To many of you, the idea that you are a salesman is probably an icky thought. You’re a healthcare provider; you don’t sell. You inform people of their options, and then they decide what to do. If that’s how you think, your business probably isn’t maximizing its potential.
Of course you are a healthcare provider. Of course your core mission and business is giving people great dental health and a beautiful smile.
But you are also in the sales business.
It is your job to sell people on doing whatever it takes to maximize their dental health and get the most beautiful smile. You, however, did not get into dentistry to be like Alec Baldwin in “Glengarry Glen Ross:” “ABC, A-Always, B-Be, C-Closing.” If that’s what you wanted, you would have become a sales tycoon in real estate or pharmaceuticals or investments.
So the way to get away from sales is by asking your patients a straightforward question and letting their answers be your guide. Here are some examples of questions:
- What don’t you like about your smile?
- What oral problems are you having?
- What would having a perfect smile do for your life?
- If you could have anyone’s smile, who would it be?
Notice that there are no yes/no questions.
All of these questions give you insight into what the patient wants from you.
These questions also are emotionally charged for the patient, focusing on either the pain of having problems or the joy of having their problems fixed.
Here are the four reasons that using an emotionally charged question works:
- You are in control of the conversation. Think Robert Cialdini’s principle of authority.
- You allow the patient to talk about his or her needs, not your abilities (I have written at length about this).
- You distinguish yourself from other dentists who want to tell patients what they need without first asking what they want.
- You are able to get information that will be key to giving that patient exactly what he or she needs to leave satisfied.
Of course these aren’t the only questions you will ask. But start with these questions and it won’t seem like sales at all.
The best salespeople often don’t define what they do as selling. They view their work as finding a match between a customer’s needs and what they can offer to fill those needs. I won’t try to portray what they do as altruism; after all, money changes hands, so a sale is made. But when the sales process is done right, that exchange of money is the outcome of the process rather than the sole focus.
There are many reasons why people go into dentistry. Helping others is way up at the top of the list for most. Helping your patients understand what they need and how it will benefit them is merely another way of helping.
Taken that way – as I think it should be – “selling” can feel pretty good.