Selling made easy

March 1, 2006
Six necessary skills for selling in dentistry include:

Six necessary skills for selling in dentistry include:

1) Shifting your paradigm from need to desire
Entering the conversation with no dental agenda on your mind
Giving up being the dental authority during the sales process
Being an incredible listener
Considering your guests to be right, no matter what they say
Never putting any pressure on your guests in any form

We have it wired into our heads that “sales” means talking someone into something. Today’s successful sales are the antithesis of this. There can be no pressure on clients to purchase what you have in mind for them.

The reason people buy something is because they want it, they trust you, and they like you. All of life’s decisions are made permanently, instantly, and emotionally. Think about most conversations you have with patients. They are usually technically oriented, left-brained conversations. Dentists and their teams love to tech-talk about possible treatments, but there are two problems with this:

• People make decisions emotionally, which is a right-brain activity.

• Dentists try to talk patients into accepting a plan by educating them about the treatment, which is a left-brain activity.

Decisions cannot be made in a left-brained conversation. You must build trust first. Building trust, an important part of successful sales, means engaging yourself with your patient and listening actively. Don’t just nod your head and wait for the next opportunity to speak.

What systems do you have in your office to create trust and build relationships? Does your new patient still sit alone in your “waiting room” to complete his/her health history? Do you assume your patient just wants something “fixed”? Do you make a real effort to become acquainted with people, seeing them as more than “a bridge on 13-15”? Do you take time to discover the real person connected to the teeth?

Learn to ask questions. Even in the initial phone conversation, you can make a friend. Learn to play the role of a friend, rather than an order-taker. Sometimes phone conversations can sound like “two eggs over easy, bacon, and rye toast, buttered.” Try to engage callers in a conversation to learn why they are calling, how you can help them, what they have in mind, and where they are in their research. Because you do not know exactly how the conversation will go, your script needs to be in outline form so patients can lead you instead of you leading them.

In today’s sophisticated marketplace, many guests have done their homework on the Internet and/or consulted colleagues and neighbors. Some have an idea of what they want. Let them talk. Ask questions to draw out their ideas and findings.

Everyone on your team is capable of building relationships, but to do this everyone must be skilled in asking questions. You cannot hide in the lab or pretend you do not have time. Start building trust during an initial phone conversation, a recare visit, or when a new guest enters your practice. These are perfect opportunities for hygienists, dentists, assistants, and especially the initial contact people on your team to build relationships.

Try starting with: “How can I help you?” (Does that sound like pressure?)

Then, depending on the answer, you could ask: “When did you first notice this?”

You might try: “How did you try to solve this?”

Then keep asking questions: “What else have you tried?” “How did that work?” “How has this affected your life ... your work?” “How would this improve your life?” “Let me show you an example.” “Have you thought about a budget?” “What do you want to do next?”

Keep these key points in mind:

• Do not offer solutions.
• Keep the guest engaged on the right brain.
• Avoid any kind of tech-talk.

Next, perform an exam, present your findings, and proceed from there. After the guest says “yes,” you can enter the left-brained arena with tech-talk. Sales is a lifelong learning process. Dive in and get involved. Other consultants have good ideas, too. We just happen to know this works.

Dr. Bill Blatchford’s Custom Coaching Program is now available anytime, anywhere. Utilizing 18 years of practice-management experience with more than 1,100 offices, he focuses on leadership, systems, case-presentation skills, communication, and profitability. The program involves maximum personal time with the coach and interaction with other doctors. He has a new book available, “Playing Your ‘A’ Game - Inspirational Coaching to Profitability.” Contact him at (800) 578-9155 or visit his Web site at

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