How Shantaram Changed The Way I Sell Dental Supplies

I recently read a fantastic book called Shantaram, by Gregory David Roberts in preparation for my upcoming adventure to India. The book was recommended to me by one of our Henry Schein Business Solutions partners with Cirrus Consulting. Cirrus specializes is lease review and negotiations for dental practices.

Upon returning from India, I started to read his second book called The Mountain Shadow. Both books offered several valuable life lessons along with a variety of different perspectives on various topics. Being blissfully addicted to my job as a Field Sales Consultant with Schein, I often taken lessons learned and contemplate how they are applicable to my professional life.

In the book, “Shantaram” (aka Lin), is involved with the Indian Mafia in Bombay. As one would imagine, the roles, responsibilities and chain of command often evolve in such professions. During a meeting with The Counsel, one of the leaders said to Lin, “Don’t mistake your usefulness for your value”. If you have not read the book, Lin had selflessly risked his life on multiple occasions for The Counsel, and still, this statement was made.

A cacophony of alarm bells and sirens went off in my head. This is the challenge I face almost every day as a sales professional. This should be my focus as I continue to go grow. How do I do it?

“Don’t mistake your usefulness for your value”.

I may not be in the mafia, but adding value is still imperative to the success off both myself, and my customers. We can’t know how we are able to add value until we ask. Offering solutions based on what we perceive is no different than slinging Jell-O against a wall and hoping something sticks. Adding value can only be delivered after asking detail-oriented questions to the customer. My two favorites being, “what are you goals, and what are you challenges”? After actively listening to their answers, only then (with their permission) can you offer solutions. My goal, is that these solutions make a positive impact on their personal and professional lives, which in turn earns me the right to their supply, equipment and technology business. Sometimes, I have to remind my customers of the value I bring to their practice, and that is OK too.

I want to be valuable, not useful.

Ironically enough when I went to “friend” Gregory David Roberts on Facebook, I saw his announcement that he retired from public life in 2014 to focus on his family and his work. I thought his final message was appropriate, and I want to share it with you:

“Connection is everything. Connect with others, and with your spiritual self. Love the truth you find in other hearts, and always listen to the voice of truth in your own heart. Be as fair, honest, positive and creative as you can in all your thoughts, speech and actions. The heart of our human kind is tolerant, cooperative, caring and courageous. That’s what we were in the first 100,000 years of our cultural evolution, and it’s what we still are inside our common humanity. And when you honour the truth of others and follow your own heart, you walk in the light that you become. Love and Faith, GDR”.

In summary, connect with others, add value every day, and call me if you want a long term partner dedicated to the success of you, your team, and your dental practice.




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