There’s probably a litany of reasons you got into dentistry.
You have a passion for oral health and find fulfillment in such pursuits. Providing care for people and bolstering their quality of life is almost definitely a driving factor for your career choice. You may also enjoy the challenge of learning new things every day and keeping updated on the best industry practices.
Nowhere in the above preamble is anything about selling. After all, if you wanted to be a salesperson, you’d work at a car dealership or in real estate. Instead, you’re in the healthcare game, meaning you want to help people, not sell them products, services, or procedures.
However, selling is part of running a business, and while your dental practice is a place of healing, it is very much a business.
The more money you make, the better equipment you can afford, the higher staff salaries you can pay, and the superior overall care you can provide.
So, how do you get over the hump? How can you embrace the selling aspect of your business without pushing it over the edge of garishness?
You don’t want your patients – who trust you as an authority – to view you as sleazy or pushing products or procedures they don’t need to line your pockets. Fortunately, as any expert will tell you, those questionable tactics aren’t what drive sales in your practice.
Read below as we delve further into this topic and show how you can sell in dentistry without projecting the slightest hint of sleaze:
There are many reasons to dislike or even hate selling. You’re a care provider, for one thing, and hocking products and procedures makes you feel like a huckster. That’s not why you embarked on this particular career journey.
Also, dentistry, in its essence, isn’t supposed to revolve around bottom lines. Focusing on improving your patients’ quality of life and improved oral health is the name of the game.
Below, we’ll examine the main reasons why most dentists don’t enjoy selling:
Dentistry seems like a haven for practitioners who don’t much exude the gift of the gab.
The proof of your skill set lies in your oral-health knowledge and precision with the various tools of the trade.
So, it might be particularly unappealing–if not entirely intimidating–to go into a scripted sales routine where you’re talking ad nauseam to push products or procedures.
Sales experts, no matter the industry, will tell you that talking is far less crucial to success in selling than listening. It’s more valuable to open your ears than your mouth to increase sales revenues in dentistry.
Listening is often a more vital component of the communication process than talking.
It’s how you acquire the necessary information about your patients’ symptoms and various needs. You’ll also gain insights into their understanding, feelings, and attitudes toward their oral health.
Being an active listener – intentionally taking in what a patient is saying without getting distracted – makes selling far more seamless.
Using active listening techniques ensures you only present solutions to patients that help with their problems and apply to their lives. You won’t end up pushing irrelevant products or procedures on patients, nor will you rub them the wrong way.
We’ve all dealt with a pushy salesperson at some point in our lives. Frankly, there’s nothing worse. Unless you actively seek the help or guidance of someone in a store or similar setting, you typically want to be left alone.
As a sympathetic person, you understand how your patients would feel if you were pushy towards them. They’re stuck in the dentist's chair with nowhere to go. Inundating them with sales pitches they didn’t sign up for is unfair, plain and simple.
Such fears leave you hesitant to sell, yet pushiness is not part of successful selling. It’s quite the opposite, in fact.
Being a convincing debater is an invaluable life skill that can serve you well in various scenarios. Not in sales, though.
Selling products isn’t the same as writing an argumentative essay where you’re trying to push or prove a thesis. Nor is it similar to a political debate where you’re attempting to debunk and discredit your rival.
So, if you’re concerned about coming across as too pushy by trying to sell at your dental practice, take solace in knowing that selling is helping, not pushing products.
That’s why the active listening mentioned above is such a crucial facet of sales in dentistry. It allows you to guide patients toward solutions they’re seeking based on what they’ve told you.
This approach means avoiding flustering–or even annoying–customers with pitches for products or procedures they don’t want. You aren’t arguing with them or trying to win a debate about their oral health-based needs. Rather, you’re a resource of information.
The stakes in dentistry are substantially higher than in–let’s say, for example–retail or the auto industry.
Imagine you bend the truth to sell a low-quality fake-silk blouse or exaggerate a hatchback’s performance capabilities. We’re not condoning such behaviour because it’s dishonest, but neither situation will lead to terrible consequences.
Conversely, you’re an authority figure as a dental professional. You’re supposed to be someone your community can trust to tell it straight. Your patients’ long-term health and quality of life are on the line.
Jazzing up a sales pitch for unneeded products or procedures goes against why you got into the profession. Moreover, bending the truth just to sell flies in the face of oral healthcare and its many philosophies.
Selling a procedure to a patient isn’t about being sneaky – it’s about letting them know what to expect.
For instance, if a patient needs a crown or a filling, you need to break down why they need it, the costs, and how insurance or co-paying might affect those costs. This way, there are no surprises, and the patient will appreciate that you’ve been upfront.
It’s worth remembering that you’re only being helpful. You’re making suggestions based on what the patient tells you and the current state of their oral health. From there, you’re presenting options and breaking down the financials without making over-the-top, hyperbolic promises.
Avoid over-promising and under delivering on results and price, and patients won’t feel like you’re selling as much as providing care options.
We’ve offered some valuable insights on the misconceptions about selling as a dentist, but now we’ll offer three actionable tips on sleaze-free selling:
Patients are the lifeblood of your practice. They keep you afloat by scheduling and paying for appointments and procedures while referring others to your dentistry.
In other words, you already have motivations for getting closer to your patients.
Of course, don’t come on too strong with your patients during appointments by asking overly personal questions. However, added cordiality and pleasant conversation can aid your active listening.
Better relationships and communication with your patients mean you’ll know more about them. For instance, you might learn prom-time is approaching, or they’re considering looking for a new job with higher pay.
In either case, cosmetic dental work could prove invaluable to the patients in question because they’re entering scenarios where they’ll want to look their best.
The result you want for your patients when you sell them a procedure or product from your practice is improved oral health. That’s where your focus needs to lie.
Getting too caught up in the processes of selling will muddle your motivations and get you too caught up in the techniques. Instead of asking questions to ascertain valuable information to improve treatments, you’ll speak in sales jargon and focus too much on dollar signs.
As a dental practitioner, you don’t use sales tactics–you help and provide optimal care.
Thus, your eyes must always remain on the prize: the best possible oral-health outcomes based on patient needs.
Using the results-first approach as your guiding light prevents the sleaze factor and enhances your image as an oral care authority.
For many people, going to the dentist is already scary enough without care providers stoking the anxiety flame. Therefore, when you use scare tactics to sell, you give patients another reason to stop scheduling regular appointments, never mind missing out on additional sales opportunities.
Beyond that, many patients are highly perceptive and can tell when scare tactics are in play. They’ll lose respect for you and no longer trust you as a reliable care provider.
Additionally, today’s patients are everyday consumers. They’re well aware of the value of second opinions.
So, if you try to sell to patients based on an oral health doomsday scenario, they’ll visit another dentist or hygienist to verify what you’ve told them. And they’ll find out you’ve tried selling them a bill of goods.
As we discussed earlier, transparency is key to successful selling in dentistry. Avoid the hyperbole – scare tactics included.
Following the above tips is your first step toward ramping up your sales efforts at your practice. There’s not an ounce of sleaze involved, and thriving dental professionals worldwide adhere to these honest, forthright philosophies!