Implementation of KAM Modules in Pharmaceutical CRM Systems


Is a Key Account Management CRM implementation in the pipeline of your pharmaceutical organization? Avoiding the common pitfalls and prioritizing your resources effectively will be key to a successful implementation.

In this paper, we provide you with practical learnings from our many successful KAM implementations with leading pharmaceutical companies. We will also guide you through the five steps of the account planning process in your CRM.

Key account management (KAM) is gaining traction as an important part of the commercial operations of many pharmaceutical companies. As treatment decisions become increasingly complicated and more organizational stakeholders become involved in the process, the complexity of managing these processes goes up. With an increased emphasis on measuring treatment outcomes beyond clinical studies and collection of real-world evidence, strengthened relationships with customers is growing in importance.


Treatment decisions are driven by more and more diverse stakeholders, such as committee and policy group members, payers, health economists, etc.

Time perspective

The goal of KAM is necessarily concerned with a longer-term focus, with the aim of building value over time, requiring long-term objectives that are continuously developed.


Successful key account management requires orchestration of the various teams of the pharmaceutical company, including sales, medical, marketing, and market access.

Portfolio approach

Rather than promoting individual products directly to individual Health Care Professionals, alignment across therapeutical areas is needed to manage the entire product portfolio towards the group of customer stakeholders.

Maintaining a unified and consistent messaging strategy towards the customer over the long term requires proper process governance, training and development of KAM skills and people. It also requires the right tools to manage complexity.

For the latter, a well-implemented CRM system is usually the key to continuously drive a successful KAM approach in pharma. However, the KAM module is often configured and implemented as an afterthought, as part of the broader CRM implementation effort, being left deprioritized amongst competing priorities. This is especially the case in smaller organizations, but not exclusively.

“At best, a hasty implementation of a KAM CRM module will lead to poor adoption.”

In the following, we propose an approach for the first-step implementation of a KAM module as part of your pharmaceutical CRM system, based on our vast experience working with this process across leading pharmaceutical companies.

The approach is best suited for small and medium-sized pharmaceutical organizations that have limited resources to plan and manage the implementation. The approach will help to prioritize the most important steps of the process.

With that being said, the overall approach can be followed by any organization.

We will begin by going through some of the prerequisites for a successful implementation process, followed by a high-level overview of the suggested order of activities.



There are currently two leading pharmaceutical CRM systems – IQVIA Orchestrated Customer Engagement (OCE) and Veeva CRM. Both solutions offer KAM modules that come “out-of-the-box” with a vast amount of functionality that can be overwhelming for end-users, if not tailored to their existing processes.

KAM modules are built to support many different subprocesses, not all of which may be relevant for especially small and medium-sized pharmaceutical companies. The same organizations also may not have the extensive process maturity to govern these processes. In addition, value capture from implementing many of these functionalities has a long-term perspective and may be less clear and measurable compared to more traditional CRM tools, such as implementing call cycle plans.


The scope

To optimize the odds of a successful adoption of the KAM module, we propose beginning with a small scope of functionality based on the existing KAM maturity and processes, then adding on functionality as the organization gains maturity.

Successful implementations often share the characteristic of a limited scope to gain initial buy-in from end-users, before adding more sophisticated tools over time. You should also consider if it is possible to begin the implementation with only parts of your key account team first (e.g., sales and medical), or if all teams need access from Day One after going live.


The implementation team

A key step in any successful change management process, like implementing a new KAM module, is to include the right team members in the implementation effort. For most pharmaceutical companies, following a core configuration approach, with shared functionality across several affiliates in a region, is considered best practice. For some organizations, this often means cross-market alignment on broader KAM processes as well as specific configuration details. In these implementation efforts, having local advocates from each key affiliate is instrumental.

This is to ensure that all markets and stakeholders are heard, which is key to ensuring strong adoption and optimal value from your CRM investment. In our experience, the countries that tend to focus more heavily on KAM include the United States, the United Kingdom, the Nordics, Germany, Spain, and Italy, though this will naturally depend on the specific therapeutic areas and products in question.

Laying the foundation

A significant challenge when implementing a KAM module is that it requires constant switching between the big picture perspectives, ensuring that there is organizational alignment on the foundational processes, and focusing on specific details that are important in the day-to-day use of the system. While it may be time-consuming, we advise beginning with several workshops to discuss some of these foundational decisions. These decisions have a significant impact on the KAM process in the organization and the resulting configuration.

It is also an opportunity to share experiences and learn from each other – an opportunity which is rarely presented to affiliate teams and is often highly appreciated. These decisions include answering questions such as:


At what level of the organization are strategic goals decided, and how are they cascaded down throughout the organization? To what extent should you prioritize alignment vs. local autonomy? Should there be a shared periodical cycle across markets for review, planning, and execution of account plans?

Granularity and goals

Will account plans be used strategically to set high-level direction, or as project management tools with concrete actions? How – if at all – should goals and tactics be approved by managers?

Cross-functional collaboration

What types of team members will participate in account planning and execution, and what role will they play at each stage?


How – if at all – will specific metrics or KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) be part of the compensation structure for KAM team members?

Getting into the specifics

Once you have alignment on the foundational decisions, it is time to proceed into discussions on some of the more detailed considerations for each part of the KAM process. While these minor decisions may appear insignificant in the context of the large implementation effort, they are not. Our experience tells us that taking the time to go into the necessary details and discuss this is a prudent investment to ensure day-to-day use of the system. As an example, a list of values used to profile the functional role of an account stakeholder may seem like a minor detail at first sight, but an inconsistent or non-exhaustive list of options can prove to be a source of frustration for the end-users.

This could lead to poor data quality at best, and the users entirely giving up on using the functionality, at worst. There are many specific decisions to be made –too many to list here – but take advantage of the guidance of your vendor and your third-party implementation partner to ensure that you have an exhaustive list of the questions which are relevant to answer. In most cases, the first question to be answered is whether the specific functionality is valuable to your specific organization, or whether it can be removed to reduce the complexity of the module. We would categorize the account planning process into five steps that repeat in a continuous cycle – each here presented with a few examples of the questions that would likely be relevant to answer in most KAM implementation processes.

Setting goals

How are goals defined at the international, national, regional, and territory levels? Are approvals collected in the CRM system, and if so, how? How much autonomy will Key Account Managers vs. Regional Managers have in defining these?

Identifying KAM targets

What metrics will KAM targets be decided by – and by whom? How often will these metrics be reviewed? How will KAM targets be registered?

Creating the account plan

What kind of situational analyses are relevant to be performed? What is the read/edit rights of each type of team member? What information related to the account stakeholders is pertinent? How will account plan creation be tracked?

Executing the account plan

How many levels of hierarchy are needed to translate strategic goals into concrete actions? How do you make it easy for Key Account Managers to easily identify actions that are due soon? How should actions be marked as completed, and how is completion percentages tracked?


What are the relevant metrics to track at various stages of the KAM process? How often are they reviewed? How do they tie into the compensation structure for the KAMs? How are the metrics connected to the activity plan targets?


Once the KAM module has been configured, the next step is to ensure the future users of the module will receive appropriate training to properly equip them with their new tool. We have seen clients attempt to include KAM CRM training as a sub-part of the broader CRM training, often as part of the roll-out of a new CRM system. It is our experience this rarely provides the right conditions for ensuring a proper adoption of the KAM module.

We usually recommend splitting up the KAM training from the broader CRM training, giving at least a few weeks to get accustomed to the new CRM system before proceeding with KAM training.

These are just a few examples, and undoubtedly the process will generate many more questions as you get into each stage of the process. By taking the time to go through and carefully assess each step of the process, you improve the odds of a successful implementation.

Once the KAM module has been configured, the next step is to ensure the future users of the module will receive appropriate training to properly equip them with their new tool. We have seen clients attempt to include KAM CRM training as a sub-part of the broader CRM training, often as part of the roll-out of a new CRM system. It is our experience this rarely provides the right conditions for ensuring a proper adoption of the KAM module.

We usually recommend splitting up the KAM training from the broader CRM training, giving at least a few weeks to get accustomed to the new CRM system before proceeding with KAM training.

The way the KAM process is trained is likewise important. A common mistake we see is focusing too heavily on training the technology rather than the core process that the technology is supporting.

Relying on trainers with an inadequate understanding of the underlying processes can lead to confusion amongst end-users and poor uptake of the module. Instead, we recommend finding an experienced trainer with extensive experience training in KAM modules across multiple technology vendors. Also, consider a trainer with experience in being either directly involved in the implementation process or having received a detailed walkthrough of the functional configuration and underlying business decisions.


Key Takeaway

Key account management is more important than ever, and securing a successful implementation of the KAM module within your CRM system can be a key instrument in solidifying and evolving your KAM processes. However, without a solid understanding of the common pitfalls, KAM implementation comes with a significant risk of poor adoption and poor return of investment. Following our approach will guide you in the right direction to a successful implementation.

BASE life science has managed many KAM implementation efforts across a considerable number of organizations in Europe and North America. We can help you and your organization as well. Do not hesitate to reach out to us if you wish to know more about our services.

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