Key Opinion Leaders: Mavens, Connectors or Salespersons?

In Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point, he describes three key types of people who are necessary to have a product “tip” or, in today’s lexicon, “go viral.” Although he wrote the book in 2000, it holds valuable lessons for Medical Affairs today.

Gladwell called the first type “Mavens.” Mavens love to be the expert. They know all the details and love to share them. They study the nuances of a product, compare them with other products’ features and benefits, and convey their insights to their friends. Many KOLs can be characterized as mavens. They are information brokers.

The second type are the “Connectors.” Connecters are gregarious and social. They share their information with everyone they know—and a good connector knows lots and lots of people. They are the type that has thousands of Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn followers. Some KOLs fit these criteria. They are the ones who absorb what the experts are saying and convey it to a broader population.

Third are the “Salespersons.” Salespersons are persuasive. Are some KOLs salespersons? Sure. They can be spellbinding when presenting results. They convince others of the rightness of their position even when the science isn’t quite so clear.

Do you have the right mix of types?

A common mistake is to think of KOLs only as mavens. In reality, KOLs can be any of these three types. Some can even be two out of three—for example, the connector who is also a salesperson.

Often, we see that clients’ lists of KOLs include more connectors than mavens. Think about the factors that determine whom you classify as a KOL in your database. How important is authorship of publications versus influencing the number of healthcare provider referrals? Only when you think about your selection criteria will you know which types of KOLs dominate your database.

Clinical SCORE’s blinded third-party research can help you gain an even deeper understanding of who your KOLs are. To learn more, please email Ross Weaver or call (484) 202-6630.