Helen Weller, Recruitment Consultant at CHASE, discusses how specialist Key Account Manager opportunities can be the perfect role for candidates.
Specialist Key Account Manager (KAM) opportunities are often sought-after roles within the pharmaceutical industry, as they give the KAM the opportunity to own their own business. Candidates need to have exceptional business planning abilities, relationship management and influencing skills to manage one or more products across a variety of external customers. The added complexity of the role means that their internal stakeholder network (across Medical, Marketing and other disciplines) is also key.
“They will have the opportunity to interact and influence anyone who can positively affect the ability of a patient to have access to the medicine they require.”
External customers will vary depending on the structure of the business but can include:
- Healthcare professionals in both Primary and Secondary Care
- Pharmacists and sub-specialties in both Primary and Secondary Care sectors with an ability to impact on their business
- Payors in hospital and Clinical Commissioning Groups, Local Health Boards and NHS Scotland
- Customer professional bodies pertinent to the business
- Procurement managers
- NHS Business managers.
Basically, they will have the opportunity to interact and influence anyone who can positively affect the ability of a patient to have access to the medicine they require. The more ‘holistic’ approach, whilst keeping focus on the importance of commercial gain for their employer, is vital.
In order to be a successful KAM, you must be good at managing your own time and working autonomously. Account management is key and adapting your approach to the needs of the customers within a specific account is essential. A KAM must identify the customers’ needs and introduce a solution that has a WIN:WIN result. Working autonomously means that the KAM has responsibility and accountability for their business, but also ensures there is continuity of message across all customer groups. The KAM must also have a strategic focus and be able to prioritise accounts according to business potential. The planning, strategy, output and results all stop with you!
Pharmaceutical clients recruiting for specialist KAMs will often want someone with a proven track record within their territory, as well as a comprehensive understanding of the ever-evolving NHS environment.
The ability to work cross functionally is also very important. At CHASE, we often describe Specialist KAMs as being similar to a conductor of an orchestra. A conductor must take control and be responsible for the performance of their orchestra. The KAM needs to do likewise for their product(s). You’ll bring in different members of the wider team when you need them – this could be medical, marketing or other sales colleagues.
Specialist KAM roles are not right for everyone, but if you have the right experience, skill set and motivation they can provide a real challenge and career enhancement. With more of these roles predicted, the CHASE team would be delighted to support you through the application and assessment process.
Ross MacPhee, Business Development at CHASE, discusses the changing nature of the market leading to more specialist product launches within the pharmaceutical industry.
Specialised medicines are, and will continue to be, a major source of commercial focus for the pharmaceutical industry. Daily news feeds are full of the latest mind-bending advancements in ‘the war on cancer’ to name but one topic; as such it feels a very exciting time for our industry, for medicine and patients alike.
A recent report from Evaluate Pharma reinforces this point by identifying that oncology is the leading market segment for our industry with CAGR forecasted at 12% between 2017 – 2024; which would mean global sales in the order of $233Bn at the end of this period! In addition, with a potential 5212 drugs in the oncology development pipeline alone, it’s safe to conclude that competition and market dynamics in specialised medicines are only going to hot up. Other leading areas of investment include biotechnology, neurology, anti-infectives as well as metabolic conditions.
So, with all this investment and activity in specialised medicines, what might be some of the considerations pharma organisations should be thinking about as a result of greater competition, and generally more dynamic markets? Here are three for starters:
1. Volatility and risk
Significant R&D pipelines ultimately mean more products entering the market and with new data continuously influencing their health technology assessments (HTAs), competition is only going to increase and in turn lead to greater market volatility. The result could mean the fortunes of some products literally change overnight, for good or bad. Anticipating and planning for these dynamics will require appropriate resource flexibility, to enable speed in appropriate resource deployment, as well as managing risk and liability exposures.
2. The right skills and flexibility
Whether it’s market access, developing professional relations through medical liaison, contract managers leading tendering opportunities, nurses supporting treatment management or educating peers, or Key Account Managers navigating the sales process, the variety of skills required for successful commercialisation of specialised medicines can be wide.
Successful organisations will need to ensure they continue to drive their competitive advantage through sourcing the right talent, at the same time as promptly varying resource levels in line with demands across the product’s lifecycle – speed and flexibility will be key.
3. New talent and resource investment
In a constantly growing market, there is a risk that talent demand could outpace the number of suitably experienced professionals. Therefore, as an industry, we need to keep ahead of this potential challenge and consider carefully where new talent will come from?
What are the solutions?
Having successfully deployed and integrated several specialist outsourced sales teams over the past 12 months in disease areas such as oncology, mental health and respiratory, at CHASE we acknowledge an increasing demand for outsourcing in specialist areas. We believe that some of the outsourcing principles that have served primary care so well will increasingly be applied to the specialist arena.
If you are looking for more information or support about specialist teams, please contact our Business Development or Recruitment Consultant teams on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0131 553 6644.