Is “Sell” a Four-letter Word?

Rethinking sales in your organization  

By Charles Moser

In my years as dental director for a very large Dental Service Organization, I had the privilege of interviewing, hiring, onboarding, and interacting with hundreds of associate doctors of all stripes and skill sets so different, I questioned if we were in the same field.  But the one common thread was their inability to “sell” treatment. Many quickly chirped that they don’t like the word “sell”, thinking I was one of those that immediately drew the picture of a man in an overly worn plaid coat pushing Hurricane Harvey submerged cars and presenting them as “slightly soiled”.  However, I’m not that guy. I spoke with clarity. “Sales” was not a bad word. In fact, as Daniel Pink says: “everything involves sales”. I happen to agree. In this column, my one hope is to simply create a space offering you the opportunity to rethink your position on the word… “sales”.

Since Adam ate the apple, individuals and civilizations have been selling goods and services worldwide with very little disagreement that it is how it’s supposed to be. It seems that medicine, dentistry included, diverged, deciding “sales” was a word we just couldn’t be cozy with. Somehow, we were above it. But why?  

Going back to my dental director days, I broached the sticky subject early with my associates to dispel any undue misunderstanding of exactly what I meant when I said, ”sell”. Few disagreed when they heard the follow-up statement: “as long as you are selling what is morally and ethically right”. Heck, we live in a capitalistic society practically demanding we amass as much money as possible (morally and ethically) to provide salaries, bonuses, and incentives for our teams. I can recall mentors espousing it as a duty. Whether persuading, influencing, presenting, consulting, or cajoling, the fact is, you are selling.  

But if you are still a holdout and you just can’t bring yourself to say it out loud, you have my permission to substitute, “educate”. Ah, yes, “educate”. Baby steps. If we just educate our patients, surely they will schedule that treatment we said they need, right? Wrong! People, which most patients are, don’t buy what they need, they buy what they want. As a matter of fact, reflecting back to those innocent conversations with newbies, I would “educate” them that people spell “need”, W.A.N.T.  For instance, I “need” those AirPod Pros to make work easier. Sure I do. 

I submit, selling goods and services that will improve a person’s life is an opportunity to help someone. That’s the oath we took. Wording and semantics aside, healthcare providers must take every step possible to open a patient’s eyes letting the light of better living shine in. It is who we are. 

Let it go. The world will not catch fire if you embrace this little truth. In fact, you may even find it liberating. Sell! There you said it. Now, don’t you feel better? Should you desire to know more about a simple 4-step process to get your associates to sell more dentistry, contact me at [email protected].

Dr. Charles Moser, VP Community Management for DEO, has more than 25 years of experience in the dental industry. His leadership skills and business acumen has guided the successful careers of many great clinicians. Dr. Moser continues to share his knowledge with DEO Members. He leads DEO Expert Webinars, Mastermind Calls, and accountability calls, as well coaching calls.