Value of Sales Representatives

Approximately 70 percent of dentists are sole practitioners, so I would imagine most of you have to make a conscious effort to stay connected to the dental industry. There was a time, back in the pre-internet era, when dental sales representatives played an important role in this—traveling from office to office and passing news around the grapevine. A rep might have kept his/her customers informed on fellow customers’ job openings, equipment purchases, or just provided a general barometer of how business was going for most dentists in the territory. Maybe if you were lucky he’d have some good gossip, though I know that you, personally, are above that.

But now, as online dental communities and group practices are becoming more popular, dentists have an easier time keeping in touch with colleagues and staying current on the news. What’s more, when a dentist can easily search for the best deal on products online, his or her relationship with a rep may not be as vital as it once was. So is there still value in getting to know reps and making time for them?

While 3M ESPE is clearly invested in online commerce and networking, we still maintain a team of representatives to make personal visits to offices, as do the authorized distribution companies that sell our products. (And so do our competitors, although obviously their reps are a pale and sad imitation of our own 🙂 )

For a dentist, having a personal relationship with a company or distributor representative can be a big help when questions arise about a product or when service is needed for equipment. Additionally, ordering products direct from a company rep or an authorized dealer rep is a simple way for dentists to ensure that they are using authentic products and not those from the “gray market,” which was recently discussed on this blog.

Do you have a great relationship with a rep? Has your field rep ever come to your rescue or provided service that was above and beyond? I’d like to know what value you place on your relationships with these folks, and how they remain helpful to you.

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