3 Steps to Effective KOL Management

Pharma companies have realized how fierce the competition is right now, with not only big names trying to monopolize the market, but also generic drugs giving them a run for their money. With the ever escalating costs of drug manufacturing and patenting and the ever stringent rules and regulations that drug authorities keep cranking up with alarming regularity, KOL management has become very critical.

Using KOL management systems effectively
Enhancing KOL management with a CRM solution
A pharma company is often indiscriminate in hiring its sales representatives. For a pharma company, hiring an SR is hardly as important as grilling and training them to the extent that they can rattle off any drug’s side effects and contraindications even in their sleep. However, in today’s technology driven times, when Google has become accessible to pre-school kids and grandmas, it is impossible to simply expect a sales rep to give information about a drug in one breath and expect the person sitting in front of him to be uncritically impressed, least of all if they are a physician who knows much more about the drug than the sales rep does. Hence, pharma companies need to wake up and learn how to ensure their SRs are doing their job efficiently and effectively.

Regular updates and interactive sessions: It is common knowledge that pharma companies use regular update sessions in elaborate hotel settings for their best KOLs as a sign of appreciation and as an avenue for interaction. However, a crucial factor that pharma companies miss out on is interactive sessions for SRs. Merely being persuasive isn’t enough to convince a high end KOL. Instead, a good and competent SR will be well informed not only about the effects and side effects of a drug but will also be knowledgeable about a drug’s sales figures, survey responses and modifications under trials. 

These are simple yet incredibly powerful tools that could go a long way in not only ensuring that an SR convincingly incorporates a new and influential KOL into his pharma company, but also nurtures the relationship for a long time to come. Thus, maintaining a CRM software that not only updates SRs about drug modifications but also ensures that SRs regularly meet to discuss issues and strategies can aid in KOL management in the long run.
Relevant CRM solution features - knowledge management, activity management and alerts

Equipping SRs with the right tools: Whenever an SR approaches a KOL, they are usually equipped with a bright multi-coloured catalogue and a few samples of drugs. However, their simple and small single breath speech may or may not go down well with a KOL. Holding regular lectures on soft skills and ways to equip SRs with the right tools, whether it is drug related or not, helps in intriguing the KOL. 

Thus, SRs should work to not only comprehensively win over a KOL but should also maintain small feedback forms, that are quick and easy to fill with tick marks, on the reaction of the KOL to the drug and the sales rep. This can be fed into the CRM software, which can then help understand the trend that a certain drug is following and how well an SR is doing in helping the pharma company market that drug.
Relevant CRM solution features - training management, feedback, contact management, analytics

• Using social media for meeting sales targets: The only thing at the back of every SR’s mind is his target. If he meets his target, then he can breathe easy for a month, till his next target looms large over his head. However, such a myopic view could lead to problems in the future for the pharma company because it tempts certain SRs to turn to unorthodox and ethically questionable measures to meet sales targets. Thus, updating SRs with the benefits of incorporating technology into their sales regime will help them not only meet sales targets easily but will also help them explore their knowledge on the drug and the company. 

Using social media to increase awareness, drug reviews and positive trial outcomes could easily help spread the word to not only various potential customers but also various potential KOLs. Thus, social media is in fact one of the rare tools that helps target not only KOLs but also intrigues patients that are on the lookout for newer, alternative drugs with fewer side effects. A simple note ‘shared’, or a drug template ‘tagged’, could reach hundreds of people with a single click. So informing and guiding SRs on ways to use social media effectively will help them reach their targets easily and will help increase drug sales, leading to a win-win situation for everyone.
Relevant CRM solution features - sales automation, dashboards, escalation rules, social CRM, content library

Thus, using CRM software not only in managing and maintaining KOLs, but, also in managing and retaining competent SRs goes a long way for pharma companies. Many SRs tend to develop a bond with KOLs that they introduce to their pharma family. Seeing such a familiar face on a regular basis helps to improve the image and increase the credibility of a pharma company in the eyes of a KOL, thus, ensuring that trust is built and maintained, harvesting the seeds for a long standing, profitable relationship. After all, seeing a new face plugging the same drug in the face of the KOL every time is hardly going to do any good. Thus, using a KOL management system, which acts as a comprehensive, updated and interactive database for not only KOLs but also SRs, will ensure that the entire process of KOL management is properly executed, as this is the first step involved and like they say, "well begun is half done."