Build Strong Registers of Pharmaceutical Key Opinion Leaders to Support Critical Activities Companywide
Our latest report examining thought leader management resources and key opinion leader (KOL) segmentation criteria includes global, US and European strategies and benchmarks. Metrics showcase key criteria for identifying, categorizing and segmenting opinion leaders. Beyond those metrics, the report also includes data on KOL development team structures, budgets and staffing levels, as well as thought leader management database usage and expenses.
The study also addresses key challenges facing thought leader development teams. Key opinion leaders provide critical support to life science companies. Yet KOL relationships face elevated scrutiny and regulations calling for increased transparency of physician payments. This evolving landscape requires new approaches from thought leader management groups as they work to identify, develop and nurture connections with influential medical leaders.
Key Questions that This Study Answers
What criteria do thought leader management groups use to segment KOLs?
How high are thought leader management teams’ budgets at different companies within the life sciences industry?
How many FTEs are needed to facilitate efficient thought leader management operations?
How do groups determine thought leader compensation limits?
What types of thought leader management databases do teams use and who has ultimate responsibility for those databases?
Top Reasons to Review This Report
Benchmark extensive thought leader segmentation data: Compare Tier 1, 2 and 3 thought leader profiles across a wide range of data splits, including five company types and 26 individual therapeutic areas. Examine the most common segmentation criteria among top-performing pharmaceutical companies, including number of publications, years of clinical experience, speaking ability and much more. Weigh the importance of specific criteria in influencing KOL segmentation and fair-market value decisions.
Identify and recruit global, national and regional thought leaders: Leverage internal and external expertise to pinpoint up-and-coming thought leaders at all levels of geographic influence. Track the number of KOL relationships companies maintain at the global level, as well as within the US and Europe to benchmark your team’s needs. Prepare companywide KOL pools that thrive even after the Sunshine Act’s full implementation.
Create centralized KOL development teams: Explore profiles other top-performing thought leader development teams to structure and right-size your group. Empower teams to maintain thought leader relationships and companywide KOL databases and manage them by assigning centralized ownership. Benchmark thought leader team spending and staffing patterns across global groups, along with US and individual European markets.
The report includes analysis of the following 26 therapeutic areas:
The following excerpt is a key finding from the full report’s Executive Summary.
Create Effective Centralized KOL Development Teams to Identify, Recruit and Cultivate Relationships with Thought Leaders
Many surveyed companies report that centralized KOL development teams serve as a key part of their overall thought leader management strategies. For most organizations, these centralized KOL management teams do not play a large role in the activities being conducted by KOLs. Rather, they primarily facilitate communication between commercial and medical teams in terms of how KOLs should be and are utilized and what KOL activities are most beneficial to the company. These thought leader management teams also play a role in maintaining the spending caps on individual KOLs.
Alongside their facilitation role, centralized KOL teams generally maintain KOL databases — providing information on thought leaders’ abilities and willingness to work in certain spaces. Among the most effective teams, experience also allows them to provide insights on individual thought leaders — often the kinds of information not be stored within a CRM. For example, one interviewed centralized team VP recalls a time that one of her internal clients felt one particular KOL would be a fit for a potential speaker event. However, the centralized team warned against the choice, recalling that the thought leader had a negative experience with the event’s focal product. This kind of insight is difficult to produce without a centralized team taking full-time responsibility for thought leader management.
Centralized teams also effectively prioritize internal functions’ KOL requests, benefiting the company as a whole. Managing commercial and medical teams’ requests together at one table and determining which activities for individual KOLs provide the greatest companywide benefit by avoiding overusing specific thought leaders. Without this coordination, two sides of the company could be making requests of thought leaders simultaneously, leaving KOLs with a poor view of the overall organization.
Though centralized teams prove effective for many companies, this expansive centralized setup is not appropriate for all organizations. In smaller companies, a large centralized body risks losing the personal touch. In these companies, personal relationships between executives leading thought leader programs, MSLs, their managers and physicians can be leveraged much more effectively. Companies with limited resources — and that do not have thought leaders working for them in all corners of the world — can often manage their thought leader programs quite effectively without centralized management.