“Looks Like I’m Paying For Your Next Mercedes Doc”
Have you heard this line before? I feel like every dentist I talk to has heard some version of it….
Do you like selling? What about getting shot down or rejected by the patient when you have presented a treatment plan you know is in their best interest?
Stupid questions right? I hate all this stuff. I don’t like to feel like a salesman nor do I like to get shot down and made to feel like I’m pulling one over on them
The traditional method of treatment presentation, you know the one…..
- Tell patients what is going on in their month using as many technical words as possible to make yourself look smart
- Tell them what they should do without explaining what happens if they do nothing
- Dwell on all the benefits of the proposed treatment
There are so many problems with this method but let’s focus on one of them…..the presentation sounds like sales…..WHY? b/c talking about benefits gets people on the defense…. We are so conditioned to assume that when someone is presenting benefits a sales pitch is coming or occurring…..
IF YOU WANT TO INCREASE YOUR CASE ACCEPTANCE YOU MUST THINK AND ACT DIFFERENTLY!
We changed all this up in our offices and the treatment acceptance rates doubled and in some cases tripled for our doctors….
We communicate all our treatment plans in simple, transparent language using the PCSS or PROBLEM, CONSEQUENCE, SOLUTION, STOP technique. We train all our doctors to use it. It has doubled our treatment acceptance and minimized rejection. Our associate doctors swear buy it and we have developed an entire communications course around it.
The goal is to elicit a negative emotional response from the patient without being pushy or providing TMI. You want them to be as concerned about the problem as you would be. Teach them how to think about the problem using a simple PCSS format:
Here is a paraphrase of a teaching conversation I had with one of my patients:
REMEMBER: The message or words are read with the tone going on in your head. Given this read in a friendly and supportive tone vs. condescending or judgmental. I wrote this with kindness and support in mind.
How do you do it?
I am sitting by the patient, facing the intra-oral picture on the screen and demonstrating the cracked tooth in plain sight.
Doctor: John, do you see this crack here?
Patient: Yes, I do.
Doctor: Cracks spread. This will eventually spread into the nerve of your tooth, causing pain, infection and even tooth loss. In these situations, we place a cap/crown on the tooth that will hold it all together.
STOP TALKING. PAUSE FOR AT LEAST FIVE SECONDS and resist the urge to break the silence with further education, or worse, begin talking them out of the ideal treatment by educating them on alternatives or statistics.
Yes. That is it. No fluff. Simple and transparent. Believe it or not, many patients convert without much more dialogue.
If they don’t speak, simply ask, “Do you have any questions?”
Let the patient say the next words. This will be telling and will allow you to determine how to proceed next. For many patients at this stage, they have a crack, the consequence is obvious and the solution is obvious. The intra-oral photo has allowed them to co-diagnose, which is important.
The patient may be tense or concerned because you have elicited an emotional response from them (negative emotion, which is concern associated with pain, infection or tooth loss). They need to understand and feel the consequence so it serves as motivation to solve their problem. This is not trickery or a scare tactic. It is simply transparently and intelligently sharing the potential consequences of not treating the tooth.
My job is to help patients understand the consequences of their problems and what the worst case scenario would be. I then give them the choice to avoid the worst case in a way every single one of them will unmistakably understand. This is preventative dentistry.
Here is a significantly different presentation style. I hear this style a lot from doctors with low treatment acceptance numbers:
Doctor: Mr. Smith, your tooth is cracked (no visual aid to demonstrate that it is, in fact, cracked). Right now, the crack looks like it is above the gum line. The likelihood of that crack spreading is about 50%. These cracks tend to introduce bacteria into your nerve which can cause inflammation. The crack may result in a vertical root fracture, which would require that we remove the tooth, or it could spread to the nerve, which would require a root canal. We need to crown this tooth so that doesn’t happen.
The doctor then proceeds to make matters worse by busting out a pen and paper and drawing the problem and the solution. He continues to provide TMI by launching into the process of doing a crown–or worse, drawing out a variety of crown margins.
By that time, the patient is so tuned out, bored, confused or worried about the root canal they just heard about, the doctor has lost the patient’s attention. Remember that confused minds don’t buy!
Does this sound like you? Well it was me in my first few months of practice. Fortunately, I had an assistant who was honest with me and said:
Assistant: Dr. Justin, your patients don’t understand what you’re saying.
Me: Which ones?
Assistant: All of them. You’re talking over their heads. They ask me a million questions every time you leave the room.
I knew right then I had to find a better way. I did, and as a result, I increased my conversion percentage, as well as saving SO MUCH TIME in presenting treatment options.
I’m illustrating this because you can build value through education, and most importantly by using language that speaks to your clients.
STOP DOING IT THIS WAY…..IT DOESN”T WORK!