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3 NAVC 2016 Observations That Will Rock Your Veterinary Sales Efforts

By Pam Foster
January, 2016

What makes veterinarians tick? Pam Foster, one of our Vet-Advantage field correspondents, just got back from the NAVC Conference 2016 in Orlando where she found that out. 

We asked her to give us her perspective of what she saw in the Exhibit Halls and also on the shuttle busses, session hallways, and even in the bars as veterinary professionals relaxed after full days of intensive CE learning.

Vet Advantage photo: The NAVC Conference 2016 revealed the excitement of veterinary professionals learning about new products and ideas. Excitement you can tap into as a sales rep.

After walking 30,000 steps and riding various shuttle buses, Pam was able to take in some major observations about the 16,000+ veterinary professionals attending the conference that will energize your sales. Here are her top three.

  1. Veterinary professionals get excited about learning new techniques and trends.

There's a current of enthusiasm at the NAVC that hums through every CE session hallway. It's a hum that comes from a crowd who's away from the practice, enjoying the warm and sunny Orlando setting and discovering new information about veterinary healthcare from leading experts in their respective fields.

One veterinarian told me that this is THE show for him. It's where he gets to sit with colleagues and hear from the best practitioners in the business. He's come to every single NAVC Conference since the beginning, more than 30 years ago.

At the other end of the spectrum is the new vet school graduate who's looking at job offers. She's excited about being at the NAVC Conference to add valuable knowledge to her college education. And this year, the topics were very leading edge, including bold leadership lessons, an announcement about a new Veterinary Innovation Council that's tackling telemedicine standards, and Zoobiquity sessions discussing the "astonishing connections between human and animal health."

What this means for you: Find ways to feed into that excitement when you visit practices. Introduce clinics to the latest best practices, free webinars, fresh-off-the-press studies and other new information that's leading the profession. You'll be seen as a valuable resource for insights and news far beyond the product catalog.

  1. Veterinary professionals are eager to see new solutions for better care and healthier practices.

When the Exhibit Halls opened on Sunday at 9 A.M., a crowd poured through the doors so they could be the first to see all the new products being offered by more than 680 different companies. From the latest laser equipment and new diagnostic tests to a new skin-allergy diet and health-tracker technologies, veterinarians were clustering around the booths trying to see demos and ask questions.

I overheard veterinary professionals saying that this is a big reason they love coming to the NAVC. It's the biggest showcase of new products; many of them being launched at this event. So attendees really are the very first to see new products and discuss them directly with manufacturers.

What this means for you: When you walk into clinics, do you get this kind of eager reception, with customers waiting anxiously to see what you're offering? Why not? Many of your products are just as exciting, right? Well, perhaps you can think of ways to make your visits more of a "big reveal," teasing customers with, "Wow, wait until you see what I have this week" kind of approach. It might make a huge difference in the attention you get when you arrive, even if you're not carrying a box of donuts.

  1. Veterinary professionals are football fans too!

On Saturday during the NAVC, I had the opportunity to sit in a sports bar with two veterinarians: one from Massachusetts (a New England Patriots fan) and one from Tampa (a Kansas City Fan). I asked each of them about their practices and how they were enjoying the conference, but as they spoke to me, their eyes were fixed on the big-screen TVs over the bar. Finally I gave up on discussing the conference and started talking about the football game. It was fascinating to watch their entire demeanor change with me, from semi-interested small talk to passionately engaged fanaticism. (We had a great time, but I felt very sorry for the Kansas City fan.)

What this means for you: If you're going into practices only to discuss medical needs, etc., you're missing a huge opportunity to win over customers and establish relationships based on common bonds and friendship. Try to find out what your customers are interested in OUTSIDE the practice. Are they football fans, sailing enthusiasts or marathon runners? How about their home lives — perhaps they're new parents or they're just putting kids into college. Once you know a little bit about their personal hobbies and interests, you can develop meaningful conversations that lead to genuine rapport and trust. (Just make sure you're truly present and well meaning; not just "pretending.") This genuine interest in knowing your customer will set the stage for strong bonds. They'll consider you as the top go-to person whenever they need advice on choosing products or getting access to new tools.

These NAVC observations gave me insights into what makes veterinary professionals tick: new insights, new products and balancing work and fun. See how you can tap into these aspects to make the most of your clinic visits.

Topics: Sales and Marketing