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Transforming from a Key Opinion Leader to a Key Account

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Recruitment trends in Asia’s pharmaceutical industry over the past decade have pointed to an increasing demand for top marketing talent. With the rise of specialty pharmaceutical companies, this demand is expected to become even stronger. 

Companies are seeking candidates who can think globally and act locally. Clients are looking beyond excellent presentation skills, good KOL contacts, and MR experience from candidates. In today’s market, these are no longer enough. The market has become far more sophisticated with the need for marketing teams to quantify and qualify their strategies and return on investment. The previous president of a well-known specialty pharmaceutical company stated that the old model of selling pharmaceuticals was focused on the share of voice advertising model, which underlined frequency and coverage as the main drivers of sales. However, he argued, such a model is now inadequate and outdated. 

Leading pharmaceutical companies are seeking to clarify their marketing goals. The objectives are clarity, synergy, and singleness of purpose. These firms are looking for candidates who fit the following seven parameters: 

  1. Passion, enthusiasm, and commitment to work globally and integrate sales, marketing, and development.
  2. Possessing a strong understanding of “sales force effectiveness” and the ability to apply global principles locally.
  3. Strong leadership. Hierarchical power doesn’t work anymore, with teams operating in cross-board matrixed organizations. Leadership is now an attitude and not a title.
  4. Possessing a comprehensive understanding of the needs of physicians and the strategic acumen to perfectly segment, target, and handle limitations in physician/customer base access.
  5. Integrating communication channels between marketing and sales teams to achieve high profitability.
  6. Delivering superior return on investment through marketing channels by synergizing business plans with sales force activities.
  7. Partnering with key stakeholders in building integrated relationships with pharmacists, doctors, and local authorities for improved success.

Clients are seeking candidates who can develop key customers and maximize those relationships. The companies that are winning have marketers who use all company resources available to them and can develop deep relationships with various departments in hospitals. Such an approach overcomes many of the drawbacks of the traditional approach by involving a whole range of customers who can influence business in multiple ways. 

This type of relationship means that pharmaceutical companies and hospitals have become highly interdependent. An account doesn’t rely on the rise or fall of the relationship between any two individuals. Effective key account management takes time to achieve and is most definitely not a quick fix. Instead, the approach seeks to build long-standing relationships between account managers and the customers that are most important to these managers’ and the organization’s long-term success. 

Key account management requires much more than the KOL management strategy of traditional selling. The emphasis is on accurate targeting, long-term relationship building, and strategic thinking. Clients want candidates who understand that much more is to be done and achieved beyond physician detailing. 

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