Alpha Sophia

The Changing Landscape of MedTech Influencers: From KOLs to DOLs

Isabel Wellbery
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The world of medical sales is undergoing a transformation as the digital age continues to disrupt traditional channels of communication and influence. In the past, Key Opinion Leaders (KOLs) wielded a disproportionate impact on the adoption of new medical technologies. However, in recent years, there has been a shift towards Digital Opinion Leaders (DOLs) taking center stage. KOLs are recognized as experts who hold significant influence over the adoption of new medical technologies and practices, and they typically operate through traditional offline channels, while DOLs are digital influencers who use online channels to distribute their content and opinions to a broader audience. This article explores how this shift to the digital space is transforming the role of KOLs and the opportunities and challenges it presents for MedTech salespeople.

DOL influence is on a global scale

Perhaps the most significant change brought about by the rise of DOLs is the size of their audience. While KOLs of the past held significant sway in the medical industry, their influence was limited to a comparatively small group of conference attendees or journal readers. With DOLs, there is seemingly no limit to their audience, particularly on an international scale. The industry cannot ignore the global impact of DOL influence.

Similar to everything else happening online, the speed and frequency with which DOLs can share information with their audience is unparalleled. Discussions about products, studies, and trends are taking place continuously on various digital platforms, making it crucial for salespeople to monitor these conversations and engage whenever possible. It is important to consider that potential clients may first learn about your product in an online context that is not moderated by you. By proactively engaging with DOLs and their audiences, salespeople can mitigate risk and generate new opportunities to showcase their product with additional touchpoints.

Salespeople shouldn’t miss out on engaging DOLs

As digital platforms continue to play an increasingly important role in healthcare discussions, more individual physicians can become opinion leaders. This trend has led to a rise in niche opinion leaders who take part in the online stage earlier in their careers. Savvy medical salespeople can capitalize on this trend by not only focusing on established opinion leaders online but also by identifying and nurturing up-and-coming niche DOLs. By getting in on the ground floor and building relationships with these opinion leaders of tomorrow, salespeople can maximize their impact in the ever-evolving healthcare industry.

Opinion leaders, whether online or not, will inevitably influence your sales process. Therefore, getting comfortable with this new sales arena is key. It’s worth noting that this shift to DOLs does not necessarily mean a tradeoff between KOLs and DOLs. Both will exist, but more and more KOLs will also be playing in the DOL space, making it increasingly important for salespeople to navigate both worlds effectively. Identifying and engaging DOLs, as well as creating a comprehensive online strategy that proactively takes advantage of the various new channels, is firmly enshrined in the new landscape of MedTech sales.

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