I just got off the phone with a dental professional who has a side business in functional medicine. Her website looked intriguing and right up my alley. I have run out of western medicine options and I’m looking for something complementary. I should have been a great customer for her. But when I hung up the phone, I knew I wouldn’t be working with her.
She made the classic mistakes that most of my dental clients do. I’m sure she has no idea why she didn’t get me as a client. Sadly, I’m confident that you do the same things she did with the same outcome.
Was she credible? Yes! Did she insult me? No. Do I think she could help me? Maybe. Was I willing to take that chance and spend thousands of dollars with her? Nope.
I landed on her webpage the same way patients land in your office: hurting, vulnerable, frustrated, nervous. So, while I have some physical problems; I also have an emotional reaction to those problems. I have a story of chronic pain. Her first question was right on – she asked me to elaborate on what I had written in my email to her. But then, the conversation de-railed. Why?
She immediately started talking. About herself. About the tactics she uses to help people. I heard about the three types of diagnostic tests I would have to take. About how it would take months of working together to get the right nutritional balance. And when presented with that information, I did what every one of your patients does. I asked if my insurance would cover any of this and if not, what would the fees be.
I am going to say something here, that may blow your mind. When I asked about the fees, I was looking for an excuse not to do this. Yup. When your patients ask about your fees, they are looking for reasons not to accept your treatment plan. I guarantee that when someone really wants something, and they think only YOU have THE solution to their problem, they do not ask if insurance will cover the cost.
So, what did she do that cost her a client? It’s a simple reason. She didn’t make any emotional connection to me. After I told her my history, she went straight into logic and tactics. She didn’t empathize with me. She didn’t ask any questions. She didn’t tell me how she has helped others in my situation. And because she didn’t make any connection, I wasn’t sold on her as a person and I was overwhelmed by her extensive treatment plan. And because the emphasis was on strategy, I didn’t hear how this would help me reach my goals or improve my life.
Now put yourself in her shoes. Do you go straight from examining a patient’s mouth to writing a treatment plan? Which do you spend more time on: explaining the treatment or connecting with the patient? I do get your perspective. You have five minutes and other waiting patients.
But your patients are NOT buying the treatment plan. They buy what the plan will bring them.
When you make treatment recommendations, you must first make an emotional connection with your patient that shows you hear and understand their story. You must connect your clinical recommendations to that story. Here’s how it could sound:
“Hey patient, I totally understand how frustrating and uncomfortable this has been for you. You’ve been living with this a long time. I have a way that will help you. In fact, let me tell you how I’ve helped someone else who was exactly in your shoes. That patient found total relief. I’d like to take the same approach with you. How does that sound to you?”
What You Need to Do
Before you make treatment recommendations, find a way to connect to your patient on an emotional level. Recognize that behind a patient’s cosmetic or restorative need, there is also a story about pain, embarrassment, frustration, vulnerability. Therefore, your conversation should de-emphasize all the steps in your treatment plan and focus instead on how the patient will look and feel after treatment. This is what really sells treatment to patients.