Eric Vickery highlights dentistry’s emphasis on customer service over pressure sales. Emotions drive decisions, making continuous learning crucial.
About Eric Vickery
Eric holds a degree in business administration and brings a strong business and systems approach to his consulting. His initiation into the field of dentistry was in the area of office management. He managed dental practices for over ten years and has been consulting over 250 offices nationwide since 2001.
About Alex Nottingham JD MBA
Alex is the CEO and Founder of All-Star Dental Academy®. He is a former Tony Robbins top coach and consultant, having worked with companies upwards of $100 million. His passion is to help others create personal wealth and make a positive impact on the people around them. Alex received his Juris Doctor (JD) and Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Florida International University.
Transcript performed by A.I. Please excuse the typos.
This is Dental All-Stars, where we bring you the best in dentistry on marketing, management, and training. Here’s your host, Alex Nottingham. Welcome to Dental All-Stars. We have Eric Vickery, our president of coaching, as always. Great to have you, sir. Thanks for having me again, Alex. Okay. Let’s talk about something fun, which is service versus sales. And this is, you know…
it may not seem so, well, it depends on how we look at it. Some may say, oh, it’s the same thing. Some may say it’s different. We really spend a lot of time on our words, what they mean and really defining them. And both of these words have their positive connotations and I would say more so sales sometimes has a negative connotation. And so let’s talk about
Let’s talk about that. So tell me where you stand on service versus sales. Yeah, I think the word sell in dentistry is the S word. It’s a four letter word, starts with S, sell. And most people don’t wrap their mind, their brain really to understand how selling can be a positive thing in dentistry and not a negative thing. Well, you have to get into it, into that conversation to get there. When we do our All-Star Mastery series at level one, I’ll ask the audience,
how many of you got into dentistry because you were a great salesperson? And nobody raises their hand. That’s not why they got into dentistry, which I totally understand. And then I’ll say, how many of you realize that you are in sales? Again, nobody raises their hand. Because the connotation of sales or selling is pushy. It’s pressure sales. And so people don’t like that and they don’t wanna be associated with that at all. So.
What we have to understand is that every single profession out there, I haven’t been able to figure one out, has some point of sale happening. Even the person that painted the waves in your background, right? They do that because they’re passionate about their art, they’re passionate about how they express themselves. But at some point they gotta pay the bills and sell the art. Or they’re donating it and they’re working somewhere else where they have to sell. So we’re all salespeople. We can disguise it however we want, we can call it case presentation.
we can call it case acceptance, treatment plan, presentation, review of findings, consultation, all of these words we’ve painted around and tried to soften the blow when really what we’re doing, this is gonna sound horrible, we’re doing our sales pitch. We’re presenting to the patient what we need to sell them to get healthy. Now, if we could just do dentistry and money were no object and people just said yes to everything and that didn’t occur, that wasn’t the way our society was built.
then great, we’d be without a job. But that is what we have to accept. So how do we do selling in customer service? How do we do it so well, customer service so well, that the sell is no pressure, but there’s no pressure attached to it at all. And now instead of pushing people into buying, we’re pulling them in. They’re pulling us in, right? They’re pulling us in saying, oh, I want that. Not, do I need it?
They’re saying, I want that. And there’s a big difference we need and want. Well, there’s a quote by Jay Abraham that says, if you really believe in what you believe, you have a moral obligation to make it happen, to serve people. And I think, unfortunately, in dentistry, sales has become a very negative word, because too many companies have borrowed tactics from used cars or.
what have you, too. And they have manipulation built into it. 90% of what we teach, you would agree, Eric, because we do it together, we eradicate the word sales. It’s all about service. Because service is, like you say, it is you become the logical choice. We often, I talk about in my dental practice excellence that you have this VIP pyramid that now typically the typical sales pyramid.
is most of what you do is closing very little on rapport. On the VIP pyramid, very important patient pyramid, it’s 90% rapport, and then you become, the very end becomes, you become the logical choice. They choose you, you never have to sell. And that doesn’t mean that we have to make sales, which is another word for revenue, to run a company. There is a logical way of, you can look at sales logically, not emotionally.
Also under sales or improving on sales is the power of influence, which you teach, emotional intelligence, persuasion. Those are activities that are needed. And I think, like I said, we have to address the word. But once you do it right, it becomes service. Now the one thing about selling that does have, we can borrow that that’s nice about
because you can’t servicing, when you’re servicing a car. Service, because selling means, in a sense, that you can put some effort into it, and you can act as the influence, that’s a persuasion. And it all has this, we always use this disclaimer, we make sure that people understand this, and I know it doesn’t have to be met for people who follow us, but those who don’t, that everything has to be done with the highest level of equity, I say equity, equity, yes.
but integrity and right as well what we do. That’s built into the system. My favorite integrity quote is, if you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters. So Gary V put out a book called, I think it’s Jab, Jab, Jab Punch. Vander Chuck. Vayner Chuck or whatever it is, yeah. And I mean, I like that. What he’s saying is customer service, customer service, customer service, now go, right? And go for the clothes or whatever it is, the commitment. And…
you know, I believe in jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, jab, and they ask for the solution. Sure. So we’re gonna have these incremental movements towards case acceptance in the sales process that is wrapped in it and it’s intertwined in your customer service experience. So add the word intentionality popped in my mind is very important. Oh, that’s good. Yeah. Because I think the problem is that when people, this is where we have to kind of like almost look at service and sales, like,
It’s gotta be balanced. Because you can sometimes say, I’m just gonna serve and be passive and just I’m here just to live, here I am. There’s no intentionality. And then sales can be in balance where I’m gonna hard close you because patients do not know what they want. That’s right. They’re coming to you because they need help. They think they know what they want, but how can they really know what they want? They’re not, they know the outcome. They wanna be out of pain. They wanna look beautiful.
but they don’t know exactly how many veneers you need. They don’t know, and when they call on a phone, this is where our phone training, case acceptance starts on the phone, and they’re calling to commoditize you, because they don’t know anything else. And then you are shifting it to let’s build a relationship where we partner together on your treatment to get your goal. Yeah, you know I love Disney.
I’m a Disney fanatic. Yeah, that’s where most of your life savings goes. I built a wing of Disney World. So what’s funny about it is if you think about their model, they are built on customer service. They say everything very specifically. Everything is very specific. When you think about this, we always sell something. They have this thing called DVC, Disney Vacation Club. And yes, I’m a member.
But here’s the funny thing, I never even- What’s the quote? A sucker is born every day? Is that what it is? Oh, stop it, stop it. It was a great investment. So I’m making so much money on that investment. Um, ROI baby. And memories, ROI and memories. So what’s funny is when I became a Disney Vacation Club member, I didn’t even realize, it’s like when you’re thinking about buying a car and you start seeing the car on the road all over driving around, they have these tents or these booths where these DVC salespeople are standing there waiting.
They never walk out and interrupt you and pull you from your experience. They only sell to people who pull over and go, hey, I’ve heard about this now. I’ve been standing in line with people for 45 minutes at a time, and somebody keeps talking about Disney Vacation Club, right? But there comes a point where they do sell, where they do ask for the sale. It’s just about timing. The experience has been so good, it naturally makes sense. In our program, we call it mutual agreement.
Dr. Ted Morgan, Dr. David Peer, they talk about this all the time. Mutual agreement. Well, what is mutual agreement? It feels like you’re getting good advice from somebody you trust. You’re in line with them. You’re not breaking any sort of trust point. You’re not pushing too fast. You’re moving along the timeline. You’re being conscious and aware of how I’m reading the room, I’m relating to you, and I understand this is the point of which you’re ready for me to now say,
whatever my commitment phrase is, by the way, which is never, do you see any good reason why you wouldn’t wanna go ahead and get these leather seats today, right? I see this phrase all the time. It’s what I first heard and I go, that is just pressure sales. You know what else is pressure sales? You need a crown. You need four quads of scaling root planning. You walk up front and go, yeah, Alex, Joey, and Dr. Smith were talking, and he needs four quads and three crowns.
All right, Ricky Bob, you’re all set. And I tap the counter and walk away. That to me is pressure sales. That person who’s the patient, you, all you’re hearing is what you need to do. We have to get away from telling people what they need, pressure questions, yes or no. Simple way to do that, give you a nugget here is the word how. If you can get to where a place where you’re using the word how, at the point of, okay, we’ve done all the customer service all along and now it makes sense for me to ask.
If you can remember to put the word how in the beginning of the sentence, it will sound so much better like mutual agreement. So I’d say, Alex, how do you feel about moving forward with this plan? Feel good. You can’t even just say yes. You have to give me more than yes. And people lie in the one word response. Yeah. Oh yeah. Sounds good. Yeah. I gave you a yes yesterday. You asked me two questions and I said, yes.
What did I say? Oh, I know on the text message. I was like, well, I asked you an either or Alex and you said yes, is that to both? By the way, though, people just before we, if you come to the, we’re talking about the mastery program, but I remember you did the Joey impersonation for like 20 minutes. That was great. Yeah. Joey Tribbiani. Yes. Don’t ask me how to spell my last name. So how?
How much sense does it make for us to move forward with this? How do you feel about moving forward with this plan? We’re still in progress of case acceptance, but we’re not pressuring anybody. And I look, the imagery is like a funnel. It’s this wide open funnel where you’re, how, how are you feeling about this? Just give me some feedback. And if you can get that person talking about it, then it makes sense. Okay, well then would it make sense to go up front and talk to Heather about how to fit this into your budget and get you scheduled for this? Now it’s a yes or no, because I’m whittling it down into a yes. When I walk up front and see Heather,
I can do a transfer that actually includes some commitment. That’s what we’re looking for, commitment. You know what I like? I like that we’re talking about service versus sales. And I think that it’s an important conversation that you, the listener, have with yourself, with your team. And what’s your relationship with service and sales? What areas can you relate to? What areas? And it’s a struggle, and we still struggle with it.
Because again, like we say, there are some positive aspects to the intentionality of selling or influencing. It’s just what we know, there’s the dark side of it too, the manipulation. And listen, as human being, it can be tempting. Oh, you know, wow, we have that case and we can sell it. But we have to always make sure are we doing it for the right reasons. You have an affirmation that you do every day. I know you have an affirmation that you teach at mastery. I have an affirmation that I say to myself before.
call with the dentist that is looking for my advice that I am acting without attachment and I’m acting for their best interests and not my own. Very important to remember where we come from, what we’re looking to do, that we’re aligned. Again, I talked about this earlier about the moral obligation that we come from. We have to have some principle, principle-based leadership in what you do. If you stand, it’s kind of like in terms of marketing, if you try to get everyone, you get no one. And if you stand for nothing…
You get nothing, you know, you got to stand for something. Yeah. Tell me just a quick little workshop here about mastery. Cause it was interesting. The mastery program level one, two, and three, I put a link to the events page. And I was thinking, you know, as I describe it, because I know a big part of it is case acceptance. I know you’re the case acceptance guru here. And the, what I noticed in experience mastery is
A lot of it, there’s phone skills. There’s really the entire patient experience. I almost thought of this language is you’re experiencing the patient experience. And what I mean is by experiencing it, this is what I mean. It’s you embody it, embodying the patient experience, because we have a system at All-Star that is designed for, what can we put together in this recipe for maximum performance?
the online training, right? You’re brushing and flossing coaching to hold you accountable, to, to look at your numbers, to help you stay on that vision. Like you say, you talk a lot often about when you have a goal, tell somebody, right? But also work with somebody who’s worked with hundreds of offices and all of our coaches meet every month and they share their ideas together and what they’ve learned. And then the, and then after that,
is it’s terms of you have now the event that’s that, you know, that beach B12 shot, that transformation, that enthusiasm. And when I think about mastery, I think about you get to experience because training, online training is the content. The coaching is holding you, you know, that you’re on your goal, but now we have to experience something. We have to be human to human. Other practices that are doing amazing, that are coaching, that are training.
you rub shoulders with them. I know you often say you’re basically a collection of who you hang out, the five people you hang out with. And so tell me about that. Does that resonate with you? I know it’s your program you teach at, but you’re experiencing the entire patient experience from phone call to end case acceptance and so on. Yeah, when you think about the customer service experience, if the patient doesn’t like being here, they’re not gonna wanna be there more. They’re not gonna want you to do dentistry on them.
So the customer service experience from referral source, marketing website, how you prepare the patient for the experience, how the great phone call process goes. You know, if Heather does an amazing job on the phone, that tells me that Dr. Nottingham is a great dentist. That’s what that communicates to me. If it’s not such a great experience on the phone, then you start to lose credibility, which is in correlation with case acceptance. So we’re asking you not to memorize the things that we do. We’re not scripting you, we’re asking you to internalize it.
the word you were using. You’re internalizing what we’re doing. Yeah, it’s not memorization. So understand that your patient’s feelings are dictating their decisions, right? They’re feeling, so how they feel when they walk in the room. So go through your office, have someone be a patient, have you be a patient. Go through the experience with your team. See what that’s like, have a family member do it, have them be honest with you and give you feedback. How they feel in that experience.
is going to predominantly help them make a decision on how they move forward. People buy with emotion, justify with logic. You know, I’ll tell you something I’ve learned through psychology. There were some studies done, and this is a process that I learned, that they looked at people that have done well in therapy and those who have not. The ones that can clearly articulate what they needed and where they were going were actually less successful than the ones that struggled.
So the one when when you are struggling, even today, we’re struggling a little bit with service versus sales. Where do we feel on each part of it? And we’re feeling freshly, right? And that’s what I love about. That’s also what I challenge you listening about our main topics, service for sales, feel it freshly. How does it relate to you? What areas can you take from it? And then also talking about the way we do events. And our philosophy is not this is a script. This is what you do.
which is kind of a sales thing. You are gonna feel freshly. You are going to use verbiage and see how it relates to you and your practice. And so what I challenge all of you is struggle. The struggle is good. The struggle is where you grow. I love the adage of the moth coming out of the chrysalis or the, I guess the chrysalis is a butterfly. I think a moth, it’s a, what’s the other one? It’s a- Cocoon? Cocoon is a moth. Yeah, believe it or not.
If you help the butterfly out or the moth out, it won’t be able to fly. It needs to struggle to pump the blood into its wings. The same thing is the struggle is how you grow. And so what I would leave all of you with is we love the struggle with you. Come join us at the events, come join us in any capacity. And we love the struggle and the struggle is important. Don’t feel diminished that you don’t know it all. We’re still in the process of learning, right?
We don’t know it all. We’re just, you know, I love, I’ll leave you also, it’s a great book about, we’re just proud that we’re in the arena fighting. Just be proud you’re in the arena fighting, not on the sidelines judging. Get out there and struggle. That’s what I would leave it to everybody on that call. Yeah, if you’re in a place where you feel like you don’t need to learn anything, your ego is getting in the way. Sure, true. Well, thank you, Eric. Yeah, thank you. Eric of coaching, Eric of coaching.
Eric Vickery, president of coaching. Thank you all for listening. And please remember to follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and YouTube. Get episodes as they are released. Share with your buddies in dentistry. And until next time, go out there and be an All-Star. An All-Star.
We hope you enjoyed this episode of Dental All-Stars. Visit us online at AllStarDentalAcademy.com.