StraightSmile Solutions®

Embrace the Upsell Elephant!


Nothing in dentistry creates more controversy than the notion of “selling” dentistry. Certainly, the most successful dental practices have teams that are adept in the skill of upselling. Face it, there’s more than one way to skin a cat! For any dental problem, there may be multiple solutions with a variety of price tags to boot. It’s an important concept in any dental office: How can you sell without feeling like you’re a used car salesman? To answer this question, we need to examine solid, ethical sales strategies and apply them to dentistry. We all like to buy, but nobody likes aggressive sales techniques.

The art of the classy sale is a learned skill. There’s a fine balance between boosting production with an upsell while keeping a standard of patient care. It’s a fact: As a clinician, you and your team must learn to sell your services or the practice will not be successful. Patients these days are educated, well informed consumers, and will continue to become more knowledgeable. There’s a plethora of information available online, some reliable and some not. Patients need an honest clinician to advise them on their options.

Face it; your patients don’t know if your crown margins are ideal or if you put that perfect bevel on the composite prep. What they DO know is that you run on time, have polite mannerisms, listen to their concerns and don’t cause them discomfort. Good selling means giving your patient just enough information to make his or her own informed decision. The right amount of information may vary from one patient to another, so possessing the innate ability to know how to adapt your sales pitch to each and every patient in your chair is the key to success. If you overshoot, your patients will feel confused and overwhelmed and will likely seek treatment elsewhere. If you undershoot, you’ll make no sale. My wise aunty used to tell us: “Don’t ask, don’t get!”

Unless you are a gifted psychic, you’ll likely need to spend some time getting to know your patient and ask open-ended questions to understand the patient’s values. You’ll have to learn to read body language and observe discreet cues. Usually most dental patients have one “hot button” value that you must target in order to successfully complete the upsell. For some patients this might be value, cost, aesthetics, time or discomfort. Unless you get to know your patient by asking open-ended questions, finding the hot button and subsequently successfully completing the sale is unlikely.

Often patients open up to staff before they’ll befriend the doctors. Your staff should be your trusted advocates in this process. Having a team-huddle in the mornings where you discuss each and ever patient on the schedule, is crucial. There should also be a designated location in the charting where your staff can document their observations. Lastly, staff selection is key. You must hire friendly staff, who feel confident enough to sell your products and services to patients. Often, the key to this is simply a profit sharing or comprehensive staff incentive plan.

In conclusion, enjoy the ride AND embrace the elephant! Never forget that dentistry is rapidly changing. There are so many fun and exciting options to offer your patients that fit your personal practice philosophy and brand.

StraightSmile Solutions is the future of orthodontic coaching. We are the first online portal to provide a doctor-to-doctor consulting service, that will allow GP’s and their teams, to access the knowledge and expertise of an industry expert. We pride ourselves on lightning-fast service and responsiveness. StraightSmile Solutions is time and cost-efficient. Our services are available exclusively online. Out of the over 128,000 general dentists in the U.S., most have little to no formal or educational training in orthodontics. Those who do seek training, often have to resort to expensive and time-consuming weekend services. You learn on the job, through trial and error, but those errors can be expensive and unfortunate for both patients and doctors. We aim to fill the gap in the market for quality and efficient coaching, by providing valuable solutions for doctors and teams and subsequent positive outcomes, in the quality of patient care.

About the author: Dr. Amanda Wilson is an Orthodontist and the founder of StraightSmile Solutions. For more information, visit