The Building Blocks of Sales Success
Putting yourself ahead of the pack starts with answering two simple questions
One of the biggest differences between a great salesperson and the rest of the pack is being prepared. The success of your sales call depends greatly on the plan you devise before you walk into a dental practice or pick up the phone.
To begin crafting your strategy, address two important questions:
1. Who is the practice?
2. What is the desired outcome of the call?
Who Is the Practice?
This involves more than knowing the name of the dentist. Visit the practice website to learn which procedures the office does and which types of patients it has, and read the dentist and staff bios to learn about their interests, training, and hobbies. If the practice has a blog, read the posts to identify what subjects it considers most important. In his online article, “The Naked Sales Call. Walk In with Nothing, and Lose,”1 sales training guru Jeffery Gitomer lists what you need in order to be ready for a sale. Here are three of his tips:
Print the pages that contain information about what you can impact. Those are the pages that frame your ideas for how your products and services can be best used by the practice.
Print the material that has leadership information. Learn who the decision makers are, but don’t forget to identify the office manager and the lead dental assistant.
Print the pages with the information that you don’t understand. This will provide you with an opportunity to create meaningful dialog with the members of the practice. Use this information to craft questions to engage staff members. Be prepared to speak with them about the practice.
If the practice doesn’t have a website, research the dentist and practice’s name online to find articles written by the dentist or to learn about training and charity events that the practice helps. Having that information can be a great conversation starter to help you gain credibility and traction.
If you can’t find anything online about an practice, what do you do? Sales trainer Jill Konrath suggests using your experiences with other practices to make educated assumptions. In her article, “4 Tips for Effective Pre-Call Sales Planning,”2 she says decision makers in the same field often have comparable objectives and face similar challenges. Use your experiences and what you’ve learned as a dental laboratory professional as a starting point. When you meet with prospects, you’ll want to learn about their perspectives on these important topics.
Another place to start your research is in your own laboratory. If the dentist is someone with whom the laboratory has had a prior interaction, use whatever information you already have to learn more about the practice. Research the following:
• The length of time since the dentist submitted a case
• The type of work the dentist has prescribed with your laboratory
• The number of remakes and reasons for them
Use the information you’ve gathered to create questions and talking points to use when meeting with the practice members. For example, you may find a blog post on the practice’s website about the difference between amalgam and composite fillings. Use that information as the basis for asking if the practice has been observing a greater number of patients requesting metal-free restorations. That can be a great segue into a discussion of flexible partials or all-ceramic restorations that your laboratory may offer.
What Is the Desired Outcome of the Call?
As you plan your sales call, ask yourself this: “What will success look like for this call?” Success doesn’t always mean leaving the interaction with a case in hand. In fact, the sales cycle, or the time between the first contact with the practice to when a case is received, is generally long—sometimes a year.
With this in mind, you might want to consider the goal of your initial call to be information gathering or to further qualify your prospect. The goals for your subsequent calls may be to slowly build trust by presenting information about a process or product that would be of value to the practice.
Use the information you uncovered in your pre-call research to craft your goals for the interaction. If the practice primarily uses your laboratory for fixed work, the goal might be to introduce the dental team to your laboratory’s removable offerings. Whether you are trying to bring in a new client or just following up on past cases, have a goal and a purpose for each call.
While research and goal planning takes time, the effort is well worth it. Gitomer writes in his book The Little Red Book of Selling3 that gathering information is an advantage that very few salespeople take. He says many salespeople make the fatal error of presenting only their own promotional materials such as brochures, PowerPoint slides, and business cards. What sets great salespeople apart are the preparations they make to understand their clients.
1. Buy Gitomer Web site. The naked sales call. Walk in with nothing, and lose. http://www.gitomer.com/articles/ViewPublicArticle.html?key=ajcdMibak3PQM8oIMz%2FkaA%3D%3D. Accessed May 21, 2014.
2. Jill Konrath Web site. 4 tips for effective pre-call sales planning. http://www.jillkonrath.com/sales-blog/bid/130501/4-Tips-for-Effective-Pre-Call-Sales-Planning. Accessed May 21, 2014.
3. Gitomer J. Little Red Book of Selling: 12.5 Principles of Sales Greatness. Austin, TX: Bard Press; 2009.
About the Author
Deborah Curson-Vieira is the Director of Marketing at Dental Prosthetic Services, Inc in Cedar Rapids, IA.