Dr Barry J Oulton, founder of The Confident Dentist Academy Ltd and creator of the 2-day Communication & Sales training course ‘Influencing Smiles’, discusses his personal approach and recommendations to discussing the clear aligner system ‘Smilelign’ with patients.

Barry Oulton portrait image.jpg

Discussing treatments, such as orthodontics, can be a concern for some dentists and team members. Most find it easier to discuss treatment that is needed, rather than that which may be cosmetic in nature and therefore elective.

When I was younger, if I thought of a salesperson, I had a negative image and was influenced as a child to believe that selling was an unwanted, pushy transaction undertaken by manipulative, self-satisfying individuals.

Having grown up a bit and attended several sales training courses and then learnt about NLP and human needs psychology, my beliefs are completely different from those from my childhood. I believe that I am selling all of the time. Whether it’s to influence my children to make the best choices or my patients, selling is at the heart of all our personal interactions and relationships.

The word ‘sell’ comes from the Norwegian word ‘selje’ which means, ‘To Serve’. I truly believe that in all my interpersonal interactions, I am doing my best to serve the other person. This has led me to teaching the methodologies and strategies that have enabled me to build a successful ‘single-handed’ dental practice with a £million turnover.

In my course, ‘Influencing Smiles’, I teach a simple 7-step process to increase your sales of all types of dentistry - especially that which patients want, rather than need. You can learn this process during a fun, enjoyable and interactive 2-days with me, and before you do, here’s a look at a couple of the steps to ‘selling the invisible’: 


Step 1 – Mindset


Your mindset contains the subconscious assumptions you make about the world as you go about your business. Most people are completely unaware of these assumptions, even though there is usually nothing that influences their decisions and quality of life more than their mindset. Your own mindset is the most important one of all when interacting with patients.

For example, if you have a mindset that ‘the economy is broken’, or, ‘my patients can’t afford my dental treatment’, do you agree that your approach to ‘selling’ your treatment options will be different than if you had a positively stated mindset such as ‘people are resourceful and will find the money for the things they really want’? (this is important for later in this article, because people don’t buy stuff or things because they want them, they buy things that they believe will give them a ‘feeling’ that they want – confidence, love, acceptance, recognition).

So, let’s develop some positive, helpful mindsets:

To Sell is to Serve,

In your mind, think – ‘I’m going to work with you to find out what you need and why, then I’m going to communicate in your model of the world and provide solutions for you that enable you to choose the best result for you. This will be a WIN:WIN relationship.’

This means you must sell something that:

A. You absolutely believe in.

B. You are congruent that the price is worth the value.

If you are coming from a frame of serving and providing true value to your patients, sales becomes nearly automatic.

Other positive mindsets include –

  • The world is full of abundance
  • People can afford the things that they really want
  • I am worth the fees that I charge

Step 2 - Establish Rapport 


There are a number of definitions of rapport

  • ‘People who are like each other, like each other’
  • ‘a process of responsiveness whereby the client’s unconscious mind uncritically accepts suggestions offered to it’

Essentially, rapport is about a relationship of trust with another person.

20 years ago, I thought that rapport was built by finding common ground, similar interests and by showing genuine interest in the other person. Undeniably, these are important to the process of building rapport, but we are now aware that it’s only about 7% of the process. Not only is the 93% really easy to learn, it’s really easy to implement because you already do it, every day, without realising it. Once you learn the simple skill of building rapport and practice it, it gains deep unconscious liking with your patient within minutes or seconds.

Practice being more like the other person both physically – posture, gestures, expressions and in language – words, tonality, pitch, speed of speech. The more you are like them, the more they will ‘like you’ and we prefer to buy off people we like.

Please remember that you are being ‘more similar to’ not mimicking your patients, subtlety is the key here.


Step 3 Ask Questions


Correct Conversations, Language and the Questions to Ask.

You need to find out specific details and speak the language of your patient to find out what the patient wants and needs, and what their outcomes are. Most importantly, if we are able to find out what our patients’ deep drivers (core values) are and identify these drivers, we can serve them better by providing solutions to their core values.

As mentioned in Step 1, people don’t buy our services for the reasons they tell us – “I want a bright white smile”, “I want straight teeth”. They don’t want these things, they want what they think these things will bring to them if they were to have them – love, connection, confidence (or remove what they have and don’t want to have – rejection, criticism).

Finding out what their core values/deep drivers are.

“I’d like straight teeth”

“Ok, you’d like straight teeth….for what purpose?”

“Uuhh, so that they are straight and look nice.”

“So, what would having nice looking teeth do for you?”

“Well it would improve my confidence”

“In what situations?”

“Ha, eerr well, when I’m talking to women”

“Ahh, ok so if we could look after your smile and improve it so that you felt more confident when talking to women, is that something you would be interested in finding out about ?”

When we now enter a discussion about treatment options, we will also talk about other cosmetic choices, such as whitening, veneers, bonding, etc, AND I will remind him of the reason he told me he wants to have treatment.

To learn more book your place on ‘Influencing Smiles’ now - prices from £299 on 28th and 29th September in Manchester or 30th November and 1st December in Farnborough. www.influencingsmiles.com or email sally@theconfidentdentist.com or call 0333 220 2447.