We found this article on Dentistry Today, and we thought it was too good we had to share it.
What is it about four-letter words that make us so uncomfortable? Why do they have such shock value, and why are they considered completely taboo in polite society? After all, I would guess you’ve had patients drop a few choice four-letter words when they saw the needle come out or on the rare occasion when you’ve hit a nerve – whether literally or figuratively.
Like anything taboo, simply not talking about four-letter words gives them power over us. But, to be honest, I bet you’re feeling all squishy inside even thinking about my favorite four-letter word, so let’s practice saying it together.
Whew, you’ve finally said it. Deep breaths, it’s going to be okay. You said “SELL” out loud, and the office didn’t implode. Your moral core is still intact, and no patients have been offended. Why? Because “sales” isn’t the morally bankrupt activity, you’ve been brainwashed into thinking it is.
Why do we hate the word “Sell” so much?
Let’s do a little word association. When I say “SELL,” what comes to mind? Did you immediately think of used cars and some hapless character with a bad combover, flashy watch, and cheap polyester clothes? I’m cringing right along with you. No wonder the word makes us uncomfortable.
Whether in Best Buy or at a dental trade show, a bad sales experience causes us to lose trust in the person we are talking to and the product or service they represent. We start to question their underlying motivation and commitment to what they’re selling. By association, you assume your patients would have the same reaction, which causes you to instinctively avoid “selling” the care your patients need. The thing is, this isn’t an example of sales. It’s an example of poor sales.
There are seven clearly defined stages in the patient journey. Moving a patient from marketing (stages 1-3) to sales (stages 4-7) is where maximum ROI comes into play.
- Brand awareness: The patient becomes aware that you are a possible option, when and if they need dental care
- Evaluation: Once the patient decides they need a dentist, they must evaluate their options. Reviews and detailed background research help drive the patient to the next stage.
- Lead generation: At this stage, your marketing must inspire the prospect to respond, resulting in an inquiry into your practice whether by phone, form submission, online scheduling, or even a walk-in.
- Lead conversion: Once the prospective patient calls the office, your team must convert the lead into an appointment. This is the first stage of the sales process.
- New Patient Experience: Once in the practice, the patient will decide if they like and trust you based on every experience and interaction they have with you.
- Retention: When trust has been established, most patients will stay for years, or until something happens that causes them to question their loyalty to their “purchase” of you as a healthcare provider. This stage is where your marketing ROI is maximized.
- Advocacy: The final stage of the marketing funnel, advocacy happens when existing patients decide to “sell” for you, helping friends and family to try and trust you to be their next dentist.
As you can see, sales are an integral part of your business, and it’s where your investment in dental marketing turns into actual ROI. Unfortunately, it’s also where many practices fail to thrive because they have such an inherent prejudice against the concept of selling. Unintentionally, this is precisely where most practices self-sabotage their future growth. It’s time to make peace with this very important, very ethical word.