Sales reps tend to be one of the most underutilized resources available to optometric practice. So often, doctors assume that building a relationship with their sales reps isn't worth their time; however, I would respectfully disagree. It has been my experience that sales reps have most definitely impacted the growth and success of my practice in a very positive way.
Learn from My Mistakes
Early in my career, I had no concept of the value that my sales reps could bring to my practice. I would tend to cancel their appointments, blow off their phone calls, and disregard their suggestions for ways to implement their products into my office.
It's very easy to have the mindset, “I'm the doctor, not you. There really isn't anything that you could teach me.” It wasn't until I started working very closely with industry that I saw firsthand how much time and money companies allocate to appropriately train their sales representatives. More importantly, I was finally able to experience their perspective, and I quickly learned that most of these companies understand that their success depends on the success of the doctor. They actually want to help me succeed!
Don't Be Afraid to Set Boundaries and Expectations
There are no two practices that are operated or managed the same. As a result, it is impossible for sales reps to understand what your needs and expectations are if you don't tell them. For example, I encourage you to let your sales reps know what meeting times work best for your schedule. Some doctors simply prefer to not schedule meeting times with reps and would rather find the time to meet with them in between patients. I, on the other hand, prefer to have my reps schedule times to meet with me, because this gives me the opportunity to plan ahead and have a list of products or resources ready to discuss. I would much rather set aside time at lunch or at the end of the day to limit interference with patient
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scheduling. I discovered that I didn't do a good job relaying this to my sales reps and as a result, was irritated with them when they just dropped in. When I finally started telling them what I needed, I found that they were more than willing to accommodate my needs and requests with scheduling.
The Best Relationships are Mutually Beneficial
If you think about it, a personal relationship never lasts when it is all about one person. In order for a relationship to be healthy and have longevity, both parties must feel valued and respected.
It's important to remember that just like we have a job to do managing a practice, our sales reps also have a job that they are expected to do as well. I encourage you to not be that person who only makes time for sales reps when you need something or when it is convenient for you. If you take the time to establish these relationships with your sales reps, you will find that they can be great resources for growing your practice, and you might actually end up with a friend rather than a sales rep looking out for you and your practice's best interest.
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