10 Questions MSL Should Ask Any Thought Leader

Shutterstock_Questions_ImageThought leaders are an important extension of the pharma organization’s central nervous system. With the increase of strategic importance of thought leaders to pharmaceutical business, Medical Affairs role is expanding in response. MSLs are taking on a progressively more strategic role within their organizations as thought leader relationships become more and more valuable in establishing market dominance. Regulatory limitations of sales-to-physician dialogue and high complexity of science behind the products has led to a growing customer-facing role for MSL teams with focus on thought leaders. Why question them? To better understand medical practices and habits, patient needs and gain feedback on job MSL are doing to bring value to thought leaders and eventually improve patient access to new therapies. These powerful questions may always be used in discussion with any thought leader.

1. What do you think?

These words are probably most important to use in any conversation. Commercial people rarely address this question to customers, possibly because they believe they already supposed to know what is on the customers’ mind. Asking this question doesn’t reveal our incompetence, it bridges us with other people and helps to gain a lot of valuable insights.

2. What can we do to serve you better?

Probably the single most important feedback MSL can gain from thought leader relates to ideas MSL share to help physicians to improve medical practices. When it comes to gathering ideas for your innovative project, the voice of thought leader should be at the top.

3. How is our team doing on this project?

When you are eager to make the work as good as you can you may want to ask this general question. Be prepared to seriously consider the feedback. That doesn’t mean that you have to do everything that’s suggested, but you should at least listen and think about it.

4. Give a recent example of how we’ve exceeded your expectations? Or not met them?

In case you want to receive a more robust answer, instead of just asking previous question, make the questions specific and over a recent time frame so that your feedback will likely generate more actionable items.

5. What is the one thing that none of the pharmaceutical companies do that you wish they did?

This question directly leads to the potential differentiation points between you and others. Obviously you don’t have to implement what you hear, it’s more important that it may lead to new insights.

6. What’s the one thing we should never stop doing?

This question possibly will reveal useful, if not surprising information. You might expect the answer to be related to something like slides preparation and receive feedback about the your politeness and helpfulness. This question will likely reveal strengths worth promoting.

7. What’s one thing we do better than other pharmaceutical companies you work with?

In this question you are trying to discover something that you can work with as a true differentiator. This is probably the question you’ll need to work hardest at getting specifics. You want to look for words and phrases and actual experiences that keep coming up over and over again, no matter how insignificant they may seem to you.

8. Will you refer us to other physicians, and if so, why?

This is the ultimate question of satisfaction because a truthful answer means your customer likes your services and likes the experience of getting your services.

9. What would you say is one of the top three priorities of your current work?

Find out what’s the focus of you customers work and what initiatives they already have in place. This of course will help you to define key areas of interest where you potentially aim with you engagement proposals.

10. What other sources of information do you consider credible that help you make medical decisions?

This will help you to envision other ways of influencing and communicating your messages to thought leaders. Also – a good way to stay updated on current scientific trends and learn the market better.
Written by Dr. Alexander Tolmachev, alexander.tolmachev@gmail.com

Written by Dr. Alexander Tolmachev. Posted in MSL News