Dental Insider Blog

Observation and Commentary On the Dental Industry

Something to Think About…

Posted by dentalinsider on September 12, 2007

When we got back from vacation last week, we had quite a few emails from our readers. One email caught my eye and I found it quite interesting and thought provoking. The reader told of a situation that he has run into in his sales territory and asked what my opinion was of the situation. After thinking about it for a bit, I thought I would share it with all of you.

(Names, companies, and locations have been left out intentionally, and we are giving you the Readers Digest version of this email.)

The reader says that a little over a year ago a sales rep for one of the major wholesale manufacturers, was hired by a retail supply house. Many of the retail sales reps in the area were concerned that the guy who they had taken into their offices during co-travel days, would now be their competition. Their fears came true as this new retail rep started cold calling on alot of their existing customers, even offering extreme discounts to try and get the business. When confronted at a local dental society meeting, his only response was…it’s business and I have a family to support.

What are your feelings on this situation? I feel that it’s OK to cross over from the wholesale to retail side, but you can’t do it in the territory that you were working as a wholesale rep. Example…if you were a wholesale rep in the Seattle/Tacoma area, then you would have to make a retail territory outside your wholesale territory…like Spokane or Portland…you get the picture.

What do you think?

I know that Dental Insider readers have some opinions on this…let’s hear them. Post a comment or send an email to dentalinsider{at}gmail(.)com


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6 Responses to “Something to Think About…”

  1. Thomas said

    Why anyone would go from the wholesale side to the retail side is beyond me. I think they are lured by the retailers with promise of easy money, well that is not the case. Just look at the crop of rookies that HSIC and PDCO put out a few times a year and how many are still standing after their initial contract is up. It sounds like this guy has burned every bridge he made as a wholesaler. He will get what he deserves in the end.


  2. Glenn Bonagura said

    Free enterprise…

    This is not much different from a rep switching from one company to a competing one. If the Oral B rep goes to Colgate should they move to a different territory? I think not…

    What is also funny is the notion of “their office”. If it is really “your office”, why would you be worried about competition. Give value added service and the office will stay with you.


  3. The Boss said

    Well, you can’t restrict a man from making money. If he changes companies, and works the same territory, it’s only natural he’ll utilize his contacts. That’s part of the risk of the sales game.

    It’s another story when the wholesaler changes his strategy and becomes the competition. Dentsply reps are no longer selling product, they’re pushing their Chinese lab services. The labs in China are getting the labor cheap, and Dentsply materials at cost…how can even another Chinese lab compete with that? It’s as cut throat as anything I’ve ever seen.

    The last man standing in this game, will most likely die anyway.

  4. Associate Q said

    Many of the wholesale guys are going retail, so not much of a difference these days. But according to “Do-It” to talk about Scharby (Schein + Darby) makes us crybabies I won’t go there. But I will say who buys who and how does matter, that is for sure.

    As for the scenario DI outlined, I have seen this happen all over the industry. For instance Dentpsly converted all there Trubyte, Ceramco and Austenal Reps into Dentsply Prosthetic Reps. They sell certain things through dealers, but most things are sold direct. So why would any rep want to co-travel with one of these guys is beyond me.

    We all know that this industry, like ever other industry, is a contact sport. The more contacts you make and have, the more you sell. So why would you want to introduce another rep, who could presumably take business away from you to your contacts.


    When I go into a clients business I am always welcome to be there. I have clients who are clients, I have clients who are friends and I have clients who are very good friends. I have clients that only want to talk business and I have clients that have hade a luncheon for me on a date that meant something to both of us.

    When you take someone with you to see one of your clients it is a big step. I kind of look at it like the mafia, introducing the guy reflects on me, so he is a “friend of mine”. If this guy becomes close to my client by doing right by them then maybe he becomes a “friend of ours”.

    Now if this guy screws me over, then of course he gets whacked. No seriously, your contacts are your livelihood and should be treated with respect and safeguarded. While nobody “owns” an account, as I hate when people say “that is MY account”, your contacts are what put the bread on your table.

    To answer DI’s question, there are unfortunately no rules to this game we play called sales. It is all out war. In many cases a lot of salespeople are fighting for a larger piece of a shrinking pie. So they will do whatever they have to so they can get ahead. Is this right? No. But a lot of salespeople toss right and wrong out the window a long time ago.

    This industry is unique in ways and very generic in others. One thing I do find unique is the way people are willing to screw other people over. So often they do it for so little gain. I mean I can see if you were talking millions, but I have seen people push their so called friends off a ledge for a $100 sale. Unfortunately the other thing that seems unique in this industry is the fact that many people seem to have short and long term memory loss. The writer above said, “He will get what he deserved in the end” and in many cases that is true. But how many times have we all seen someone stick a knife in the back of a colleague one day and drink a beer with him the next?

    It is time that as an industry and as a collective, we start to brand these people for what they are. Bad sales people. Not talk bad about them to customers, but turn your back on them so when they need help they have nobody to reach out to. That will stop much of this nonsense.

    The problem is as long as that guy can make you money you will let him right back in the door, because you are greedy


  5. jd said

    My thinking on this matter is that if done properly this is not a problem. As long as the former manufacturer rep is not using the account’s past ordering history to bring their business to a retailer, and is using their sales ability to bring in the business it is not a problem. If he/she is not using priveledged information, then both reps are on a level playing field.

  6. Rick Lindquist said

    Rule #1 of the dental Biz.


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