Selling the Benefits of Good Dentistry
“He could sell ice to an Eskimo” - a phrase often used to describe an excellent sales person. It is not uncommon to buy something you don’t need and then later wonder “What was I thinking? At the time I really wanted that car.” Dentists often spend a lot of time in the education process with technical and scientific jargon to motivate patients to purchase dental care. Often after probing the dentist’s motivation for this exhaustive exchange of information, I am given the same answer, “Because they need the treatment and I am supposed to tell them what they need.”
As a healthcare provider, you are performing your function of diagnosis and education. But to the patient, it is often about believing in the need to the point where it becomes something they want to have. Taking need and creating a want takes time and some thought about who you are as a provider first, and then about who and what motivates your patients to accept better health.
Keeping up the momentum to present all day with the hope that patients will buy can have a negative effect on the morale of the dentist. Sometimes by the end of the day the enthusiasm wanes as the doctor faces yet another patient whose needs exceed their wants. Dentists present diagnosed treatment every day in the dental practice, yet never describe themselves as sales people. Can you sell something you don’t believe in? Yes, if you are a great actor – but that is usually not a dentist’s second career. If you don’t care, they won’t either.
You may be diagnosing and calling out surfaces and tooth numbers like a robot, but this doesn’t mean you truly care whether the patient has the treatment or not. Sure they need it, but in order for them to care and want it, the provider has to care first. People buy for their own reasons, yet you can certainly be influential in the decisions they make by taking extra time to listen and get to know them better. Your patients will learn that your intentions are intended for their best interests, not just because it is necessary to tell them.
“I just don’t spend a lot of time with patients who I know are not interested in improving their dental condition. If I know they can’t afford the care I quickly give them the options and then transition them to the front desk. I don’t want to waste my time.” - Dr. X
Have you ever been wrong with this assumption? Judging a person’s ability to pay by outward appearances or by what they say can be misleading. If you do a credit check and they are not credit worthy, that is the best way to judge their ability to pay. Not all patients are right for every office. There are people who make it a lifetime habit of seeing a dentist only when in pain or crisis. Be kind and tell them what they need in straight talk. Explain your philosophy of care and find another practice that suits their needs.
What are the benefits of the proposed care to the patient in front of you? Talk to them like it is custom care for their health as a special individual. Don’t be rushed to get out of the room to the next patient. Don’t think your work is done now that you have presented the need. Slow down and listen and learn what this patient really wants.
Many factors influence a patient’s decision to accept a dental treatment plan. If you want help understanding what influences these decisions, consider taking the Treatment Acceptance Training Program with McKenzie Management.Forward this article to a friend
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