What does Key Account Management (KAM) look like in 2017?
Key Account Management (KAM) is not new in the pharmaceutical or medical device industries, in fact, it has been around as a concept for a long time now. The introduction of KAM came about because of the increasing complexity of the healthcare environment and the emergence of new technologies requiring more business to business conversations. Few doubt its continued relevance today.
Hardly any organisation I have come across is without key account managers, local account managers, strategic account managers, or whichever job title you can come up with.
But does a job title really mean that KAM is embedded in the organisation?
KAM is a business operating process, a bit like brand planning. In an ideal world, it should be a way of working for everyone in the organisation. Put simply, KAM is a way for cross functional colleagues to work together to manage resources effectively to achieve the best outcome for patients, external stakeholders and the organisation itself.
However, there are ways in which we can improve KAM as a way of working.
Sales and activity metrics are the norm for Pharma and medical device organisations. If sales aren’t growing in line with predictions, there is a problem. If target customers are not seen with regularity, then senior leaders twitch.
Let’s be realistic. In the current environment, new medicines and technologies are not easily launched, often requiring new diagnostic tests, system redesign, formulary inclusion and guideline placement to be put into play before a clinician can even contemplate prescribing. This can take a broad cross functional team eighteen months or two years to achieve. This may also only involve a handful of key decision makers. So imagine the frustration when these teams are measured on traditional sales and activity, when the reality is that sales are not likely to happen for a while?
In order for KAM to succeed as a way of working, organisations need to include qualitative and quantitative metrics that are applicable to the cross functional account team. Cohesive working across functions will not happen if everyone is measured differently. Equally, if things like the quality of the account plan and progression metrics are not included, then account teams will become demotivated and leave the organisation entirely.
KAM is for life and not just for sales teams.
KAM is a way of working for everyone in the organisation and is not just something key account managers do. How often have you heard an account manager say that they have to give a presentation of their account plan to their peers and senior leaders? How many times have you attended an account meeting where the only people taking actions away are the sales teams?
External stakeholders are a diverse group and they often have complex needs. Market access is becoming more difficult and research indicates that many doors have closed because Pharma and medical device companies have saturated the market place with too many ‘reps’.
Remember, anyone from an organisation is a ‘rep’ in the external stakeholder’s mind, they do not need to know all of the various job titles that exist with their incredible acronyms!
Have you ever been with an external stakeholder who has informed you that someone else from your organisation was with them last week, yet you did not know? How frustrating was that? How embarrassing? This is a perfect example of KAM not being embedded. The right hand was not speaking to the left hand and the customer experience suffered.
KAM should be a way of working for medical, marketing, sales and supporting functions. The external stakeholder’s experience should be of paramount importance. Of course, they may need to be seen by a variety of the internal team in order to address their specific needs, but they don’t need to duplicate their discussions because your internal communications are not up to scratch.
Imagine how you would feel if you knew who had been to see the external stakeholder you were planning to see tomorrow; imagine how much more fluid your conversation would be if you had coordinated your efforts with everyone else who had seen that person because you all understood each other’s role and objective. That is how KAM should be and that is how KAM could be in your organisation.
These are just two areas where KAM can be improved. Over the next few weeks, we will explore further areas for consideration.