DentalPost takes a look at the training and education, and the job description of a Dental Sales Representative.
Many job postings say they require or prefer those with experience. Such statements may discourage you from pursuing your chosen career path, or may make your goals seem daunting.
The lack of sales experience does not necessarily bar you from dental sales jobs. Many employers provide training for aspiring dental sales representatives so that you can develop into ambassadors for the companies who promote healthy teeth and healthy smiles.
To understand how an employer trains new hires in the sales team, you need a grasp for what being a dental sales representative entails. Below is a description of the activities and the work setting of dental sales representatives.
As a sales representative, you engage in business development and customer service on behalf of your company. Generally, dental sales representatives have as their duties:
Dental sales reps can expect long hours. According to the Occupational Information Network (O*NET), nearly 79 percent of those in the “Sales Representatives, Wholesale and Manufacturing, Technical and Scientific Products” sector log more than 40 hours per week.
If you find an inside sales representative job, you’ll work mostly from an office. An outside sales representative travels to dental offices and clinics. O*NET reports that four out of every ten sales reps work out of a vehicle or closed equipment each day.
Dental sales reps get much of their training from the companies that hire them. If you work for a manufacturer or supplier of dental supplies, tools or equipment, your training will involve learning about the particular products made by that manufacturer or provided by the supplier. (After all, you cannot sell what you do not know.)
For example, laboratories that make dental implants will teach you about the materials used in them. Typically, crowns and bridges have in their makeup ceramics, metal alloys and porcelain. Acrylics, porcelain and resins are common among dentures. You will also learn the process by which the implants are produced, which may include the use of 3-D printers, computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing.
If you work for a dental instrument supplier or maker, you will need to grasp the materials and design features. Depending on the particular tool, your company’s trainers will explain:
Training programs also cover the methods of sales. You learn keywords and phrases, how to approach dental professionals, the vocabulary of the dental field and how to explain the use of the tools, implants, supplies or equipment.
Ultimately, especially if you’re an outside sales representative, you will train the dental staff in using your company’s wares in the treatment of patients. To that end and to help you build relationships with the dental staff, an experienced sales professional, such as a seasoned sales rep, account manager, or a sales manager, will take you on visits to dental offices.
The training programs are normally not short-term. For you to learn about the company, its products and how to perform the sales role, expect to spend as much as 12 months being trained before you are unleashed to sell.
A dental sales representative normally complete a bachelor’s degree program. Preferred majors should involve business or manufacturing. Typical relevant degrees include sales, business administration, finance, economics and marketing. You may find sales representatives or other sales professionals with degrees outside of the business realm, such as:
A curriculum that includes these courses affords you knowledge of the fundamentals on how to persuade dentists, the manufacture and composition of products and how teeth are made and function.
Even with company-training, job seekers with prior sales experience have advantages in finding positions as reps. If you have been a sales representative even in a non-dental field, you have learned and practiced the essentials of calling new clients, demonstrating products, generating orders, customer service and engaging in territory sales.
To be qualified for sales jobs, you will need to demonstrate the ability to sell to dentists and respond to their needs and concerns. The following skills can help you meet the expectations of dental product makers and suppliers:
Persuasion. In the dental context, sales representatives must convince dentists that their company’s products will help dentists treat their patients. Persuasive skills include a sufficient knowledge of dental practices and the science of dentistry. Having the ability to persuade also comes in handy in negotiating prices and other terms of sales agreements.
Communication. You must be able to present technical and scientific concepts in a clear and concise manner. These communication skills help you in selling and in training the staffs of dental offices in the use of supplies, tools and equipment.
Confidence. Successful dental sales representatives must have self-confidence to cold-call potential new clients and persevere in the face of constant rejection by dentists.
Customer Service. Skills in customer service include answering questions about quality, delivery delays and overpricing with a prompt and courteous demeanor.
Representative salaries often involve commissions and bonuses. PayScale places the median salary at $41,000 with a range of bonuses between $1,000 and $45,000. Dental reps have commissions running between $3,000 and $11,000.
A company may use a different job title when referring to dental sales representatives. Look for job postings for customer service representative, territory sales representative, sales specialist, business development representative, manufacturer’s agent or manufacturer’s representative. You can find listings through job search services or directly from the careers or job search pages of dental laboratories and makers of dental products.
Major brands of consumer toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and other products also hire dental sales reps to provide samples to dentists for their patients. Check periodically for new jobs on their pages. Also signing up for job alerts through employers or job search services will keep you abreast on openings for new jobs and for opportunities to advance.
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