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  • Writer's pictureKarsten Schmidt

Co-creating and deploying Key Account Management processes to markedly improve sale performance



Often, when Life Sciences companies want to renew or improve their Key Account Management processes, they start shopping for new technology solutions which are out in the market. Yet, when it comes to deploying those technologies, there is a lack of buy-in from many relevant stakeholders which leads to sub-optimal system use and performance. I have invited Jürgen Konrad for an interview on this topic. Jürgen is Managing Partner of Primus Consulting and has been helping Life Sciences companies in designing and improving their Key Account Management processes over the last two decades.


Karsten: Thank you, Jürgen for taking the time for this interview. To get started, can you tell our readers a little bit more about your background?


Jürgen: Thank you Karsten for having me here. I studied Mathematics and Marketing. After many years in Brand Strategy Consulting, I founded one of the first Online Agencies in Germany and started to combine process consulting with relevant software solutions in automotive, financial services and health care markets. Since 2002 I focussed on Pharma Markets and joined Primus Consulting group.


Karsten: In the introduction I describe some difficulties of Life Sciences companies in defining their Key Account Management processes adequately and execute them properly. From your experience, what is the main reasons for that to occur?


Jürgen: From my experience there are some major challenges we saw in our projects with clients:

The first one can be described with the question “What is a Key Account?”. Of course, we talk about the approach to customer segmentation in general and also the level of alignment throughout the organization to this approach, which brings me to the next challenge.


Global view versus national perspectives: There might be different approaches to Key Accounting in different markets and/or cultures that all make sense. But sometimes we saw that the aggregation or abstraction to a Global view did not really work.


Karsten: What needs to happen so that companies improve the design of their key account management processes from the start?


Jürgen: As mentioned above, a first step is a common understanding of segmentation. Second “It`s all about knowing your customer”. And my definition of “customer” is not restricted to the classical external one. I am talking about external and internal customers. An optimal design of a key accounting process is matching for both and is generating benefits for both. Otherwise, companies are just repeating to construct “Push” strategies.


More aspects that we saw in our projects around process design and other important fields are highlighted in the following graphic:

Karsten: When the task is to roll out those new processes on a regional level, what should ideally be considered?


Jürgen: Mostly such processes are initiated from a global level with specific parameters or guidelines that meet the strategic objectives of the company. This is mandatory. But sometimes this is not sufficiently challenged with the regional perspective to deploy its full power.


Karsten: At what point in time will the question concerning right technology to be deployed become relevant?


Jürgen: What I learned in the last decades is: Software follows Business. This is the only cost-effective sequence that will work in the long run. The reality too often shows: decisions on technology are made before there is a clear understanding which process to be supported in detail. This leads to a mismatch of what you wanted versus what you executed and is partly driven by a lack of flexibility on the software providers end.


Karsten: Companies that have chosen technologies too quickly before aligning KAM processes often end up with dysfunctional and frustrated teams. What can be done to avoid this?


Jürgen: I am coming back to my statement above. Know your Customer. Dysfunction and frustration quite often are an effect when having the feeling of being ignored or being presented a solution that is not matching (regional) working reality.


Karsten: Do you have an example of the impact that was generated when companies were able to significantly improve their KAM processes?


Jürgen: I do, Karsten. We had the honour to completely support the design of an Account Planning process in 42 countries of our client. In a nutshell: In a first step we set up the global strategic corridor with the client's management team. In a second step we initiated a continuous analysis and dialogue with the regional teams to fill the given degrees of freedom in an optimum way. The result was a process design that matched the global strategic requirements with the real-life regional challenges (including the customer perspective). The external impact was: double digit increases of sales and customer satisfaction. The internal impact - and also driver for the external impact - was: higher motivation and creativity, more accountability.


Karsten: Your company has also developed a KAM software solution. What was the main trigger for that decision?


Jürgen: A software tool must make your life easier, your work more efficiently and therefore it has to be a supporter of my success. From CEO to Sales Rep level. Thus, we learned from our Customers and generated a solution that is a working tool helping people being successful, instead of generating one more documentation tool.


Karsten: Once new KAM processes are deployed, what is needed to keep the momentum amongst the involved cross-functional teams?


Jürgen: Start with answering the question “what's in it for me” already in the process design and mutually translate it into your supporting software concept. Let your team produce and share success concerning company strategy down to individual benefits. And last: Keep up this dialogue and try to get better every year, process and software wise.


Karsten: Thank you, Jürgen for sharing these valuable insights with us.

In summary, we can say that designing successful KAM processes starts with defining what Key Accounts are, how cross-functional teams shall engage with different customers at account level so that at the end of the day the relationship and underlying procedures become mutually beneficial. Deploying new processes requires strategic guidelines from global that are challenged and adjusted by regions according to their needs. And finally, software follows business processes to ensure proper adoption.


What were your key learnings when rolling out Key Account Management processes in the past? For further reference please reach out to info@xeleratio.com or j.konrad@primus-consulting-group.com

 

Xeleratio Consulting Ltd.

We help Life Sciences executives improve sales performance with innovative best-in-class Business Excellence tools and methodologies . Expertise in Business Excellence has been gained with over 12 years of working in different global and regional roles in the Life Sciences industry.


 

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