3 Small Steps that make a BIG Difference Selling to Dentists

For the past two decades in my work as a sales coach, I have witnessed hundreds of product presentations and attempts to influence dental consumers. Each year, we gather feedback from clinical professionals about their buying habits and the qualities they look for in the people and companies they buy from. The results indicate, there are several common ways representatives unknowingly hurt themselves when selling to dentists.

Dental professionals make buying decisions differently than typical consumers or fellow healthcare providers. And, when reps understand how their customer want to buy, their influence and value improves and sales increase. For your benefit, I have summarized three of the most common mistakes made selling to dentists and their staff.

PRESCRIPTION BEFORE DIAGNOSIS IS MALPRACTICE

Dental offices are busy with limited time for unexpected interruptions and unplanned meetings from salespeople. Reps know they need to get to the point and purpose of their call quickly. For most reps, that translates to jumping into a memorized product presentation of features and benefits. Salespeople rationalize this ‘short cut’ approach by getting to the ‘meat’ of their message thinking it demonstrates respect for the clinician’s time. Unfortunately, most dentists see it as an informative distraction.  In medical terms, most reps offer a prescription before a relevant diagnosis is ever made.

Salespeople would be much more effective in their results if they first asked a few ‘diagnostic’ or qualifying questions. Effective diagnostic questions strategically uncover key pain points by exposing limitations in the product being used now. They also reveal valuable insights about a prospect’s critical needs, wants and expectations for buying.  More importantly, well crafted questions will lead prospects to consider their reasons why they might switch to a new product. This simple approach seems ridiculously obvious why and how it positively improves sales, yet, so few representatives do it. We have coached hundreds of salespeople to adopt this technique (using our proprietary I.D.E.A. ApproachTM sales model) and their results improved significantly.

OVERLY FOCUSED ON PRICE & PROFIT

Most reps learn early on, “selling is a numbers game”. And, it makes sense when salespeople are hyper focused on numbers because their compensation and career depend on it. Another common mistake reps make, is to assume dentists share the same money motivation (price and profit) for buying. As a result, finance focused sales presentations are missing what matters most to clinical providers, lowering the likeliness of earning an order.
Healthcare consumers are interested at getting good value for their purchases but do not buy based primarily on money matters. The majority of dentists practicing today make buying decisions based on how it will advance their ability to improve patient outcomes. This includes a better cosmetic result, stronger restoration, provide safer treatment delivered faster with more comfort. This means, to attract interest and increase influence and ultimately win approval for an order, healthcare sales professionals must prioritize patient care over price or profit in their presentations.

To do this, seek to understand where the clinical challenges are in using their current product. Ask questions to uncover specific limitations in how a product is used, delivered, performs, lasts or impacts safety. Then use strong product knowledge to describe your product’s exact clinical advantages over what they are using now. Concisely describe how patient care is more comfortable, safer, faster, stronger or cosmetically better than any product they’ve seen.

As a dental hygienist, the best sales secret I can offer is that most healthcare professionals buy for the same reason they entered the industry and that is to help people. Salespeople who focus on and work to improve the quality of patient care their customers provide will be richly rewarded with higher credibility, faster trust and better sales.

POSITION PRODUCT AS A SOLUTION

When discussing their product or service, salespeople typically describe the same set of product features and benefits. As if, the prospect is expected to hear something to grab their interest and then buy. Unfortunately, this approach ends up sounding like a canned sales spiel. And, requires the prospect, not familiar with your product advantages, must figure out how their procedures, processes and patients will benefit. This is not exactly the customer focused service any buyer desires or deserves.

Every customer believes they and their situation is unique. Generically reciting features and benefits as a sales presentation undermines the very results reps are attempting to achieve. So, positioning your product or service to prescriptively address buyer needs, wants or desires will always be more effective than a generic sales spiel.

Offering a solid product recommendation that improves or resolves client challenges is the very essence of consultative selling. And, according to hundreds of healthcare buyers, an approach they are craving to receive. Most dental reps would become much more consultative if more focused on positioning their offer to improve a buyer’s current situation. Even if the doctor doesn’t yet know it can be improved. That’s where effective qualifying questions, good product knowledge and a powerful sales process make a big impact.

We have developed a template of ‘Diagnostic Questions’ for uncovering how any product or service can be beau-tifully positioned as a solution. This sales tool has been field tested and fine-tuned to work well with dental and healthcare consumers. You can have it for FREE by downloading it here. [Diagnostic Questions Template] 

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