I am not a dentist, but I am a qualified dental nurse and dental consultant, and I run an inbound dental marketing agency that is already helping to transform dental practices across the UK.
The subject of sales has been a hot topic in the marketing industry for a while and it seems to have become rather controversial. Top industry experts including Ashley Latter, Chris Barrow and Tracy Stuart are among those who have all been teaching their clients why ethical sales is important and how it can help your practice grow. They use a range of methods to achieve this, from training dentists on ethical sales to implementing a treatment coordinator within the practice.
So what are my thoughts on this matter? I believe sales is everyday life. There is a reason why you ensure your personal hygiene is in check; you look smart and sharp, your hair is combed and you wear moderately nice clothes and shoes. You are selling the idea of YOU! Who is your target consumer? The people around you, society, fashion police, your friends and peers and your patients. If you can’t take care of yourself, then how can others trust you to take care of their wellbeing? You are constantly selling the idea that you are a professional who can take care of yourself and your patients, hence why you don’t come in to work wearing casual, albeit comfortable, clothes.
You have been selling since the day you learnt to talk, trying to convince your parents to get you the latest toy by bribing them with the amount of chores you will do or how you won’t keep asking again. Negotiating. Politicians are selling their ideas to other governments to ensure the world gets along. Martin Luther King Jnr sold his dream to the people of America so they would follow his vision and accept his way of liberating the people. The list could go on. Despite this, the word ‘selling’ has now seems to have a bad stigma attached thanks to telesales operators, car dealers and other professionals paid to “hard sell” in the dog-eat-dog world of modern marketing.
The truth is that selling really just means persuading. There is nothing wrong with trying to persuade a person to make the best choice because they lack knowledge and experience in certain things. That’s why you invested years of learning the dental knowledge you currently possess, so you can educate the masses and persuade them to make the right choice for them, not you. If you didn’t need to persuade, everyone in the world would have the perfect BPE scores as well as no fillings. Reality won’t change just because you don’t want to put the extra effort in to providing a patient with all the options they have. It’s your duty!
If you don’t want to persuade patients then you should only become a dentist for other dentists who understand what you are talking about. Even then, you will have some dentists that won’t opt for potentially beneficial treatments just because they want to save a £100. What I’m trying to say is there was a reason your parents tried to persuade you to do certain things and to avoid certain things, because they had the knowledge and experience to understand the consequences. However, it’s possible you still didn’t listen and later regretted making an error in judgement. To prevent this, your parents were tasked with persuading you to help you visualise how it will affect you in the future and prevent you making mistakes.
This is the same with the dental profession. You have experience and knowledge to help you predict the consequences of each option you can deliver, and it is your duty to provide your opinion to patients to help them make the right decision. For example, rather than saving £50 by choosing a silver filling, you may try to persuade your patients to spend slightly more on a tooth-coloured Emax crown filling they will be happy with for years to come.
As long as you provide them with all the options, advise them which option you would go for and the reasons behind it, then you have done your job. Everyone has different priorities in life but by providing insight into the best treatment for a patient while giving them the opportunity to make a different decision, you can ensure your sales technique is ethical. Of course, there are some patients who will often avoid spending money on the right treatment for themselves so they can provide for others, such as parents and carers. As part of your role as an ethical sales person, you can use this opportunity to remind them that they deserve to choose a treatment that will provide results they can be proud of. You never know, you might just make their day.