#030 Revolutionize Dental Revenue with Michael Fitch
Unlocking Profits: How Digital Dentistry Transforms Practices
Guest & Host
Michael Fitch & Steven Morell
Welcome to Speak Revenue, the podcast where we emphasize that revenue is not just a goal; it's a result. In this show, we shift our focus from the output to the inputs. We engage in conversations with sales leaders and entrepreneurs about their remarkable journeys. Our mission? To uncover the true root causes of success. In this electrifying episode, our host, Steven Morell, joins forces with sales powerhouse Michael Fitch, the VP of Sales at Dandy, a trailblazing digital dental lab. Discover the game-changing world of digital dentistry and how Dandy is on a mission to revolutionize the industry. Say goodbye to messy traditional impressions and hello to modern, cost-effective, and time-saving digital solutions. Michael and Steven delve deep into how Dandy's cutting-edge technology empowers dentists to enhance patient experiences while maximizing their revenue.
October 30th, 2023
Steven Morell: Welcome to our new episode of Speak Revenue. Remember, revenue is not a goal. It's a result! But a result of what exactly? In this show, we turn our eyes from the output towards the input. We speak with sales leaders and entrepreneurs about their journeys. So join us on our quest to uncover and learn the root causes of success. Let's unpack what works for them. And what didn't today with my guest, Michael Fitch. Michael, welcome to the show. Thanks for coming!
Michael Fitch: Steven, thank you for having me. It's a pleasure.
Steven Morell: And pleasure is on our side. Michael, real quick for our audience, you are the VP Sales of a company called Dandy. Real quick, who are you guys? What do you do and why are you so successful?
Michael Fitch: Yeah, so we're a digital dental lab for those that may not be familiar with what exactly that means, if you've ever been to the dentist and you've needed some sort of restorative work done and you've gotten that horrible, mushy impression work done? Yeah, so we live in the year 2023. Now, that's no longer a requirement. We have technology to be able to scan your mouth. That's a part of what we help dentists and practices get to. And so we provide technology and the equipment to help dentists go digital. Along with the supporting software and the manufacturing of that actual restoration work. Restorative work on the backend.
Steven Morell: So it's hardware.
Michael Fitch: It's a combination of hardware, software that we're providing. We have our own proprietary software that we layer in, and then we're actually making the restorative work, we're doing the restorative work in the backend as well. And this is still, I wanna say go back in the day, but still happening today. In a lot of practices, over 50% of practices are still doing the physical impression. So what that means is they take your impression, they wrap it up in a wet paper towel. They put it in the mail and they mail it off to the lab. And so what most folks don't realize is your dentist is not actually the one making your crown or your retainers or your braces clear aligners. They're sending that off to a lab to be done. And so historically the way it's done is it goes in the mail, the lab makes it, it comes back. You don't really have tracking on that. You don't know where it is, what's going on. You're trying to call the lab to figure out what's happening. It's not a digital process. And so what we've gone and done is we've gone in and digitized that entire lab process for the doctors and for the practices, which has incredible benefits. Including financial benefits, it's incredible benefits for the patient as well. Faster turnaround time
Steven Morell: Does it reduce the cost of doing this?
Michael Fitch: For the practice. It does, yeah. Yeah. Less chair time. So the more time, the less time that the patient is in the chair, the more patients that the doctor can see, the more money that they can make.
Steven Morell: Interesting. So who's your target group? Who is, who's your ICP? The dentist?
Michael Fitch: Yeah, so right now we are, we're headquartered in New York. We're based in the US, we've got a few sites in the US and we do have an international workforce. So we've got folks all across the world, but we're currently only targeting folks in, in North America and the United States specifically. And really our ICP is your local dental practice. The doctor typically is the decision maker in these types of instances, right? This is an SMB type of play. You know, most doctors are single practice owners. Some own a few. There is a larger group of what I would call enterprise, DSOs is what they're called in the market, that own 20, 30, 40, 50, a 100+ practices, but a different segment of the market. So most of the market that we're targeting is, are those single practice owners?
Steven Morell: So that's interesting because that's a very different target group that most of our listeners are used to. They're very specific. How do you reach them? Do they respond to email, phone calls, visits? I'm certain it's probably not LinkedIn messaging.
Michael Fitch: Absolutely. And listen.
Steven Morell: I'm getting 10 times a day.
Michael Fitch: Yeah. It's fascinating. And let me tell you, I am not, I think most folks that come to Dandy and are working for Dandy do not have a historical or a dental background. Obviously we've got our technical folks that are dental experts and so on and so forth. But in terms of the sales, the operations, most of us come from other tech startups or big companies. In the SaaS or tech space. And so I'm not from dental and this is the first time for me also selling into this type of vertical, this type of space and this type of velocity. It's a very high velocity type of sale.
Steven Morell: How long have you been in the company?
Michael Fitch: Yeah. So I've been at Dandy since mid 2021 two and a half, a little less than two and a half years.
Steven Morell: And you had no prior experience in the healthcare or dental industry?
Michael Fitch: None. No, no specific vertical experience. No, I spent 10 years, about 10 years prior to this, mainly in unified communications, so funnel systems, networks, and so on.
Steven Morell: Yeah. Yeah. Okay. That's courageous. I would be at least nervous getting into this because I have no idea how to access... Your company is extremely successful. That's what I know. Tell us a little bit about the growth. You're over a 1000 people head count right now. Is that correct?
Michael Fitch: Yeah I think if you looked at LinkedIn, we're right around a 1000. We just were just featured on LinkedIn. I'm not sure. Maybe some of your listeners saw, maybe you saw Steven, we didn't get the chance to speak about this. LinkedIn every year sends out their startups to the watch list. And we're really, really proud to be on that list last year and this year as well, this year we were number nine on the list of startups to
Steven Morell: Oh, congratulations.
Michael Fitch: Extremely impressive. And yeah, we're about 1000 employees or so.
Steven Morell: So how big was the company when you joined?
Michael Fitch: When I joined, I think when I started speaking with Toni, who's the CEO and one of the co-founders, it was a very early stage, probably series A at that point. Probably less than a 100 employees, 75 to a 100 employees.
Steven Morell: Oh, geez. So you went from I know everybody to, I don't know most of them.
Michael Fitch: You know, I hate to admit that, that is the truth though. It happened, and it happened. I think with most companies that are fortunate to be in a position that we're in this type of scale and growth happens more gradually over an extended period of time. It's very rare. And there's a very select few companies that have grown at the pace that we've grown and scaled at the pace that we've grown or done. So it is fairly difficult to try and keep up with that type of growth and obviously Dandy. We do have as I mentioned, we have an office in New York and we've got offices in other places, but we are a distributed workforce. A lot of our folks work remote, and that makes it challenging as well. Because you're not seeing people face to face in an office on a daily basis, so...
Steven Morell: That answers the question I raised in a LinkedIn post. In the last couple of days, if it is possible to grow a distributed workforce from a handful of people uhs precede seed into the thousands, but apparently it is possible because you guys did it.
Michael Fitch: I think it's, listen, it's... My mother always used to say that everything is in moderation, everything in balance. And I think that holds true to a lot of things, including remote work. Look I'm a believer that there is still value in seeing folks face to face and in an office, and in an office environment still has some value.
Steven Morell: Yeah.
Michael Fitch: But I don't think it needs to be five days a week. And I think that working remotely in a fully remote workforce, it's possible and it can be done. But I think that there is certainly some balance that helps, especially in sales, right? Where you're bringing on new folks at a relatively rapid pace and that onboarding period is critical. And when you're around other people, it's easier when you're on the phone to learn more quickly, I think and get onboarded more quickly when you're hearing somebody next…
Steven Morell: Oh, absolutely. Yes. Yes. It's just being able to walk around and talk to others and is clearly speeding up things and we still have to learn how to replace this or what to replace it with and the remote setting. But let's get back to Dandy and the go-to market. So you are approaching the dentist. How do I reach out to a dentist?
Michael Fitch: Yeah. So you had asked me this earlier and I went down on a different tangent. So let's get back to that. So how do we reach dentists? You brought up emails, LinkedIn, so on and so forth. I'll tell you. We have a tremendous marketing team at Dandy that I partner with very closely. I've never worked with a stronger group of individuals. And so a lot of our business is driven inbound as well as we have a very strong outbound motion as well. As you can imagine Steven, throughout this journey, over the past two and a half or so years, our strategy has pivoted a couple of times. You don't grow a company from 50 people to a 1000 people without pivoting.
Steven Morell: Oh yes.
Michael Fitch: Pivoting and iterating and iterating. So where we are now, and if we want to go back to talk about the journey we can, but where we are now is we drive a tremendous amount of inbound traffic through advertising on platforms like Facebook for example. We do a lot of social media advertising, which drives us to target dentists.
Steven Morell: Dentists are on Facebook?
Michael Fitch: They are on Facebook. Yes. And we do quite well there.
Steven Morell: When you say Facebook, you mean Facebook, Instagram, the whole platform?
Michael Fitch: Yeah. Yeah. Yep. And you'll see our ads, I'm sure. Now, Steven, you've looked us up. You'll see us target you on Google and Facebook in these places. And then we have a strong outbound motion driven by a team of SDRs and BDRs. And how we define that is our SDRs actually handle our inbound leads specifically. Our BDRs go outbound and essentially they receive lists of accounts that they call on. And then they set meetings for AEs, both the SDRs and BDRs set team meetings for a small group of highly skilled AEs which close business for.
Steven Morell: You have a team of BDRs that are actually cold calling dentists.
Michael Fitch: That's correct. Yeah, that's correct. Dental practices to be specific. Yeah,
Steven Morell: I live in Germany.
Michael Fitch: Sure.
Steven Morell: Now. I used to live in the US, calling a dentist's office is... I never get the doctor on the line. So you figured out how to get their private mobile phones or how do you?
Michael Fitch: Great question. So here's the way I like to look at it. If you look, you talk to a lot of my colleagues peers in various different spaces. We know it's a tough time. Its response rates are at an all time low. It's tough too, if you're selling SaaS software and e-commerce or whatever it's tough out there. Here's what I like about dental. When you call a dental practice, somebody's always gonna pick up the phone. It may not be the dentist but somebody is going to pick up the phone. And different than dialing, making 200 dials a day and getting 200 voicemails, right? Because you're trying to call whoever your VP of IT or whatever. And so that's number 1. Number 2 is you're right. Doctors, dentists are in people's mouths all day doing work. And so it's very rare that you're going to get a dentist on the phone. So who else works in a practice? And so we're really targeting a few folks. Sometimes, depending on the size of the practice, it may just be the person at the front desk, you know, picking up the phones. They are a wealth of knowledge, right? Think about it. They control all the booking of appointments. They know where things are, they're the heartbeat of the practice. And then a lot of practices also have a role called the office manager or dental assistant, and those folks. Are critical a lot of times to setting up appointments for the doctors, dealing with the lab work, the lab relationships and other vendors that work within the office. Hence the title, I suppose the obvious one, office manager. And so we're doing a lot of our work through those individuals as champions to get us through to the doctor and ultimately set up those meetings for us.
Steven Morell: And then you mentioned your highly specialized AEs.
Michael Fitch: Yeah,
Steven Morell: They do inside sales. They go on a call with the doctors. You don't have a field force that actually visits the doctor. How does that work?
Michael Fitch: That's correct. Yeah. Yeah. That's correct. So our team we've got is mainly split up into two groups. So we've got a group of folks in New York at headquarters, and then we have another location out west. So just from time zone coverage.So we've two main, two main locations. And yeah we take virtually everything over the phone, and it works quite well. It works quite well for us. Of course, that's a bit of a deviation from. Historical pharma or sales. Where it's you're walking in and doing the whole thing.
Steven Morell: Yeah, I was thinking that's the traditional way to get anything into any doctor's office. I've got the pharma salesperson. Do doctors, dentists do Zoom calls? Or is it a tradition?
Michael Fitch: So we do both. We do both is the answer. It depends on the doctor, right? And it depends on their preference. And we're flexible. A lot of times the initial call may just be a phone call, a traditional phone call, and then if we have a second call and they want us to do a demo of our software, they wanna see the platform, they wanna see the actual lab ordering experience, obviously, than a Google meet or a Zoom call is required. And that's totally fine. So we're flexible with that. Again I mentioned earlier, we have a very high velocity sales cycle. And so we're moving quite quickly at high volumes. And so we're always gonna prefer a face-to-face interaction, so we can read the expressions and understand what's going on, what the doctors' seeing and feeling, but not required.
Steven Morell: Do doctors use something like Calendly to set the appointment?
Michael Fitch: Yeah, so when they're coming inbound, yes! We have a third party platform that we use that they can select time and schedule with, directly, with the AEs, essentially.
Steven Morell: Because those are highly educated people who do their work, not sitting in front of a computer,
Michael Fitch: Yes.
Steven Morell: Very different from us. We spend, I don't know how many hours per day, in front of a screen with a keyboard in front of us. So reality is very different from ours, right?
Michael Fitch: And it's not getting, and Steven that's a great point. It's not getting any easier for them. I'm not sure how it is in Germany. But in the US there's been a real shortage of folks. In terms of, in the workforce right? There's a lot of companies looking for people to work and that's affected dental practices. So a lot of doctors are busier than they ever have been. And are having trouble finding help for their practices supporting this type of role. And as such, they have less time to take meetings or to take meetings over, traditionally you do like a lunch type of meeting. It's not as much time in the day for them. So it does, it has created some complications and it is tough to get a hold of the doctors because to your point, they're not in front of their computer all day.
Steven Morell: And I can imagine that you also have to be flexible in your working hours because dental offices have certain opening times. When doctors are staring into the mouths of their patients and cannot take phone calls.
Michael Fitch: We get a lot of, we get a lot of, this is when you go back to your question about Zoom or Google meets. We get a lot of doctors on their ride to work. Yeah. During their lunch hour or their ride home from work. And that's just the nature of the type of sale and the business that we're in. And, we have to be flexible with that. We also do a lot via SMS as well, right? Doctors are willing to message us in between patients as they're going from operatory to operatory, so on and so forth. And so we do a lot through SMS. We do a lot through just traditional phone calls. And so it's a little bit, it's a little bit. I think it's out of the norm.
Steven Morell: Give us an understanding of your sales force. You've got. SDRs for inbound leads. You've got BDRs doing the outbound calling. And not sure if there's a qualification. You're a dentist, you're qualified.
Michael Fitch: Yeah so there is some qualification. I traditionally, look, this is the way that I, and this is a debate that I think we could go on for an entire podcast episode, but my feeling is it is not the SDR or BDRs job. to sell Dandy, right? They, of course, their job is to set a qualified meeting, right? And there's some basic qualifications that we want them to meet. We wanna try and understand a timeline. Is there any sort of need if you're familiar with bands, right? Generally, that's what we're trying to, we're trying to understand that's about it, right? That the rest is really the AE's job. To qualify if there's really an opportunity here, and then ultimately sell Dandy to that practice. There's a difference between a qualified meeting and a qualified opportunity in my eyes. And that line exists somewhere and we want the XDR to spend time setting qualified meetings, not qualifying an opportunity. And so those are two separate things in my eyes.
Steven Morell: I like to think about this in the terms of sales qualified lead. That's what the BR delivers, and then the AE talks to that person and accepts that offering from the BDRs. Yes, I'm accepting this lead and now it's SAL - sales accepted lead or opportunity in most CRMs, what I'm trying to understand is, how big is your sales team now? Like how many AEs? What are we talking about?
Michael Fitch: Yeah, so this has again changed over the time that I've been at Dandy. We are now very heavily weighted on the SDR and BDR side. So let's just say you've got two or three SDRs or BDRs for every one AE type of structure. And so what we're really focused on, Steven, and what I would implore, my peers in the industry to really focus on is. Ensuring that you're building a system that has very little slack in it, and you're growing only based on the need for capacity. Essentially meaning that it is not a sales job in theory, right? It's not the AE's job, in my eyes, to create demand. That is marketing's job, and that is XDR's job. Their job is to create demand to then feed a team of AEs. The AEs, if you look at your AEs calendar and they have one meeting or no meetings on their calendar on a given day. You have too much slack in your rope, right? You don't have enough demand. That's a problem. And so what we've done is we've built a system where our AEs and they love this naturally, right? They're busy. They have, we have multiple meetings a day per ae, and they're moving quickly. There's not a lot of time to, not a lot of downtime. And that's the structure. That's the structure that we've, that we've built and we're gonna continue to expand on. And here's my plug for hiring. If anybody's looking for a change, we are hiring on both the SDR and BDR front and wanted, certainly get that word out there. We're gonna be continuing to hire through the rest of this year and throughout next year as we start to look ahead and continue to scale for 2024.
Steven Morell: You heard it, Michael is hiring and I think this is the place to work. If I were to look for a job, I would apply. So I'll think we put a link or something under the transcript on the website. Send us links and collateral. We'll send as many people your way as we can get handle of. Speaking of which, how do you find Account executives or people who are willing to fill that seat, and how do you skill them up to be able to have a qualified conversation with a dentist?
Michael Fitch: So I think those are 2 or three separate questions. So let me start with how we find account executives specifically, and what's our view on that? So right now we've got this is something that I'm super proud of, and if we talk about it. If I was to leave Dandy tomorrow, which I will not, but if I was like, this is something that I would hope I could leave, I would be my legacy that I leave behind for example. So we've got what I think is an excellent career progression map or journey at Dandy. And what we do is we're really keen on fostering an environment where you can grow from within. I believe in a system where you start at Dandy as an SDR and you prove yourself over a relatively quick, short amount of time. Let's say somewhere between six months to a year, and then you move up to a BDR role and you do the same thing and six months, and then you move up to a senior BDR role, and then you become an AE. So within the matter of 18 months, 18 to 24 months, you can become an AE if you're a top performing BDR or SDR.
Steven Morell: Do you recruit your account executives from the SDR/BDR teams?
Michael Fitch: This is the system that we are creating. Yes. And we have created, and we have in place. And so right now, to be very clear, Steven, the team of AEs that we have, we're mainly have been with Dandy for an extended period of time. Most of them have been here for, well over a year, 2 years, some 3 years. So these were folks that were hired from the outside. However, since that point in time, we have put in a system where now, if you were to come in as an SDR, we had, we just had a new class start on Monday for team members. Those folks have the opportunity to travel on the path that I just outlined and that's an incredible opportunity. And it, you know what, as a company, it's better for us as well because I now only have to focus on hiring for one role. Versus having to hire for three separate roles. I can hire for SDRs or just BDRs and then, know that I have this incredible talent pool that I'm pulling from internally versus having to go out and hire AEs, which I'm not opposed to doing. Of course, there's incredible talent out in the market, but I'd rather give that career opportunity to some folks inside the organization. And additionally, we have set up the same thing for AEs as well. We have five levels of AE career progression that you can travel through.
Steven Morell: Impressive and so many questions that I have and that will remain unanswered at least in this episode. Because we are running out of time, this went by so fast. Final question. If I would have a time machine and you could send a postcard to the five year younger Michael Fitch. Give him a warning or advice. What to do, what not to do. What to do differently. What would you write on that postcard?
Michael Fitch: Honestly speaking, I'm going to give you an answer. But my honest answer wouldn't change a thing. I feel incredibly fortunate for the journey that I've been on and, you know, I think the answer that I will give you because I don't want to cop out is to just worry about controlling your day-to-day things, the things that you do day in and day out. And if you strive on the little things, then just do the right things, the little things correctly and do them better than everybody else. The bigger picture will play out. And I have a tendency, personally, to always be living in the future. And I think that's a blessing and a curse. I don't live in the present. I'm always looking ahead. I'm always worried about what's coming next, what's around the corner. And I think that's served me well in some regards, but it's also given me, it's tough to tell in this podcast. My gel does a nice job hiding it, but a lot of gray hair and, I think my advice would be not to worry so much and enjoy the ride a little bit more. And look, the thing that I'll say is it's a lot of hard work. Of course, it's some skill, but the other two things that you can't control are luck and timing. And I think you gotta be lucky sometimes, and you have to have the right timing. And sometimes the universe just, those things have to play themselves out on their own. So my advice to anybody, just starting out or just hungry to grow, is if you do the right things on a daily basis, it will happen. And enjoy the ride a little bit because before you know it, 15 years go by and you look back and you don't know where it went. And you have a family and a house and a mortgage and kids, and... Take risks and do things before you have those things because it makes it a little bit easier to do so earlier on in life.
Steven Morell: Thanks, Michael. Tons of wisdom here. All right, everyone. That brings us to the end of this episode of Speak Revenue. I want to thank our guest, Michael Fitch, for joining us today. Thanks Michael. And for sharing the valuable insights that he shared with us. I. Remember to check out our website : speakrevenue.com for the full transcript and additional resources, and now also job offerings. And if you enjoyed the show, please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, or wherever you go for your listening needs. It really helps to get the word out. Also follow us on LinkedIn, on Instagram, on YouTube. We'll be back soon with another great guest. Until then, stay curious, keep listening. Stay safe and talk to you soon. Thanks.