Genius attacks kill the sale

June 1, 2006
In most dental sales conversations, there comes a time, sooner or later, when we believe we have the exact solution to the patient’s “problem.

In most dental sales conversations, there comes a time, sooner or later, when we believe we have the exact solution to the patient’s “problem.” But this genius attack kills the sale. Why? Because we have not thoroughly developed an understanding of our patients’ wants and desires and helped them uncover their own value systems before we blurt out a “solution” to a problem that they really do not yet own.

Whether you share your genius solution with words or there is a show of great knowledge, it is definite that your “genius attack” has halted all thought processes and sharing from the patient.

Most of the time we are so excited to share the whole process with the patient that we start talking with unbelievable speed because we are sure we know enough about what they want. Besides, we have the answer, in our esteemed opinion. We share models and pictures, and explain the techniques we will use to accomplish this bit of genius. We pack our lecture with features like, “You can take the bleach trays home and use them on your own time,” or “Veneers are thin and small like fingernails.”

If you’re paying attention, you will note the patient’s body language and glazed eyes. When they get to the reception area, they often share their reaction. “What did he say? Why do I need this?” If a bolt of lightning strikes, they may say, “Go ahead.” Most likely they’ll say, “I need to think this over” or “I need to talk to my spouse,” which is the universal excuse for “I just don’t want that right now.”

Asking questions instead of acting on your genius attack is demonstrated in the Socratic Method. Socrates knew that when we stop asking questions, we stop learning. Without asking questions, we assume we know the answer, which is really just based on our own perceptions. Others also learn more about themselves when we ask them questions instead of lecturing or “educating.”

Dr. Glenn Spencer of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., shared his “genius attack.” For 20 years, the Spencer team had developed a mutual admiration for a lovely patient named Fran. As her dentition failed over the years, Dr. Spencer assumed he was in control and knew what was right for her. He added more implants to her locator partial. When the treatment was complete, Fran said, “Glenn, when will I get my permanent teeth and not have to take this out all the time?”

Needless to say, Dr. Spencer learned a costly lesson as Fran now has six healing implants and 10 units of crown and bridge.

He believes this was one of the hardest lessons in his 32-year career. He thought he knew the answer for Fran, but “I ended up letting down a wonderful patient and friend.”

To be successful in sales, you need to hold your tongue. Take a deep breath. Look your guest in the eyes and smile. Do not act on your impulse to solve the patient’s right-brained answer with your left-brained solution. Hold that thought. Ask another question, even a relationship question, like: “Could you clarify?” “What exactly do you mean?” “Is there another question you want to ask me?” “I am confused; can you help me?”

Your job is to get back in the game by involving your patient. Allow your genius attack to fade away. Sergeant Schultz was much smarter than he appeared when he habitually said, “I know nothing.”

Videotape yourself in a live patient conversation. In replay, you can easily spot your genius attack when you start lecturing while thinking you are educating or selling. Real selling is finding out what patients want, not what you want. Learn from your mistakes.

You will always have those genius attacks. “A” gamers simply do not act on them. Ask more questions and deeper questions. Listen intently. Find out what patients want and why they want it. If you have a genius attack, it will kill the sale for sure.

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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