I am currently putting the finishing touches to my programme on communication and ‘sales’ in dentistry – it’s basically a Masterclass on the Business of Dentistry.
While putting this training system together, I discovered the real truth about sales – across many sectors, to include dentistry.
Very often, dentists are pretty talented with their hands.
We know we have to provide all options to patients, but it’s actually communicating these that can be an issue.
As such, our consenting process could be called into question, leading to dreaded complaints, litigation etc etc.
Don’t leave yourself open to such risk.
To be fair – there wasn’t any lectures in dental school on how to discuss fees with patients.
But it is your responsibility to take action and do something about it now.
Don’t use uncomfortable closing tactics.
Don’t feel like you are forcing the issue with patients.
This has nothing to do with “brains” or talent. It just has to do with learning a specific set of skills you can easily implement.
Here are 5 Secrets about selling that I have learned from my research, studying for my MBA, and through my hands-on clinical experience.
#1 Nobody is a natural born sales person
At least, no dentists are.
Most people and sales managers seem to think that you can go out there and just sell.
Then, when that doesn’t work, and you come up short too many times, you start thinking you are no good at sales.
So, you (perhaps unwittingly) ‘protect’ yourself from such rejection – by avoiding the ‘sales’ situation altogether and stop providing options.
Here’s the simple truth is… no one is a natural born sales person.
Sure, some find this skill more natural to develop.
And selling is a learnable skill anyone can master given the right tools, strategies, and training.
What you don’t always hear, is that everyone starts out the same.
#2 Many sales tactics just don’t work anymore
There are millions of people who make a living in sales.
Consequently, there’s a lot of advice out there.
You can read all about “prospecting,” “closing,” “handling objections,” and anything else vaguely related to selling.
Fact is, a lot of what’s out there is outdated, and in some cases just plain wrong.
We work in a heavily regulated environment.
We have professional standards to adhere to – and rightly so.
A good deal of what you read today, whether in a book, magazine, online, or elsewhere has not been verified and checked out.
A good question to ask is – “who should I trust?”
People with no experience of actually discussing a treatment plan with a real-life patient?
Or someone who really has a BDS and can relate?
#3 Don’t wing it, follow the script
Scripts are crucial.
But remember – being authentic is equally important.
Use a script or method to enable you to control the sales process.
This will allow you to avoid getting flustered or the conversation going off track.
Explicitly know what you intend to say.
Then say it.
#4 Closing should come naturally
A carefully crafted, structured, quality ‘sales’ message will ensure the following:
• Build momentum
• Engage and educate patients in their healthcare
• Eliminate objections
• A rewarding and comfortable experience for you and your patients
Keep in mind:
Always ethical intentions.
Always integrity based.
So, keep things simple.
#5 Buying signals can be misinterpreted
Patients regularly send out buying signals when they are ready to say ‘yes’.
However, many times these signals can be misunderstood or misread.
A lost ‘sale’.
Potentially a lesser treatment for your patient.
Potential liability in terms of consent, should a complaint/litigation arise in the future.
All of which is much less rewarding for you as their dentist. It’s important to know how to spot and correctly interpret buying signals.
Business is business, no matter what sector you work in.
People tend to work with people they like – same applies to patients.
People don’t tend to sue people they like – same applies to patients.
Top tip – often patients don’t ask the question they really mean.
Have you ever offered a treatment plan and hear back
“I’ll have a think about it and let you know”
or “how much? That sounds very expensive!”.
If you ever hear these questions, think – do they really mean “I don’t fully understand, or I need more information – but don’t want to look stupid”.
Anyway, these are just some of the many fascinating topics that are covered in business masterclass.
I’ll keep you posted when we launch the training programme.
Dr Leonard J Maguire
BDS MFDS RCSEd MFGDP MDTFEd AFFMLM LL.M MBA PG Cert Med. Ed. CMgr MCMI
General Dental Surgeon Co-Founder of The Dentists Academy - “The Complete Business Toolkit for Dentists in General Practice”
P.S. Came across this quote lately, can’t remember who said it or where I read it – but I think it’s brilliant.
“Being comfortable with asking for help is important, but it’s more important to be comfortable with accepting help when it is offered”
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