When NO means NO: What can we learn from pushy sales people?

All of us run into pushy sales people from time to time, and come to expect it at certain retail outlets, but I was very surprised to run into this scenario at my new dentist’s office recently.  Having worked in sales most of my life, rarely do sales people get under my skin as I understand where they’re coming from…until this one.

A little background here, my teeth are excellent, straight and bright white. Other than the need for the odd cavity filling and regular cleaning, they are fine.  However, not two minutes into the examination I was asked what kind of toothbrush I used, and informed that I should be using the one that they sell.  When I declined their offer I was told that I really should consider switching brands.

Five minutes later I learned my toothpaste wasn’t up to par and for only $15 I could purchase a tube of their best toothpaste. Again I declined, but I guess my reply went down the blue dribble bib as I don’t believe they listened to anything I said.  The dental technician then leaned in closer and very quietly let out a barely audible “Are you familiar with ‘Invisiline’ clear braces?” I thought to myself ‘Braces? What for?’ If you have ever seen my smile, my teeth are straight, really straight. Out of curiosity I asked how much they cost. “$6,700 but if you are interested we have them on sale right now for only $5,300”. My gosh over $5,000 for a product I don’t even need! Again I replied with a ‘no’, but this time with more annoyance and timber in my voice. She thought for a moment and then said, “A night guard for $450 would work until you can afford the Invisline braces”. (Seriously?)

Finally finished with my cleaning and no sooner was I upright that I heard: “We offer oral cancer screening for an added level of security… it’s only…”   That was all I could take!  During my one-hour appointment the dental technician had tried to sell or up-sell something to me five times.  I can appreciate wanting to offer services or products, but this is not why I came to the dentist – I came to get a teeth cleaning.

So as sales professionals, what can we learn from this experience? When trying to sell something to someone, we owe it to our prospects to be incredibly aware of their responses and reactions when we ask for the sale. Don’t just hear their reply, really listen to the tone and timber and watch their body language and adjust your ‘pitch’ accordingly.

After you asked for the sale, did they cross their arms or legs? Shift away from you? Change the tone and timber of their voice? Did their reply shift from a monotone ‘no thank you’ to a louder more assertive reply? Are you listening or just going through the sales pattern that you’ve been told to do?

Sadly all the verbal and non-verbal clues I displayed were completely missed or ignored by both the dental technicians as their focus was on ‘up selling’ me something before I left the dental office. I was so offended by the constant sales pitches, and complete lack of respect when I said ‘no’ that I would never go back to them. This was not a matter of an experienced sales person overcoming objections, it was the dental technicians who have no understanding of how to ask for a sale, and as a result, has lost my business forever.

What would have been a better way for the dental office to advise their clients of the personal services and products that they provide?

How could they have approached this to have a successful outcome?