How to influence as a Medical Science Liaison (MSL)

Medical Science Liaisons (MSLs) develop relationships with external stakeholders (KOLs) but also build relationships with internal stakeholders such as medical advisors, medical managers, brand managers, marketing managers, market access and regulatory affairs. Given the cross functional nature of the MSL job, the ability to influence is pivotal to the success of both internal and external stakeholder relationships. We’ve developed four top tips for influencing. For a more detailed example of how to incorporate these tips to ensure effective KOL interactions, check out our 1:1 coaching for MSLs.

What is influence?

Influence is the ability to affect others' actions and or decisions and will enable you to achieve desired outcomes while maintaining/improving the stakeholder relationship.

Step 1: Set objective

Be clear on what you are trying to achieve and why you are trying to achieve it. Then work backwards to develop your influencing strategy.

Example objective: Successfully engage a KOL to speak at a company sponsored symposia.

Step 2: Identify benefit for stakeholder

Engage your stakeholder by explaining how your objective will benefit them (as opposed to how it will benefit you!). This will encourage your stakeholder to listen intently and be more receptive to your objective. In order to do this, you need to ask some questions.

Example of a benefit: The KOL is passionate about educating other health care professionals and a sponsored symposia will be a platform to help them educate more health care professionals.

Step 3: Start with open questions

Open questions get the conversation going and will help you fully understand the stakeholder's pain points/concerns/motivators. Start the conversation with questions that begin with who, what, why and how.

Example of an open question: What do you believe the education gaps are in this therapeutic area?

Step 4: Finish with closed questions

After a few open questions, your stakeholder will have revealed what motivates them, you will have highlighted how your objective will benefit them and now you need to use closed questions (questions that can be answered with one word) to focus the conversation and obtain buy-in from your stakeholder.

Example of a closed question: Given your passion for educating healthcare professionals and the fact that you mentioned {insert answer from open question} is an education gap, would you be interested in speaking at our upcoming symposia to present data on {insert answer from open question}?*

*Ensure the data gap they want to present on is aligned to the medical objectives.

If you've any questions on how to influence as an MSL, get in touch via

Recent Posts

See All