by Roger P. Levin, DDS
It is a question on the minds of every corporate executive whose company sells products to dentists - what do dentists really want from you? In short, they need a helping hand, not just someone to handle their orders.
After more than 20 years of working with dental companies in the area of strategic marketing, product launches, and product reintroductions, Levin Group finds it increasingly evident that dentists want to better understand exactly how to introduce a particular product into the practice and achieve a return on investment. While this may be less important in picking a new composite (although the overcrowded field certainly is reverting to this type of mentality), it is critical when new products are introduced, or when new versions of products with higher quality are brought to the market.
Why do certain products or technologies do well while others fail to gain a foothold in dental practices? The winners are those that design programs along with their products to increase the practice usage and benefit of those products. The days of simply creating a great new product and supplying it to a dentist or dental practice are at an end. Today, there are far more products and technologies for dentists to consider than there was for their predecessors. They are looking for help and guidance. Therefore, you must be there to supply it.
Keep the following factors in mind when selling to dentists - Dentists are procedure-oriented and whatever you sell them must be easy to implement.
Dentists are procedure-oriented
Remember that dentists are clinicians. They are trained to follow procedures. Unless you provide them with a method of implementation for a new product or technology, dentists will be at a disadvantage. Why? Because every procedure they follow is clinically based. Add to this the fact that they often have insufficient business training and you have a dentist who is not fully prepared to implement your product.
In an effort to counter this situation, Levin Group works with several dental schools to enhance their business curricula. Despite very positive results, this paradigm shift is slow. However, even armed with extensive business knowledge, many dentists still would not have time to properly position each new product in the overall office system. It is the responsibility of the sales representative to assist the dentist by addressing important topics such as the return on investment and what the practice should charge.
Make it easy to implement
To assist dentists with implementation of new products or technologies, companies should provide an implementation guide. To successfully promote product implementation, Levin Group has created practice management kits for many of its corporate clients. These typically include such valuable tools as scripts for all situations where the product or technology is discussed with patients. This assures a consistent message is conveyed at all times by the doctor and the team. Other elements of the kit include step-by-step instructions for implementation, including a profit calculator to assist with pricing and how to determine the return on investment. When given this type of information, dentists are much more confident and better able to successfully implement the product or technology.
Many companies struggle to increase their market share for a particular product or technology. Dentists often have little or no business training that can help them successfully implement a new product or technology into their practices. The success of a product or technology is dependent on companies and sales representatives creating tools that allow dentists to quickly and efficiently incorporate a new product or technology into their practices.
Roger P. Levin, DDS, is founder and CEO of Levin Group, a leading dental practice management consulting firm that is dedicated to improving the lives of dentists through a diverse portfolio of lifetime services and solutions. Since the company’s inception in 1985, Dr. Levin has worked to bring the business world to dentistry. A popular lecturer, Dr. Levin addresses thousands of dentists and staff worldwide each year in 100-plus seminars and at the dental industry’s most prestigious meetings.