Inside Sales Roundtable
Midwest Veterinary Supply inside sales reps share their thoughts on veterinary practice challenges, personal and professional well-being, and more.
Vet-Advantage asked several Midwest Veterinary Supply inside sales reps a wide array of questions about how they go about their day-to-day responsibilities.
On what’s keeping veterinarians up at night
Cindi Castelline: During the pandemic, the safety of the staff was a huge issue. Being a technician is rewarding, but stressful on a normal day. They were already busy and overworked, but the pandemic made it worse. I had clinics close completely or reduce to half-staff, while others were busier than ever. A lot of them experienced curbside for the first time. It was a challenge to provide the level of care they were used to while protecting themselves and their clients.
Another big issue was and is a lack of supplies and delays due to raw materials. They saw a lot of shortages of human medications they were used to using.
But I would say the biggest issue was (and continues to be) mental health. It’s a serious issue, and the isolation and unknown magnified it for some.
Chaundra Rond: The main challenges in a veterinary practice that we have been navigating with our clients are staying relevant with changing practice norms, managing pricing and cash flow, responding to competition, and dealing with staffing.
Steve Neer: Without a doubt, manufacturer backorders! Everything from equipment, to medications, parasiticides, vaccines, and feeding tubes. It seems like every day, I get a frantic call for one of these items, only to have to break the bad news to a client.
Delays in shipments arriving have also been an issue. It seems carriers are having their fair share of problems getting packages delivered on time.
On being more aware of maintaining one’s health and well-being
Castelline: Besides following CDC guidelines, checking in with people is crucial. Mental health, especially in the veterinary field, is very important. I’m an extremely social person, and I found the pandemic period extremely difficult. I exercise regularly, which has helped tremendously. I still need to work on getting more sleep, but I’m getting better.
Stacy Loomis: I feel that the last few years have unfortunately taken their toll on the veterinary industry. Not One More Vet (NOMV) is a wonderful organization to be involved with in this regard. I belong to their group for support staff, so even though I’m not in the clinic setting anymore, I can empathize with fellow techs. Everyone is going through so much.
Rond: I have always been aware of my own well-being and stress levels, even before the pandemic. I keep up with my health by scheduling yearly doctor’s appointments and taking care of myself when I am sick. As for stress, I leave work at work and enjoy family time at home.
Neer: I have pretty much remained the same, giving the courtesy to others with personal space/social distance. For my well-being, I learned early in life that stress usually causes more problems and health issues. So, my rule of thumb is I don’t stress over things that won’t matter in five years. If it is stress, I wrap it in prayer, as God has been my anchor in times of storms.
When it comes to health and nutrition, we have a mini farm and are eating more natural foods, which helps with keeping us in good health.
On measuring successful customer interactions
Castelline: I speak to customers for different reasons. Sometimes the issues are simple. They may just be placing an order and asking a question. Other times they may be frustrated due to delay. Each interaction is different for me, but my main goal after each call is to make sure all questions have been answered and we have a clear path to a resolution.
Loomis: I think a successful interaction is one where both you and the customer are satisfied with the outcome, problems are solved, questions are answered, and both parties are happy.
Neer: If I have been able to provide my client with answers to the needs they came to me with, and they hang up with a smile, and I feel good about the call, then I have done my job! I never want them going away with questions or doubts because it will eventually lead to them going somewhere else for help.
Rond: The way to measure a successful customer interaction is not just receiving an order, but also gaining our clients’ trust in Midwest. We want them to know they can reach out with any question or issue, and we will make
sure they are taken care of in a timely manner. As we strengthen our relationships, Midwest is building loyalty with those customers.
On what separates the top inside sales reps
Castelline: The ability to build authentic relationships. I think because I’m an LVT and worked in a clinic for years,
I never had to try to relate, because I lived it. In my opinion, it’s more about being a resource for the clinic first and a salesperson second.
Loomis: It’s probably a broken record to say, but I think we’ve all made some good relationships over the years – not only with our clients but with each other. You learn who you can crack a joke with, who is strictly business, who is interested in hearing about promotions, etc. Because I don’t like salespeople who are pushy with me, I believe our clients like to be informed, but without pressure. You learn what tactics work with everyone that you speak with.
Neer: The amount of time and effort you are willing to put forth to ensure all your clients are receiving top-notch customer service, whether they are your highest or lowest producing account.
Rond: Top inside sales representatives that can separate from average ones are always targeting their goals, consistent, and detailed oriented. They will work well with all involved in making a customer or client satisfied. They are always prompt in response to any inquiry that may arise from our clients.
Lastly, a top performer is always prospecting. Whether that may be existing or new business, they are always on the chase to create organic growth.