Learning from the mistakes of others

Here we are in February ... are you still keeping your New Year's resolutions?

Here we are in February ... are you still keeping your New Year’s resolutions? I am writing this during the first week in January, trying to keep on the diet that I have resolved to follow to lose the pounds I gained in 2004. Too much traveling and too much good food and drink combined to expand my waistline, so I am now in my fat clothes. Now I’m starting on my plan to lose those extra pounds.

During my seminars, I always mention one of my favorite business writers, Harry Beckwith. He has written three books on how to grow a business, and it seems to me that he is talking directly to dentists, even though he does not mention dentistry in any of the books. His books are: “Selling the Invisible” (the invisible is service, and isn’t that what we are selling?), “The Invisible Touch” and “What Clients Love.” You may want to read them all, but I would advise - and so would Mr. Beckwith - that you start with “What Clients Love.”

I want to quote from his introduction to this book because it resonates with me. For years, I have tried to teach others by letting them learn from my mistakes, rather than making their own. This really is the reason for my “Pearls” column. I try the products and make the mistakes so you can avoid them. Beckwith’s introduction is titled, “A Lesson from the Road.”

“This book offers a pleasant alternative to learning from your mistakes: Learn from mine. My mistakes began with ‘Selling the Invisible.’ Because clients love experts and no one looks more expert than an author, many people called me after the book appeared, often with invitations to speak to their companies. Naturally, I accepted. I went. I spoke. I bombed.”

I had a similar experience after becoming editor of Dental Economics. People began to call me to speak to dental groups but I was short on experience. I went, I spoke, and I bombed.

Mr. Beckwith had a particularly bad outing in Miami. “My host grabbed my arm as I staggered from the podium and promised a postmortem in a few minutes,” he recalled. “The host said, ‘Good material, really. But let me give you a tip. You mispronounced our president’s name three times. That threw everyone off.’ I had made the president and his company sound as if they did not matter to me. The employees felt slighted and, because of that, they did not like me and my speech.”

I know the feeling!

Mr. Beckwith got better by liking the audience. “This seemed to work,” he commented. “Everyone listened, laughed, and teared up at the sentimental moments. My slump had ended.”

Then a man rushed up to him and said, “Right up to the end, you were a 10. You had us in the palms of your hands. Then you mentioned you were divorced. After that, you were a 1. Ruined everything.”

Mr. Beckwith points out, “In this new world, technical skills matter; they pay the entry fees. But many clients can afford that fee and most clients [patients] cannot distinguish one firm’s [dentist’s] skills from another’s. Competence gets firms into a game that relationships win.

“This book is the lessons from those and other mistakes and the successes of many companies, huge and small. It explores the loves of clients, shaped and altered by four significant social changes. Every business that understands and harnesses these changes - which introduce each of the four sections - should thrive. The book concludes by discussing the most valuable traits of people in this Evolved Economy. Clients will love these traits; they have forever.”

I hope you will treat yourself to a book that will help you make your practice better and more successful than you could ever imagine. It is a book that you will use for years to come. It will help you put your heart back in your practice. The book is “What Clients Love” by Harry Beckwith. Buy it now before you forget it.

Joe Blaes, DDS, Editor - email: joeb@pennwell.com
Toll-free phone number: (866)274-4500

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