Our Guide To Upskilling Your KAMs

Reading time: 3 minutes

Key Account Managers (KAMs) work on the supply side of pharmaceuticals, ensuring that doctors and patients are able to access the right treatments at the right time.  

KAM is a common title although Senior Account Managers, Regional Account Managers and Regional Account Directors can all find themselves doing very similar jobs.  

So, what do these commercial, customer-facing roles need to know, and what do they need to be able to do, in addition to being expert negotiators and brand ambassadors?  


Clinical Research Awareness 

Previously we’ve discussed how KAMs and their Medical Science Liaison (MSL) colleagues can work collaboratively to better serve the patients and prescribers they share. But how well do they understand each other’s roles?  

Feedback suggests that they could both benefit from even greater awareness.  

KAMs need to recognise that, for MSLs to retain the privilege of peer-to-peer conversations and access, they have to avoid commercial bias. MSLs are also a limited resource, often covering a geographic region far larger than just one KAM. So, they have to work collaboratively, agreeing priorities so that the MSL’s time and efforts can be used both compliantly and in the best interests of both clinicians and patients.  



KAMs work with a wide range of customer roles from prescribers and clinical managers to supply chain and procurement. As well as flexing their interpersonal communication skills to best meet the needs of each customer, KAMs also need to recognise that each role has a very difference purpose in the healthcare continuum.     

The challenge for KAMs is to flex their style between being task or relationship focused, as well as being methodical or fast paced, all according to their customer’s preferences.  

But they also need to flex between prescribers needing safe and effective treatments, managers who need continuity of supply, and procurement who need affordable healthcare.  

KAMs need to learn how to keep everyone happy and only the right training, from specialists such as Excel, can offer these insights to ensure more effective communication with a wider range of customers, more of the time.  


Leadership Skills 

KAMs are the regional conductors of the pharmaceutical orchestra, with connections to sales, marketing and medical. They should be able to see the granular local detail as well as the corporate big picture.  

They coordinate and lead the wider team, to inform prescribers and provide the best possible care for patients. But their leadership uses personal influence, skills and knowledge rather than positional power. As VIPs they need to be:  

  • Visionary – to communicate local needs into head office, and strategic needs out to the field 
  • Informed – enough science, health economics and commercial insights to be credible with their wide range of colleagues and customers 
  • Proactive – as the conductor directs the orchestra, the KAMs must organise their region 


Communication Skills  

KAMs need to engage a wide range of customers and S.T.I.R. provides a structure for this:  

  • Strategic analysis answers the questions Who, What and Why they need to communicate 
  • Targeted planning addresses How and When to communicate 
  • Implementation is the phase of actually communicating the four essential outcomes of 1) Connect, 2) Understand, 3) Position and 4) Commit 
  • Re-plan is the reminder to keep this approach flexible and routinely updated 


Meeting Skills 

KAMs attend and organise a number of external and internal meetings and most of the capabilities discussed above will contribute to making them both productive and efficient.  

However, it is also crucial that KAMs recognise the four phases of every meeting, the 4 C’s.  

Cohesion is about planning and initiating a meeting so that participants know why they are there, their role and the expected outcomes. Communication is guaranteeing that ideas are shared and everyone feels heard. Consensus is the skill of bringing everyone to agreement with Commitment towards next steps.  


What is critical is that, when you are upskilling your KAMs, their training is tailored to their needs, your organisational goals and the senior, experienced nature of the audience.  

If in doubt reach out to a specialist learning consultancy such as Excel Communications who have specialised in this field for more than 35 years. Just get in touch with us for a no-commitment conversation about how your KAMs can work even more effectively.  

Thank you,


Nic & The Excel Team

P.S. If you would like to discuss any of your other learning & development challenges, book in your discovery call.


About Excel Communications

Excel Communications is a learning and development consultancy based near London in the U.K. For more than 30 years; we have been collaborating with clients across the globe.  

Partnering with Excel empowers you to evolve your people and business by fuelling a love for learning.   

We work with you to create unforgettably, customised learning experiences to achieve your vision of success and growth, with tangible results.   

View our case studies here.