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10 essential questions for successful kol management

Here we present 10 questions to ask yourself when planning your KOL management strategy. In questions one to five, we first ask who you should reach out to and what to aim for with a KOL management programme. In the following questions we will examine how you can optimise the working relationship in a way that benefits all parties involved.

10 essential questions for successful kol management

  1. 1. 10 Essential Questions forSuccessful KOL ManagementHow you can optimise the working relationshipwith KOLs in a way that benefits all parties 1
  2. 2. Introduction Here we present 10 essential questions for successful KOL management in today’s pharmaceutical environment. Successful Key Opinion Leader (KOL) management is more complex and more strategic than ever for the pharmaceutical industry. The increased complexity comes as a result of a rapidly evolving regulatory environment with new decision makers appearing alongside ‘traditional’ KOLs (e.g. top tier physicians). Meanwhile the importance of KOL management has increased due to the multifaceted nature of achieving reimbursement and gaining market access for pharmaceutical products. Here we present 10 questions to ask yourself when planning your KOL management strategy. In questions one to five, we first ask who you should reach out to and what to aim for with a KOL management programme. In the following questions we will examine how you can optimise the working relationship in a way that benefits all parties involved. 2
  3. 3. Do you know how you want to undertakeyour KOL programme?1) Have you defined what “KOL”means? Before undertaking any kind of KOL mappingFor many years, the term ‘KOL’ has been exercise, you should take time to considerrestricted to physicians and researchers. what types of individuals are influencing theThese are still vital stakeholders but they can environment in which you want to longer be considered the only ‘KOLs’.There are a whole range of other stakeholders Does your definition of KOL capture clinicianswho now have a direct or indirect influence only or does include other stakeholders ason prescribing decisions. well?Payers, health economists, experts in politicsand economics and patient groups are justsome examples of stakeholders who mustnow be considered alongside top tierclinicians. Payers, in particular, are now adominant force in making crucialreimbursement decisions.2) Have you conducted targeted KOL Remember that there are benefits to targetingmapping? both established names and rising stars. One ‘key visionary’ on board near the beginning ofAs there is a wider range of ‘KOLs’ in today’s a brand’s lifecycle can potentially be the ‘firsthealthcare environment, then you need to be champion’ of the product. Meanwhile, there iseven more targeted with deciding which ones usually a much larger pool of ‘rising stars’to engage with. A KOL mapping exercise whose input can provide a differentshould be conducted very early in the product perspective and who may be leading thelifecycle, perhaps through a specialist debate in the area in a few with contributions from your ownsources, such as sales force, affiliates and Have you conducted comprehensive KOLexisting KOLs. The mapping process will mapping which takes the future intosegment KOLS, often by factors such as consideration as well as the present?region, role and experience. 3
  4. 4. 3) Have you considered the KOLnetwork, not just the individual? When conducting your KOL mapping,While it is important to consider who the incorporate an evaluation of how theindividual KOLs are, it is also essential to individuals and groups within your findings areconsider the ‘networks’ in which they operate. connected, with each other and with other keyUnderstanding how people and groups are stakeholders. This may also result ininterconnected, and which channels efficiencies in terms the number of KOLs youinformation is shared through, can be need to target.extremely beneficial to knowing where and Does your assessment of KOLs go beyond thehow you can participate in the conversation. individual stakeholder and include the networks they move in?4) Have you defined a long-term KOLstrategy through the productlifecycle?Most pharmaceutical companies are aware of Try to identify how your goals andthe importance of identifying the right KOLs requirements will change throughout the yearsand invest the appropriate time and resource (and what will stay the same), and how theto try and achieve this. However, not all goals and needs of your selected KOLs maycompanies do invest sufficient time and alter also. Implement simple planning toolsresource into devising a working plan of that will create a degree of alignment inaction with these KOLs that spans the entire interacting with KOLs cross-functionally andlifecycle of a product. over time.Although most KOL management is currently Have you considered potential scenarios fiveconducted at therapy level, it is also wise to or even ten years from now and which otherconsider the overall needs of the company KOLs may become relevant in that time?whilst planning your strategy. Your group ofKOLs may change over time, but there will bea handful of key contacts who remain ‘anchor-points’. 4
  5. 5. 5) Are you willing to build a genuinelycollaborative approach? Try to incorporate KOL feedback at all phasesInterestingly, what KOLs desire most from of the product lifecycle and demonstrate toindustry relationships is genuine contribution them how their feedback has been put intoand involvement. It is likely that the practice. Consider their personal drivers andpharmaceutical industry feels exactly the skillsets when planning activities.same way, but too often interactions with Such a relationship is more rewarding for bothKOLs are conducted on a transactional basis – parties and can provide insights andi.e. payment for delivery of a specific service. understanding beyond a singular focus on aA genuine collaborative approach is aided by particular drug.long-term relationships established between Are you committed to building genuinespecific staff within the company and the KOL, collaborative relations?but turnover of personnel can sometimesmake this a challenge.6) Do you have a team dedicated toKOL management? The ideal situation is a network of dedicatedTo forge a genuinely collaborative approach managers who are assigned to KOLs at bothwith KOLs, ideally there should be long-term the global and national levels. Therelationship holders within the company. implementation of an internal managementYou should consider which team or individuals system to maintain long-term contact is alsoare best suited to manage KOL relationships. recommended and should be a fundamentalThe medical affairs team is often considered element of a long-term KOL strategy. Finally,the most suitable relationship holder, but it is the implementation of clear and consistentimportant to keep marketing involved if processes is key to ensure a sustainableconsidered appropriate within your local approach.regulatory environment. With the evolving Do you have dedicated relationship holdersbackground of KOLs, such as those involved in who have established excellent workingmarket access, transparency across functions relationships with KOLs?is crucial. 5
  6. 6. 7) Do you use technology to optimiseKOL interactions?Technology can play an important role atevery stage of KOL management. During your Technology can also provide creative solutionsplanning process and KOL mapping you can for KOL engagement. An example is virtualuse technology to map and visualise KOL advisory boards, which can constitute a onenetworks. stop online shop for materials and information sharing before and after the meeting itself.An internal customer management system willhelp you to assess your KOL relationships’ Have you considered how technology can simplify and improve your KOL programmes?evolution, to track information and tocoordinate the flow of information across thecompany. It also helps you to track andmeasure outcomes of the interaction.8) Will you remunerate appropriately andtransparently?In the US, the Sunshine Act will mandate the You need to ensure any fees reflect fair marketreporting of all payments of more than $10 value and expenses are not unnecessary orbetween pharmaceutical companies and extravagant. And even if your company is nothealthcare professionals in the US by 2013. currently bound by regulations of financialSome companies have already voluntarily disclosure, act as if it is – it will almostbegun declaring physician payments. Similar certainly happen soon.regulation is being implemented throughoutEurope. Have you agreed internally what the rules are for remuneration? Do you have a system inThe immediate reaction from industry and KOLs place that makes all payments transparent?alike may be to veer too heavily on the side ofcaution. Already companies are reportingdrastically reduced response rates to offers ofwork.This puts the onus on pharmaceuticalcompanies to set appropriate levels ofremuneration. It is not wrong to pay your KOLsfor their time and expertise and to reimbursethem appropriate expenses. 6
  7. 7. 9) Do you have a way to measure and Here are several examples of potential metricsevaluate KOL interactions? for a KOL management programme:  Number of interactions between the KOLBeing able to measure success is vital, and the company during a specific periodparticularly in a time when budgets are under  KOL response time, which will point to themore scrutiny than ever. However, much of effectiveness of current projects and willthe process of KOL management is relatively be a useful indicator for planning futureintangible – factors such as quality of eventsrelationship and impact of that relationship on  Time taken to build a new KOLyour brand or company, are difficult to relationshipaccurately gauge. However, there are  KOL’s satisfaction with the collaborationelements you can monitor and accuratelyrecord and it is important that you decide Have you considered these and other metricswhat these will be, so that you have a to measure the success of your KOLbenchmark to compare against. programmes?10) How will you share learnings internally?While it is important to have a team or After each KOL interaction, the company staffindividuals who own the KOL relationships, it can log the data into appropriate systems tois vital to ensure those relationships don’t ensure the information is converted into usefulexist in silos. Cross functional working and insights and distributed to the relevantinformation sharing is essential and needs to personnel within the company. Rapid sharinghappen in a timely and consistent manner. of information and best practice internally willUtilising technology can help teams to share help other teams to make appropriateactivities and developments with KOLs as they decisions.happen, for example through reports, Are all your teams who work with KOLsdashboards and alerts. This can provide a sharing information in a transparent andconsistent way to ensure interactions with timely way?KOLs are captured comprehensively. 7
  8. 8. ContactIf you would like to discuss further or need more information, please contact: Marc Pesse Mobile: +41 79 639 52 43 Marion Menozzi-Arnaud Mobile: +41 79 415 94 34 Executive Insight AG Metallstrasse 9 6304 Zug Switzerland Tel. +41 41 710 71 63 8

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Here we present 10 questions to ask yourself when planning your KOL management strategy. In questions one to five, we first ask who you should reach out to and what to aim for with a KOL management programme. In the following questions we will examine how you can optimise the working relationship in a way that benefits all parties involved.


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