7 Easy Steps to Smart Engagement of Scientific Thought Leaders
By Dr. Alexander Tolmachev
Company experts and academic scientific leaders comprise the collective central nervous system of the pharmaceutical product. This is the reason why engaging external experts whose experience and skills are required to meet specific scientific, medical, and commercial needs is so important for pharmaceutical industry. These engagements help companies to guide new product development, generate data, refine strategy, and create relevant, credible, and persuasive medical and promotional content. Thus pharmaceutical companies have to broaden the network and take care of thought leaders. Below are some specific tips for smart engagement of external experts.
1. Clearly define your goal.
Make sure that all engagement activities, from field visits to physician medical education programs, are driven by specific scientific or commercial objectives. A well-orchestrated and objective-driven approach to thought leader engagement throughout the product’s lifecycle can be your critical competitive advantage.
2. Come to ask for consultation not for engagement.
You build relationships with external experts whose experience and skills are required to meet specific scientific, medical, and commercial needs of the company. Be transparent, share your goals and ask for advice. Open, clear and real discussions among company and non-company experts can significantly advance the development of product strategy and medical content.
3. Listen carefully and read the real needs between the lines.
Strive for a holistic understanding of your customers and their needs. Some of thought leader needs will be emotional rather than logical. The more you know your external partners, the better you become at anticipating their needs. Communicate regularly so that you are aware of problems or upcoming expectation. External experts "buy" solutions for their problems, so make your engagement story an solution efficiently matching the specific needs.
4. Create new proposals through combining existing ideas, concepts and opportunities.
Keep in mind that these engagements should allow scientific leaders and industry to pursue common aspirations: to advance medical science, meet unmet medical needs, and provide real value to patients. Try creating cross-functional expert work groups, welcome international networking, collaborate with your colleagues in other therapeutic areas, do benchmarking with other disengaged industries.
5. Make any feedback your best friend.
Encourage and welcome suggestions about how you could improve. Besides greater engagement with scientific leaders, rooted in meaningful, bi-directional dialogue, can drive high level drug development and commercialization, while enhancing the company’s status of partner of choice. Treat any feedback of thought leaders as a basis of improving engagement and quality. Capturing customer opinions and complaints will increase the volume, quality, and relevancy of recommendations that can reshape concepts, services, and messages.
6. Do less, but most crucial things.
Keep the link between thought leader engagement and your strategic goals, finding and focusing on 20% of activities that will provide you 80% of success. You may give your customer a voice and decrease your control and involvement. Allow the expert to set preferences by channel and even communication type. This will not only empower the thought leaders and build trust, but will provide a critical service to the organization by keeping your interaction compliant.
7. High level scientific content is everything.
High level clinical and scientific data will make you a trusted partner playing on the side of medical communities. Your continuous excellence and expertise can be applied to form a shared understanding of a product’s strategy and content between a company and the thought leaders.