As if to prove the old adage, "everyone in business is in sales," I have recently found myself working with, of all people, the dental profession.

You might not think that dentists have a need for sales and marketing skills; certainly, many of these doctors still sniff at the idea of having to actually market their services. That attitude is changing. As in all other professions, the most successful of their lot are better marketers than their peers. That fact alone is changing how dentists manage their practices, and has therefore afforded me an opportunity to get involved with some of them.

I have thoroughly enjoyed working with these professionals; they are intelligent, outgoing and genuinely fun to be around. Perhaps my biggest surprise in developing relationships with dentists is that they exhibit most of the same characteristics that I find in successful sales people:


They possess healthy egos.

I'm not referring here to arrogance, but the confidence that comes with the experience of developing a high level of expertise. This is a hallmark of the successful sales person; it also applies to successful doctors.


They have good communication skills.

Like sales people, most dentists are anything but conformists to their work stereotype. People often assume that sales people are "shady" and "slick." In reality, this is hardly ever the case! Dentists, like other technicians, are often assumed to be "nerdy" and introverted. On the contrary, I have found that most dentists--and certainly the most successful ones--have excellent people skills.


They love their work.

This point (and the idea for this article) hit home as I recently sat in on a roundtable discussion with a group of dentists. I couldn't help but smile when one of them couldn't help but gush to his peers, "And we're in a profession that's so much fun!" His enthusiasm was contagious, he was almost beside himself with glee--and he reminded me so strikingly of the most successful sales people I've worked with over the years. It is always a delight to be around someone who is so happy with his profession.


And that is precisely my point: does that describe you?

Think for a moment about how fortunate you are to have the opportunities that your profession gives you.

Speaking only for myself: I cannot imagine anything in this life that would make me more miserable than being a dentist. Sitting on the same stool, in the same office, for eight to ten hours a day, with the same assistant beside me, using the same set of tools, facing the same task--that of going into people's mouths to repair decaying teeth ... every day?

No, thanks. Noooooo thank-you-very-much. No way, no how! There is no amount of money, no amount of prestige, no perk, no promise, no blessing on God's green earth that could persuade me to make my living as a dentist. I would rather smear strawberry jam on my toes every morning and walk to work barefoot along an unbroken path of fire-ant colonies....

And, as I said, that's only me.

Dentists make a very nice living; they don't have to travel; they deservedly hold a position of high prestige in the community; they provide a valuable and highly skilled service to their patients; their work is very rewarding and meaningful; and hey, they get to be called "Doctor"! Clearly, dentists love being dentists (thank heavens), and have every good reason to do so. They're just not me.

There are many other fine occupations besides dentistry that would make me equally miserable. I cite this one simply to point out that there is a difference between "having it all" and having what matters--which is being happy with your chosen profession, whatever it may be.

I am grateful that God makes us all so different, so that there are people who actually want to work in dentistry and other occupations that do not appeal to me. This wonderful fact frees up space in the job market for people like me, whose idea of "fun at work" is not necessarily better, but certainly different:



The next time it occurs to you to whine about how tough things are, about how you're not getting enough help from your upline or company, or any other complaint you might imagine, stop and ask yourself: "Do I love what I do for a living?"

If the answer is "Yes!" then make a habit of reminding yourself often of why you love this strange and complex profession, and commit to becoming better at it. If the answer is "No!" today, "No!" a week from now, and "No!" in 30 days...then you are in the wrong profession.

The world needs lawyers and dentists, too--and you could even change careers without leaving the top-tier professions for personal income. How cool is that?




(, MBA, CSP, specializes in speaking to
corporations and associations on

professional selling and sales management skills.