As dentists we are bombarded by advertisements and sales reps seemingly every day. This causes confusion and paralysis by analysis. There is always something newer, better, or faster. We have to ask ourselves, is our rep selling us time or a gadget? To go a little deeper, are we buying patient time or doctor time?
A lot of us rely heavily upon and work very closely with a representative of one of the major full service dealers such as Patterson Dental, Henry Schein, Benco, etc. Others order online or “shop around” for deals. When shopping around, are you really a priority for anyone…or are you the smallest/worst client for the 3 places you “shop your business.” For me, I’d rather give most of my business to someone who understands my needs. I think there is a lot of value in working with a single rep, but the one question to keep in the back of your mind:
Are they selling you or helping you?
Your rep should be involved in growing your practice WITH you. When you think about it, don’t they grow when you grow?
I wrote an article about how my accountant is one of my many trusted advisors, but not the only one. I think your trusted dental representative can play a critical role in your practice journey and should be added to the list of advisors. The key word here is trusted. If they aren’t trusted, don’t put them on your team of advisors. They should respectfully tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
Reps are critical because they often keep you connected and relevant. They have great perspective on dentists and the dental industry as a whole. They should understand the intricacies of the dental market much better than your accountant, attorney and financial planner. Most of us have our noses to the grindstone and rarely surface to see what is going on around us. However, not all representatives for said companies are created equal. It’s imperative that you empower your representative to help you and to make sure they are armed with the knowledge you need.
Additionally, reps can play the role of therapist or accountability partner. They can sense when you are stressed, or your team is stressed. Oftentimes you are too close to a situation and they can help wake you up to what is going on in your practice.
This leads me to my last point. Your rep should know you and your office and be able to make thoughtful suggestions that actually help you. They should even tell you NOT to buy something every now and then. I remember being 5 months into my first Solea purchase when I approached my rep at Patterson and said, “I think I want another one.” I was ready to purchase and needed a little encouragement and convincing that I truly needed a second laser. As I wrestled with the decision my wife said, “don’t call Chuck(my Patterson rep) for advice because he will tell you to buy it.” But to our surprise he told me “to hold off on it for 6 months and dial things in a bit.” I listened. It was great advice and I doubt a lot of reps would have their client put off a six-figure purchase.
If you ask about adding technology to your office and they recommend CBCT you have to wonder why. Are you currently doing surgery, implants, endo? Are you already billing medical? Will a CBCT magically start making you do procedures you don’t currently do?
What about CEREC? Most dentists are doing enough units of crowns to break even, but I would argue that unless you are willing to use CEREC to its full potential, you aren’t going to make money saving $50/crown on your lab bill. I know that there are other reasons to buy CEREC, but the most common sales tactic is ROI.
In my mind, the rep should know what you spend 60-70% of your time doing and focus on products or technologies that maximize those efforts.
My advice to the dentist is that if your rep is suggesting technology that doesn’t fit with your practice philosophy or procedure mix, you are probably being sold.