How to be a successful key account manager in pharma

Pf asked two consultants from top recruitment agencies for their views on what it takes to be a successful key account manager in pharma.

Andy Boyd, Senior Recruitment Consultant at Evolve

Role and responsibilities

The responsibilities of a key account manager (KAM) vary widely, depending on the structure of an organisation. However, in all cases, the focus lies in building relationships with key customers who will influence the prescribing or use of a particular product. This requires a tailored approach to suit the type of customer.

KAMs are ultimately responsible for building trust with all influential customers and in turn, increasing profitability and revenue for a product.

What recruiters look for in a key account manager

There are various factors that recruiters look for when sourcing KAM level candidates. Having experience and examples of partnering with a range of NHS customers, that can be accessed easily, will stand out against the competition. Along with this, examples of specific key successes in previous KAM roles are essential to ensure a successful application. Key account managers need to be exceptional relationship builders and have the ability to manage relationships on an ongoing basis.

Desirable personality traits

Having the ability to work autonomously is an essential factor when applying for KAM opportunities. The ability to think laterally and outside of the box is important to identify opportunities within accounts, as well as having a driven mentality to achieve required results.

The best KAMs are able to build, manage and maintain relationships with key stakeholders.

Time management and strong communication skills are imperative to effectively manage accounts and to ensure that the correct brand-specific message is being portrayed to the right customers.


Browse our Key Account Manager roles. 


Marie Entwistle, Northern Business Unit Manager at Star

The KAM’s role

The role of a KAM is to develop and implement business plans that deliver the sales and uptake of a drug, or portfolio of drugs, across a designated group of key accounts or regions – with a bit of brand management, advocate development and budget management thrown in! They also need to be experts in their local NHS area and, of course, comply with the ABPI Code of Practice.

Skills and experience required to be a top key account manager in pharma

The very best KAMs are committed, driven to succeed, naturally intuitive, proud of what they do, patient-focused, and will have a healthy dose of competitiveness in them to be able to perform at their peak in what can be a testing environment. As healthcare continues to evolve, top KAMs also need to be able to see the bigger picture, be great networkers, and think strategically to make a real impact.

When it comes to finding that perfect candidate, we at Star look for people who can sell, are able to manage an account at all levels, have a real understanding of their customers’ challenges and can find ways to overcome barriers, and who have a real interest in their therapy area.


Star’s Top 5 Skills For Being a Successful KAM

  1. Solutions focused
  2. Sales Ability/ Influencing Skills
  3. Commercial awareness
  4. Business planning
  5. Relationship building

This article was originally published in Pharmafield.