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Building meaningful connections with industry reps in veterinary practice

Feature
Article

Why your reps could be a valuable resource you’re missing out on

Content sponsored by CareCredit

What comes to mind when you think of your industry reps? You likely picture swag and sales pitches. However, a pair of experts is aiming to help veterinary professionals lean on their industry reps as a resource beyond the products they offer. At the 2023 AAEVT Annual Conference, held in conjunction with the AAEP Convention, Wiss Costanza, AAEVT Executive Director and Amanda Compton, CVT, LVT, RVT, explored these ideas in their session How Best to Connect with Your Industry Reps. The idea for this session came from their own experiences, Costanza is the current executive director for AAEVT, former industry salesperson and equine assistant. Compton is currently a salesperson for Merck Animal Health and credentialed veterinary technician. They both understand the importance of building industry/veterinary practice relationships.

Why is it important to build those relationships? It’s reasonable to feel apprehensive and want to be “too busy” when a salesperson comes to your door to sell something. However, Costanza and Compton said it is important to reconsider the way clinicians & staff interact with their reps because they have so much to offer. Many industry reps have backgrounds in veterinary medicine or related fields. As such, they understand the challenges and can serve as valuable allies. Whether it's knowledge about industry happenings, sponsorships, scholarships, or even discussions about veterinary support staff, industry reps can offer valuable insights and assistance beyond their primary products. “I like thinking of myself more as a resource than a sales rep, giving advice and distribution most of the time anyway, but still as a resource,” said Compton. By tapping into their diverse set of experiences, veterinary professionals can help build and strengthen relationships with their reps, which only further grows trust around relying on them to help solve problems.

“I'll help you stock the truck; I’ll carry the box for you; I'll hold the horse while you take a temperature and do its TPR,” said Costanza. She added, “The biggest compliment I've ever received was when I came to visit a clinic and they said, ‘We love when you come because you don't just talk about your product. You bring so much more to the table...and we learn something when you come.”

“When I worked in industry, the first year I was told to go out, conquer, make relationships. That's all you need to do. Don't worry about selling products; go and make relationships,” said Costanza. Exemplifying that mindset, the duo shared insights from their experiences on how that relationship building can impact the doctor-rep experience for the better.

She talked about how asking your reps for help, advice, and information can strengthen that bond over time, allowing the rep to be as helpful as possible. “When you build those relationships, you start to ask, ‘What is in the rep’s toolbox? How can they help me?’” said Costanza. “I did myself a disservice as an assistant by not talking to my reps and not growing that relationship with them.”

Costanza and Compton both acknowledged that there can be challenges, such as busy schedules that make it tough to find the time for conversation. However, the time invested can be worth it due to the resources the rep can bring to the table.

The takeaway is that the relationship between veterinary professionals and industry representatives goes beyond product transactions. It's about fostering meaningful connections, sharing knowledge, and supporting each other in the veterinary community. By being open to these connections, veterinary professionals can enhance their practice and stay informed about industry developments and capitalize on an opportunity to create a collaborative and supportive veterinary community.

Reference

Compton A, Costanza W. How Best to Connect with Your Industry Rep. Presented at the 2023 AAEVT Annual Convention. San Diego, California. November 29 – December 3, 2023.

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