Burkhart account manager Katey Hakes finds satisfaction meeting the unique needs of each of her customers.
When Katey Hakes joined the dental products sales industry seven years ago, she looked forward to connecting with a new set of healthcare customers. After a seven-year hiatus from work while raising her children, she was ready to restart her career. When a sales position opened at Burkhart Dental in 2011, she saw this as a way to maintain her connection to healthcare, but on a more personal level. Her previous experience – 17 years as a territory account manager for Baxter Healthcare with oversight over the entire state of Idaho – prepared her well for her new role. At the same time, she recognized her dental customers faced a different set of challenges.
Dentists are very much like small-business owners, Hakes points out. “The daily pressures they face to make the right decisions for their employees, their patients and their practice is huge,” she says. Every dental practice is unique, she adds. “There are many different types of dentistry and many philosophies on how a dental practice can be successful.” Finding the right solutions for each of her customers means “changing gears every 30 minutes,” but it’s a challenge she welcomes.
“There are so many ways to interact and work with dental practices, there’s really no right way to do my job,” Hakes says. “As the dental industry continues to change and evolve, I must continue to find the best solutions for each practice. I love the personal connection this enables me to develop with each of my dental customers.” The longer she works in the industry, the more experience she can offer her customers, she adds, noting that there’s always room for her to grow and improve.
Working with manufacturers
Traditionally, manufacturers worked exclusively with a few distributors who, in turn, would work with the dental practice owners. In Hake’s experience, this is changing. “Dental practice owners no longer want to be told who they must buy products from,” she explains. And, while this may have impacted some manufacturer-distributor relationships, Hakes continues to work closely with her manufacturer partners. “I talk weekly to most of the key manufacturer reps in my geography, and travel with them about twice each month,” she says. “I also send manufacturer reps leads, so that they can communicate directly with the dental offices. I believe this is a more effective/efficient way of working together because they can focus on the actual needs of our customers.
Together, distributor and manufacturer reps can offer additional value to dental practices, she continues. “As a distributor sales rep who handles many different products, I often rely on my manufacturer rep partners to share their in-depth product expertise (as well as clinical information) with our dental customers.”
Particularly as her dental customers formulate their goals for the coming year, the more value sales reps can offer, the better, notes Hakes. “My dental customers are looking to grow their practices and add new patients next year,” she says. “They hope to improve their staff systems and processes, their buying decisions regarding supplies and equipment, and their technology options. I look forward to bringing as many resources and as much value as I can to help them move forward and make the best decisions for their practices.”
Many decisions go into growing a dental practice, which means dental owners likely have a lot of questions for their sales reps and design consultants. Burkhart’s consulting service, Practice Support Team, helps clients with specific challenges, from scheduling to compliance. The Practice Support Team helps take clients’ practices to the next level, at no cost to the client.
Published in First Impressions Magazine, December 2018
Category: Practice ConsultingBack to Articles