Many dentists are squeamish about the sales side of dentistry, especially when it comes to offering elective procedures like whitening, veneers, etc. And it can be hard to ask someone for $10,000 or $15,000 a jaw even when they badly need a full mouth reconstruction.
But according to research presented by Influence at Work, when you present certain information can be the difference in whether the person accepts or declines the work.
Influence at Work is the company of Dr. Robert Cialdini, the author of the highly influential book Influence.
Here’s what they found and how it relates to dentists:
Say you want to offer a patient a well-advertised, popular product like Lumineers or Invisalign. According to research, if the patient already has a favorable impression of the product, you should present favorable product information (like its price or the name of the brand) BEFORE showing him or her what he or she would look like with a changed smile.
However, if the patients has a neutral or negative impression of the product, you should give them product information AFTER showing them what they would look like.
In short, positive information helps them like what their smile would look like more, but negative information presented before showing it to them makes them like their potential smile less
Conversely, seeing what their smile would look like makes them less concerned about their negative perceptions. But presenting positive information afterward actually makes people like their potential smile LESS.
To sum up: reinforce a patient’s positive product perception by presenting positive product information. weaken a patient’s negative product impression by first presenting the results of the procedure – their new smile. Knowing when to present which information, according to research, leads to greater patient acceptance.
So what do we take away from this? You have to talk to your patients, feel them out for what they know and what are their perceptions about possible solutions. Then you can make the best decision about when to present specific information about specific treatments.
There’s a double benefit to following this “sales” model. First, patients are more likely to say “yes” to the work that will improve their lives. Second, the “selling” proposition will become less stressful for you; oddly, that may lead to greater patient acceptance on its own.
Have you ever experienced a staff person’s uneasiness about a procedure communicating itself to the patient… who in turn became uneasy? It happens, and the same thing happens when you’re ill at ease presenting a case solution to a patient. Even if you’re convinced that what you’re discussing the best option, the patient is unlikely to buy it if YOU seem uncomfortable.
Why would a patient believe a dentist who doesn’t seem convinced about and comfortable with the solution they’re presenting? Would you buy a new car (which might cost less than a full reconstruction) from an unconvincing and uncomfortable salesperson? Probably not.
Try this model for a while, and monitor two things: one, the rate of case acceptance by the patient, and two, your own comfort level with “selling.” The odds are that patient acceptance will increase while your discomfort decreases. And that’s a definite win for you and your patients.