You’ve been conscientious. You’ve performed consistently and you’d performed well. Now that you’ve attained senior-level MSL status, a natural question of “what next” may be “should I go into management?”
Aspiring to manage people is a track that MSL professionals may consider, but this is not a simple question of “are there openings for me?” Instead, you should first consider “is this the right path for me?”
Here is a key trait of successful MSL managers that you can use as a beginning step when exploring a future in management level positions: good MSL Managers are experts at scaling and customizing the message according to their audience.
You wouldn’t give the same type of presentation to a group of community practice physicians as you would to a group of academic researchers — or at least — you would pay attention to specific areas that you know will catch the interest of one group versus another.
Similarly, you will now be acting as a liaison between your executives and your MSLs. This means you must become adept at scaling the message according to your intended audience. You may find that your executives care about numbers and numerical details that enable their decision making.
Quality counts, but quantity is what is perceived as manageable, which means you need to become comfortable talking about numbers (metrics). Ideally you will be able to show how quality measures can translate into quantitative or measurable outcomes, because these measurable outcomes are what your executive management are more likely to accept.
Because executive management teams aren’t in the field, your input as the MSL manager becomes important in modifying or adjusting the deliverables of your MSL team. Executive management teams will understand the cost ($) of turnover and attrition due to unmanageable geographies or excessive travel demands. They understand the cost ($) of acquiring new talent. They know it can be expensive to mend burned bridges with valuable thought leaders.
On the other hand, MSLs may be turned off by an obsession over numbers. This doesn’t mean that they can’t embrace numbers, but MSLs want to know why they are being asked to perform certain tasks “a particular number of times”. They may expect you as the MSL manager to explain the strategic implications behind a tactical request, or at least have the opportunity to voice their opinions about the feasibility of a tactical request.
If you are skilled in tailoring your communication based on the prevailing moods and personalities of your thought leaders, then you have the foundation for transferring this skill to MSL management, where you will encounter demands primarily from your internal stakeholders and executive leadership.
Tips for Scaling Communication
- Identify your audience expectations
- Identify your communication objective
- Customize scope of message to audience expectations and communication objective