Build Relationships With Your Sales Reps
BY CARLA J. MACK, OD, FAAO, EDITOR
Nearly all contact lens and solution manufacturers have devoted resources to enhancing their Web sites for improved practitioner and staff education with respect to the companies and their products. Even so, I urge you to continue to devote time for speaking with your individual sales representatives. For those of us who've had the great pleasure of working with seasoned representatives for 10 years or more, we fully understand the benefits of having what is better described as a company consultant rather than a sales representative.
After a recent meaningful discussion with a contact lens company consultant and someone I consider to be a friend and advocate of my practice, I thought about how fortunate I am to have such a great resource. He shared with me how we as practitioners can help improve and guide our relationships with our sales representatives to reap the benefits of their services to us.
First, if you find that sales representatives drop in unannounced and want to talk with you when you need to be with patients, then ask them to schedule a date and time that you'll reserve for spending with them. To make that scheduled time more efficient, advise sales representatives to bring an agenda.
Sure, you need to know about new products and product enhancements, but you should also inquire about how you can grow your practice and create value for your patients with the help of their products. Regard a representative's sales report for your practice as a consultative review of your practice. You may realize that your sales are dramatically under-represented in certain areas (daily disposable lenses or silicone hydrogels) in which you think you perform well. This could present a real opportunity for you to offer newer products and services to patients, as well as to grow your practice.
Your sales representatives don't market just to you, but also to your patients. They can offer materials to display throughout your office and examination rooms, or as part of your practice newsletter you can highlight new products available for your patients. Patients as prospective buyers can then help identify the new products that appeal to their needs (contact lenses for dry eye, astigmatism, presbyopia, etc.). This not only helps get the right products to the patients who need them, but it makes your job easier by encouraging patients to ask for what they need.
Most of us want to improve but are limited by the experiences in our own setting, so ask your representatives about best practices in the area. This may spark ideas for ways to better differentiate your practice or expand your offerings. Companies devote much time and effort to training and educating their sales representatives, and you can reap the benefits only by being proactive in shaping this relationship so it works for you.