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  • Writer's pictureWarren Bobinski

Why we hate salesmen...and love dentists

"Hold yourself accountable for your actions. Your actions can change another persons life forever."

~Dr. Nekky Jamal, Wayside Dental Clinic

$250,000 of lumber per year!

My wife Karen was CEO of a company that manufactured and installed doors and railings. The business required $250,000 of lumber per year. This was a LARGE portion of overhead for a company with gross revenue of $1,200,000 per year and 18 employees!

More importantly in this ultra competitive business was being able to maintain a high quality product with a reasonable price. It was well understood by this manufacturer that HIGH QUALITY product for their customers required high quality materials.

In order to remain competitive, Karen explored various suppliers. It would be important to keep costs low and there was many lessons learned that we can apply to any business - in particular dentistry.

Based on the advice of a VERY AGGRESSIVE and PRICE oriented salesman, Karen switched her suppliers. In short order, the company had issues.

-The quality of the lumber cost the company manpower as people had to spend time sorting through the lower quality product to find the better pieces for the job, devoid of blemishes and warping. (This took more time to do the same job and eliminated material savings with labour costs along with increased waste)

-The employees were frustrated as the less expensive product resulted in product that didn't truly reflect the skill of the craftsman. (eg in dental terms, the fillings would fall out)

-The customers would complain about the workmanship and write bad reviews and wouldn't give the recommendations so badly needed (it wasn't the skill of the worker as much as the compromised materials)

When Karen approached the new supply company about the quality of the materials, she had a tough time getting the Salesman out to the shop to see the issues with the product . He would come when he had time -which ended up being 3 weeks later.

When he did stop in - he dismissed the product issues- instead focusing on the purchase price savings and seemed annoyed with Karen that she hadn't ordered again- stating they told him they would have high volume orders yet have not ordered beyond the first shipment.

Instead of listening to the concerns and offering advice on how to fix the problem - the entire focus was about how much they were saving Karen money and that maybe they could buy more and even cheaper product. Price, price, price....sell, sell, sell....

This aggressive, cocky attitude wasn't winning Karen over at all! They also wouldn't take the product back. The reps didn't even know the differences between the types of wood they were selling! Didn't know how to judge a good product from bad, or how it affected the craftsmen and the machines they used to work with the materials. All they knew was how cheap they could sell their inferior product they didn't really now anything about..

They didn't offer any solutions of what Karen could do to help her customers.

To the rescue!

A call to the experienced, older and slightly more expensive company yielded results. The humble and appreciative rep came and offered some ideas. They were able to help provide some solutions to help Karen and her skilled craftsmen gain an even higher market share.

Working together they re-introduced quality product and identified opportunities for the business to grow. Using the skills of the craftsmen, the rep offered ideas that would help expand the business. Make the craftsmen and the business more productive.

Despite the slightly higher costs of materials - Karen was relieved! This company came up with solutions to store large quantities of materials to help keep the price lower and deliver on demand. They offered extended terms for these larger purchases. They were always willing to exchange product that wasn't used for a job, or had quality issues.

The Sales rep was always appreciative of her business, humble, sincere and quick to respond to any questions or concerns. He was knowledgeable about his products and always informed her of special deals.

The Employees were happier and more productive having better quality materials and less time wasted sorting through defective lumber. Happy employees are productive employees. Less time dealing with defects is more time being productive. Time is money. So while ultimately the sale priced lumber cost less to purchase and seemed a good deal at the time, there was no cost savings to the process as production was slowed, and the difficulties dealing with the Rep were frustrating and time consuming.

The whole experience points to the core of why we HATE salesmen! These people who DO NOT listen and DO NOT learn. They have very little interest in what your personal goals really are. Instead of finding solutions to match they just go to the lowest common denominator.

Price. Volume.

The race to the bottom begins with shitty salesmen.

We are all "salesmen".

Why people hate the dentist

Overtreatment. Billing practices. Lack of empathy. Lack of skill.

When you have been in this business as long as I have, you recognize the MANY LEADERS in this business. It's a blessing to work in an industry where the MAJORITY are "doing the right thing."

There are, however, some that seem to have the wrong intention. Driven mostly by money and profit - only considering the GROSS PROFIT as a measure of success.

What about the patient. Do they really care about your gross profit? Has this become the focus of the business MORE than the actual treatment?

If you want to see some of the unhappiest people - there is usually an underlying cause. These PEOPLE will rarely feel good about themselves as they KNOW they are actually helping their "customer" or patient get better. Feel better. Accomplish a healthy beautiful smile. Not because it helped pay the overhead. Not because they had to pay for the rent. Because their purpose was to be EXCELLENT at what they do and give their gift back to the people they work for. The team with these people share the PURPOSE and GOAL of becoming EXCELLENT at providing solutions....

Lets relate this to each others professions...mine as a "dental salesman" and yours as a dentist.

A Salesman will tell you that you should buy his supplies because he is cheaper. They may even sell like and kind materials...but are they there to support you and help you find actual SOLUTIONS to your business needs? Did they spend the time to LEARN PRODUCT and TECHNIQUES that will help you be a better dentist? Did they hear that your concern wasn't really with the 6.2% you spend on supplies compared to the 35% you are spending on labour that is struggling to deliver a higher standard of health care? Did they hear how badly you need a good hygienist. That production is down this year? Help you get more patients in the door? Fix the scheduling? Provide materials and techniques that made your days more productive and the end results more predictable? Do they even know anything about what you are buying from them?

Did your salesman offer to provide a treatment that will help you accomplish your goals. Make your craftsmanship shine brightly? Help you retain and afford to compensate the BRIGHTEST and BEST TEAM in the industry? Help you create a business that was delivering your type of end product. Something you are proud of, AND is profitable?

A "salesman" dentist will tell you the treatment that you need to have done. That every small hole is only going to grow so we need to fill it today. This salesman is thinking about how they can outperform their peers by selling more dentistry. Getting it done quicker and with cheaper materials. How they can drive the bottom line. They are concerned about their expenses to the "nth" degree and focus on fast and cheap...

Need to increase the 'earnings' so that EBITDA is high and they can get a better sales price for their practice. The focus wasn't necessarily on providing the highest level of care as much as providing the greatest volume of care in the most profitable way....

At the end of the day, you can't pull the wool over a consumers eyes.

You are a consumer, and you know EXACTLY those people. We ALL feel the same, and HATE to hear that anyone in our business is not acting with the most sincere intentions.

OVERTREATMENT is a salesman selling you a CBCT when you have no idea how to use one, but it sounded good at the time. It's an abundance of RCT/CROWN when the tooth maybe was beyond saving.

BILLING PRACTICES is a salesman giving you a good deal to get in the door then slowly rising the price up or compensating with other products or services to maintain a high "gross profit margin". It's sending an insurance company an invoice for treatment that may or may not exactly match the treatment that the insurance company thinks they are paying for.

LACK OF EMPATHY is the salesman getting a spiff for selling a shit ton of goop and not worried that it will expire before the customer has a chance to use it. It's the dentist that used poor quality materials on a patient that came for emergency that they may never see again (but if they do they can now RC/CROWN that tooth)

LACK OF SKILL is the salesman who doesn't know ANYTHING about the materials they sell - they just know how to make it cheaper. It's the dentist who went to a weekend course and is now performing major surgery.

It's the car salesman who only has time for you as long as he has something to gain.

In our profession, we take a lot of time and care to properly diagnose and treat people with long lasting solutions. We don't need those bad seeds! We need to continue to work together for the RIGHT REASONS.

Why people LOVE the dentist

I believe my friend Nekky approaches life with an attitude of Gratitude. This life is about gratitude. Being given the opportunity to help improve other lives. This business is filled with altruistic people! We have an approach to help patients get healthy, and stay healthy!

I can make an endless list of friends in this business that I am proud to associate with!

The list

The following ideas are a summary of some of the most SUCCESSFUL clinics I have evaluated. Principals that many of these AMAZING people in our business follow...all ideas gleaned from my wife Karen and her experience with two different salesman and transposed to our business.

1 - MODESTY. Being good at what you do is important, but approach with the thought your patient doesn't know what you know. In order to earn the trust, you must be able to talk on the terms they understand. Listening to them is key to this. As much as you want to show your skill, the modest approach will help them trust you so you can get to the point where you can do #2....

Karen's first rep was full of arrogance. TOLD her what she needed to do, didn't LISTEN to what the problems were. They provided THEIR treatment plan which ultimately failed as Karen went elsewhere to another supplier. It wasn't about the price dude....

2 - SKILL. It takes time and continual improvement. It takes #1, as you will fail. You may fail enough times to realize that particular skill isn't something you want to do. Get good at your profession. Practice it. Learn from mentors. Advance and challenge yourself...the more you learn, the better you get. The better you get, you will realize that you can never be good enough...thus #3

Karen's approved rep understood wood. He knew the difference in quality and how this would affect the business.

3 - EXPERIENCE. Providing an exceptional experience is important. This comes by having the right people. The front end who answers the phone can answer patient questions. Book for efficiency. The assistant makes the patient feel most comfortable and happy. Runs the clinic on time and keeps it looking amazing. The hygienist performs the most comprehensive, comfortable treatment. The patient feels SPECIAL and IMPORTANT. Their time is valuable. You provide services based on this assumption...

4 - GRATITUDE. Your patient came to you for a reason. It's likely a combination of all the above! Every day that you have an opportunity to work with people that trust your abilities is a blessing.

As Nekky says "Think Big. Beyond yourself. Beyond limitations..."

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