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Sandra Rafferty: 'If I could change one thing…'

The Business Development Director at Apodi explains what she would improve within the industry
if I could change one thing

It would be to change the perception that some representatives and managers have about the Key Account Management (KAM) way of working.

To some, KAM is merely an industry buzzword. To others, it's an opportunity to define and prioritise accounts, adopt a multidisciplinary and targeted approach to building valuable strategic partnerships with key customers, to sell effectively and, most importantly, to add value.

I met a friend recently who has been a sales rep for a number of years and she told me her company had been through a restructuring process to adopt the KAM way of working. As a result, and following an internal assessment, her position had changed from that of sales rep to a Key Account Manager. I acknowledged that with the complexity of the NHS, the increased barriers that exist and the multiple stakeholders that we need to engage with, this was a logical approach. Interestingly, she felt that six months in to her new role, her actual job had not changed very much. She has had an increase in salary to reflect her new position, a 3-day training course on managing key accounts and, of course, a new job title, but other than that, she felt there was little difference.

This recent interaction, together with the insights I have gained into a number of different organisations, confirms that while pharma often says it has moved to a KAM structure, the approach, and indeed understanding, varies considerably across companies. So, have companies really adopted the KAM approach across the whole organisation, and do managers have the right skills and understanding to drive KAM? The role of a KAM requires a very different set of skills to those of the traditional rep. They are not just delivering messages, they need to have strong planning skills and be able to coordinate appropriate activities around the account both externally and internally.

It is only when the perception of KAM is changed and a KAM approach is adopted fully across the organisation, that a company can develop the necessary skills and mind sets of employees. And it is only then that they can become true partners with the NHS.

Sandra Rafferty, Apodi
The Author
Sandra Rafferty
, Business Development Director, Apodi Ltd. Contact:

28th November 2012

From: Sales, Marketing



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