Sage Advice

Build your relationships first….then your dentistry. ~ Bob Barkley

Sage Advice

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Many saw Kevin Catlin’s article which went viral last week titled “The best sales advice I ever got was from a surfer dude.”

And it is easy to understand why it went viral – it states a simple truth which we in dentistry often fail to acknowledge, “I don’t sell, I just took my father’s advice and find out what people want, what they love…then I show them things that work for what they want.”

Most of us have heard a presentation on the difference between “wants” and “needs”, where wants are things we desire more of and needs – less. In dentistry it is easy to get these two issues confused, and when we do, we conflate them as somehow being similar.

“Wants” and “needs” are not the same things on a values level, but needs can sometimes be leveraged to help reveal wants.

And that is what truly professional sales people do. In this regard, Peter Drucker told us, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the consumer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.”

And of course, “marketing” is “selling” writ large.

Where this all becomes confused is when we add dental insurance or some other form of third party payment into the relationship, as it can quickly shift the focus from values, health, better functioning…attractiveness…. to money and a scarcity mindset.

Hence it moves almost every conversation – unless strategically avoided – from possibilities to probabilities, from what they want to what is “covered”.

And a conversation centered around what is covered heads nowhere but straight to the center of the insurance company’s business philosophy and away from your own.

Co-discovery was masterfully developed by Bob Barkley in collaboration with Nate Kohn, Jr., PhD an educational psychologist. And it was not designed haphazardly. It was designed with the intention of keeping the patient in a “possibilities thinking” mode. It was also developed before dental insurance significantly dominated the marketplace.

In sum, dental insurance coverage has a tendency to alter a patient’s thinking patterns toward a direction the insurance company can control so they can advance their money-centered agendas. And consequently, dental insurance has nothing to do with health, even though it functions as a middle-man in managing the distribution of health-related services.

So there is the conflation. And there the nexus of confusion. We all need to understand according to Catlin, “It is easy to forget that whether selling backpacks, advice, or fractional ownership of a jet, people buy emotionally, and then use facts and data to back up that decision to buy.”

And when we start a relationship by first discussing insurance coverage (facts and data) we are building a money-centered relationship and not a health-centered one.

Paul A Henny, DDS

Thought Experiments LLC, © 2016


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