Spotlight: The corporate partnerships model

By George Rafferty |

Why distribution partners must evolve to drive growth for customers

The Corporate Partnerships team services 20 of AmerisourceBergen’s largest customers. George "Geo” Rafferty shares how the team has evolved its strategy and service model to better serve these customers — and why it’s exactly what a distributor should do as healthcare continues to change.

In late 2019, the Corporate Partnerships team at AmerisourceBergen restructured our go-to-market strategy to create a better customer experience. The intent was to balance our focus on day-to-day support and a “white glove” service model along with strategic support to bring AmerisourceBergen enterprise solutions to these important customers. This renewed focus prioritizes the development of deeper, more strategic relationships to drive value and growth for the customer.

Known as Strategic Accounts prior to this restructuring, the team managed all customers with a similar coverage model, regardless of size or strategic intent. In this model, portfolio and account owners were tag-teaming to provide day-to-day support, while also trying to find time to plan for and drive a long-term strategy to promote growth for each customer. Regardless of the size of the customer, operational complexity or class of trade, each customer received similar coverage. What we found is that this approach didn’t lend itself to the best customer experience or the deep customer relationships and strategic partnerships that we wanted and are known for.

With the transition to our new model came a team name change to Corporate Partnerships to more accurately reflect how we intend to work with our customers. While we already had this type of relationship with a handful of customers, the goal is to extend it across our entire portfolio. 

This new model is designed to provide wraparound support and designate additional resources to each customer. Now, dedicated resources focus on proactively identifying and solving customer operational needs while the account owners support a customer’s overall relationship with AmerisourceBergen and focus on long-term strategy and growth. Additionally, the new model enables the team to work seamlessly with internal teams across the organization, including Customer CARE and Account Services.

In addition to the coverage model, the Corporate Partnerships team at AmerisourceBergen made a commitment to elevate the services we provide to our largest customers and foster an environment of co-creation. In January 2020, a Strategic Solutions function was added within Corporate Partnerships to ensure the services we provide are cultivated from a deep understanding of customers.

Our goals are quite simple:

  1. Differentiate coverage based on strategic parameters
  2. Provide exceptional customer experience
  3. Invest in scalable solutions

By employing these best practices, we are setting up short-term and long-term success for the customer.

Success during COVID-19

The earliest indicator of success for the new go-to-market model has been the ability to navigate our customers’ needs during the unprecedented challenges presented by COVID-19 while still planning for the future. 

“Under the old model, we really would not have been able to balance the day-to-day needs of our customers with COVID-19, while also having the necessary conversations to plan for FY21,” says Claire Biermaas, Group Vice President of Corporate Partnerships. “We would have had to choose between the two. Having the appropriate resources and the right people in place to do these jobs has been critical in meeting our customers' needs throughout the pandemic and planning for long-term growth.”

The value of evolution for our customers and patients

The right distribution partner will always evolve as the needs of customers and their patients evolve. Ideally, capabilities and support will scale too. We recognize and value the many ways patients access pharmaceutical care, and I’m confident that our partnership model will help all of those sites of care enable efficient and effective access to the medication they need.

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About the Author

George Rafferty

President, Corporate Partnerships
AmerisourceBergen
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