Why Patients Don’t Accept Treatment

No-shows, cancellations & pending treatment plans frequently disrupt your morale and production. After investing in marketing, treating your patients like gold and providing the high quality care, how is it possible that patients choose to postpone treatment?

The answer to this question is simple. They don’t want the treatment. You may have convinced 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 and let him know and FEEL that this proposed treatment is the best option for his well-being. The following strategies will contribute to more dental sales.

How is this accomplished?

1. Gain Trust

Do not expect the patient to trust your professional opinion JUST because you’re a doctor. You must earn trust. 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 before and after photos of a similar case can also help to add to your credibility.

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 he talks. Take your time. This is your best opportunity to create a P.F.L. (Patient For Life). He may go on to say, “I’m scared of pain. My last dentist filled a cavity and it hurt like hell! Now I’m afraid of shots and that’s why it’s been so long since I’ve seen a dentist.”

When the patient is finished stating his concern (objection), start by saying, “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?”

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 or her objections without being patronizing. Don’t drive a Mercedes and leave it parked in the lot. The last thing you need is for the patient to think that your fees are marked higher than they could be or that you care more about a profit than his healthy, beautiful smile.

4. Discuss, don’t present

Do not speed through your presentation without involving the patient. We have a saying that we use frequently to remind our dental teams to interact with patients. It’s, “Telling ain’t selling!” If you’re doing all the talking, you can bet you are not relating or 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 2 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. I’ve heard a dentist say to his team, “Wow, her teeth are bombed out!” Just having this judgmental attitude will affect your sales. Your patients can feel it if you are judging them. Instead, think about it this way: People do the best they can with what they know and with what they have. 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 health care. No matter the situation, it’s your job to get your patients to want the treatment they need, NOT to judge them.

On the same note, make sure your hygienist stops lecturing people to floss. We know hygiene is important, but shaming is NOT the same as educating. There’s a fine line. Instead of saying, “I can tell you aren’t flossing. You really need to start flossing every single day. Do you understand?” Say, “Nancy, as always, it’s wonderful seeing you and catching up. As your hygienist I have to remind you to floss every day. Have you tried this kind of floss yet? Here’s a sample for you- I just love it. Let’s get you scheduled for your next appointment. “

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 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 sales meeting (treatment presentation), do NOT present in the dental chair. You need an office that is set up with a screen a desk and a chair. Set the chairs next to each other. This allows for you to work together collaboratively with the patient rather than opposing chairs.

7. Train your Team in Sales

If your team doesn’t understand the basics of sales, you can guarantee you will miss out on presenting treatment. 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.

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 want the treatment they need.

List out every objection you’ve ever heard from a patient. Come up with a way to acknowledge and understand the patient’s concern, address the concern and provide a solution. Here are a few samples:

1. “That’s too much money.”

Patient: “Wow that’s a lot of money! I’m not sure I can swing that right now.”

Dentist: “I understand that dentistry can be expensive. We are competitively priced in this area and we use the best materials from local labs only. Cutting costs in lab fees often can result in lower quality work that may not last as long as it should. Unlike many practices, our work is guaranteed, which means that any adjustments are covered for 5 years. There are a couple things we can do to make this more affordable for you. The first thing I’d recommend is starting with the most important treatment. Once this is completed, we can move on to the next step. How does this sound?”

Patient: “Well, it sounds good, but I’m still going to need all of this work, right? Is there anything else we can do on the price?”

Dentist: “You will still need the rest of the treatment and I don’t want too much time to pass, because as I mentioned, these things will get worse over time. However, this kind of dentistry is truly life changing. Once you can eat comfortably and show off your pretty smile, it’s going to be an investment that you enjoy every day of your life. Like I said, we can schedule it in portions and provide the most important treatment first. Is there an amount that you’re comfortable starting with and I can work with you to recommend the most important procedures that fit within your current budget?”

Continue to ask questions as you provide solutions. Sometimes that patient has a number in mind that he can work with or a plan that you may not offer right away. Take your time explaining the patient’s insurance benefits, financing options and any discounts available. Make sure the patient knows that your services are high quality and they will be happy with the results.

2. “I need to speak with my wife.”

When scheduling an appointment for a patient to go over a larger treatment plan, invite the patient’s spouse. Tell him that his wife is invited to this appointment and that it’s always better to have 2 sets of ears and eyes when making a decision about your health.

If the spouse is not present during the treatment presentation, send home a printed presentation with notes about the needed procedure. Send sample before and after photos. Invite the spouse in for a follow up meeting to answer any questions you may both have.

3. “I have to think about it.”

  • If there has been little conversation with the patient at this time, you will want to ask them some questions to try to find out what he still needs to think about.
  • Say this, “I understand this is a lot of information to take in. What is it that you are considering at this point? Maybe I can help you understand all of your options a little better.”
  • Patient says, “That sounds good, how much would that cost?”
  • See financial objection example above

As your team practices these verbal skills, you’ll see them thinking on their feet and you’ll see patient satisfaction rise. When patients ask questions, you must relate, respond, and ask a question. Repeat this pattern and watch as your practice grows more productive each day.

For more information about team training or dental marketing strategies contact Grace Rizza at grace.rizza@gmail.com.