5 tips to enhance your relationship with vendors

By Teresa Duncan, DrBicuspid.com contributing writer

March 9, 2016 -- When you think of the dental office team, you tend to think of just the internal employees (doctors, hygienists, assistants, office manager, and the administrative team), but in reality the team consists of so much more. The team actually consists of people that could be considered "extended family," such as lab technicians, certified public accountant (CPA), attorney, banker, and supply vendors. All of these people contribute to the success and profitability of the practice.

Teresa Duncan
Teresa Duncan is an international speaker who focuses on revenue, dental insurance, and management issues.

The doctor usually has no problem taking a call from or setting up an appointment with their CPA or the lab technician, but when it comes to supply vendors, the team is trained to tell them, "The doctor is busy" or "The doctor is running behind."

On closer inspection, you may actually be doing a great disservice to your practice. When I meet with sales teams to find out how they approach the office-rep relationship, I often hear "I'm not trying to sell them my whole catalog. I just want them to know about the new generation of bonding agent."

They are well aware that they have a reputation for being aggressive and only interested in the sale. Most want to dispel that myth, but they can't get past the bad first impression that a previous rep may have left.


Yes, supply vendors are salespeople. They have goals to reach and can sometimes try to push products or equipment on you that you don't really need to achieve those goals, but if you take the time to meet with them and set forth your needs and expectations, you can save everyone a lot of time and energy.

“Scheduling an appointment allows you to generate a list of items you would like to discuss.”

Once you have set these expectations with the sales representatives, you can schedule regular and convenient times for you to have them meet with you and your team. Scheduling an appointment allows you to generate a list of items you would like to discuss with the rep instead of having him or her come in at what seems to be an inopportune time and you being so busy that you can't remember what you wanted to speak to them about. Most meetings are productive when an agenda is followed -- these meetings are no different.

Cultivating this relationship with your sales representative is truly beneficial to your practice. Think about how many dental practices these reps visit in any given week or month. They are up to date on what's happening in the industry, can share continuing education opportunities with you, and are a great resource for your practice.

Did you know that many dentists and team members confide in them regarding the need for additional staffing, replacing staff, or possibly selling equipment? Have you ever run out of a product or had a piece of equipment break down? Replacements become emergencies. Many of these reps either carry supplies with them or may be able to reach out to another one of their doctors to borrow from them to assist you. These reps will go above and beyond for doctors and practices that take the time for them.

Every practice has their favorite sales representative or company, and they don't like to stray from their comfort zone, which is understandable. Refusing to meet with sales reps from other companies could mean that you miss out on information and technology that could increase the efficiency and profitability of your practice.

5 guidelines

To ensure you have a solid and mutually agreeable relationship with your sales reps, try following these guidelines:

  • Don't ignore them. If you are unable to meet with them when they walk into your office, schedule a more convenient time.
  • Discuss your needs and expectations with them and ask the same of them.
  • Schedule regular meetings with them. It can be monthly, bimonthly, or quarterly -- it's your call. You don't need to schedule a lot of time, but you do need to make sure you are available and can give them your undivided attention.
  • Bounce ideas off of them regarding courses you want to take, materials you are thinking about using, and so on.
  • Make sure you have their most current contact information, such as their cellphone number. If you have their cellphone number and they leave the company, you can still get in touch with them.

The next time a sales representative comes knocking, open the door and your mind. It could be the start of a mutually beneficial relationship.

Teresa Duncan is an international speaker who focuses on revenue, dental insurance, and management issues. For more information or to contact her, visit her Odyssey Management website.

The comments and observations expressed herein do not necessarily reflect the opinions of DrBicuspid.com, nor should they be construed as an endorsement or admonishment of any particular idea, vendor, or organization.

Copyright © 2016 DrBicuspid.com

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