It is not about the price

June 1, 2007
I have had the opportunity to train a number of sales and marketing teams already in 2007. Time and time again, salespeople tell me that dentists aren’t buying because of the price.

by Louis Malcmacher, DDS, MAGD

I have had the opportunity to train a number of sales and marketing teams already in 2007. Time and time again, salespeople tell me that dentists aren’t buying because of the price. I hear this from sales teams that sell everything from $2 items to $100,000 pieces of equipment. Yes, price is important, but when a dentist tells you that he or she is not buying your product, I have to tell you honestly and openly that it is usually not about the price. What do I mean? Read on.

Selling to dentists is completely different than selling to any consumer or any other health-care professional. Dentists think differently, they were trained differently, and their office is run completely different than any other health-care provider. You need to learn how to talk to dentists and learn what makes them tick. I recently attended a national sales meeting of a large dental company. The day before I presented, a nationally known sales trainer gave a two-hour session on how to sell. He was very entertaining, very engaging, and even a little bit abusive. At the end of two hours, he had given a wonderful presentation on how to sell to just about everybody ... except dentists. The veteran dental representatives immediately saw that this was a waste of time. Anyone who has been in the dental industry for a year or two knows that there is a huge difference in selling car parts to consumers and pharmaceuticals to physicians and dental products to dentists.

During my session with this group, I covered the five different types of dentists, the five different lifestyles that a dental practice goes through, and the very intimate difference on selling to male dentists versus female dentists. Selling to a young and hungry dentist is much different than selling to a seasoned and bored dentist. Your sales team has to know this and your marketing team needs to develop the skills to attract and find out what is important to these different kinds of dentists. In my hour-long presentation at this national sales meeting, I gave the attendees a simple formula to quickly identify where the dentist is coming from and some of the hot buttons to push when speaking with these dentists.

Now, let’s get back to the beginning of this article. Do dentists care about price? The answer is unequivocally yes. Is it the most important factor in determining whether or not they are going to buy? The answer is absolutely no. When dentists say no to you and the reason they give is price, they are really saying that you, the dental representative, have not established enough value and trust in yourself and your product to make the sale.

I can tell you right now, without even knowing the dental product you represent, that your product works. Your product does what it says it is going to do and it is successful, but have you and your sales team developed the strategy for quickly recognizing the dentist’s needs and perceptions and going directly to those concerns first? At that point, it is only a question of showing dentists how they can successfully integrate this into their everyday, busy practices. There are important techniques in helping you accomplish this skill as well. This is what I teach time and again to many sales and marketing teams. How do I know all of this? I am a practicing general dentist who understands the challenges and opportunities that every dentist has every day. I know that when I say no to a dental salesperson and say that price is the issue, I am really saying no to him or her as a person and not to the product.

In this day and age where oral products can range from 70 cents to more than $200,000, price is not the issue. Creating value, creating a sense of doing what is best for patients, and knowing how to get there is what can help make the sale so that it is a win-win for everybody - you, the dental office, and, ultimately, the patient.

Dr. Louis Malcmacher is a general and cosmetic dentist located in Bay Village, Ohio. He is also an evaluator for Clinical Research Associates as well as a consultant to the dental industry. Dr. Malcmacher is a well-known lecturer and author known for his comprehensive and entertaining style. He speaks to thousands of dental professionals every year. His lecture schedule can be seen at He also intensively trains sales teams and does marketing consulting with dental companies and has been doing so for the last 25 years. Dr. Malcmacher can be reached at (440) 892-1810 or email [email protected]. He offers a free e-mail newsletter to the dental industry and you can sign up at his Web site.