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  • Writer's pictureAventria Health Group

5 Pharma Brand Growth Myths: Impediments at Large Provider Customers (IDNs, LGPs, etc)

It’s not often that we hear pharma clients communicate high satisfaction with their KAM approach and sales performance, and that’s to be understood. For many reasons, it’s a tough undertaking. Multiproduct clinical knowledge, new selling skills, complex market knowledge, inadequate and emerging infrastructure, and large, diverse customer organizations all contribute to a challenging environment. Yet these dynamics apply to all manufacturers, and so it is achievable to rise above the rest and be among the best.

Remember, too, that our US health care system is “broken.” That translates into needs and opportunities to help enable improvement and grow value. And this matters, not only to large customers but also to their in-network providers with whom they contract and influence to provide continuity of care.

With this in mind, the following are insights to overcome common KAM challenges we see every day.

Have you heard of, or do you experience, any of these?

  1. It’s hard to see them, or they have a “no see” policy (and as a corollary: I am only permitted to meet with them infrequently). It is hard to see large customers if they don’t see the value in your interaction. That’s right: not the value in the brand but the value in you and what you bring to the table. How can and will you help them do their job? Improve their organization? Improve their patient outcomes? If the interaction is primarily transactional, then you are one of many offering a quick fix (ie, discount) that is easily outdone by the next person. It’s not creating a relationship that delivers meaningful value; rather, it delivers incremental short-term value. And so you’re invited in briefly and only when the customer invites you merely as a step in the process. You can change the relationship to a long-term partnership that provides durable value to all parties.

  2. Our competition is locked in with a big discount. Two competition attributes are at play: They are offering a large discount, and/or they are delivering other value. Regardless, you are not perceived as being able to solve for meaningful needs. You need to change the nature of your offering to help address their needs. You need to show you can be an unmatched partner.

  3. Our brand is expensive, and coverage is poor. Maybe it is, but often this is simply a sign that the brand’s value proposition is either suboptimally built, suboptimally communicated, or not shared in the right way. Your role and value to the organization need to be entrenched to overcome the cost objection, where here the classic four P’s of marketing have been reduced to one.

  4. They don’t understand or appreciate our brand attributes. Have you communicated the brand attributes? I bet the answer is “yes,” but have you done so in the context of the customer’s unique challenges? And further, providing insights from across key stakeholders at that customer? The answer is likely “not fully.” Ask, listen, repeat. Then go to the next stakeholder and do the same. Then position the brand in the context of the persistent customer needs.

  5. They don’t know us or need us, so it’s hard to get in. Yes, it’s hard to see busy people who are influential—especially if they don’t think you are influential or that you can help them. Be persistent. Be prepared. Be positioned in a manner that matters to them. Let them know you intend to deliver value and that you can customize this value to their needs and challenges. Start with your personal value proposition. Then pursue learning theirs. Then close with the brand.

If you’re hearing these KAM responses often, they may be indicators that you can and should improve your positioning with these customers. Building partnerships with aligned objectives not only can happen, but it is happening. Customer approaches can be well received, not only by your customers but by your internal and field stakeholders as well. Fixing aspects of our “broken” health care system can be very rewarding for all involved.

More here: Can Pharma and Health Systems Collaborate? This is what we do every day at Aventria Health Group. Our name is built on the idea of an Avenue to the Triple Aim. Every day we solve for the challenges listed above, and we are happy to help you explore these solutions with your brand or brands. Give us a call and we will show you what good looks like.

Contact Dave Dierk at 215-489-9000 x103 or

Making a difference in patient care by helping patients, providers, and payers collaborate on shared priorities

— Dave Dierk is co-president of Aventria Health Group.

The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not imply endorsement by Aventria Health Group.


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