Last updated on September 24th, 2020 at 11:29 am

Greg Winteregg, DDS Vice President at MGE Management ExpertsThe subject matter of this article flies in the teeth of almost everything we (dentists) have been taught about “sales” or “selling.”

Some may find that this article makes sense…or find some of the notions in it praiseworthy. Others might get upset or offended. Whatever your reaction, I can assure you, if anything, that this article is truthful and backed by years of real-life results and experience.

If I were to venture a guess, I would say that 8 out of 10 dentists HATE the idea of “selling.” HATE may not be strong enough – how about REALLY HATE or DESPISE the idea.

Why? Well, we’ve all heard the propaganda within the dental industry about quoting fees and “selling” dentistry, some of which include:

  • It is unprofessional for doctors to “sell.”
  • If you do “sell,” patients will think you are only after their money.
  • Patients will think you are over-diagnosing.
  • Talking about the “ugly” subject of money will ruin your chair-side manner and relationship with the patient.
  • You will be thought of as a “used-car salesman” within your community.

Scary, huh? No doctor (or anyone probably) wants to be thought of in this way.

(Related: Why The Average Dentist Charges Less Than They’re Worth)

Now, I want you to do something for a minute. I want you to step outside the dental “box” and look at this subject of “selling” from inside the business “box.”

Dental practice management tips - MGE management experts blogWhat Does “Selling” or “Sales” ACTUALLY Mean?

“Business basics 101” dictates that you can’t make more money than the volume of products or services you sell. Money has to exchange hands before something is considered “sold.” When you pay for and receive your goods and services, then that transaction or “sale” is considered a DONE DEAL.

When you’re at the checkout counter to pay for groceries, the cashier tells you how much it will cost. Then you pay that amount and leave with your groceries. Finished. It works the same way with gas, dry cleaning, entertainment, and many other products and services.

Unfortunately, we’ve all been “trained” to think that the dental business model (or healthcare in general) shouldn’t work the same way. Instead, we often wind up doing partial treatment plans based on what the patient’s insurance will pay for…and then they get the run around from insurance companies. We’ve also seen plenty of patients who “forget” their checkbook; want to be “billed,” and so on. Things most other businesses never think of dealing with.

Who led us to believe this is OK?

(Related: 3 Ways to Improve New Patient Conversion)

During the time I ran my own practice, six different consultants kept telling me: “That’s just the way it is. Doctors are always last to get paid.” It was accepted inside the dental “box.”

As far as treatment presentations, I was told by a couple of consultants to concentrate only on what the patient wants initially when they walk in the door (chief complaint), and let them pick their treatment plan like they’re picking off a menu at a fast food restaurant—regardless of the treatment they actually need. As a doctor, that doesn’t sit well with me. I don’t think we should have to compromise on doing what’s right for the patient’s health because we’re too scared to sit down and talk to the patient about the cost of treatment and help them through their stops and barriers.

The “evils” of selling discussed inside the dental box have one common denominator –FEAR. From dental school on forward, we are taught to be afraid of selling dentistry. But what is there to be afraid of?

(Related: BIG CASES: 10 Rules to Successfully Present Them, Part I)

What Are We Afraid Of?

Think of a salesperson you really like. Maybe it’s your supply rep, or it might be one you met at a shoe store, department store, etc. Usually very polite and friendly, they answer your questions honestly, tell you what you really need, how much it will cost, and then take your money. They’re not “worried” about getting the sale. They look out for your best interest. You might even ask for this salesperson because you like the interaction and their approach so much. Nothing scary about that.

Effective selling that builds long-term relationships is based on honesty, communication and integrity. There’s no reason we dentists can’t do that!

Selling also carries with it a responsibility. Patients come to see you, because you are the expert. They aren’t. They have no idea which treatment plan is best in the long-term – you do. So, tell them. Be real – look out for their best interests. THIS is selling! And it’s FUN – it’s about helping people!

(Related: 3 Techniques to Improve Employee Phone Skills)

As far as fees go, it’s your business, don’t be afraid to know how much things cost! In my experience the rare patient who will give you a hard time for quoting fees (they are very few and very far between) probably doesn’t belong in your practice anyway!

If you can learn how to sell—honestly, ethically, and with total integrity, your patients will love you for it.

As with all systems and technology, there is a right and wrong way to sell something. At MGE, we will train you on how to do it right. We teach you how to work with your patients to overcome objections along with how to fully comprehend and accept the treatment plans they need. 

What do our clients find happening when they learn this approach? More patients accepting comprehensive care and MORE REFERRALS from these patients! Dentistry is a lot more rewarding when you do exactly what the patient needs, for which you are compensated a fair fee.

(Related: 3 Ways to Get More New Patient Referrals)

The alternative is:

  • Be too afraid to sell
  • Offer all kinds of partial care options
  • Do only what the insurance covers
  • Get paid months after completing treatment on a patient.

This often leads to:

  1. Lots of stress when it is time to pay bills as there isn’t enough money
  2. A frustrating career with longer hours for less pay, which ultimately happens when we do partial (phased) care instead of what the patient really needs, or when we do only what the insurance company allows at a reduced fee.

(Related: The 1 Thing That’s Ruining the Dental Industry)

It is time to stop being afraid. In my own personal experience, once I quit being afraid to tell people what they needed and got them to really want it, my practice exploded. I had to get an associate within five months. My patients loved the fact that I cared enough about their health to insist they do what’s best for them, and not compromise on their oral health because of their insurance plan.

There are TONS of people out there who want you to be their DENTIST and not just their insurance provider. So don’t just do what the insurance covers and stop there. At the MGE Communication and Sales seminars, you will learn how get your patients to want (and pay for) the full treatment plans they need. And believe me, they’ll love you for it! Also, if you’d rather have the option to train yourself and your staff on these points, I highly recommend our online training platform, DDS SuccessCall MGE at 800-640-1140. Ask for me and I’ll talk to you personally.