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Few of us enjoy the routine visit to our dentist. What’s to look forward to when you’re in a chair trying to answer questions whilst any number of probes and suction utensils are in action? Well as it turns out, for those with even a passing interest in sales, there’s an abundance of value on offer if you’re prepared to listen. And as we all know, that’s often all you can do.

Consider the dentist’s typical greeting: Are you happy with your teeth? What a conversation starter! There are only two answers, and both are going to lead to revenue growth.

If you say “No I’m not”, you’ll be asked why. And from there you’ll reveal where it hurts, when and for how long it’s been that way. “Tell me more”, you’ll be asked and you’ll comply. Then, with your pressing needs well and truly expressed, the dentist will probe deeper and ask “… and are you happy with your smile?” Wow! Now we’re into emotive territory and anything can happen at this point. A skilled dentist will illicit some three to five care opportunities from a patient. Each of which can be solved with a well-presented patient plan and fee’s that will “only hurt a bit!”

If you say “Yes, I am happy”, you’ll be affirmed and encouraged to be even more vigilant to protect and enhance your pearly whites for the long haul. This invites the opportunity to conduct a brief examination to make sure there are no unsuspecting “blind spots” lurking out of sight; because as we all know, plaque builds up behind teeth and cavities grow silently. An expert dentist might just spot something that will soon need attention or recommend regularly visiting the inhouse dental hygienist to look after our assets. You can’t be too careful!

The bottom line is that satisfying needs is the key to selling and dentists are experts at identifying and solving needs – especially those that you didn’t even realise you had. Their approach can be replicated like this:

Salesperson enquires: “Are you happy with your packaging?”

Prospect responds: “Yes, I am” or “No I’m not”.

If it’s a ‘yes’, your job as a packaging expert is to make sure the prospect doesn’t have any service blind spots that can lead to commercial cavities. So, you seek permission to conduct a complimentary audit that typically produces a compelling set of “best practice” recommendations.

If it’s a ‘no’, you ask why? How much it hurts? And repeat until the prospect has nothing more to say. Then you offer your own well-presented client plan.

In either scenario your job is to make the client smile – just like Rob!

Paul Allen is managing director of Margin Partners and the author of Take Back Your Margin. Email: paul@marginpartners.com.au

This article was first published in the September-October 2022 print issue of PKN Packaging News, p27.

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