Clients of a typical pharmaceutical company often have a choice when it comes to selection of business partners and may look for a distinct type of relationship in return for further patronage. Therefore, the pharmaceutical company must really comprehend the value that the business of that strategic account imparts and must realise that when it designates “key account” status, a certain level of quality control should ensue and measurable results be expected.
Key account management must be dynamic and not something that can be assessed and reviewed at some point in the future. It must be essentially dynamic and while certain elements of such an association will mean different things to different staff members, the overall goal must be the same – to ensure that the client and all its executives are happy and wish to remain.
It is a shame, but clients are often disappointed by what they see as a failure to embrace the importance of key account management and by the organisation’s inability to cross the line. The key account expects a pharmaceutical company to be proactive and not simply to react when any events take place. It’s important for the client to see that the company is acting in its best interests and, most especially in this field, keeping abreast of developments within the industry.
Sometimes, the client will be expecting the pharmaceutical company to be involved in the development of strategies. Many different levels of key account recognition are possible and it is feasible that this could vary across many different client levels, but the pharmaceutical company must be sure that at every tier of its organisation, staff are trained in the particular requirements necessary. The company must intimately know the client and this does not necessarily mean socially. For example, the company may want to send some of its appropriate staff into the field to work directly with the client and should remember that this can also help to provide an element of in-depth knowledge about the client, intelligence which could be used in the future.
The pharmaceutical company should never be afraid to perform a certain amount of work at no charge for truly key clients and this once again points to the need for each client to be treated as its own entity. The moral is that there should be no such thing as a textbook approach to key account management and pharmaceutical consulting firms fully realise this and can help to educate all staff levels in the intricacies of such an approach.
When it comes to the release of information that could be seen as proprietary, pharmaceutical companies may find themselves in a difficult or delicate position. In this kind of business, information can be very powerful and while the client may be looking for added “value” from the company through the passing of information, this element is best handled at the senior vice presidential level, in consultation with the company’s pharma consulting firm.
The pharmaceutical consultants will help ensure that the company is going above and beyond, over-delivering its part of the equation. Remember that a key account must be key in all respects and this goes all the way to the bottom of the balance sheet, to enable a truly “win-win” situation to result.
Alan Gillies is the CEO of L2L Consulting, a cutting-edge pharma consultancy firm which specialises in optimising productivity and performance within international companies by applying tailored organisational strategies.