By Alex Card
Territory management is the kind of responsibility that keeps medical science liaisons (MSLs) up at night—sometimes due to jetlag, sometimes due to the Tetris-like complexity of the scheduling involved.
MSLs spend a ton of time and brainpower on territory management, and yet much of the information available on the topic was written with sales representatives in mind. Try a quick search and see how quickly suggestions like “maximize your time selling” and “segment your contacts by revenue potential” rise to the top. These considerations simply aren’t applicable to medical affairs professionals.
On a practical level, there’s plenty to learn from your field-based colleagues on the commercial side—think along the lines of the best hotels or most useful travel apps—but as an MSL, your main focus should be on building relationships with key opinion leaders (KOLs) and educating healthcare providers (HCPs) about the science and data behind your drug or device. These activities have unique, non-financial goals and success metrics, as does the territory management associated with them.
Want to manage your territory more effectively as an MSL? Consider these tips; we’ve written them up just for you— not your pals in sales.
1. Segment your target audience
Segmenting all the HCPs and KOLs in your territory is incredibly useful for medical affairs professionals. Unlike your counterparts in sales, however, you don’t want to look at commercial categories.
Most likely, there are more potential contacts in your territory than you can realistically engage. Avoid wasting your time—and your organization’s funds—by identifying and focusing on the most highly ranked experts, top clinical investigators, and rising stars in your territory and disease area.
KOL mapping used to be a seriously time-consuming process, but the availability of expert databases (like Monocl ExpertInsight) has made finding HCPs who meet your target criteria fast and painless. These databases deliver detailed, curated information about every HCP in your territory and make that wealth of information easily accessible via custom search. The best tools use state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms to create additional insights, such as which experts are most likely to be the next rising star within your territory.
Once you’ve gained access to the right database and built out a list of names, you’re ready to start engaging with experts.
2. Make your KOL meetings count
As an MSL, you’re undoubtedly busy—but so are the KOLs you’re looking to meet, especially those who are already recognized as experts in their field. On average, you’ll only meet with each of these individuals a few times per year, and you’ll need to make every one of those meetings count.
The diligent preparation deserved by these meetings is easier when you have access to the latest, most up-to-date information. Consider using a database that supports mobile access, so you can always have the latest insights as you prepare for your meeting, whether you’re at home, on the road, or suddenly face to face with a contact at a conference.
In the late 16th century, Francis Bacon declared that “knowledge itself is power,” but in the 21st century, that statement is best amended with “and I need it now!” In the fast-paced world of medical affairs, the MSLs who have the most rapid access to the most current information will make the most of their meetings and build better relationships with more experts. Now that’s power.
3. Don’t let a conference go to waste
Conferences present ideal opportunities to meet with multiple KOLs in one place—especially if you’re well-prepared for some impromptu conversations with experts.
Just about everyone at a conference is there to network, exchange ideas, and build new relationships. Take advantage of the schmoozy energy and schedule time with as many KOLs as possible. This makes for a few hectic days, sure, but you’ll save a lot of time down the road.
One experienced MSL offers practical advice: At conferences, book breakfast and lunch reservations ahead of time and try to fill them with KOL meetings. If you can't fill them, simply cancel the reservations. Or, arrange to meet a KOL at your medical affairs table at the conference.
Of course, some of the best exchanges happen unscheduled. Try to get an idea of who’s going to be attending ahead of time and keep a little information on hand. Even if you can’t land a meeting with an expert, you might run into them in the hall or at the hotel bar. Knowing their work and their interests could help you turn an unplanned conversation into a meaningful engagement opportunity.
Looking for always-available insights?
Segmenting your HCPs, preparing to maximize your meeting time, and making the most of industry conferences are all easier with the right data. You can get more out of your territory management strategy by leveraging a healthcare commercial intelligence platform loaded with the latest expert activities and insights.
Monocl ExpertInsight by Definitive Healthcare puts nearly 13 million expert profiles at your fingertips, with access from anywhere in the world through the Monocl ExpertGO mobile app. Want to see our data at work? Book a demo today and discover how our data can support your medical affairs team.