcare market. Increasing patient-centricity and patient and customer personalisation mean companies are having to adapt in substantial ways.

Many businesses are restructuring their organisation as part of a more targeted approach in the hope of standing out from the competition and improving their capacity to respond to clients’ needs.

One way they are doing this is through Key Account Management (KAM). It involves spending more time and investment on the most important clients, in contrast to focusing on single transactions. Developing effective Key Account Management requires companies to make changes in their processes and ways of working to achieve a more personalised client experience – designed to build long-term partnerships. Companies will therefore need to re-organise, but how can they do this most productively and increase their chances of success?

To begin with, companies must identify which accounts will be defined as key accounts, which requires having a well-thought out formula aligned with the company’s business strategy. Clients should not be selected as key accounts solely based on the revenue they bring; instead, it is advisable to consider the wide range of factors – both internal and external to the company – that may affect an account’s strategic importance. Companies should also regularly review their key accounts and be prepared to upgrade or relegate them. This will help to ensure that the accounts receiving higher investment are truly key accounts.

Healthcare companies must also respond to the reality that there are now a larger number of stakeholder groups than ever before, including payers, hospital managers and policymakers. This presents challenges in understanding the various priorities of these different groups. To meet this challenge, companies are deploying cross-functional teams, which requires a Key Account Manager with strong project management skills to coordinate them. In addition, the Key Account Manager must be proactive, strategically minded, and an adept leader with strong communication skills. Human Resources leaders may need to refine their recruitment approach and introduce training to ensure that the person in charge has the right combination of skills for the job. But as well as having the relevant skills, strong networks can be highly valuable as a way to meet prospective customers.

Successful Key Account Management also requires getting various teams on board with highly collaborative ways of working. Leaders can play an important role by communicating clearly about the part that different teams will play, the shared goal, and how progress will be measured. This will make employees feel more willing to learn and adapt.

Furthermore, in today’s healthcare market patient experience has become the foremost customer concern. This means that pitches can no longer be focused solely on the product but must effectively articulate how the product creates value for patients. And because different clients will have different metrics for calculating patient value, companies need to personalise their communication to the specific client. To do so effectively, it is crucial that the Key Account Manager has an excellent understanding of the market and the needs and expectations of the key account. This can be done by researching the client, the decision-makers, and others who may have influence over the buying process. Doing so will improve customer satisfaction and strengthen the company’s brand reputation. In turn, this will likely increase the chances of retaining customers and generating further business opportunities.

Ultimately, effective Key Account Management will not be achieved without time and collective effort. However, companies who get it right will be best placed to succeed in the competitive and evolving healthcare landscape.

References:

  1. How Customer Centricity Is Changing Pharmaceutical Customer Experience, January, 2018, People Metrics.
  2. Weighing up value: Identification of your key accounts, July 2009. Pharmafield.
  3. Effective Pharma Key Account Management (KAM) Teams – the Essential Factors Driving Performance, PR Newswire.
  4. 6 Steps to Key Account Management in Pharma, May, 2019. PharmaIQ.
  5. Key Account Management in the European Healthcare Industry, Tefen.
  6. The Road to Pharma KAM – Key Account Management, Medismo.