How to close customers by treating them like a dentist would

A few weeks ago I cracked a tooth. Fair warning, if you don’t like dentists, needles or slightly graphic content, best ignore this post.

As I mentioned, I cracked my rear molar a few weeks back. I’ve always had pretty good, strong teeth. I’ve never had braces or too much work. Back in 2016 I had 3 wisdom teeth removed but that’s about it.

I remember clearly driving home and hearing a “crunch” in my mouth. I felt around with my tongue and felt a sharp edge on my rear top right molar. Then, an unbearable pain. It was so bad I had to pull the car over.

Eventually, it subsided and I got home. I left it for a while because the pain subsided. Like most men, I assumed the problem had fixed itself. I figured it would just go away if I ignored it. Of course that wasn’t the case.

If I was a smart man, I’d have booked into seeing the dentist as soon as I could. Even if there was a wait, I’d at least have the appointment. Lots of people don’t like dentists, but I’m OK with them. What I was afraid of, was being told it was serious.

It’s a bit like paying an expert to tell you how much work you need to do. Imagine paying a doctor for a checkup, only for them to say you need to spend a ton more on treatment. That’s not a good feeling.

The pain started to get so bad that it was affecting my sleeping. I wasn’t getting a full night’s rest. I had nightmares about my teeth dissolving or falling out. If anyone has had those dreams, you know how upsetting they can be.

Two weeks back, I called up my dentist and told them I needed an appointment. It was so bad that I couldn’t eat or drink on that side of my mouth. I was avoiding certain foods and drink. I knew this couldn’t go on.

In the next two months, I’ve got a lot of travel and a few events that I do NOT want toothache with. I can’t imagine anything worse than spending time with family and friends, all over the world, thinking how bad my tooth was.

My dentist gave me a checkup, x-rayed my and told me the situation. My rear right top molar had cracked to beneath the gum. I had developed a cavity that was so large that the nerve was exposed inside the cavity. Not good.

“Do you floss?” Dr. Peter asked.

“I do, yes.” I replied, telling the truth and wondering if he’d believe me.

On the rest of the x-rays he explained that he believes I floss, and that’s why the rest of my teeth are in such good condition. A little work on the rear left bottom molar, but overall, it’s good.

The problem, was the cracked tooth.

“Well, we could remove the top, clean it and place a crown implant. But…”

“But?” I asked. “You’re the expert. Tell me what you think.”

“The tooth is so far gone, it could be a lot of work. The crack is beneath the gum line. I think we should remove it.”

This was both a shock and relief. Part of me wanted to hear him say he could put a filling in and voila! I’d be good to go. But I was shocked to hear that I’d need to have a tooth removed. As I was mulling it over, he continued.

“We could do it now if you wanted?”

That’s a close right there. He even used the Pain Close on me.

“How bad was the pain last night?” He asked.

“It was awful. I couldn’t sleep.”

“We could do this right now and you’ll heal before the end of the week. No more pain. Let’s do it now.”

My dentist closed me. This is a literal example of me being anxious and worried. I was hesitant. Imagine having 3 minutes to decide if you want an entire tooth removed. 

“How much will it cost?” I asked. I didn’t even recognise myself as the customer or that I was being sold to, or closed (an important lesson).

“In total? £135 for the whole thing.”

“Mmmm…” I pondered. Wondering if that would it would be worth the cost.

“But is that worth removing total pain from your mouth? You don’t want this affecting you while you’re away or with family.”

Fuck. He was absolutely right. “Let’s do it.”

He took me through the procedure. Not pretty. 5 injections, 20 minutes of crunching, cracking and drilling later and I saw the tooth come out. I’m not squeamish, but 5 injections into the gums and roof of the mouth, combined with sharp cracks as the tooth was broken up (plus the yanking and pulling as they remove it) made me sweat. Only when I got out of the chair did I realise how sweaty I was. But when they said “you’re all done…”

The relief was palpable. I had fixed a massive problem in my life. And now, a few days after the procedure, I’m able to drink water on both sides of my mouth. For the first time in weeks.

What are the lessons we can learn from this?

1. Address your problems head on. They might be bad, but they will ONLY get worse if you ignore them. Plus, when someone tells you the solution, the problem goes away and more often than not, it’s more positive than you might think. £135 to fix my mouth? Very very happy with that.

2. Your customers don’t feel like they’re being closed. This is critical to understand. When you’re asking questions like “how bad would it be if you left it?” you might think that sounds obvious and like you’re closing, but it’s not. The customer is being shown that you care enough to help them and that they understand. They’re thinking about themselves, not you.

3. Ask questions. Dr. Peter knew about my plans for the future and the pain I was experiencing now. He knew everything about my situation now and what I didn’t like about it. And he knew enough about my future to help me see that if I wanted to have the best future possible, I needed to address it now.

4. Be the expert. Dr. Peter knew exactly how uncomfortable and frankly, gross, the procedure would be. It wasn’t a lot of time to make a decision. Even when I was thinking about it, he said “you might want to just get it over and done with. If you dwell on it, you’ll still have the pain AND you’ll just be thinking about it over and over until the day. Let’s do it now and get it over with.” He closed the fuck out of me and I am thankful for him doing so. He pushed past the price and waiting and pain and fear to get the job done. He was the expert and he knew better.

Mike Killen

Mike is the world's #1 sales coach for marketing funnel builders. He helps funnel builders sell marketing funnels to their customers. He is the author of From Single To Scale; How single-person, small and micro-businesses can scale their business to profit. You can find him on Twitter @mike_killen.