Isn’t it time to start Selling Care Fully?

by Kevin Rose

In case you missed it, there was a fascinating BBC documentary this week that really unpicked the root causes of the miss-selling scandals in banking and financial services. All credit to the BBC for focussing upon the core issues that are more to do with culture, values and trust than the actual act of selling.

The miss-selling of PPI alone (not to mention, pensions, endowments and interest rate swaps) has created a compensation bill of somewhere around £25bn not to mention the damage that is has caused to thousands of lives and of course the fundamental relationship of trust that we should have with our banks.

I spoke about this recently at the BDA Conference, highlighting that there are similarities between what has happened in banking and other professions and what we are beginning to see in dentistry.

  • Deregulation, contract changes and direct access
  • Free basic services
  • Increased competition and falling profit margins
  • Sales culture
  • Increased litigation and miss-selling
  • Ease of entry into the market
  • Horizontal integration
  • Bad economics and commoditisation

These are just some of the causes that have created the crisis in banking that exists right now and of course some of the things that we are beginning to see in dentistry. The biggest difference between the two though is that many of these changes took place in banking around 25 or 30 years ago whereas we are beginning to see these changes in dentistry right now.

The biggest loser in all of this has been the customer, suffering from miss-selling delivered by businesses that thought they knew better, that somehow the customer was an open cheque book to be manipulated for financial gain.

So what can we observe from this and what impact does it now have upon dentistry?

  • The sales and customer service culture in dentistry is not as advanced or mature as in other professions.
  • Dentists and their teams are having to learn new communication and soft skills in order to keep up with their competitors
  • New roles have been emerging to specifically manage patient relationships
  • Free consultations and basic services have to produce financial results over time
  • Litigation is on the rise for problems with straightening, implants and undiagnosed perio disease
  • Margins are falling, competition is increasing and the lure of selling bigger value treatments is tempting

Is this the ticking of a potential miss-selling time bomb in dentistry?

25 years ago, retail banks decided that every customer was a potential target for everything they could sell. Sales, sales techniques, clever ways of handling “objections” and “closing” were spun out in training sessions and the best spinners got the best financial results. 25 years later however, we can see that the real outcome was miss-selling and the fundamental failure to put the interests of the customer before that of a quick financial return. The range and variety of dental products and services is broader then ever and in theory, everybody could have whiter or straighter teeth or need a gap filling. The danger is that the same tactics used to miss-sell in other professions, could find their way into dentistry and suddenly every patient becomes a “target” for everything that can be sold…have we not learned from the past?

Will this problem go away?

Well, we have a choice don’t we? All businesses need to grow and develop. Having a sensible and carefully implemented sales structure is a key part of any business. The need to win more new patients and generate more revenue from existing patients is unlikely to go away. However to achieve that and ensure that you and your whole team are delivering a service that is built upon your values, integrity and trust can be difficult and that is certainly what we have seen outside of dentistry. There are therefore lessons that we can learn that will reduce the likelihood of dentistry being at the centre of the next miss-selling scandal and still get the results required for dentists, associates and team members.

I have been working with dental teams since 2009 and we have produced a range of effective sales structures that produce the results that a dental business needs and avoid all of the mistakes that have produced miss-selling elsewhere.

Selling Care Fully is a new sales workshop and it is now for the first time, publicly available to you and your team. Jointly delivered with expert sales trainer and Vistage speaker Rob Whittaker as well as some of my own clients, this workshop has been proven and tested behind closed doors…we think the time is now right for you to join us too.

The Selling Care Fully programme begins in October. To book your place and arrange your initial phone call with a member of the Selling Care Fully team, then please follow this link.