By Janet Hagerman
The concept of “selling” dentistry can be a controversial one. Yet, being adept at selling and persuading is a critical skill in dentistry. How can you sell without feeling like you’re “selling”? Regardless of your profession, hobby, and personal relationships, you are always selling something through relationships and service. How good are you at it?
We spend our lives selling and persuading. As international motivational speaker, Brian Tracy, says, “Everyone is in the business of selling. The only question is – how good are you at it?” Being good at selling and persuading is a critical skill regardless of your business type, dentistry included.
Dental practices are a combination of melding clinical protocols for best patient care with best business principles to be as profitable as possible. The two are not mutually exclusive; indeed, they are interdependent upon each other. So why not examine solid, ethical sales strategies and apply them to dentistry? The fact is, we all like to buy. We just hate to be sold! The good news is that selling is a learned skill, so anyone can become better. The truth is successful sellers are those who create winning relationships with people, helping them solve some sort of problem, challenge, need or want. This seems far less threatening than “selling,” and has proven more effective.
It seems obvious yet bears repeating that selling dentistry must be done in a manner that is ethical. This means motivating patients to accept and buy treatment that is clinically indicated. This must be objectively supported with documented examination findings, radiographs, periodontal screenings and other concrete diagnostic tools. “Selling” strategies must always be layered upon a foundation of sound, clinically based protocols that are in the patient’s best medical and dental interest. Selling strategies simply aid in getting clinical needs accomplished.
The Best Selling is Serving
The Best Selling is Serving! This means being the patient advocate. You’ll need to discover their true values beyond “I just need a cleaning.” As a patient advocate, you’ll need to learn your patient’s needs, wants and desires, and help them to solve their problems. Once you learn how to do this, you will take patient “service” to an entirely new level.
An attitude of service results in being a true advocate for patient care. Let’s face it: Your patients don’t really know if your dentistry is the greatest clinically. Patients do not know if your crown margins are smooth, or if their hygienist removed all the calculus. What your patients DO know is how they FEEL in your office. Did you solve their dental problem? Did you solve a non-dental problem with a dental solution? Are they kept waiting very long? Are they addressed by their name? Does your service HURT them? Is it difficult or easy for them to discuss fees with your team? Do they feel good about coming back? Do they keep their appointments? Do they refer their friends? These are the qualities that promote patient loyalty, trust, and assure treatment case acceptance.
Becoming a patient advocate means becoming a true patient champion. Discover your patients’ needs, wants and desires, and help them solve their problems. By so doing, you are not merely becoming successful at selling dentistry, you are acquiring loyal patients for life who count on you to be their trusted resource.
The difference between “selling” and “educating” or “motivating” is that the very definition of selling results in a sale – a specific action of acceptance in exchange for monetary compensation. We can educate and motivate all day long, but how effective are we if our patient does not say yes to recommended treatment? Thus, effective sales skills are crucial to patient treatment acceptance.
However, your sales skills in dentistry will not be effective if they seem contrived, forced, awkward or fake. To be successful, your approach must be genuine and confident, yet calm and reassuring. Selling elegantly is the key to selling successfully. It is the key for positive acceptance by the patient. Equally important, it is the key to you feeling great about the whole process of selling.
Selling Dentistry- ethically, elegantly, effectively is a process, like the blooming of a flower. It starts with a seed, gets nurtured, fed and supported with water, nutrients and sunshine, and eventually and gently blossoms. It doesn’t happen overnight and you can’t rush or push the process. Likewise, your selling process must start with a clinically ethical basis, and be supported with layers of patient service leading to the rapport and trust that is the hallmark of successful selling, successful treatment acceptance, and successful patient care.
This article is an excerpt from the author’s book,
“Selling Dentistry ~ Ethically. Elegantly. Effectively.”, by Janet Hagerman
Best wishes for YOUR best blooming!
Janet Hagerman, RDH, BSDH delivers powerful, game-changing presentations that enrich, enlighten and empower.
Janet is an international speaker, author and consultant. A graduate of the Medical College of Georgia, Janet is a dental industry thought leader known for her creative expertise in communication, leadership and motivation. Janet’s experience includes over 20 years of clinical experience, 15 years coaching experience with both private practices and small to large group practices, past corporate Dental Hygiene Director, PennWell Editorial Advisory Board member, and author of the book Selling Dentistry as well as numerous articles and courses.