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‘Care enough about your patients so that you can sell to them’
Have you ever tried to convince a patient to take up your treatment, but no matter what, they come up with rational reasons not to take up your offer? No one likes to be sold to. If you’ve ever gone to buy something from a shop, or a car from a garage, only to be met with an over enthusiastic salesperson you can relate to what I am saying here.
The car salesperson who wants to show you their latest cars, electronic gadgets, the optional extras can sometimes leave you bewildered and occasionally tempt you into making a decision that you may later regret. If this happens, then you can be stuck in a lengthy battle of rights demanding your money back and accuse the salesperson of misrepresentation or selling you something that you didn’t want.
Be wary of these types of tactics. They may work in certain industries but in the dental profession, you could find your knuckles wrapped with a letter of complaint from a patient should you decide to overstep the mark in your sales pitch.
Dentistry is a regulated profession and designed to care and protect the patients’ best interests. This needs to be remembered at all times and especially when providing high end treatments like dental implants. It can be easily forgotten to obtain mandatory things like medical history updates, costs consent, photography consent etc when we are focused so much on getting our treatment plans accepted by the patient.
There is a very fine line between giving patients enough information for them to make an informed choice and encouraging them to make a decision. Usually this ability becomes easier with practice and experience. Nevertheless, what you say, the way you say it and most importantly why you say what you say to the patient all play an important part in the communication process. This is something I would like to focus on here.
If you have ever audited your consultation process, (and I recommend that you do this on a daily basis), then you will engage with a deeper level of understanding of yourself. The reasons why you say what you say to a patient will uncover hidden truths about your motives and focus of attention. Is your attention on the patient and their best interests? Is it on yourself and your financial gains? Or is it a combination of the two?
When I consult with dentists who want to increase their dental implant uptake rates, one of the very first things I do is to watch their patient consultation process. What I notice sometimes is that they are explaining the terminology and technical sides of dentistry well, but they forget the care, rapport and trust that is necessary for the patient to say yes to them and accept their treatment plans. After all, a big part of the patient’s yes comes from meeting and building trust with the dentist as well as knowing they are capable and confident in giving them what they need.
I have said for many years ‘Care enough about your patients so that you can sell to them’. This is because the two are inextricably linked and the more you care about your patients, the easier it will be to sell to them. When you focus on the care, the sales come as a by-product, but if you focus on the sales, you will lose the care, and eventually the patient. Selling is not a bad word in itself. In fact, it is said that nothing in this world ever gets done unless something is sold to someone. However, the way things are sold is significantly important and this is something which is not taught to us at dental school.
Your level of care for the patient will dictate how you communicate to them. A desire to look intelligent, confident or important in front of our team or patients, can come across as being uninterested and uncaring. It can put some people off if there is no heart connection between you and the patient but just a barrage of well regurgitated mindful facts.
To help with the process of connection, here are some questions that you can ask yourself on a daily basis:
1 Have you simplified your implant consultation process?
2 Have you really understood what your patients want?
3 Have you addressed all your patients concerns and handled all their objections to treatment?
These may appear as sales tactics, but the hard and fast rule is that if you haven’t taken time and effort to convey how your treatment will benefit the patient and what it involves, then you are having a monologue with yourself and not a dialogue with them. This will eventually give them excuses as reasons for them to decline your treatment. They are simply not seeing enough value in what you are offering them and you may justify their rejection as your fees being too expensive for them.
If you are finding that you have a certain level of anxiety around a patient then usually that’s a warning sign that you need to slow down in your care. Take a breather and step back from the situation. Ensure that you are following best practice and reconfirm what you are doing is indeed for the best interests of the patient and the profession.
Take the treatment process to a whole new level in your practice so that you are engaged with each and every patient and are flexible enough to care for them as individuals.
Start today by auditing your consultation process and care enough about your patients so that you can sell to them.
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