3 things you must do when talking to dentists

June 1, 2007
Straightforward communication is essential if you want to influence other people.

Straightforward communication is essential if you want to influence other people. The simpler the communication, the more effective it will be.

Brevity is also a necessity. Dentists want the facts as quickly as possible so that they can make a decision. I would suggest that many sales representatives provide far too much information to dentists. This is remarkably similar to how dentists convey too much information to patients during case presentations. I would give sales representatives the same advice I give dentists - stop sounding like an instruction manual. Cut to the chase and give them the benefits using clear and effective language.

In addition to keeping the information simple and focused on practice benefits, you must be as honest, straightforward, and consistent as possible. Typically, dentists will ask questions such as:

  • “Will this benefit my patients?”
  • “What are these services going to cost me?”
  • “What are my options for payment?”

The sales representative must be prepared to answer these questions with simple, easy-to-understand information. Straightforward communication will increase sales.

To ensure a good relationship with a dentist and his staff, sales representatives must implement scripting, avoid verbal blunders, and reinforce benefits.

Implement scripting

From the initial contact through multiple sales presentations and follow-ups, every communication with the dental office should be scripted. That doesn’t mean that you literally read a script word-for-word. That would obviously be counterproductive. Instead, you want to adapt the script to your way of speaking while retaining the vital points.

The purpose of scripts is to stay “on-message” and give the dentist a clear, consistent communication throughout what is hopefully a long-term relationship. Scripts are valuable for both new and well-experienced sales representatives.

Avoid verbal blunders

Deviating too far from a training script can spell trouble. It is easy to say the wrong thing in an off-the-cuff comment and not be aware of it.

Take, for example, a phrase such as, “That is not correct, Dr. Smith.” Admittedly, dentists may harbor a misconception about your product that you wish to rectify. However, simply telling them that they are incorrect in their thinking is a direct threat to their sense of self-esteem. It creates conflict and possible antagonism.

A much better approach is to use the phrase, “Another way to look at this is___.” That way you are not saying the dentist is wrong, but you are about to build a case for what you know is right. You are giving the dentist a sense of control and the opportunity to consider different information.

Reinforce benefits

A cold technical explanation will result in few sales. Showing dentists the benefits of a particular product or technology goes far beyond simply offering a low price, or fast shipping time. You should:

  • Demonstrate clearly why you have products or technologies that would benefit the practice, so the front desk person will give you an appointment with the dentist.
  • Explain confidently and positively what specific features a product or technology possesses that can allow a dentist to perform a procedure more productively and efficiently. If a product or technology cannot do this, dentists are not interested.
  • Reinforce the benefits a patient will get from the product or technology. Remember, dentists must explain this technology to their patients. Since you are the most knowledgeable resource, dentists will take their cues from you.


Sales representatives must depend on simple, effective communication as a foundation for all communication with dental offices. By using scripting, staying on-message, and re-enforcing benefits, sales representatives are well-equipped to build a long-term relationship with dental clients.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, is founder and CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental practice management consulting firm that is dedicated to improving the lives of dentists through a diverse portfolio of lifetime services and solutions. Since the company’s inception in 1985, Dr. Levin has worked to bring the business world to dentistry. A popular lecturer, Dr. Levin addresses thousands of dentists and staff worldwide each year in 100-plus seminars and at the dental industry’s most prestigious meetings.