I just saw the movie The Wizard of Oz for the umpteenth time. It’s my favorite. A classic story about the search for happiness…somewhere over the rainbow. More recently I stumbled upon Russell Conwell’s book, Acres of Diamonds, where a farmer sells his land to travel in search of riches only to find that the back acreage he sold was filled with diamonds all along.
The moral of both stories? There is no place like home…you have the answers to your dreams within your reach right now!
And if you aren’t selling to existing patients, you’re overlooking the pot of gold in your own practice!
Granted, the word ‘selling’ yields a negative, visceral response for many dentists. Images of unethical used car salesmen are common. I’ve heard dental coaching clients tell me they feel ‘dirty’ when they think of ‘selling’ their services.
Certainly today’s patients are savvy about sales pitches. No one wants to be sold. For the consumer, being ‘sold’ conjures up negativity…being convinced to buy something you didn’t want or need.
But I’m not talking about the dreaded, obvious ‘sales pitch’. Selling authentically goes beyond technique and moves into how you think, and act.
- Expand your definition and perception of ‘selling’. Use the word ‘influencing’ instead. To ‘influence’ is to alter someone’s conduct or thought. To educate.
Example: Mr. Jones is your new patient. He believes that aside from a simple cleaning with your hygienist, his teeth are in good shape. He doesn’t think he needs any treatment even though he hasn’t seen a dentist for “many” years. On examination, you discover the need for deep root scaling, three crown replacements, and six veneers. You know all of this work is necessary. How will you ‘influence’ Mr. Jones to proceed?
- Be consultative. Rather than to ‘hard pressure’ Mr. Jones, provide him with sincere guidance. This isn’t a ‘sales’ pitch. Let him see your passion and dedication for good dental health. Educate and advise him. Remember, what you say is not as important as how you say it. Be sensitive in your communication and delivery. Present options to Mr. Jones. Find out what’s important to him by asking questions. If he says ‘no’ to treatment, be curious. Keep him talking and listen to what he says. Your goal is not to ‘sell’ him anything at this point but to explore his hesitancy or resistance. It is only when you understand the reasons behind his ‘no’ that you can work with him to develop a plan.
- Build rapport and trust with all your patients, new and old. No matter how technologically advanced the dental field becomes, your success in converting diagnosis to treatment still depends on the strength of your relationship with the patient. Make it a point to learn something about each and every one of them. Keep notes in their charts so you will remember to ask about a special hobby or family member when they come in for a follow-up visit. Sing your own praises. Find out what you’re doing right and let your patients know. One of my current dental coaching clients surveyed his patients with a simple 10-item questionnaire. The results were eye-opening about what they most expected from him someone who listens, cares and is honest. He is going to send letters underscoring these practice values and thanking patients for their confidence in him.
- Stop blaming the insurance companies, the economy, the "season". Focus on the things you DO have control to modify…yourself. Move out of the ‘just enough’ syndrome and raise your monetary bar. Visualize the future with more financial freedom, whether it’s recreational activities, travel or simply more work satisfaction and joy. Pay attention to the emotions that accompany these inspiring images. Repeat this exercise several times per day.
- Ask for what you want. The same coaching client I mentioned previously has a wonderful phrase he says to patients when they praise him, his work, his staff. “The greatest compliment you could give me would be the referral of a family member or friend”. Short and simple, no need to say more. Commit this phrase, or a similar one, to memory. Make it a deliberate part of your business philosophy. These types of responses should be a standard from each and every employee in your office.
Like the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Lion, it takes brains, heart and courage to succeed in business today. Practice these five principles and you’ll find your way down the Yellow Brick Road!
Send your feedback and questions to Dr. Haller at email@example.com