Most of the dentists I talk to would like to make more money— but they look over their shoulder and say it softly to be sure I’m the only one who heard them declare it out loud. The objective for all of you is to make money. This is a necessity to stay in business, pay your employees, eliminate student loans and provide a living for yourself.
Dental professionals are afraid of their patients perceiving them as used car salesmen— aggressive, cheesy, and sales-y. I completely respect this. You take your obligation to take care of your patients’ health seriously and refusing to do a “hard sell” on health can feel like the noble thing to do. But you have to remember that your purpose as a dentist or hygienist is to advocate for your patient’s health and care. In order to do this, you will need to become proficient at selling.
I’ll let you in on a secret: everyone is in sales. Everyone.
Think about the last five purchases you made and the people who gladly accepted your money for those purchases. I’ll go first to demonstrate: a haircut, a large coffee from Dunkin Donuts, shoe polish, dinner from an Italian restaurant, and a repair for my tire. Not once did I ever stop and think, “geez, that guy who showed me the bill is a real jerk.” I expect to pay for the things I purchase, and I also expect to gain value or enjoyment from them.
You are in sales. The ability and desire to sell treatment to your patients is not solely about making a profit— the profit is the byproduct of your ability to sell. Closing the deal, so to speak, on dental treatment is beneficial to your patients because they need the product that you’re selling— health, functional teeth. We need our teeth! I’m not a dentist, but I have a suspicion that dentures aren’t nearly as effective as the thirty-two natural teeth I have anchored in my head (you can sell me on getting my wisdom teeth extracted later).
Your patients need you to sell them on the health of their teeth. And it’s OK to make a profit using your unique skill set to do so. You paid for your dental school training, did you not? You paid a lot of money to be able to help people, so why carry any form of guilt that you desire to make more money doing the thing that you’re great at and providing a highly specialized service that will help people function?
Here’s the bottom line: get to know your patients, understand what they need and then advocate for their health. If you make building trust with your patients your top priority, you have no reason to fear coming across as pushy or sales-y. You have a responsibility to sell the patient their own good health. Whatever you do, don’t sell (no pun intended) yourself short, doctor. You deserve to do right by your patients and provide for yourself as well.
Do the right dentistry, and the money will always follow.
To your great success,