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Do you speak dentalese?

Nov. 1, 2005
by Louis Malcmacher, DDS

by Louis Malcmacher, DDS

I have the good fortune to work with many dental companies in a variety of ways, including consulting with sales and marketing departments and helping to develop new ideas and products for the dental industry. I also often train sales teams on how to deal with dentists. My clients tell me it is very helpful to have a practicing dentist (such as myself) doing sales training. Sales teams often do not ask a practicing dentist the questions they have always wanted to ask. Why? Because they are afraid they may either be intimidated by or insult their dentist customers.

I am often amazed by the questions I get from salespeople. It’s almost as if they think that dentists are just a different breed of creatures that has been transported from another planet and placed here on earth just to fix teeth.

Truthfully, some of these sales team members are right - dentists do comprise a different breed. Any time you try to do business with those who are different from you, you need to learn their language, culture, and customs if you want to have them as customers. I’ve learned this over the years by having clients from Japan, Israel, Germany, France, and Italy. Each one is a different breed and, in order to be able to do business, you have to learn their culture and way of doing business. Dentists are a different breed as well, but we’re a little easier to figure out.

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When I do sales training, I basically teach sales teams about the four different kinds of dentists - the progressive dentist, the conservative dentist, the academic dentist, and the researcher dentist. They share some common traits, but there are the subcultures about which you must learn. Probably the most valuable thing I do with sales and marketing teams is role play. I will pretend to be each one of these kinds of dentists through some minor scripting and playacting, then salespeople practice the best way to approach each of these dental subcultures.

Training salespeople how to talk to dentists is much like learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). When you learn CPR, the goal is to practice going through the motions so that in a real-life situation, if something happens, you know exactly what to do because you’ve practiced it. It will be second nature because you have spent the time training yourself how to act in real life. Selling to dentists, like everything else in life, requires constant practice. This is especially important when you are introducing new products or techniques that must be taught to dentists. That requires patience, excellent communication skills, and the ability to be concise and instructive at the same time.

If you just take some time to understand your dentist customer, selling can become a much easier proposition and much more fulfilling. Learn it, practice it, and then go ahead and do it. If I can help in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me at (440) 892-1810 or by email at [email protected].

Dr. Louis Malcmacher is an internationally known lecturer, consultant, and author known for his comprehensive and entertaining style. An evaluator for Clinical Research Associates, Dr. Malcmacher has served as a spokesman for the Academy of General Dentistry and is a consultant to the Council on Dental Practice of the American Dental Association. He works closely with dental manufacturers as a clinical researcher in developing new products and techniques, and has having extensive experience training sales teams. For close to two decades, Dr. Malcmacher has inspired his audiences to truly enjoy doing dentistry by providing the knowledge necessary for excellent clinical and practice management. His group dental practice has maintained a 45 percent overhead since 1988.