Modern sales technology progress report

March 1, 2007
When “all is said and done,” selling dental equipment that meets the specific needs of our eventual customer, the dentist, is our ultimate goal.

by Joe Kennedy

When “all is said and done,” selling dental equipment that meets the specific needs of our eventual customer, the dentist, is our ultimate goal. It is literally the “grease” that keeps the “skids of business” moving.

In two previous articles we have written for Proofs, we have attempted to relay how modern sales technology is being introduced into our industry. This article is intended to be a report on the progress being made, methods being implemented, results being realized, and some of our predictions for the future.

In the first article, we attempted to relay how Computer Aided Drafting (Design), CAD, can be implemented relatively easily and can address the many challenges we face when creating operatory and facility designs. We are very pleased to report that this method of creating designs is almost universally used by dealer design departments today. Those who still use “paper and pencil” methods are definitely in the minority.

While the manual method still produces some results, those who use it find it increasingly difficult to compete with those who use CAD. “Do you really think I have a chance to make a sale of high-tech equipment if I show up at a dentist’s office with my graph paper, scale, pencil, and a briefcase full of brochures?” This was a direct quote from a salesperson we recently interviewed. He further stated that, “Older dentists are impressed with modern technology sales presentations, and the younger dentists expect it!”

Also in our first article, we attempted to introduce the idea of sales reps acquiring the skills necessary to create CAD designs and using these skills as part of their sales presentations. This attempt was based on our own experience in creating dental office designs for many years. We have found that the ideal scenario is to create office designs in “real time” with the dentist participating in the design. With the dentist’s participation, when the design is completed, selling it is much easier because most of the designs are his or her own ideas. In other words, the dentist has already “bought into” the design.

The conditions described in this scenario do not always exist. Sometimes CAD drawings are not needed for the sale of equipment, as is the case of replacement equipment. Also, creation of large, ground-up, facility designs usually require the involvement of dealer design departments.

We must candidly report that sales reps that have acquired CAD skills and use them as a sales tool are still in the minority. One reason is that some dealers already have very sophisticated, talented, and efficient design departments. They much prefer that designs be created by them rather than their sales persons. In other words, they want them to “sell” not “design.” Some dealers are very successful using this approach.

Some sales reps are reluctant to acquire CAD skills for a variety of reasons. Probably the most prevalent reason is that learning CAD software can be intimidating. Although our company, DentaCAD, is a registered, third-party AutoCAD® software developer, we are the first to admit that it is far more complicated than it needs to be and is a massive “overkill” for the needs in our industry.

The obvious question then is, “Why use AutoCAD and not some other less complicated drafting software?” The answer is that AutoCAD is the most popular computer-aided drafting software and commands the largest share of this market. Architects, dealer design departments, builders, etc., nearly all use AutoCAD software. In effect, it is the “language of choice.”

There are a variety of ways to receive AutoCAD training. Most sellers of AutoCAD software offer training classes, and tech schools teach more advanced courses. Also, there is some dental industry tailored training available.

The second article we wrote was entitled, “Are you missing out on a great sales tool?” In this article, we attempted to list all the needs of a typical dental equipment sale, including:

  • The need to address the issues of size and space (the size of the equipment and the space available).
  • The need to address the issues of equipment features and benefits.
  • The need to create worksheets, proposals, and sales contacts accurately and efficiently.
  • The need to quote current financing rates and plans.

We are pleased to report that modern sales technology has been developed to address these needs. Most large dealers have adopted these modern methods, and many smaller dealers are beginning to implement them as well.

In this article, we also discussed the need to keep manufacturers’ databases current. One of the problems that has plagued our industry is ensuring the data used for a typical sale is current. If the cost of using outdated information (mostly relating to pricing) could be captured, it would be staggering. If you ask a typical sales rep what his or her biggest nightmare is, it would most assuredly be using outdated data to produce a sale. When this happens, there is no good remedy. To go back to the dentist and admit the error is tantamount to scheduling a root canal for oneself. To “eat” the mistake usually takes a healthy chunk out of the sales commission. We are pleased to report that most major manufacturers of dental equipment understand the need to supply electronic databases to their dealers and the need to keep them updated.

It has been very gratifying to observe the improvements that have been made since modern sales technology has been introduced to our industry. The implementation of four-handed dentistry, sit-down dentistry, oral evacuation systems, etc., are some of the more significant improvements in our industry in recent history. While not as significant or dramatic, the introduction of modern technology to produce sales has been very impressive.

Our predictions of further advances in modern sales technology soon to be made available in the dental industry include:

  • Implementation of “smart catalogs.” Some versions (commonly called configurators) of this idea have been in use for some time with varying degrees of success.
  • Smart catalogs address the age-old problems of placing a correct and complete order. Incorrect or incomplete orders continue to be the nemesis of our industry, and the associated costs are tremendous.
  • Smart catalogs also incorporate “intelligence” into the order entry software, which prompts the salesperson to provide specific information needed to place a complete and accurate order.
  • Implementation of “electronic linking” concepts.
  • We predict an eventual end to “paperwork order entry systems” which contribute to the many problems associated with creating and placing complete, accurate orders. Those who must create purchase orders for dental equipment are the “link” between the salesperson and the manufacturer or supplier. They have always had the unenviable task of interpreting orders written on the back of paper napkins (in some cases) and marrying those orders with one of the myriad of options available with most dental equipment. Somehow, they must create a correct, complete purchase order.

Just as it was when dentists began practicing their profession using modern methods and achieving tremendous benefits, so will the future belong to those salespersons who understand the benefits of modern sales technology and embrace it!

Joe Kennedy is the president of DentaCAD Corporation. For more information, Kennedy can be reached at (770) 271-4142 or by e-mail at [email protected].