During a sales call, you're likely to run into an obstacle that can make even experienced salespeople stumble: the objection. Don't let it throw you--anticipate customer reactions to your presentation and prepare possible responses. Here are some common objections and advice from lab owners on how to handle them:
"You're too expensive." When confronted with this protest, laboratory owner Mark Jackson explains that a lab's highest cost is labor--and compromising there would affect the final product. "I let the dentist know that I hire good technicians, pay them well and give them generous benefits to reduce turnover," says Jackson, owner of Precision Ceramics, Montclair, California. "That's costly, but it means that our customers get a better quality restoration, evidenced by our lifetime guarantee."
Bob Wakitsch, owner of Dental Craft Corp., Ringwood, Illinois, offers two possible responses to the price complaint. "If I feel that I've otherwise 'sold' the dentist on the benefits of using our lab, I'll say, 'We are higher than average, but why do you think that is?'" says Wakitsch. "Often, the client starts to recite the benefits back to me--'well, because you offer such-and-such,' and that's when I point out that we're worth the investment."
Wakitsch may also ask the dentist how he justifies his fees to patients who say he's too expensive. "Once he responds to that, I just say, 'Wow, that's great. I'll have to remember that.' I don't even have to answer the question, because he's basically done it for me," says Wakitsch.
Whichever approach you use, don't fall into the trap of price negotiation. "The dentist loses respect for you and you set yourself up for constant bargaining," says Jackson. "A relationship based on price is short-lived."
"I'm happy with my current laboratory." Resist the temptation to knock the competition; instead, focus on a subtle comparison that points out what makes your lab different. "I say, 'That's great; I'm sure, like us, they're doing everything they can to help build your practice, like special reports on marketing, investment strategies or technical information. So what kinds of things do they do?'" says Wakitsch. "Most of the time, he's silent because he's not getting those things. Without criticizing his lab, I've made him think about what else they should be doing for him."
"I just switched laboratories." This objection is similar to the previous one, but lends you more of an opportunity because his relationship with his laboratory is so new. Even if the customer isn't inclined to switch again, be sure to let him know at least one thing--a unique service or hot product you offer--to make your laboratory stick out in his mind. Also tell him that you'd like to follow-up in a month or so to see if he's satisfied with the new laboratory--and then do it.
"Whenever we switch, only the first few cases go well, and then it's downhill." "Rather than an outright denial, I acknowledge that I've heard that complaint from other dentists who weren't working with us yet," says Marc Daichman, owner of Asteto Dent, Maplewood, New Jersey. "But I let him know about the training, quality control and other systems we have in place to ensure that his 100th crown is as great as his first."