Kendle Healthcare

How to improve your KOL Engagement #8 How many experts should I work with?

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

How to improve your KOL Engagement #8 How many experts should I work with?

In our experience, many teams do not work with a suitable number of key opinion leaders. During a recent discussion, a client revealed that they were concerned not to overstretch their organisation’s capacity by working with too many KOLs. However, they now realised they were probably working with too few KOLs.

The downsides of working with too few KOLs are:

● Over time KOLs’ opinions change and it is possible that your main product supporters today may become supporters of a competitor’s products in the future.

● KOLs may become temporarily or permanently unavailable due to lack of time, institutional constraints, illness, or retirement.

● If your audiences see only a few people endorsing your products or disease messages, then they may perceive this as a lack of wide support for your products.

● If it’s the same few people who keep endorsing your products and not those of your competitors, then this may affect the credibility of the key opinion leaders.

● If you work with only a small number of KOLs, the insight you receive from them may only reflect a small part of what the scientific community thinks.


Like these clients we spoke to, it is easy to end up working with too narrow a group of KOLs, especially if your planning considers one activity at a time rather than, say, a year’s activities. For example, a company may look to set up an advisory board and invite the ten KOLs they feel are most appropriate. Later they may set up a different, additional advisory board, a speaker panel, or an educational initiative and again pick the ten individuals they feel are most appropriate, which unsurprisingly are almost the same as the previous activity. Looked at individually, each of these activities will no doubt have a cohort of KOLs who are suitable. However, looked at as programme of activities it is likely that there will be significant overlap. It is highly likely that there are not just 12 suitable people for the first advisory board but 20 or 30. The best way to build strong working relationships with these KOLs is to find opportunities to work with them. If you look at your KOL activities over a period and ‘share out’ those activities amongst the 50 you can ensure that you are not over involving a few people nor neglecting others.

By planning in this way, you ensure that you work with the right number of KOLs, helping you to transmit your product messaging and gain insight that reflects the whole scientific community, and forging relationships for the future.

About us

At Kendle Healthcare we believe that KOL relationships and engagement can transform market performance. We invest all our energies in helping our clients to do it well.

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