Ethical and effective selling skills for dentistry

Ethical and effective selling skills for dentistry

Ashish Parmar explains how effective selling skills can increase patients’ treatment acceptance in dentistry through ethical means.

Selling skills are essential for every team member in a modern private dental practice. There is an art in non-pressurised selling to achieve a high rate of case acceptance for larger cases in dentistry. This article is an overview of a complex and interesting subject.

Different personalities

You may have heard of the DISC personality profile system, which categorises individuals into four personality traits: dominance, inducement, submission and compliance.

I’d encourage you to research DISC assessments online and find out more about how people act, think and behave depending on their dominant personality trait(s). Your approach to chatting with someone, and the amount of time that this conversation takes, will be dependent on their personality type.

Presenting to different personality traits


  • Talk in terms of results, the bottom line, and achievement
  • Keep the presentation short
  • Show confidence that you will take care of details and will deliver the end results.


  • Talk about how they will look to others, and how they’ll enjoy having veneers or implants
  • Show them you are a friend who cares about them.


  • Talk in logical terms
  • Provide proof and evidence of your claims
  • They may show little emotion.


  • Provide lots of detail
  • Show how things work, what to do if things go wrong etc
  • Take as much pressure off them as possible
  • Go slowly, don’t offer too much change.

Six steps for ethical selling in dentistry

1. The approach

Either the dentist or the treatment coordinator (TCO) can carry out the initial interview. Start by welcoming the patient by name and offering them a sincere compliment. The use of correct body language is critical in all communication.  

Learn as many social facts about the patient as possible. Ask the right questions, sincerely listen to the answers and make emotional bonds.  

Key to this stage is to build a relationship.

2. The interview

This is the most important step, which can take time. Do 20% of the talking, and let the patient do 80% of the talking. Ask open-ended questions, such as:

  • How may I help you?
  • Tell me more about this
  • How long has this bothered you?
  • What have you done about this so far?
  • Did this work well for you?
  • How important is having this new smile for you?

Key to this stage is to discover their key goals and desires.

3. Demonstrate

It is important to next show the patient relevant things about their case. This may include the use of demonstration visual aids and models, and photographs of other cases.

4. Validate

A patient is more likely to buy from you when he or she can trust you and see you as an honest and sincere dentist with integrity. 

In this step, you have to ‘prove’ your claims and help a person believe and trust you.

Important points in validation:

  • State the benefits of the treatment
  • Build up perceived value – why is your practice special
  • Offer proof and evidence… only show the patient what is relevant to them.

In principle, people want your dentistry to look good, feel good, and last a long time… it’s as simple as that!

5. Negotiate

This step is fundamentally about welcoming and understanding any objections or concerns that a patient has. You should have an empathetic approach at this stage, and clearly answer the questions being asked.

6. The close 

Closing is simply asking for a decision or a closing action when a person is ready to say ‘yes’.

Don’t ask for a decision until you’ve:

  • Understood your patient’s needs or wants
  • Offered a solution that they like and want
  • Worked through their concerns and objections
  • Agreed on price, terms, or delivery time.

Important concepts

  • It is essential to build up trust and rapport with a patient first
  • Understanding a person’s wants and needs is very important. This is achieved by effective and active listening
  • Buying is largely an emotional concept. Remember, it is all about your patient and what they want, rather than about you
  • Recognise the four different behaviour patterns of people and change your style to match the person
  • Create exceptional perceived value in your product or service.


People will open up and trust you more when you listen to them, genuinely care about them, and have a sincere desire to understand them. By using a non-pressurised selling technique, you will actually sell a lot more.  

With confidence and practice, effective communication becomes easier. By creating exceptional value for people and delivering excellence in dentistry, the dental fee does not become the issue. Selling with integrity builds your own self-respect, and the respect others offer you.  

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