Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) and Medical Advisors (MAs) are scientific and clinical experts. While MSLs tend to focus their efforts on external communication, MAs work, in the most part, internally.
Key Account Managers (KAMs) usually act as conductors. They manage projects by involving experts of various fields to attain optimal outcomes.
The main differences may reside in the need for highly developed scientific knowledge (MSLs and MAs) or a more intent commercial approach (KAMs). In most cases, the people in these roles must have very similar abilities or competencies.
First, they must be efficient communicators. Understanding the needs of the individuals with whom they interact, grasping what truly counts for these persons and modulating the flow, quantity and quality of the transmitted information are paramount to their respective success, and the added value they bring to various stakeholders.
To reach such a level of efficiency, MSLs, MAs and KAMs must Think Strategically to skillfully determine what must be transmitted and why. They have to Listen with Intent, pay attention and avoid filtering out what they don’t want to hear. This group of professionals must be persuasive to impart positive and productive influence. In addition, MSLs, MAs and KAMs need to create Rapport with all stakeholders for the communication to happen in the most collaborative manner.
There are several communication-based activities to consider. One is the simple discussion between one or more individuals during which information flows between people to elaborate on several subjects or activities. Another is in the case of more formal situations requiring presentations or facilitation. Finally, written communication is likely to happen daily.
Second, MSLs, MAs and KAMs need to Put Things in Perspective. The ability to weigh on the import of information available will, using previously listed competencies, allow these professionals to weed out what may be unnecessary or superfluous to specific stakeholders. At the same time, it will help this group gather the crucial details to share with their environment. This requires Critical Thinking and a well-balanced sense of Accountability.
Finally, and probably what may end-up being the most important aspect of their role, MSLs, MAs and KAMs must develop a crystal-clear intent to do what is right for all stakeholders. This is often very challenging as individuals may tend to favor one type of activity against another or weigh priorities in a fashion that can be incongruent with key principles.
Aseret’s strategic development approach for MSLs, MAs and KAMs starts with communication abilities. Ideally however, the client has already elaborated a comprehensive Competency Model, clearly depicting specific knowledge, attitudinal aspects and behaviors that are essential for any MSL, MA or KAM to be successful. If that is not the case, we can start by building such a Competency Model. Otherwise, we will use our previous work on MSL, MA and KAM competencies to establish a development curriculum.
The following developmental structure concentrates on soft competencies, ones that require interpersonal communication and understanding of others’ preferences. The competencies also include leadership, influence, and strategic approaches. It is important to insist on the necessity for soft competencies to find their foundation on scientific and clinical knowledge.
Programs we offer to integrate this structure:
- Congruent™ Motivations and Styles
- Congruent™ Communications for MSLs/MAs or for KAMs
- Congruent™ Presentations
- Congruent™ Facilitation
- Congruent™ Virtual Communications
- Congruent™ Coaching (adapted for situations)
- Congruent™ Outlook and Perspective (includes competitive positioning)
- Persuasion and Influence
- Negotiating for Success®
- Congruent™ Decision-making
- Change management and Urgency
- Congruent™ Hiring (for hiring managers)
- Navigating Complex Environments®