In previous articles, I have provided you with my definition of Key Account Management (KAM) for the pharmaceutical and medical device industries:
KAM is a way of working effectively together to manage resources to achieve the best possible outcome for the patient, external stakeholder and the organisation.
Recent articles, such as the KPMG Pharma outlook 2030: From Evolution to revolution report highlight the need for the pharmaceutical industry to “….radically change in order to survive and thrive in 2030” in the “disrupted world” of healthcare.
So what needs to change?
KAM is complex, we know that. It requires a breadth of individual and organisational capabilities.
What are the most relevant capabilities in today’s complex healthcare environment?
If you look at job advertisements on LinkedIn, there is still a heavy reliance on selling as the core capability for KAM based roles. I would argue that this is the critical component which needs to change.
I am not saying that selling needs to disappear. After all, pharmaceutical and medical device organisations are commercial entities and need to generate revenue, therefore, selling will continue to be an important part of the process. However, if the primary focus of KAM is selling, then there are critical things that will be missed.
Selling is a fine art. It requires complex and specific capabilities. A good sales person is worth their weight in gold. But they also need the scope within their role to concentrate on the delivery and execution of the sales process.
Key Account Management is much broader than selling.
As I have said before, KAM is a business operating process which requires input from the cross functional team. Therefore, what organisations need to decide up front, is which capabilities and behaviours they expect to see from the cross functional team in order to succeed at KAM.
In recent discussions with organisations, I have found that few have a clearly defined set of capabilities for key account management. This makes it very difficult to understand where the strengths and gaps are in order to develop the key account management model.
Clearly defined capabilities are required to ensure effective cross functional working.
It becomes clear who the experts are within the organisation and avoids ‘Jack of all trades, master of none’ syndrome.
Consider healthcare professionals. They are specialists in their field. Of course, they all have general medical training, but there is no expectation that a Cardiologist will be able to perform a knee replacement. The same principles apply to pharmaceutical and medical device organisations.
If you have a dedicated team who are experts in generating business and customer insights, then give them the scope to develop their expertise. Of course, they need a general working knowledge of the business and account objectives, but they don’t need to be experts in engaging external stakeholders for example.
As organisations become more specialised, there is an overwhelming requirement to focus on developing critical specialised capabilities within a clearly defined framework.