Working with company representatives
This chapter discusses how to select which representatives to take time to see and how to build collaborative relationships with key contacts; this has many benefits, including continuous quality improvement, good clinical outcomes and enhanced patient satisfaction.
This chapter will assist members of the dental team to become familiar with ways in which to assess the merits of different company representatives, and ways in which to work with selected representatives to best possible advantage.
As the dental market continues to grow in value and size, there are an ever-increasing number of company representatives calling on dental practices and laboratories. These company representatives offer a wide and expanding range of services, equipment and products to support the dental team in various ways.
A representative of a company should be fully acquainted with company products and arrangements for conducting business. Some are limited to sales and, as a consequence, should know their products and services in great detail. Others may be more technically orientated, with expertise in demonstrating the use of equipment and materials. An example of this would be a dental technician representative who demonstrates the use of porcelain in the construction of crown and bridgework. An experienced representative should have a wealth of information that is helpful to the entire dental team. As the relationship builds, so does the trust and mutual understanding. The representative then becomes a valuable resource for all members of the dental team.
Company representatives should have specialist knowledge and understanding in their field of business.
Since time is a precious resource, it is not possible to see every representative that walks through the door, especially if the visit is unscheduled (cold calling). It is best to develop mutually beneficial relationships with representatives of selected companies who you have confidence in and do business with on a regular basis. These relationships should enhance the support that you receive in terms of service and effective use of your time. Most practices have a number of established contacts that visit on a regular basis. Take some time to review each of these contacts critically in terms of the benefits that they bring to the practice or laboratory. Such a review may take the form of a team discussion, with a view to forming a consensus. Alternatively, the team may wish to draw up a check list of types of support and services required, and then check the various elements off against each company and representative. The checklist may include the following:
Do we receive regular visits?
Is the representative knowledgeable?
Does the representative provide new information and added value at each visit?
Does the company understand and meet the need of the team?
Does the company get back to the team when additional information is requested?
Does the representative respect time?