Marketing to Professionals: MSLs: Show the Value - Pharmaceutical Executive


Marketing to Professionals: MSLs: Show the Value
Performance metrics for medical science liaisons vary greatly.

Pharmaceutical Executive

Because MSLs generally enter the profession to pursue the high-level scientific nature of these positions, many view the tracking of MSL performance with market share as inappropriate or illegal. This perception has led to apprehension and suspicion of tools traditionally linked with tracking sales force activities and performance, such as contact management databases. Medical science liaisons may be wary of management using these tools to "count calls" and evaluate their performance on call frequency.

A Question of Semantics? The metrics challenge may be less a question of how to measure value and more a matter of what "value" means to the organization. According to the American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary, the definition of value ranges from the quantitative (calculated numerical quantity) to the qualitative (quality considered worthwhile or desirable). Pharmaceutical executives may define the value of MSLs from a quantitative standpoint, while MSLs define their own value from a qualitative standpoint. MSL directors are often caught in the middle of juggling divergent propositions along the value spectrum. Getting agreement from internal stakeholders about the definition of value and the value propositions of a MSL program is an important first step in formulating meaningful performance metrics.

MSL directors then need to continually champion the role of medical science liaisons in their organizations, including the MSL program's contribution to the company's long-term competitiveness and growth.

Jane Chin, PhD, is president of the Medical Science Liaison Institute. She can be reached at


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