iStock_000052996526SmallAs key account management (KAM) becomes more prevalent for pharmaceutical companies trying to court large clients, how are they actually implementing it? And what challenges are they facing as they try to do so?

I address these questions in a new video on KAM, “The Reasons Key Account Management Is Essential to Unlocking Large Customers’ Doors.” Pharmaceutical companies need to engage their large customers in an organized manner reminiscent of business-to-business (B2B) dealings rather than focus on individual interactions with physicians. This requires pharma companies to rethink how they approach large companies, and their key account management programs. With providers looking to deliver positive outcomes relative to cost, the pharma companies that can deliver value through partnerships—rather than count on products to sell through clinical differentiation—will be the most successful long-term.

There are challenges to get health systems or large provider groups to even consider partnerships: Consider that drugs constitute 15% of health-care spending in the United States, so large providers may not initially see the value in making pharmaceutical companies strategic partners. That makes it incumbent upon pharma companies to tailor offerings that can deliver value to large, organized customers.

Doing this requires a shift in perspective as well. Key account management is not simply a role filled by a single salesperson, but rather a shift in how pharma companies fundamentally work with their large customers.

And in order to make that shift, drug companies need to determine specific goals for their KAM program. For instance, one company might see KAM as a way to serve customers more efficiently and effectively with its portfolio; another might envision KAM as a way to fundamentally transform how it interacts with customers, adding services to help a health-care system fulfill a specific goal.

Answering those questions will go a long way toward developing a key account management program that delivers value to both customers and company alike.

Topics: Pharmaceutical, Bill Coyle, sales management, hospital, key account management