By Mark Schoeman

One of Clear Point Health’s core lines of busin­­­ess is engaging key opinion leaders (KOLs) on behalf of pharmaceutical companies, to glean their insights on a variety of subjects. One of the most important areas of our research centers on optimizing relationships between KOLs and those who serve as their primary contacts with industry, medical science liaisons (MSLs).

Across dozens of research projects spanning global markets in multiple therapeutic areas,  we’ve learned a few key lessons that are applicable no matter what channel you’re using to engage KOLs.

Deliver an Authentic Experience

We advise all of our clients to become trusted scientific advisors, a process that comes down to four key elements:

  1. Are you being responsive to your customer? In a nutshell, that means doing what you say you’re going to do. Based on our research, responsiveness makes up about 10 percent of building this reputation of authenticity.
  2. Do you truly understand the customer’s business? For an MSL, this means understanding the science and the research behind it, as well as the clinical practice. We can attribute a value of roughly 20 percent to expertise.
  3. Is the information that you’re sharing relevant to the customer’s clinical practice? What about to their research? This one is of particular importance. As sales reps and MSLs prepare to engage important KOLs, a big part of that preparation should be to understand their focus and clinical expertise. They must take a large amount of information and distill it into key points that have relevance for that particular individual. With regard to authenticity, the ability to deliver relevant information accounts for 25 percent of value.
  4. One thing we hear often from KOLs is, “Only come to me if you have new information. I don’t want you to come back and repeat the same study every quarter or every six months.” What new or novel insight can you share that may be relevant to their clinical practice, research, and/or scientific endeavors? Achieving novelty is actually pretty easy for MSLs with a strong pipeline of new information. But what about MSLs in a different therapeutic area that potentially lacks a strong pipeline? How do those MSLs provide new and novel information? In these instances, the bar becomes much higher and more difficult to achieve.

It’s in this last area, novelty, where field medical teams really have to get creative in finding information to present. There’s always something new to talk about in different focus areas, and quite frankly, there are always relevant areas to revisit with your KOLs. Often, revisiting information can provide immense value. The important thing is to not to talk about the same study every time you walk in. It’s about looking for those new studies, or those that would be useful to revisit, and presenting them in a meaningful manner.

Is your team looking to develop a KOL insights program, one that empowers you to develop your channel and content strategies based on voice-of-customer research? Contact me today to get started.

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