Sgt. Schultz vs. the Board of Education

Aug. 1, 2005
Do you remember the old television program, “Hogan’s Heroes,” a comedy set in a German POW camp during WWII? Sergeant Schultz was a subordinate to Colonel Klink.

Do you remember the old television program, “Hogan’s Heroes,” a comedy set in a German POW camp during WWII? Sergeant Schultz was a subordinate to Colonel Klink. When asked about the antics and whereabouts of the American flyers, he always responded, “I know nothing.” Sgt. Schultz actually knew what was going on, yet he never divulged the information to his superior.

Why would this be important to dentists and dental staffs? We are technical people and we hope someone will ask us, “How will you do that?” We think if we educate our patients, they will say yes. We are very comfortable sharing the technical know-how and sequence of events with our patients. We are not just comfortable, we are passionate about the technical details and education. In fact, many dentists and staff believe “If I tell them enough about the ‘how’ of treatment, surely they will trust us and go ahead with it.”

If you were to videotape yourself during case presentation, you would see the information you deliver is really a quagmire of technical knowledge, detailing far more than your guest desires. You would see your guest’s eyes glaze over and possibly drop to the back of the head while you continue to talk about the details of treatment.

Bottom line, education and technical details do not sell anything! Brilliant people in scientific fields struggle with sales because successful sales is right-brained, not left-brained, tech talk.

You need Sgt. Schultz on your sales team. Why? Because Sgt. Schultz is not set up to lecture on the technical details - remember, he knows nothing! We need to shift our paradigm in the sales process from telling the patient all we know to finding out what the patient wants to know. Because so much of today’s dentistry is optional with many choices, it is more important than ever to discover the dreams and desires of your guests.

Making this paradigm shift will be a struggle. You have years of scripts with patients on every aspect of technical dentistry, from how to prepare a veneer and cleanse root canals to how to place an implant. Educational technical talk is in your comfort zone and it is what you have heard in dental offices for years.

Times they are a changin’. People do not buy based on scientific information. They buy because they trust you, they like you, and you helped them discover what is important to them.

How do you find out what is important to them? Learn to ask questions ... and more questions. Ask deeper questions and more open-ended questions that cannot be answered with a yes or no. Help your guests dream about their smiles, how they will look and feel and who will notice the change. Each time they answer a question, ask another related question. Sgt. Schultz knows nothing. Do not assume you know what your guest means. Ask more questions!

Many of your successful responses will be “I see. Tell me more about that” or “What do you mean by that?”

Education and technical talk are an important part of dentistry, not just part of the sales process. After the guest has said “yes,” you can go into the details in subsequent visits.

We acknowledge dentists and their staffs possess unending technical skills and expertise to do complex work. The point here is to have the patient talk 80 percent of the time in the sales process, and you talk 20 percent of the time. Avoid the lecture on dental education at this time.

Sgt. Schultz could successfully break the old paradigm of comfortable technical talk which occurs in your office. Every time the Board of Education starts creeping into your sales process, invite Sgt. Schultz into the room with his famous slogan, “I know nothing.” Start asking, don’t lecture.

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, Dr. Blatchford’s custom program involves minimal travel and maximum personal time with the coach, interaction with other doctors, and tons of support. Leadership, systems, case presentation skills, communication, and profitability are emphasized. He can be reached at (800) 578-9155, or visit his Web site at

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