Why dental patients don’t accept treatment?

Article provided by Grace Rizza, Identity Dental Marketing

No-shows, cancellations, and pending treatment plans frequently disrupt your morale and the development of your practice. After investing time and resources into a well developed marketing plan and providing the high quality care a patient needs, how is it possible that patients choose to postpone treatment?

The answer to this question is simple. They don’t want the treatment. You have tried to convince them that they need it. You may have shown them various reasons as to why treatment is going to make them healthier, but unfortunately, this isn’t always reason enough.

If I can teach only one main principle in dental sales, it’s this: Sales is a transfer of emotion. It is our job to connect with the patient, inform them of their options, and make them feel that the proposed treatment is the best option for their well-being. The following strategies will assist you in getting patients onboard with improving their health, therefore improving your dental sales.

The main takeaway is that I would encourage you to connect with each of your patients individually. This is not always an easy task, but if you follow the strategies listed below, you may be able to make that important connection.

  1. Gain trust – Do not expect the patient to trust your professional opinion just because you’re a doctor. Back up your recommendations with intra oral photos that display the problem areas. Explain what the next stage of decay or periodontal disease can do if left untreated. Express these things with a slow and concerned tone, showing them that you can connect on their level. Displaying before and after photos of a similar cases can also help to add to your credibility and help their understanding of the issues.
  2. Listen to objections fully – It’s difficult to not jump in and interrupt a patient that says, "I’m scared of pain." Listen fully to the patient as they talk. Let them take their time. This is your best opportunity to create a lifelong patient.

    When the patient is finished stating their concern (objection), start by saying something like, "I can understand how you feel that way, especially after a bad experience. I promise you that I will make sure you are fully numb before starting any treatment. I have a method to test the anesthesia and make sure you are completely numb. The point of this treatment is to get you out of pain, not make you experience any more of it. Does this sound good?" This way you can show you were fully listening, note you understand their concern, and then alleviate their fear by stating a tried and true action plan.
  3. Relate to the patient – Do not talk down to the patient. It’s important that you treat the patient like your friend. Find a way to relate to his objections without being patronizing. Yes, you are the expert, but make sure to convey your knowledge at their level. Also, do not flaunt your high-end possessions. The last thing you need is for the patient to think that your fees are marked higher than they should be or that you care more about a profit than their healthy, beautiful smile.
  4. Discuss, don’t present – Do not speed through your presentation without involving the patient. If you’re doing all the talking, you may not be building trust with your patient. You have no way of hearing about the patient’s objections if you don’t have a chance to talk to them. We compare this to dancing. Both dancers must engage in an equal amount of motion to be on the same page. When you sit down with a patient to discuss treatment options and come up with a solution together, remember that it takes two to tango. If anything, err on the side of listening more than talking.
  5. Never guilt the patient – Compassion is everything in the dental office. If you have a patient that has neglected their oral health, you should realize that he hasn’t necessarily been given the same opportunity and knowledge as you. Perhaps he has suffered a traumatic experience or was raised in a family that didn’t focus on healthcare. No matter the situation, it’s your job to get your patients to want the treatment they need, not to judge them.

    Every bit of communication with your patients needs to be positive – even when you’re giving disappointing news. If you need to tell someone that they have gum disease, let them know that with treatment, you can stop progression of the disease and save their teeth. Put a positive spin on it, while showing your concern.
  6. Invest in a private consult room – Being in the dental chair can be as nerve racking as testifying in a courtroom for some. If you want to have an effective treatment presentation do not present in the dental chair. You need an office that is set up with a screen, desk, and chair. Set the chairs next to each other as this allows for you to work collaboratively with the patient.
  7. Train your team in sales – If your team does not understand the basics of sales, you can guarantee you will miss out on presenting treatment options. Do you know how many calls come in from new patients? Do you know of those calls how many become new patients? Teach your team how to track leads and consider a phone system that provides monitoring to gauge areas that need improvement. You’ll see that your team gets stumped with the same questions regularly. By identifying the areas where your staff needs more knowledge and implementing training, you'll be able to greatly improve your new patient acceptance rate.

Objections from patients

Many dental teams dread hearing patient objections. To get your patients to want the treatment they need, let your patient express his concerns and then talk about them. This process will help your patients understand and want to move forward with the treatment they need. Being prepared for objections from patients will allow you to present alternatives or solutions to their problems. For example, if a patient says they don't have the money for the treatment, explain possible alternatives or maybe a payment plan option. Sometimes, people just need time to consider the treatment plan presented to them. If they leave with a copy of the plan, make sure to follow up with them within a couple of days.

If you follow these simple strategies listed above, you will more than likely have a successful dental practice with well informed, happy  patients. Make this a priority and watch your sales climb.

Article provided by Grace Rizza, Owner of Identity Dental Marketing. For more information about team training or dental marketing strategies contact Grace at grace.rizza@gmail.com.