An Orthodontic Lesson in Customer Focused Selling

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We learned a few months ago from our children’s dentist that our oldest child was potentially going to need some orthodontic services. The problem? She was already experiencing some crowding issues that were inhibiting some of her adult teeth.

Last week, we visited the orthodontist we were referred to by our dentist. Here’s a bulleted summary of how our experience.

  • Pleasantries with the support staff, followed promptly by photographs and x-rays
  • The orthodontist arrives and quickly dives into his prognosis and plan using many technical terms, talking very fast, and, ultimately, sharing  he believed we needed a two-phased approach (with a large price tag associated with each phase); and she might still need some teeth extracted (at an additional charge)
  • Then he moves my daughter to a patient chair, looks in her mouth, makes some additional measurements and observations
  • Once he returns, he continues to talk fast and with highly technical terms about the previously outlined prognosis and plan

Honestly, we left the meeting feeling uneasy about the costs, expected outcomes and how/if the plan really fit our situation.


The second opinion

Thankfully, we also have personal relationship with another local orthodontist. So, shortly after this first appointment I texted him, briefly explaining our situation and asked if we could schedule an appointment for a second opinion.

This week, we visited his office. Here’s how our second experience went:

  • Pleasantries with the support staff while taking oral photographs
  • The orthodontist shows up as the photographs are being finished and promptly sits down and outlines basically the exact same prognosis as the first doctor and then shares his treatment plan; communicating simply, concisely and in laymen’s terms
  • Additionally, the doctor makes it clear that while he still can’t be sure this plan won’t require additional work and even potential extractions at a later date, he can guarantee we will only pay one fee (which was also less than the other orthodontist) and nothing more after that
  • I then ask a couple of clarifying questions to make sure I understand what he was outlining and he affirms my understandings are correct
  • I then asked, “OK, so what is our next step to get started?” and he said we needed to get one more x-ray, do a bit of paperwork and we are all set


Both doctors had the same agenda: to be the provider of orthodontic services for my daughter. The key question is, “What was the big difference between these two interactions?”

The first doctor made his world feel much larger than ours. He talked fast and complex, as if we would be impressed by his knowledge and ability and therefore fork over thousands of dollars. Conversely, the second doctor made our world feel much larger than his. Therefore, we left feeling as though we had truly been served and (though I will never “enjoy” parting with thousands of dollars to fix a smile) were more than willing to pay for those services.

The ultimate learning in this case study, however, came for me as I saw the experience from my daughter’s perspective.

During the drive home I asked my daughter, “What was the main difference in our experience with the two orthodontists?” Almost without hesitation she said, “The second one talked less and was more confident.” That’s it. Brilliant!


Make the customer’s world bigger

One of our core products at ADVISA is sales training called Customer Focused Selling, or CFS. To over-summarize CFS, I offer the following:

  1. Make the customer/client/prospect’s world bigger than yours by asking good questions and listening well.
  2. If/when, and only if/when, you are confident your product or service intersects with their world move to step 3.
  3. Share with customer/client/prospect how, where and why your products/services will add value to their world.
  4. Agree together on said value and next steps to move towards that value.


The “magic” of the Customer Focused Selling process is you talk less (because you are listening to them in order to get into their world and make it bigger than yours) and come across as more confident (because if/when you get to presenting a solution it is custom fit for their world at the intersection of their unique/specific need and your services/offerings/products).

To be crystal clear, Customer Focused Selling is far from rocket science. It really boils down to the 4 steps outlined above. Maybe this reminder or example is all you or your team need to make this happen on your own. And, the timing couldn’t be better.

Conversely, if the Customer Focused Selling process resonates with you and you want a training partner to bring it to life for you and your team, let’s talk. ADVISA will not only train you and your team in this methodology, but also quantify your growth by implementing a pre- and post-assessment.



For more on professional selling and sales training, catch up with Senior Leadership Consultant BJ McKay via his Leadership Talks video series.

For more from Brad Smith, read his previous article “What’s really causing ‘COVID fatigue’?”