Trust, cooperation between manufacturer reps and DSRs can help expand sales reach across large territories
Extending sales reach to smaller customers is one of the reasons Stacey Roth with Bayer Animal Health relies on a strong partnership with her counterpart at MWI. Roth, a food-animal sales representative, spent the last two years covering Nebraska and South Dakota. While the territory was large, the operations were too. Today, Roth covers Missouri, and the makeup of veterinary clients and livestock producers can include small cow/calf operations and dairies.
“In Nebraska, I lived in feedyard world,” she notes. “There were over half a million head just in my county. Moving to Missouri, it’s all cow/calf here. There are more producers in Missouri, but they are harder to find. One vet told me last week: ‘Everyone has cattle, but no one has very many.’”
We meet again
No matter what the customer’s size, developing strong relationships is a similar process. It starts with a good product portfolio, followed by salesperson knowledge and consistent follow-through. To expand her reach, Roth relies on Scott Hertzke, territory manager with MWI Animal Health.
Hertzke and Roth previously worked together from 2002 to 2006 when Roth was a companion animal sales representative. The background helped their professional relationship quickly restart.
Hertzke has been covering the Missouri area since 2002 when he was with Professional Veterinary Products (PVP). He has 27 years of sales experience combined from his previous positions to today.
Roth’s entry into large-animal health care was through horses. Growing up in the Kansas City area, by 13, she was volunteering to clean out stables where she watched the veterinarians and farriers.
Moving to Nebraska allowed her husband to work with the family’s farm and feedyard, giving her insight into her local customers. Calling on producers in Missouri has shown her how the same product lineup can be used differently.
“On the large-animal side, we’re dealing with producers also – not just vets. They use our products in a different way,” she says. “To have a distributor partner helps you reach even the smaller customers in those areas you may not get to often.”
Hertzke covers about two-thirds of Missouri and strictly calls on veterinary customers.
“The market fragmentation here is good for me because I don’t have to worry about direct sellers as much since they are mostly smaller producers,” Hertzke says. “I rely on Stacey and the veterinarian and that all comes together well.”
The territory only has a handful of exclusively large-animal practices. Most are mixed practices that handle mostly livestock patients with some companion. Hertzke balances his time between large-animal and companion animal discussions depending on the client’s needs.
It’s a balance he’s comfortable with after covering the territory for more than 15 years. To help devote time where it’s needed most, manufacturer representatives are key.
“The good manufacturer reps know that if they make a call and hear something I should know, or would like to know, to give me a call,” Hertzke says. “I’d do the same for them if, for example, I talked about a Bayer product, and the veterinarian was really excited about it or wanted a follow- up with a technical service team member. Then, I’d call them and let that follow-up happen.”
Roth and Hertzke recently worked together at the Missouri Veterinary Medical Association meeting. Bayer typically has a veterinary rebate program for insecticide fly tags in advance of the season. Coordinating account contact helps benchmark goals and make the best use of their time.
It’s a customer hand-off that can only be done where there is mutual trust. It’s a critical point in the sales relation- ship, Hertzke says.
“It’s important to know whose court the ball is in,” he says.