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What place has selling in dentistry?

What place has selling in dentistry?
When was the last time that you bought something because of the involvement of the salesperson and I do mean because of the salesperson’s ability to add some value to the process, beyond filling in an order form, getting the right size out of the stock cupboard or taking your money off you?

Think about it, most of our experience of being sold to tends to be negative. Sure, there are those occasions when we buy something and the process involving another human being was positive, but then it’s because you were happy with the experience and we tend to refer to how wonderful that person was, how knowledgable, how informative and trustworthy; not the idea that you were successfully sold to.

I can’t ever recall anybody saying “You know what, that salesperson handled all of my objections and closed the sale so well, I just had to buy it!”. In fact as soon as we feel like we are being sold to then up come the barriers, you brace yourself for the techniques and the manipulation and wallop, here comes the sales pitch, the features and benefits followed by the close and a pitiful attempt to deal with your “objections”. You might of course still make the purchase but this will because you have already decided that you want it, not because of the value that somebody should have added to the interaction and certainly despite the interference of the salesperson. He will be doing high fives with his colleagues for “making the sale” as you walk down the high street with the purchase that you had probably already made a decision about before being bombarded with the “sales technique”.

And let’s assume that you did need some more information before making the purchase. A knowledgable salesperson should help, but the second you feel that you have been sold to, up pops the post purchase remorse and doubt. You will most likely always feel some kind of regret about whatever you bought and if there is a problem subsequently, your internal dialogue will be saying something like “I never should have bought that…misselling…get my own back…compensation etc”. We have all had experiences like that. I’ve had cars, TV’s. holidays and even houses that I couldn’t wait to get rid of because at some point in the process I had been sold to.

This is what really worries me when I read about the march of peri-implantitis and similar issues. I can’t comment on the clinical aspects, thats your job, but just what has gone wrong in the relationship between a patient and a dentist when the best solution for the patient is to try and get his own back rather than at least giving you a chance to resolve the problem. Why would a patient go running straight to the GDC if they genuinely trusted you in the first place? It doesn’t matter how many pages the consent form grows to or how much information the CDO can cram into the patient information and consent process; we are back to the fundamentals of trust between dentist and patient and if that trust has been in some way breached by the patient feeling like they have been sold to then the ambulance chasing lawyers will have a field day, once they have dealt with the backlog of PPI claims of course.

No wonder salespeople are so undervalued and if we think of selling from the perspective of what we normally receive, then you do have to wonder what on Earth selling has to do with dentistry and healthcare? It’s called healthcare after all, not health sell!

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Showing 2 comments
  • yuri

    Not sure what this blog is all about to be honest Kevin. Do you believe selling has no place in dentistry?

  • Kevin Rose

    It depends upon your defintion of selling. Using influence and persuassion to get the outcome that you want is only approrpriate if it’s what the customer wants too. In the sense of “selling” being about techniques to simply get what you want then no I don’t think it has a place in dentistry. It is what was at the centre of all miss selling scandals historically and the exact opposite of how selling should be used; “seek first to understand, then be understood”.

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