In the end, it all comes down to the issue of noise. We are bombarded by noise in our personal lives, on a constant basis. When we enter our professional arena, this noise level tends to increase and as human beings, we can be forgiven for resisting this noise and becoming very jaded on any given day. Noise tends to take the shape of relentless marketing, some of it strategic, some of it "in-your-face," some of it subtle. This is just part of the makeup of our society and we are all accustomed to it.
The job of the pharmaceutical sales rep is far from simple. This is a very competitive and often very emotional arena and the product can have far-reaching consequences for the pharmaceutical professional and the end-user, the patient. Many professionals and practitioners have little time for pharmaceutical sales representatives and they may have amassed bad feelings, often due to poor sales practices and/or incorrect information.
Key account management training focuses on teaching the representative to cut through the noise and to speak the words that the client really wants to hear. Many clients believe that the sales representative is only "in it" for themselves, that they do not understand particular problems, issues and requirements and tend to take them for granted. Over time, poor relationships are built up between the professional and the rep and this is likely to lead to even more resistance. In this scenario, it can be very difficult to get to the "yes," and pharma training must concentrate on how to prepare for the meeting, how to re-create relationships and how to clear away the damage caused by bad historical practices.
Much of what is taught within key account management training is subtle and strategic. These accounts are "key" for a reason, but just because they are more likely to engage with the pharmaceutical company, this does not mean that they can be treated as "part of the furniture." Indeed, the organisation may require much more, as a consequence of the relationship, than an account that is not classified as key.
Employees who are designated to interact with the key account must always be clear about their objectives. These must be laid out in a detailed form by the trainers and must be adopted by the employees. If a particular position is sought, the end goal must be very clearly understood. This cannot be over emphasised. The employee must understand the structure of influence within the client organisation, which could include other professionals, peers, subordinates, secretaries or receptionists. Overlook a particular individual at your peril, as you will not get past the rebuttal.
Each client and prospect is different, they are subject to a variety of external influences, have different levels of resistance to "noise," and will require a completely novel approach on the part of the pharmaceutical sales team. Understanding how each client is different, to a finite degree, is essential and this will allow the sales company’s point people to create a valuable exchange of some kind, drastically increasing the prospects that the client will come on board.