My Greatest Sale: Prospects helped us turn a losing product into a winner
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My Greatest Sale: Prospects helped us turn a losing product into a winner

Editor’s note: Greatest Sales are true accounts of how successful salespeople closed the deal despite sales objections, buyer inertia, cutthroat competition and other obstacles. Larry Zook, Marketing and Technical Representative for Edmonds Dental Prosthetics in Springfield, MO, shows how careful listening helped him refocus the value proposition for his product.

I was trying to sell a new product but all I heard were objections. The main one: “Yes, I understand that your product costs less. But your quality isn’t as good.”

My company, a mass-production lab, makes false teeth and crowns. Dentists were telling me that mass-produced prosthetics don’t fit as well as handmade ones. The “high-quality” producers – a handmade cottage industry – are mom-and-pop shops that account for 90% of all production.

To win business away from them, I had to dismantle the quality objection.

It wasn’t about coming up with a slick rebuttal. We had to listen carefully and make adjustments to how we went to market. It took a lot of work, but it paid off.

A question of time
First I had to understand the objection. At the end of the day, our dentures fit just as well as the custom models. But with ours, it took more time for dentists to make the final adjustments. So when dentists objected to our “quality,” they were really talking about time and money.

Despite our price advantage, the math didn’t work, they explained. “Yes, we might save some money on the front end. But we’d lose it on the back end because we’ll have to spend more time fitting the device,” prospects said.

Training was key
The only way my value proposition would make sense is if I could find a way to reduce the amount of time for adjustments. Our technical folks told me they could get a much closer fit if dentists adjusted their bite-taking and molding techniques. So I came up with a training program to show how dentists could virtually eliminate problems with fit.

Of course, most dentists weren’t interested in changing how they worked, but I finally found one dentist who agreed to give it a shot. We trained his office. They tried our products and were delighted to find they matched the quality of the mom-and-pop shops.

Now I had a story to tell about cost, quality and the dentists’ time. But I knew that dentists cared about something else: patient satisfaction.

When I asked dentists, one issue kept coming up: Most mom-and-pop shops took weeks, sometimes months, for delivery. That was inevitable for custom products, but patients hated to wait. I pounced on the opportunity and got our company to guarantee 24-hour turnaround.

That really tipped the scales. We won over prospect after prospect because we now had a fantastic value proposition – proven quality and dramatically better service that would translate into happier patients.

Sales jumped 15%-20% in the first year, up nearly $500,000. Today we run 17 cars through Missouri and Arkansas doing daily pickups and deliveries. They rack up 5,000 total miles daily. And I’m racking up sales.

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