When physicians hear the word “Pharma representative” most of them may imagine an over-smiley, flashy field force guy, ready to chat with you on any topics, and when it comes to discuss the pharmaceutical product he will start speaking with marketing messages sometimes despite relevance and without deep understanding of therapeutic area. This also concerns MSLs and Medical Advisors though doesn’t really describe the expected approach to potential customers in Medical Affairs.
Still the field force people may keep this behavior to save good relations with physicians, as extroverts often do. Spontaneous behavior provides fun and generally speaking good impression. But physicians may also become suspicious of someone who is constantly smiling, laughing, joking, and talking. It is true that most extroverts tend to earn trust quickly through getting into a relationship and figuring things out, which is a great quality in social setting. Still is this what the physicians really expect from MSLs? As any potential customers medical society has its needs and it is a chance for Pharma to fulfill them.
The key to being successful in Medical Affairs is understanding what needs drive the physicians or KOLs and how you can help them fulfill those needs. This is where being an introvert may be advantage. This are the fields where introvert excel.
1. Study their product and therapeutic area deeply, knowing the strengths, weaknesses, and ideal prospect. As all introverts tend to keep investigating their subject deeper over time they become experts that customers may rely on and this is how they start building trust as best advisors ever.
2. First listen then speak. Before they even begin to talk with physicians about what they have, they will determine if the customer is a good prospect to work with. Customers will feel that this professional is consistent: first investigating the needs and issues then finding the best service. And this MSL is respecting the customers’ time through minimizing small-talk, which is really important considering common time restrictions.
3. Prepare their communication and anticipate objections. That’s because introverts have enough empathy to think how theirs customers think and realize that objections is a good thing and a ladder to trustful relationship. Their deep approach to other people’s needs combined with most short and informative messages result in clear and relevant presentations.
4. Think about the long-term value of the customer. Introverts need stability in their career and relations with the customers. More over they treasure their deep relationships and connections. The only way to keep it stable is thinking about the future needs of the customers and potential solutions. It takes longer to build this type of collaboration, but it’s the only way to create long-term success.
So the talkative, loud, constantly laughing guy may be not the “born for success” in Medical Affairs; the quiet, introspective, hard-working person is. That’s not to say extroverts are lacking of good qualities for Medical Affairs — the ability to approach people is crucial for working with large teams and number of customers. The difference is that introverts will often work hard to develop the extrovert’s skills, while the extroverts will continue to try to get by on their natural charms. As an extrovert, you can still be a top performer; you may simply take the best qualities of introverts and pull them into your work style.
Written by Dr. Alexander Tolmachev