What does this really mean? It is an old saying referring to the importance of organising yourself, your team and your business before moving outside to support anyone else. In the same context, you could think of it as putting your own oxygen mask on before helping others on a flight.
Why is this relevant to Key Account Management (KAM)?
In the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors the current trends are patient centricity and customer experience. (Of course, these concepts are transferrable into multiple sectors, if you replace the word patient with customer).
If we consider how we feel as a customer, regardless of the sector, we want to be the provider’s priority. The last thing we want to hear about is the difficulties the provider has in getting something to us, whether it is a good or a service. We certainly neither want or need to hear about internal politics, financial woes or reorganisations.
We want to speak to the expert in their field who can best support us to make our decision.
Thinking specifically of the pharmaceutical and medical device sectors, ‘customers’ are health care professionals and payers. Some have the power to make purchasing decisions, whilst others prescribe, use or deliver the product or service to improve patient care.
Access to these ‘customers’ has become increasingly difficult in recent years. Healthcare professionals, payers, pharmaceutical and medical device employees are open about this when you speak to them. There are lots of factors contributing to reduced access, such as local policies restricting access, time pressures, geographic location etc.
However, underneath this trend of closing doors lurks something that pharmaceutical and medical device organisations can fix.
Organisations need to sort out internal conflicts and be very clear on what they can and cannot offer by way of solutions to external stakeholders.
One of the most important steps within any KAM programme is understanding your internal stakeholders and resources.
Having forensic level knowledge of your own business, who does what and the resources available to your account is critical to the attainment of any account objective.
If the KAM is the conductor of the orchestra, then they must know who can play and what they are playing.
Providing a seamless and professional customer experience does not only require product or service expertise, though these are important. ‘Customers’ whether they are health care professionals or payers, require much more than that. They want and need you to add value.
Value is providing solutions to the problems that really matter to them, their organisation and patients.
In order to add real value, pharmaceutical and medical device organisations should be very clear on what they can and cannot deliver. They should understand their business and allocate resources in a prioritised manner. The account team should be very clear about the resources available to each account, and understand the rationale for this.
Healthcare professionals and payers alike have stopped seeing pharmaceutical and medical device organisations because they are fed up.
Customers don’t want to have false hope about something that can support them to improve delivery of healthcare. They don’t have time to wait around for slow no’s when someone has to go back to their ‘head office’ and spend months finding the right person to speak to for an ultimate rejection. They don’t want to see five different people from the same organisation who clearly don’t communicate with each other, and who ask similar questions.
Patients will always be the priority for health care professionals and payers.
Time that is taken away from optimising patient care is precious, so pharmaceutical and medical device organisations need to respect any time they have with external stakeholders in this context.
These are things you and your cross-functional account team colleagues can do to make a difference:
- Be very clear on who works in the account, what they have to offer and why
Understand who is responsible for the delivery of each task. Use the RACI matrix to support you
- Communicate regularly with each other, share updates and be collaborative
- Have a forensic understanding of the products, services, tools and resources available to support your account
- Communicate clearly with customers, help them to understand the different account team member roles and responsibilities, what you can do and what you cannot do to solve problems
- Play to your strengths – if you are the sales specialist then don’t try to be the MSL as well
- Know what you cannot offer and don’t be afraid to say no!
If you would like to know more about cross-functional working, internal stakeholder mapping or RACI to support your organisation, then get in touch.
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