Who said dentists aren’t salespeople?

April 30, 2013
Allen Guy offers a fresh look at your practice and tips to grow revenue.

Are dentists and their staff salespeople? If not, why? Every industry requires some level of sales. In the dental industry, some things are obvious, and meeting patient needs are straightforward. But how can you turn routine encounters into new sales opportunities and revenue for your practice? Are you equipped to convince your patients to purchase more than the basics?

Most dental professionals don’t consider their industry one that requires “sales pitches,” but if you want to enhance your revenue and return on investment, it would benefit you to take inventory of the effectiveness of your consumer interactions.

In my book “Playing to Win,” I present the sales process using easy-to-remember sports analogies as I connect the four basic personality types to the positions in football. I walk readers through each step of the sales process, providing information and dialogue to teach readers the tried and true steps that can be used in their efforts to effectively reach customers. Whether it’s scheduling that next checkup, or convincing the patient to purchase the next generation in alignment technology, it’s important for staff to have superior customer service and basic sales skills.

In the book, I lay out eight steps to help staff of all levels and positions provide outstanding customer service, and to equip an office team with skills to capture new revenue opportunities.

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1. Understand yourself – Interaction is key for success in selling. However, if someone doesn’t know what style personality he or she has, how will that person interact with the person across the counter? That first encounter with a patient sets the tone for revenue opportunity.

2. Understand the buyer – Too often today people live in a “one size fits all” world. If the approach to selling the dental practice’s services is “one size fits all,” the provider grossly misunderstands his or her buyers. While one person may be seeking a low-cost solution, others patients may be willing to spend more. Has the provider taken the time to understand what motivates each buyer?

3. Know your product – Product knowledge sounds so basic, but it’s surprising how many hygienists, assistants, and even dentists have not taken the time to understand a product. A better understanding of products will help ease patient anxiety and lead to more revenue for the practice. Have you quizzed yourself or your staff lately on the latest products available in the industry?

4. Position yourself for success – In basketball, offensive and defensive players fight for position to rebound missed shots. If a dentist were able to increase whitening sales by one patient a day, what would that mean in revenue? The dental industry is spending more on advertising when sales opportunities are sitting right in front of dentists. Are these opportunities being seized?

5. Plan the call – As clients of vendors, you’ve had sales reps visit your office both well prepared and ill prepared, and the former has the most likely success. Hygienists are taught to have sample toothbrushes, paste, floss, and more items ready as patients are leaving. What about “up selling” value products? Are you and your staff prepared to show products and services that might trigger an impulse buy?

6. Implement the plan – The best-laid plans often fail because of poor execution. Staff doesn’t have to be trained to be the most professional salespeople, but a routine needs to be created that repetitiously presents additional services to patients. How can you execute a simple cross-selling plan that’s effective?

7. Ask for the business – Regardless of the sales arena, people often simply don’t ask a buyer to say “yes.” What’s so difficult about asking the question? Regardless of the answer, how much could a practice grow by asking patients to purchase additional services?

8. Follow through on the sale – A common mistake in positioning oneself for success is not following through on a sale. Competition for dental services is fierce, yet many fail to find solutions that set them apart from the others. One example is the receptionist calling patients ahead of time to confirm appointments. Could providers create greater trust and stronger loyalty with simple post-service calls? Ensuring patient (buyer) satisfaction can generate repeated opportunities.

Allen Guy is a veteran sales representative and manager with experience that spans more than 25 years and multiple industries. His training and success is evidenced by numerous awards from different companies recognizing him as one of the top performers among his peers. Connect with him through LinkedIn.