One of the most successful aspects of our work with clients over the last 16 years has been helping them to correctly present treatment plans to their patients. But, no matter how wonderful your treatment plan is, the patient’s acceptance of it can be sabotaged by any one of the following sales pitfalls:
Don’t Make the Patient Wrong
Patients didn’t go to denture college. They’re likely to have all kinds of misconceptions regarding dentures and denturists. The easiest way to lose a sale is to make them wrong. For example, Mrs. Jones has a denture and she tells you she thought it would last for a lifetime. To now tell her that she is wrong is like a slap in the face. It definitely won’t help to build agreement. Another example is asking the patient if their denture is loose and then when they tell you it isn’t, you then tell the patient that it is and proceed to show them. Instead, don’t ask them that question in the first place. Just show them that it is loose.
Offering Unnecessary Opinions
Your opinions about unrelated topics may well conflict with those of the patients resulting in upsets that have nothing to do with why the patient is in your office. Patients sometimes ask your opinion about subjects that they feel very strongly about and you don’t always know where they stand on those subjects. However, your response may well influence whether a patient proceeds with a treatment or not.
Most denturists know enough to stay away from politics, religion, etc. You can work on being able to turn the patient’s question around and to get the patient to commit himself to an opinion. For example, Patient asks: “What do you think about the Prime Minister?” Denturist answers: “I don’t know, what do you think?” Then when the patient commits himself, the denturist can agree or change the subject.
Arguing with the Patient:
Do we really need to elaborate on this statement? The patient is always right and will always win any argument, possibly by walking out of the office. Arguing or disagreeing does not build rapport with the patient.
Don’t Knock Your Competition
The patient may have found something positive about whoever made his current dentures. To now tell him that he was an idiot to have gone to that person or that he got shoddy work is like a slap in the face. In the best of circumstances, you only have the patient’s information, which is only half of the story. The patient may have dictated to the previous denture maker exactly what he wanted. You just don’t know. So be safe and don’t say anything at all. Focus on what you see here and now, and what the patient actually needs at this time.
Violating Practice Policy
You should have practice policy about issues such as giving discounts, allowing patients to dictate treatment that you disagree with, payment plans, etc. Policy is set by the owner and followed by the denturist. These are two different hats and you should not collapse them together.
A common difficulty encountered by denturists is having patients ask for a discount or, worse yet, denturists who offer a discount before the patient even asks for one. If you are providing high quality dentures and service, then there is no reason to discount your fees. Tell the patient that you only use the highest quality materials and teeth and that you do not take any shortcuts in making dentures. You could politely ask the patient if they want you to reduce the quality of material or teeth that you are using in making their denture or if they want you to use short cuts in making their denture? Explain that in order for you to provide them with a high quality denture which you are sure they want, the fee is x amount.
As an additional point, the owner changing practice policy confuses the staff. When treating patients you are the denturist, not the owner.
If anything gives sales a bad name, it is this point. Maintain your own personal and professional integrity. Assess what the patient needs according to your own high standards and present just that. There is nothing wrong with presenting the best as long as it is what the patient actually needs.
Even the best presentation can go down in flames if you violate any of the above points. Don’t forget, all of this is so that your patient accepts the best possible care from you and receives the service they deserve to have.
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