Taking the ‘Me’ Out of Sales

Edition: March 2003 - Vol 11 Number 03
Article#: 1475
Author: Laura Thill

Good judgment, persistence and market knowledge may make a good rep – but not necessarily the best. Some of the top reps believe their success comes from taking the ‘me’ out of the sale and placing their customers’ needs first.

“An account is not about me,” says Brent Bechard, an Atlanta-based PSS sales rep. “I let my customers know I work for them. I bring them service and valuable information. They know I’m dedicated to them.”

Bechard likens selling to the Atlanta youth group he coaches in football. “Football is not about the individual,” he notes. “We must learn to be happy about the success of others, whether it’s our customers or team members.

“If we can be happy and excited about other people’s success, we become the type of person whom others like and want to work with,” he adds.

Mike Bakkar, also an Atlanta-based PSS sales rep, takes a similar approach to sales. The key, says Bakkar, is to make your customer your partner. “I won’t sell customers anything they don’t need,” says Bakkar, who stresses the importance of a trusting relationship between customer and rep. “Be honest with your customers and you’ll get their business.”

Bakkar focuses on bringing value to his customers. A good rep doesn’t sell a product simply because his or her customer is looking to keep up with a high-tech, cutting-edge physician down the street. “I suggest products that will help my customers make more money,” says Bakkar.



Making the Customer No.1

Reps like Bechard and Bakkar know the importance of making the customer feel like he or she comes first. “Doctors see sick people all day long,” says Bakkar. “The last thing they need to see is a sales rep in a bad mood.”

Bakkar makes a point of getting to know the doctors and developing long-term relationships with them. For example, he holds an annual product fair for all of his customers. “I include many vendors and provide a band, food and seminars,” he explains. “My customers can use this opportunity to pick up vendor discounts or education credits.”

And Bakkar’s customers can always count on him to hold an annual holiday party – or at least bring each of them a holiday gift. “Sure, it costs some money,” Bakkar admits. “But, these people have taken care of me and my family for 14 years. It’s the least I can give them in return.”



Mike Bakkar



Territory:

Middle Georgia.



Joined PSS, Atlanta:

1989.



Thoughts on being a sales rep:

“I always wanted to be in sales. My father was in sales and he did well.”



“I treat sales as a business in itself. It can be quite lucrative, depending on the level or effort you expend.”



Thoughts on staying in Georgia:

“My customers are like family at this point. I couldn’t leave them. Plus, I enjoy living in Georgia.”



Issues that have affected his sales career:

“CLIA was a big deal. It was an example of how something with the potential to have a negative impact on the industry could lead to wonderful results. I had some of my biggest years in equipment sales following CLIA.”



“Safety has been another big issue to affect selling. Doctors have come a long way. We still only see about 40 percent compliance, but doctors today are better educated about and more open to safety products.”



PSS Round Table:

“Being a member of the Round Table has become more than just a title. It’s an opportunity for the top reps to contribute ideas that can help PSS make some good changes. [PSS president] Gary Corless has said, ‘Reps are the company’s eyes and ears.’ PSS actually acts on our input.”



Sales goals:

“I shoot for both a high baseline – over $200,000 – and high equipment sales. Some reps prefer to focus on one over the other, but I like to look at both. If I don’t sell at least $40,000 to $100,000 of equipment in a given month, something isn’t right.”



Brent Bechard



Territory:

Middle Georgia.



Joined PSS, Atlanta: 1990.



Thoughts on being a sales rep:

“I always knew I wanted to be in sales. My dad was in sales and it worked well for him.”



Thoughts on staying in Georgia:

“I’ve built relationships not only with my customers but through family, community and church. I’m very attached to the youth group whose football team I coach. I’m teaching these boys to grow up to be respectful adults who can live good lives.”



Issues that have affected his sales career:

“CLIA and OSHA regulations have had a big impact on healthcare sales, but at PSS we’ve seen them as opportunities to inform our customers. Often, it’s simply a matter of helping the customer switch a product.”



“These changes have made selling fun and interesting. CLIA and OSHA regulations give sales reps something new to learn and discuss. With good communication, we can help our customers work through these issues.”



PSS Round Table:

“The Round Table is made up of 25 top selling reps and 25 CEO Challengers (future top selling reps). PSS has reps across the states. This is an opportunity to hear one another’s ideas. It can be very beneficial to know what the other reps have to say. Sometimes issues hit in the Northeast before moving south. Round Table discussions give us an idea of what to expect.”



Sales goals:

“I like to focus on large group accounts. I help solve customer issues and tie different accounts together.”



“I let my customers know I work for them by promising service, solutions to problems and information of value. It’s always about the customer.”