When it comes to the sales reps in the aesthetic industry, good relationships with top talent can really be one of the most valuable investments you make in your practice’s success. Why? Because those same reps know the inner workings of all of your competitors, and while they may switch between the corporations they actually get paid by, they’re unlikely to switch allegiances between whose teams they’re actually playing on (will it be your team, or your competition’s?).
Now does this mean you need to play things close to the chest with them? Perhaps. At least on some things. But it also means you need to invest in their success, so they can trust that an investment in yours is in their best interest as well.
I’ve met some very talented doctors and practice managers who have major concerns over promising certain reps that they’ll grow their account with them. In my experience, you don’t have to pick sides to be loyal and genuine. You can, for instance, grow both your Restylane and Juvederm sales, and benefit both of those companies, while also benefitting your practice. When the entire pie grows, everyone benefits – you and your reps. What you need to focus on, in order to grow that pie, is building your relationships with the top talent among your reps, so that you can leverage that network to grow your practice.
Top Practice Tip: Reps have more resources at their disposal than they let on. Never be afraid to ask for more. Most reps will be pleasantly surprised by your seriousness and willing to give you the support you ask for. Like all relationships, expect to build their trust through hard work and results.
1.Do you have any co-op money available for practices? What would I need to do to qualify for that?
Many companies offer money to their best practices, or those that they want to grow, in order to market their treatments with that practice. While you may not yet be a big fish to that company, what’s important here is to make your value known, and offer to partner with that company so that you can both grow together. A smaller practice that has the drive and focuses on growing a single product within their practice may actually be worth a lot more in sales than a bigger practice that’s relaxed into a slower growth rate or is trying to juggle too many things and not capable of increasing sales in the way you are. If you don’t yet qualify, put this on your list for #11 below.
2. Any plans for DTC campaigns or Press? (BONUS: How can I get involved with your PR team?)
Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) ad campaigns can be a big driver of patient interest in your services. You’ll want to know about any big campaigns, whether local or national so that you can coordinate your efforts and messaging to match. When CoolSculpting puts up a campaign about “freezing your fat”, you’ll want to make sure your website and any digital ads also include that phrase, so potential patients can feel comfortable that they’ve found a practice that offers the treatment they were searching for.
This is also an opportunity to ask for free PR. Big ad campaigns often come with a press tour. Typically big pharmaceutical companies want the big cosmetic doctors to endorse their product on national TV. The Doris Days and Sheila Nazarians of the cosmetic world. But they also want doctors who are willing to pitch local press, especially if you have patients with good stories.
3. Any new products on the horizon?
Lots of times your rep will have exciting news, but for whatever reason, they’re focused on selling what’s available now, and they’ll forget to tell you that they’ve got a new product coming out in a few months. But as you’re building the reputation of a top cosmetic physician with your clients, you’re going to want to be the first person telling those patients about everything new and exciting in the industry – especially when the social media moguls of the industry are threatening to steal that relationship with each and every one of your clients everyday.
4. Changes at corporate? New policies?
If you know anything about the manufacturers of cosmetic treatment technologies and products, it should be that they are constantly being bought and sold, and their way of doing business is anything but constant. Over the years, you’ll find that their policies, prices, and staff change frequently, so don’t plan on being able to keep track of it all, but do ask your reps what has changed, and what they expect to change.
5. New training classes I can attend or watch online?
If you want to truly be a master of your craft, you’ll need to put a lot of effort into continued learning. All of the treatment and technology manufacturers offer training. Now, you’ll also learn over the years, that some of these trainings are really a big waste of your time, but there are also some that are far better than the preceptorships you can buy on your own. Any hands-on training should be valued far and above others. You’ll also want to invest heavily in learning how to assess patients, as this is the part that the true masters of cosmetic enhancement all agree makes all the difference in creating beautiful, natural-looking results.
5. New marketing materials I can use around my office or online?
Tasteful in-office marketing can help your existing patients learn about the other services you offer, without you having to broach the subject and risk turning them off by coming off as pushy or salesy. Most sales reps offer flip books, which can range in value. Be selective in what you display where. There’s no need to display every service offering in every room, but a tasteful selection of on-brand books and brochures, in good condition, can help grow your bottom line by encouraging conversations about additional services.
Top Practice Tip: Restylane recently made some great flipbooks that aren’t branded, and cover laser treatments, fillers, and neurotoxins as part of a comprehensive anti-aging plan. Not only will these flipbooks help you educate your patients about how they’re aging and why certain treatments will help them, but I would also use these books as a really valuable staff training tool.
6. What do you think about my online presence for your product? How does it compare to my competitors?
Your reps spend day and night focused on their product, and they know exactly how their top clients are selling their products. Every rep will be willing to do an evaluation of your online presence surrounding their product, especially if you make it clear that you’re interested in making that presence top-notch in order to drive more sales.
Ask them to do this before your meeting, if you can, and ask for it in writing. If you can’t, no biggie – just take detailed notes during the conversation. Hopefully they’ll have some insights you don’t have, and they’ll give you some pointers. At the very least, this is a time-saver for you, because you don’t need to waste hours checking out online listings when a rep will know where to look, and how it measures up, much faster and easier.
7. What are other practices doing to make this product more successful? Your ideas to help me sell more of this product/service?
Chances are, your rep knows of a couple of really successful doctors who have built their practice around their particular product. While I don’t suggest you hedge your entire business on the success of a single product or service, I do think you’ll want to learn from the best if you expect to be counted among them one day. Let those luminary practices inspire you to step up your own practice – from your skills as a doctor to your marketing and revenue goals.
8. What doctors or practices are you most inspired by and why? Or what are you most excited about in the industry right now?
Reps spend all day thinking about this industry, and their co-workers share what’s working in different markets with them. Even if a practice is nothing like yours, there’s still a lot you can learn from studying the top practices. Check out my earlier post on what you can learn from the social media accounts of top cosmetic physicians.
What’s even more valuable about their perspective is they spend their days thinking about and learning how to grow practices. Good reps from good companies aren’t looking to put you on the hook for a purchase that won’t pay off for you because you’ll never do business with them again. Good reps genuinely want to help you grow their product at your practice, and the very best reps just want to grow your practice overall. They know their real leverage comes from providing you value over time, and building trust.
9. What do you think sets my practice apart? What makes my practice special?
Your reps know your industry, but they also don’t have the same viewpoint as a practitioner. They can give you a different perspective on how your practice measures up, from the front office to your physicians, your website, and social media, to your print materials. Knowing what makes you different can point out weaknesses and strengths in your company that will help you stay competitive.
10. What goals can we set together for the next month/quarter/year?
Accountability partners are an expensive type of career coach that you can hire. Or you can enlist your sales reps to hold you accountable to reasonable goals that help you both grow your business, and then ask them to help you reach those goals using their knowledge and the resources their companies provide them with. Having them help you set reasonable goals will be even more valuable, as they have an intimate understanding of how and why practices are able to grow their sales of their products and can help coach you through strengthening any weak spots in your sales funnel.
Here are some goals you might consider setting:
- Upping your per-patient sales – going from an average of 1 syringe of filler per patient to 2, or even 1.5; going from an average sale of 1 laser treatment to 2 per patient, etc.
- Signing patients up for rewards programs that help re-engage them to keep coming back to your practice for regular maintenance (Aspire and Brilliant Distinctions are the most important)
- Selling $40,000 in CoolSculpting during a single event
11. How can we optimize my listing on your practice locator site?
Practice locators on the manufacturer’s websites are not the best source of new patient leads most of the time. But occasionally, that manufacturer will run a very successful direct-to-consumer ad campaign, and then your listing there will become very important. Right now, that’s Kybella, CoolSculpting, and SculpSure. These locators are also important for new products and brands, where patients will likely find out about the product in national press coverage, and then search out a local provider.
You’ll want to make your listings on these sites as attractive and high-ranking as possible. From photos to bios and contact info, your rep will know exactly what you need to add to your listing to make it stand out.
12. What discount am I currently getting on your products? What do I need to purchase to get a larger discount?
Most manufacturers offer discounted pricing to their biggest accounts, but more and more of them are offering discounts to their fastest-growing accounts because they know these accounts represent the future of their own businesses. In any case, sales reps need to make their own sales goals in order to advance in their careers. Open and honest conversations that focus on how to achieve this joint goal will build trust, rapport, and spell out success for you both. Always make sure you cover this topic at every meeting – it’s the number one thing they need and want from you, and by giving it to them, you’re not only fulfilling their needs but ensuring they’re on your team and rooting for your success as well.
13. How can you help me re-engage patients to spend more or try new products?
Your Botox and filler reps will often have free products they can offer you, and they’ll be happy to tell you how some of their biggest customers offer free trials to first-time patients in order to get them to try these treatments. Other companies can offer emails to send out when it’s time for your patients to come back in or will offer to pay for postcards to clients that never booked procedures offering them a discounted rate.
BONUS: I’d love to be involved in (a.) research, (b.) speaking for your company at conferences or private presentations to other doctors/providers, or (c.) training other physicians/providers using your product.
Ready to step into the role of top cosmetic physician? All of the top doctors are involved in at least 1 of these 3 roles for at least one major manufacturer. Start asking how to get involved early. It will solidify your role as a brand champion, and allow you access to the latest research and innovations, as well as build your status as an expert amongst your current and potential patients.