Patients don’t agree to treatment because you’ve told them they need it. And most of them don’t clamor at your door begging you to do the most expensive treatment option. So, how do you transform reluctant patients to eager patients without being pushy, aggressive or fear-based?
In my last article, “It isn’t time, money or fear” we saw that consumers convince themselves about whether or not to buy something. It boils down to whether the individual, in this case your patient, can see a compelling benefit to getting treatment. Your patient has to think:
- I want this treatment, and
- I want this treatment ASAP, and
- I want this treatment at this practice
If there is any equivocation in the patient’s mind about these things, they will begin to bargain and back away. So, what can your practice do so that your patients want their treatment?
Tip #1: Stop Selling the Treatment Plan
You read that right. Change your approach from selling a set of procedures into selling a set of defined benefits. No one is going to have an emotional connection to a list of dental procedures except another dentist. You need to communicate what the plan will do for the patient’s emotional and physical well-being. And I did say “emotional well-being” for a reason.
Consider these two statements:
- We’ll extract this tooth and then we’ll get you an implant.
- We’re going to get you out of pain today. We’ll also make a plan so that you feel comfortable in the future. By doing this, you’ll be able to look forward to feeling safe and secure.
What is the second statement selling?
- Getting out of pain today
Is there a price limit to these emotions? Not really, most folks would make a considerable investment in feeling comfortable, safe and secure.
Also note that the second statement did not use fear as a motivator. It did not say that if you don’t do this several terrible things will happen to you. Fear only works for the short-term and only if the patient believes the consequences of not doing the treatment is even worse than the pain and expense of doing the treatment. You do not want patients calculating what they’re most afraid of; you want patients to WANT the treatment because they can see its benefits.
Tip #2: Establish Trust
My hairdresser told me why she left her last dentist (who was on her insurance plan) and ended up spending thousands more at a new place where she paid full fee. At the first dentist, the front desk team was impersonal and somewhat brusque. They acted like they were doing her a favor by even seeing her. The dentist was also impersonal and during the exam, made an ever-growing list of all the things wrong with her oral health. Because he did not build trust with her, she distrusted his diagnosis. So, she turned down the treatment plan and only went to the practice for her hygiene appointments.
Then her children needed pediatric care so she began seeing a pediatric dentist. She joked with this dentist that she wished she could also see him. He recommended a dentist who worked in the same building. She sees this new dentist, likes his style and agrees to considerable dental work – even though he is not on her plan! She also refers her husband who also needs dental work.
The final icing on this cake, was that the first office, after not seeing her for a couple of years, calls to tell her she is overdue for her next cleaning. They were so detached that they did not realize that she had left their practice two years ago!
What is the lesson here?
If you have patients debating with you and your team about whether they need treatment, you need to consider if you have understood their motivators and if you have a trust issue. Patients who don’t trust your practice, will say they need a second opinion or they need a less expensive option or they need to go someplace closer.
In my next article, we’ll examine how you can establish and maintain trust so that your patients think:
- Yes, I want this treatment
- I want this treatment ASAP
- I want this treatment with this dentist