Territory management is an important challenge for medical science liaisons (MSLs) but much of the available online information about this topic is written with sales representatives in mind. Suggestions such as “minimize your time not selling” or “segment your contacts by revenue or prescription potential” are factors that MSLs cannot consider in their work (read more about why in our recent article on MSL compliance).
While, on a practical level, you can learn from the experience of your field-based colleagues on the commercial side – think the best hotels to stay at or the newest apps for frequent travelers – as an MSL your charter is to build relationships with key opinion leaders (KOLs) and educate healthcare providers (HCPs) about the science and data behind the drugs. These activities necessarily have different, non-financial, goals and success metrics and therefore effective territory management looks different as well.
Here are three tips for MSLs for more effective territory management.
Segment Your Target Audience
Segmenting the universe of all the healthcare providers and KOLs in your territory is still great advice. Just not by commercial categories. Chances are, that there are more people out there than you can realistically interact with. Finding the most influential experts, the top clinical investigators, or the rising stars in your territory and your disease area is the critical first step to avoid spending a lot of time with little to show for it. KOL mapping used to be an extremely time-consuming process, but thanks to advancements in machine leaning, software platform like Monocl has made the identification of HCPs that match your exact criteria fast and painless.
It helps you excel because it contains very detailed and comprehensive information about every HCP in your territory and makes that abundance of information easily accessible via custom searches. State of the art machine learning algorithms are used to create additional insights such as who among the experts in your territory are on a trajectory towards an influential position in the medical community (read our post on how to identify Rising Stars); or who else at a medical center that you should be meeting with to make the most out of your 4h drive. These complex searches lead to actionable lists that are the fundament of every effective engagement- and territory management strategy.
Make Your Opinion Leader Meetings Count
As an MSL you are busy – and so are the KOLs you interact with, especially if they are highly recognized experts in their field. On average, you will only meet with each of them a few times per year and every one of these meetings counts. Diligent preparation and access to the latest, most up to date information is critical whether you are at home preparing for a meeting with a local KOL, on the road and planning a lunch meeting with a high-level team of experts, or unexpectedly run into a KOL at a conference.
The insight that information is power goes back to Francis Bacon and the late 16th century and is now truer than ever, especially with the following addition: “… and I need it now!”. Making sure you have all the data and information available or the ability to get it on short notice will help you maximize the value of your meetings and cut down on time-consuming manual preperation or follow-up tasks.
Max out Conferences
Conferences are ideal opportunities to meet with KOLs without having to board yet another flight or sit behind a steering wheel for hours. The great thing about conferences is everybody goes there with the expectation to network, meet, and talk – so schedule time to network, meet, and talk with as many KOLs as possible. It will make for a few hectic days but saves time later on. Some practical advice from an experienced MSL:
“At conferences, I book breakfast reservations and lunch reservations ahead of time and try to fill them with KOL meetings. If I can’t fill them, I cancel the reservations the day before with no penalty. I often will arrange to meet my KOL at our Medical Affairs table in the Exhibit Hall.” ~ Dr. David Tanouye, MSL at Alcon/Novartis (link)
Segmenting your HCPs, maximizing the value you get out of your meetings and doing so in an efficient way are three important ingredients of a successful MSL territory management strategy.
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