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I ran across something published way back in 1997 by Jay Abraham in his newsletter, Business Breakthroughs: Growing Your Business to New Heights. Here’s where you can find the original article.
Abraham discusses what he calls, “The Strategy of Preeminence,” or TSOP for short. I was struck by how well his strategy applies to “selling” your dental case solutions and to the attitude that your practice would do well to adopt.
Dentists are in business for two reasons: 1) to make money, so that 2) they can continue to help people with their dental problems.
All too often, reason number 1 overtakes reason number 2.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m ALL about helping dentists make money; it’s what SmartBox does. We help dentists get more patients, more profits, and more freedom. We can and do help to get more new dental patients to pick up the phone and call. It’s what happens next that I want to talk about.
I’m paraphrasing considerably here, but Abraham essentially says that TSOP is an “other-focused” business strategy. Rather than viewing customers as the “source” of cash, he advises business owners and salespeople to look at customers as people you want to serve.
A lot of business owners give lip-service to the idea, which I think is a mistake.
Car salespeople used to talk about “ripping somebody’s head off” after selling a vehicle at an inflated price. This is an example of the “old” view – “It’s all about the money” – and resulted in unhappy customers spreading the bad news about how they were treated.
Wiser car salespeople cultivate relationships with buyers over time, and always put their customers’ interests first. That’s what keeps those customers coming back.
I’ve said many times that dentistry is a trust-based business. To build and maintain trust over time, people have to believe that you honestly care about their wellbeing. Every interaction between patients and your practice will either reinforce or undermine trust.
That’s why a “lip-service” approach doesn’t work. It isn’t genuine. And patients will sense that.
Paraphrasing again, Abraham states that the basis for becoming pre-eminent is empathy, which he defines as a compassionate understanding of the other person’s wants, needs, fears, and hopes. Once you understand those four things, you educate the other person about the solutions you can provide.
Dental case acceptance, from the pre-eminence viewpoint, is about using empathy to understand how to best serve your patients. Obviously, money enters into the equation, but in the TSOP model money is largely the result of being other-focused rather than primarily money-focused.
I think most dentists manage to strike a balance between being other- and money-focused. What Abraham is suggesting that is that being other-focused brings more money over time.
I practically grew up in my dad’s dental practice, and I’ve worked with over 450 dentists to help them succeed. I’ve seen how struggling financially can shift a practice’s focus to making money rather than serving patients. While there may be short periods where money has to dominate, dentists will succeed in the long run by becoming pre-eminent – staying focused on serving their patients and meeting their needs.