Some people cringe when you mention the term “sales” or “selling”, whilst other people’s eyes light up at the notion of increasing revenues. The word “Sales” has become very much infamous over the years but in reality, it’s a simple term whose meaning dates back to bartering with a prehistoric man.

In fact, we sell every day of our lives; be it in selling our ideas, thoughts, what we stand for or ourselves when trying to get a job or promotion. We are exchanging one thing of perceived value for another. Without “selling” civilisation may not have even progressed.

However, the perception of this term has changed over time from being salesman centric to now customer-centric. Perhaps this is why it had gained notoriety amongst those that have been “sold” items that did not meet their expectations.

When I talk about Sales, I feel that it is simply the process of helping people to find something of value and hence they are happy to pay for it. In doing so the idea is to exceed their expectations so that we can get repeat business and more referrals.

Another way of explaining this concept, certainly in how we define it at DWB, is more about developing a comprehensive process whereby we are able to communicate everything we need to so that patients are able to make the best-informed decision that is in their best long term interest. This involves two-way communication, with clarity of understanding on both sides and a conversation elicited to more fully understand on numerous occasions. This way the patient develops a better understanding of all the advantages of proceeding with the various treatment options and the disadvantages of not going ahead at any point.

A Sales Process is simply an organise Communication Process to develop a better understanding of the patient’s needs and requirements, but at the same time to communicate in a manner that is easily understood by the patient of the various treatments available and how to choose those that are best applicable to them.

I find many people try and place a definition upon “Sales” and all that it entails. However, there is much to learn also from understanding what Sales is not.

5 Key Approaches that are NOT Sales:

• It’s not forcing or influencing a patient to accept treatment that they may not fully understand. In contrast, it IS helping patients to understand more fully what they are getting into and what the treatment actually means for them.

• Over-reliance on a Treatment Coordinator (TCO). I’m not sure where this idea came from, but many dentists believe that if they hired a TCO then all their selling or financial problems are sorted. This is not actually the case. A TCO is simply one component of the Sales Process. Over-reliance on any part of a process or system can lead to imbalance and hence inefficiency.

• Sales is not just reception training. This is another pitfall to avoid. Some believe that if their team are better equipped at managing the telephone that suddenly they will be able to get a significant increase in case acceptance. This is not possible. Yes, I agree, comprehensive telephone management will most certainly contribute to better sales and is a very important part of converting your marketing into sales. But again I feel that over-reliance on a singular component of a system doesn’t make good business sense.

• Sales does not happen in a singular moment or by one action alone. Sales is actually a process and there are multiple layers to it that contribute to the final sale. This is one of the key reasons why some dentists find it difficult to get more comprehensive case acceptances; since they either rely on their own ability or over-reliance on one team member. Indeed, sales is not a 20-minute examination with the dentist who then examines the entire mouth, treatment plans and presents all options, all in this limited time period! It is not possible to discuss comprehensive care in a limited confined manner such as this and at the same time expect full understanding by the patient.

• Sales cannot occur in an ethical manner without a high level of effective communication. For this reason, sales can be an interchangeable word with “communication”. The point being both the dentist advising the treatment and the patient choosing what to have done fully understand the conversation. Communication is a skill that needs to be learnt and practised if you are to be effective.

I have spent years studying “Sales & Selling” and how best to integrate it into a business. What I have found is without any foresight and focus on a Sales System, a business will miss out on consistency of Sales and consequently revenue. This system should be a two-way process of communication that establishes a decision from the patient, based upon the appropriate match of treatment for their specific situation.