THINKING BUSINESS
a blog by Chris Barrow

Letters from a perfect imperfectionist: Dummies and tooth fairies

I recently enjoyed a Skype meeting with a therapist working with one of my clients, the objective of which was to listen to her challenges as an Enlighten salesperson within the practice.

She has no previous sales training or experience and, during an earlier face to face meeting in the practice (cut short by the early arrival of a patient) she had spelled out the obvious issues around lack of experience, knowledge and confidence.

During our first conversation the main points I wanted to make to her were:

• when people say “NO’, they rarely mean “no never” and usually mean “no, not now” – so you need to establish when would be a good time to mention this again; • on the rare occasion that they confirm “no never”, they are not saying “no” to you, they are saying “no” to themselves – and they will have their own reasons for that, none of which are any of your business.

That simple understanding helped her to feel less stressed around the sales process itself.

In our second conversation we moved on to dealing with objections.

The good news is that there are only 4 reasons that people need to be encouraged across the line, if it’s a “no, not now” but they need a little nudge:

  1. Fear – I’m afraid it will hurt;

  2. Function – I’m concerned that it will not work;

  3. Time – I’m not sure I have enough time right now;

  4. Price – I’m not sure I can afford it.

I want to come back to price in a minute but, for now, let’s construct a simple response to these objections:

• “Mr Patient I appreciate your concern” – make sure that the patient feels as if you have listened and acknowledged their objection; • “You are not the first person to have said that” – make sure that they don’t feel stupid or isolated; • “In reality, the way in which we deal with that concern is…” – tell the truth about fear (numbing gels, anaesthetic, sedation), about function (our track record of success with this procedure is 95%), about time (lets look in the calendar and see when you can easily fit this in)

But back to price.

Notice I defined this as “I’m not sure if I can afford it?”

Your question to the patient:

“Mr Patient could you just clarify for me, is your concern about the value of the investment we are proposing or is your concern about the timing of the payment in your cash flows right now?”

Wait for the answer.

A common mistake made in dentistry is the assumption that an objection on price is an objection to value – leading the clinician or TCO to panic and offer discounts, 0% finance or some other form of self-harm.

Frankly, if someone has a value objection – “I can get this cheaper down the road” – let them go – or they will likely be a royal pain in the arse.

If someone has an affordability or cash flow challenge – then work with them to find a solution.

Don’t discount and don’t throw away a sizeable chunk of your profit margin in finance charges for the sake of a “yes”.

Penultimate question from my therapist client – “how do I close the sale?”

Easy.

“Mr Patient – is there any reason why we cannot get started?”

Final question from her – can you suggest any good reading material?

Easy again.

Selling for Dummies – Tom Hopkins

Don’t Wait for the Tooth Fairy – Ashley Latter

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