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HOW TO SHORTEN YOUR SALES CYCLE AND PREVENT SALES SUICIDE

Author: 
Tosh Swain
 | 

Jeff Thull stated in an article for inc.com, “Customers don’t create long sales cycles—salespeople do.” This means it’s more in your control than you thought. Your upfront effort is the difference between more decisions in less time and sales suicide. By executing these three elements, you can shorten your sales cycle and increase your care acceptance in one swing. Plus, create a more positive experience for your patients. ‘Nuff said.

What is Sales Suicide!?

Simply put, it’s ruining your own interests. There’s a few ways dentists do this: 1) prematurely presenting a solution, 2) failing to provide clarity, 3) not providing the patient with enough knowledge to measure the value of the solution being presented, and 4) not creating a high-quality decision process and guiding the patient through it.

How to Overcome the Challenges and Shorten Your Sales Cycle

If you’re in the market for 3 simple, patient-benefiting ways to shorten your sales cycle, then you’ve come to the right place. Here’s what the experts on the matter have to say about it:

1. DEFEAT UNCERTAINTY WITH CLARITY

In his article, “The Best Way to Shorten the Sales Cycle,” Jeff Thull, author of Mastering the Complex Sale: How to Compete and Win When the Stakes are High! and Exceptional Selling: How the Best Connect and Win in High Stakes Sales, wrote, “Before any recommendation can be made, you need to mutually come to the conclusion that [the patient] has a condition that needs to be fixed.”

Here’s his analogy that brings this concept home:

“Imagine how ridiculous it would be to go in for your annual physical and have the doctor give you a presentation on the benefits of angioplasty while expecting to sell you surgery. Instead, the doctor brings you a high-quality diagnostic process, guides you through it, looks for symptoms you’re experiencing, measures those symptoms, and if they’re serious enough will recommend the surgical solution.”

Only then when there is a mutual conclusion that you have a condition that requires surgery will you agree to the treatment. Granted, in this analogy, nowadays you’re more likely to seek a second opinion before agreeing to the treatment, but you get the idea: it’s critical that the patient not only understands the problem, but believes that they have a problem that needs to be fixed. Providing clarity is how you defeat uncertainty.

However, keeping things simple is key. In a previous blog, “Expert Advice for Dentists to Increase Their Care Acceptance,” we discussed a few ways to keep things simple and explained how overcomplicating things and using technical language to “educate” the patient will actually drive them away. Instead, it’s important to provide clarity in terms the patient will understand.

To learn how to keep things simple for your patients, click here.

When you follow just this guideline, you can shorten your sales cycle and prevent sales suicide by NOT prematurely presenting a solution, NOT failing to provide clarity, and by ACTUALLY helping to create a high-quality decision process, which you need to guide the patient through. But you still need to quantify the value of your solution if you truly want to prevent dragging out the sales process.

2. QUANTIFY THE VALUE OF THE SOLUTION

When a patient needs treatment, but they’re refusing it, yet they pulled up to your office in a Tesla with $170 Oakley sunglasses on, it can be quite frustrating. Especially because you care about their health and they’re just not seeing the value in the treatment. But don’t give up quite yet.

Continuing with Jeff Thull’s advice from his article, “The Best Way to Shorten the Sales Cycle:”

“We must make sure our [patient] can measure the impact of our solution, and until they do they will not recognize value when it’s delivered. Many times your [patient] doesn’t have enough knowledge or a method to measure the value your solution will provide pre-sale, and worse, left on their own, may not be able to measure the value they have received from your solution post-sale.

Many people will hedge on measurement saying it’s hard to put a dollar amount on the impact. Well, let me suggest if it’s happening in a business, it can be measured, and if you think it’s hard, imagine how hard it will be for your [patient]. Let me give you some encouragement. In our consulting work, we have never encountered a problem that could not be quantified, or a solution that couldn’t be measured.”

But how do you quantify the value of dental treatment for the patient? In other words, how do you measure the value?

Well, when your receptionist says to the patient, “Before you leave, let’s go ahead and schedule your next appointment,” the patient does so, because they can quantify the value. It’s convenient for them; that’s one less thing the patient has to worry about scheduling later.

When it comes to the recommended treatment, quantifying the value isn’t always self-evident, especially when there’s resistance. One thing to keep in mind is that people “value” what they can see, understand, and appreciate. And emotion is always tied to it.

Clarity actually helps to provide value, but there’s even more that you can do. With the help of our Dental Advisory Board member, Dr. Mark Mosier, DDS, FAGD, a managing consultant with over 30 years of experience, we synthesized a few bomb tips that can help you quantify the value of your treatment. Depending on the problem and the solution, quantifying the value for the patient could entail:

  • Illustrating the consequences of delaying treatment, including possibly comparing the price of treatment to the costs of delaying it.
  • Emphasizing the overall health benefits of good oral health and the systemic links to periodontal disease (but of course, you’ve got to believe in holistic dentistry yourself).
  • Using an analogy that the patient can relate to in order to express the value of the treatment, such as, “Completing this treatment is like an oil change for your mouth; it’s routine maintenance that costs a whole lot less than having to replace the entire engine, which in this case, is your tooth.”
  • If the shoe fits, reminding the patient (after reading their records) of their last few emergencies that took them from their vacation, work, college finals, or whatever, as a result of delaying treatment, and the pain and costs associated with those repair options. (This is a phenomenal tip from consultant, Bill Blatchford.)
  • Educating the patient on the correlation between image and self-esteem and success.
  • When dealing with cosmetics, using before and after photos is a very powerful tool, which typically results in the patient making their decision 1) permanently, 2) emotionally, and 3) instantly.
  • Offering the “do nothing option,” which patients often choose regardless of whether or not you offer it. But when you put it on the table as an option, it usually opens the door for a discussion of the sequela as to this option. As a result, the odds of choosing this option decreases as the patient is able to quantify the value of the recommended treatment.
  • Following these tips, you can prevent sales suicide by helping to quantify the value of the recommended treatment for the patient and shorten your sales cycle as a result.

    3. ALIGN WITH THE PATIENT’S OBJECTIVES

    The best thing about aligning with the patient’s objectives is not an accelerated sales cycle, which is a result, but bringing them pleasure and a positive experience.

    Award winning author, speaker, and B2B sales execution specialist, Tibor Shanto, discussed this “proven element” to “shorten your sales cycle in a positive way” in his article, “3 Proven Ways to Shorten Your Sales Cycle.”

    He said:

    “The downside to selling ‘solutions’ is the assumption of a problem, more importantly, recognition of one by the prospect. Many argue that people do more to avoid pain and negative things. It’s also true that they will commit quicker to things that bring pleasure and positive experiences. What is more positive than achieving stated objectives? While they can always take an Aspirin to suppress, ignore or delay the pain, they need to do something to get closer to objectives they’ve set. Especially with Status Quo prospects, engaging around their objectives, you can not only get them to act, but act with urgency, which will accelerate your cycle. . .”

    Yet another element that benefits both the dentist and the patient.

    By providing clarity, quantifying value, and aligning with the patient’s objectives, you’ll not only speed up the whole process, but you’ll increase your care acceptance too. But what happens when there’s still reluctance?

    Sometimes, You’ve Just Got to Move On

    Shanto further explained that, “Knowing which objective to focus [on] will come from some research, and leveraging the . . . deal review process. . . Objectives buyers are driven by, and willing to act on, are one of the attributes that surface in the reviews.”

    His “deal review process” is basically, reviewing previous cases and determining which amounted to “losses, wins, and ‘no decision,’ allowing you to recognize and respond to the attributes of each, earlier in the deal.”

    One of the greatest benefits of recognizing when a patient is clearly exhibiting characteristics and features of a “non-closer,” which we discussed in “Expert Advice for Dentists to Increase Their Care Acceptance,” and aren’t likely to accept treatment now, is that you can know when you need to move on. Moving on allows you to marshal your resources for the patient(s) that have the characteristics of a “closer.” But that doesn’t mean you can’t revisit the “non-closer” in the future when conditions or characteristics change.

    By “disqualifying” these “non-closers,” you won’t spend time “noodling dead opportunities in your pipeline.” Sometimes it’s just best to focus on those who really value what you have to offer, no matter how much you care.

    Nevertheless, start using these 3 elements today to shorten your sales cycle and increase your care acceptance!

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