Angie Podesta works for a well-recognized consumer products company that makes and distributes household, health care, and personal care products. She sells dental products, such as toothpaste and toothbrushes, to dentist offices. Educating dentists and dental hygienists on the benefits and science of the products is a critical element of her work.
Angie actively visits approximately 600 dental offices between one and three times a year, but she is responsible for all 1200 dental offices in her sales territory. A planned schedule of visits, referred to as a sales call routing, to interact with dental professionals about her company’s products helps her determine which offices to visit and when. During each visit, Angie listens to dentists and hygienists to understand what they need both in terms of product benefits and knowledge as well as what is important to them and their patients. Often times, Angie leaves product samples for the dentists, ensuring patients can try the products. Each visit with a dental office is an opportunity to build and maintain relationships.
In addition to educating dentists and hygienists, Angie trains and mentors newly hired oral care consultants, which is one of Angie’s favorite aspects of her role. She takes trainees to dental offices and demonstrates how she interacts and shares knowledge with dental professionals; additionally, she discusses the company culture with the trainees in order to provide a sense of what it’s like to work for the company and in the dental/healthcare industry.
Angie’s career success is based on her ability to forge relationships with dental professionals and utilize consultative selling techniques (listening to understand). To continuously build and develop her skill set and knowledge, she regularly attends dental conventions like the American Dental Association Convention. Angie’s ability to influence dentists and dental hygienists to recommend her company’s products as well as market share (how much product she sells vs. the other companies that sell the same products) are ways in which the company evaluates her job performance.
What Did You Want to Be When You Grew Up?
As a child, Angie didn’t grow up thinking, “I want to be in sales;” In fact, she didn’t even know anyone in sales. Even though she didn’t know exactly what she wanted to do, she valued contributing, teaching, and making a difference. While no one encouraged her to pursue sales, or any career for that matter, she always admired her dad’s love for his career as a police officer. She consistently observed her parents working hard and wanted to emulate their strong work ethic. Even though her family didn’t have a lot of money, she only realized when she was older the sacrifices her parents had made. This realization influenced her hopes of finding a career that provided financial freedom, flexibility, and a passion for the work she would do.
Early on, Angie wanted to become a teacher and also went through a phase where she wanted to be a veterinarian. After looking into these careers, she realized that even though she would be able to help people, her personal values of financial freedom and flexibility wouldn’t be met. So, she contemplated other ways to help people, ultimately deciding that impacting people’s finances or health would be most meaningful to her. At that moment, she sparked an interest in financial advising. Upon further investigation, she was disappointed to find that careers in financial advising require previous sales experience, which she didn’t have. To gain sales experience, she pursued a career in sales with a company that sells uniforms, completing a two-year management trainee program. To her, gaining sales experience was invaluable, but her interests in teaching and education remained unmet. Ultimately, she pursued an opportunity to work in dental sales. She fell in love with the science aspect of the role and (not surprisingly) the opportunity to teach and educate dental professionals. The importance and rewards of a sales career have been fulfilling to Angie.
Anyone can learn to sell because they can study the science behind the product, but certain people are a better fit for a sales career. Those who succeed in sales don’t sell clients something they don’t need; instead, they listen to their clients and partner with them to find solutions to what they do need. In fact, a successful sales career is rooted in transferable skills such as communication, teamwork, and ability to influence. Angie recommends taking part in activities and experiential learning opportunities that develop these skills such as: student organizations, community service projects, and working during the summers.
Angie recently attended the American Dental Association Conference where Peyton Manning was the speaker. His message was, “Every day you are either getting better or getting worse. We don’t stay the same.” Those words resonated with her in a powerful way. Angie challenges you to do something each day to get better and to prepare yourself for the future!