Ethical selling? The curious tale of Simon Hocken buying a new iPad

Yesterday, Simon Hocken my business partner and lead coach at Breathe could not wait to tell me about his latest ‘must have’ purchase.  For those of you who know Simon, you will know that he loves ‘stuff’:  he has 18 briefcases, 9 watches, 172 Mont Blanc pens that fit inside special Mont Blanc hand-crafted female ostrich leather cases, I could go on, cars, scarfs, special pointy shoes…….and so when he began to tell me about his new iPad yesterday morning I have to say I sort of glazed over and started fiddling with my emails but………….actually it’s a brilliant story that perfectly captures and guarantees the need for shopkeepers (or retailers) whatever the digital world might throw at us for at least the next 50 years.


The story briefly:

Simon pops into the Apple store in Exeter early last Saturday morning to buy a new iPad, [he does not really need a new iPad, he just wants one].  He is greeted by a nice friendly bloke in a jacket who enquires what he is looking for. Simon says “I want to buy the new model iPad”, bloke says “I will get a specialist to see you”.

Three minutes later a younger guy without a jacket walks straight up to Simon with a beaming smile:  ” I understand you would like a new iPad”, Simon nods enthusiastically, guy then asks a series of well thought out questions to determine what Simon’s likely usage of the device would be.  Bloke says “You need this one” and hands him a shiny piece of iPad technology: Simon is a bit concerned and says “It’s only £300, don’t you think I need the 400 quid one??” Apple bloke says  “No, it would be a complete waste of your money as you really have no need for that level of capacity”.  Simon says “Are you sure?”.

Bloke says, “Would you like us to help you to configure it?” [brilliant confident close] and Simon says “Great, a black one please” . Bloke says “Follow me upstairs”, where there is a large table with lots of bright Apple Store people sitting around helping customers configure their machine. Bloke introduces Simon to another bloke who says “Have you got your iPhone handy?”, then quickly and confidently tells Simon “Right, this is what to do to get started…”

Original bloke re-appears and says “Whilst you are configuring your laptop, Simon, please can I have your credit card and I will process the payment for the the iPad”.  Simon leaves delighted with his new fully loaded iPad, has already told 14 people about the buying experience and it’s only 4 days ago!


A new era of ethical selling is here.

No pushy sales people, no sensational unbelievable stories, no tricky questions, no hard closes, just a bunch of confident relaxed guys that wanted him to buy the right bit of kit for his needs.  Actually this approach is not unusual in 2013, UK retailing has grown up, [with a number of notable exceptions].  It now genuinely wishes to help customers make the right choice for them, sincerely valuing their custom because they know that the customer has loads more choice, arguably global choice on anything from a watch to a water filter. The customer is promiscuous, but treat them right, respect them, help them, share your knowledge with them and they will be back again and again (and tell their friends).

As customers, we are beginning to enjoy the buying experience and genuinely like to hear what the sales person has to impart in terms of the products, features and benefits and how they fit to our individual needs. We are very aware of our importance to the retailer, we are maturing and ready to engage in the selling/buying process as equals.


Why should clinicians consider ethical selling? And, what does this mean for UK (and Irish) dentistry?

Well, your Practice Team must feel comfortable and be competent at doing these:

  • They need the skills and the kit to diagnose properly
  • Take time to explain all of their patient’s pathology (in language the patient understands)
  • Take time to treatment plan, including plan alternative different options
  • Take time to present the most effective options available to the patient and….
  • ….Most importantly, (just like the Apple Store) the expert clinician must give a recommendation as to which solution they would choose

This empowers and equips the patient to make the right decision for themselves – (on a cost, or a time, or a cosmetic, or a tolerance of the procedure basis.)  It doesn’t matter which treatment they select, providing it’s right for them, and that it’s clinically sound.

Some of you may see this as overt selling and consider it somehow unprofessional, my view is that it is bringing dentistry into the 21st Century and treating patients as equals by providing them with informed choices.
If you would like your clinical team to behave more like an Apple team, why not join us on one of our powerful ethical sales for clinicians days soon.

Please see the next dates below.

We also do the same for front desk teams and treatment coordinators. If you would like to find out more, then contact Ernie on 0845 299 7209 for more information.

Best wishes,


07860 672727


Sales and Communication Workshops

Monday 2nd December in Bristol
Tuesday 3rd December in London

Call us now on 0845 299 7209 to book your place.


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Business Managers Workshop


Making some great plans for 2014 and your business?  Start the year as you intend to go on and ensure your team can implement your business plan.

The Breathe Business Manager Workshop is specifically designed for practice managers who want to develop a set of core business skills, essential to running a successful practice.

The Breathe Business Manager course, provides practical hands-on skills that practice managers can implement immediately to grow the practice and support their principal in developing the business.

The Breathe Business Manager Course runs as a set of 6 one-day workshops in Bristol.

The first workshop of 2014 will be held in Bristol on the 8th January.  

Watch the video for more information.

Please call 0845 2997209 to book your place or email the office

Best wishes



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