Roger P. Levin, DDS
For the last 22 years, Levin Group has worked with more than 110 dental companies in a variety of strategic consulting engagements. In that time, I have developed a tremendous respect and appreciation for the knowledge, dedication, and desire for success exhibited by the vast majority of dental sales representatives.
The question I have often been asked when addressing dental sales forces is how does one go to the next level? The answer is different today than it was 20 years ago and it is rather simple.
The next level
Twenty years ago, the job of the sales rep was more of a numbers game. If you call on enough prospects and customers, you will eventually sell enough.
In our observations at Levin Group, we no longer find this to be true. Dentistry has changed dramatically. Dentists are more sophisticated and sharper in their buying and comparison shopping. In addition, the range of products has changed considerably over two decades. At one time, costly purchases (e.g., a high-speed drill) were limited. Today, many products compete for the same portion of a practice’s capital investment budget.
Going to the next level for a sales representative requires a new way of thinking. Today’s dental practices cannot keep up with everything that is available or changing in the marketplace. This allows the sales representative to increase his or her value dramatically by becoming the educational resource to dentists and dental teams.
The dilemma for sales representatives is that there will be times when acting as a resource to practices does not result in immediate sales. Ultimately, sales representatives are paid and receive bonuses based on sales. However, what many top-producing sales representatives have found is that providing education yields an enormous return on investment when practices begin to rely on that sales representative for education, information, research and purchasing. These relationships developed by their sales representative are extremely strong and often result in long-term loyalty to that individual and therefore, that rep’s company.
Taking the plunge
As an experiment, take the next 90 days and spend as much time providing support and resources to your customers as you do selling. Initially you may experience some frustration since these contacts may not result in immediate sales. However, give it a chance and you will notice over the 90 days that certain relationships become more productive. In addition, call-backs will increase as people make decisions to purchase from you. When that happens, you will begin to feel that this approach will be helpful in the long term with increased sales and loyalty from your customers.
Recently, a sales representative told me that when he entered the dental field, he had very little success. This seemed strange to him because he was an outgoing and gregarious individual who loved to share information. He went from office to office providing information and educating his potential customers on technology and products, but was extremely frustrated that sales were not materializing. After about five months of persistence, his sales suddenly went through the roof. Offices that had heard about the new technology from him and through other marketing vehicles began to call him directly to purchase. Three months later, this sales representative was in the top 15 percent for sales in the company. As a result, he came to appreciate the power of developing a lasting relationship with his clients.
The future sales representative will be more of a partner to practices than simply a salesperson. Partnering in dentistry includes a strong component of education. The speed of change is accelerating in dentistry, and many professionals are not sure who to listen to. A sales representative who becomes a resource and is accountable in all other ways will develop strong relationships and high sales performance.
Roger P. Levin, DDS,. is founder and CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental management consulting firm that is dedicated to improving the lives of dentists through a diverse portfolio of lifetime services and solutions. Since the company’s inception in 1985, Dr. Levin has worked to bring the business world to dentistry. Levin Group may be reached at (888) 973-0000, or at www.levingroup.com.