November/December 2008, Volume 4, Issue 10
Published by AEGIS Communications
Case-Killers: The Top Five Reasons Your Sales Pitch Isn’t Working
Angie Skinner and Penny Limoli
You’ve got a gorgeous facility. You’ve been to several esthetic courses and are highly skilled. You’ve purchased all the technological bells and whistles, and your team has matching scrubs. So why aren’t new and existing patients beating your door down for their very own “extreme makeover”? Every day you have patients come into your office with less-than-attractive smiles and too many of them leave without deciding to do something to improve them. Why does this happen? Here are the top five reasons you aren’t getting through to your patients and getting them to say yes—and what to do about it.
1. No Need
If patients believe in the axiom, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” it will be doubly challenging to move them toward elective dentistry. Until patients perceive a need, they will not buy. It is that simple. You must get to the core of their needs. For the past 9 years, the authors have been training clients to ask questions that drive need, simplifying the sales process. Begin by asking patients: “What is most important to you about your smile?” and “What are you committed to in your oral health?” Be sure you are listening because their response should drive future discussions; your next step is to tell them either how they can get what they said they want... or how to avoid what they stated they do not want. Something as simple as customizing your approach helps personalize the cases you are presenting, and we all know just how meaningful personal touches are.
2. No Money
How many of your patients have an extra $20,000 or $30,000 just lying around in today’s economy? The reality is that most do not. Good times or bad, you must be prepared to address the financial aspects of treatment with grace and poise. The authors strongly suggest the use of their financial form, Take It To The Bank (TITTB). This form is available for free by e-mailing Dental Genius at email@example.com. TITTB gives offices a great amount of leverage because it makes patients financially responsible for their treatment, and it allows the office to have a legal and binding contract for treatment that is to be paid in installments. TITTB also eliminates the need for outside collection services. Having a beautiful and healthy smile is a benefit that will outlast most luxury purchases. Think about it: A smile is used more than a vehicle, vacation property, or plasma TV. Your financial coordinator plays a vital role; her knowledge of financial options, appropriate vocabulary in presenting alternatives to the patient, and understanding of the life-changing impact of a smile makeover are imperative.
3. No Hurry
There is a fine line between assessing the sense of urgency that a patient has in changing their smile and sounding like a used car salesman (“What would it take for you to drive that smile home today?”). The authors recommend eliminating the word “today” from your case presentations because trust fosters urgency, but pressure does not. A great question to ask to determine patients’ sense of urgency about changing their smile is: “Is getting the smile of your dreams something you might do someday, will do in the near future, or must do now?” You also could try: “What will it mean to you when you look in the mirror and see your ideal smile, smiling back at you?” Visual stimulation is imperative when inspiring urgency in patients. Be sure to use your intraoral camera and digital imaging. These tools of influence create a greater sense of connection to the outcome—gorgeous smile—than your simple case presentation ever will alone.
4. No Desire
Many times the desire is there, but it’s somewhere under the surface, lying dormant. You are in the profession of educating patients and letting them know what is possible for them. To find out what their smile desires are, you must ask them. Try these examples. “If you could change anything about your smile, what would it be?” “Do you know anyone, friend or family, who is really attractive yet their smile seems to take away from, not add to, their appearance?” One of the author’s clients recommends, “If I could wave a magic wand over your smile, what would change?” Bring that hidden desire to the forefront, and you are destined to make more sales.
5. No Trust
Trust (or lack of it) is the primary reason the authors get called in to help offices become more effective in case presentation. If patients do not feel that you will put their needs, desires, and budget first, ahead of your own need for production, they will always decline treatment. In other words, a patient can have all the desire, need, money, and sense of urgency in the world, yet if they do not trust you, they will be taking their smile to another provider. How do you develop trust? First, you and your team must establish a relationship with each patient. This goes beyond asking when his or her last dental visit was or if he or she has ever had an unpleasant dental experience. You can establish trust in a matter of minutes by setting out to win over your patient. Start with friendship; make eye contact with your patient; address him or her by name. If you aren’t good with names, take the time and effort to improve your skills or use facial photographs so you recognize a patient on sight at future visits. Note interesting things about your patients in their records, so you can ask about that visit to Italy or grandchild next time around. Find something in common with the patient, much like you would do at a party. Next, you must communicate as a team. Talking about the procedures you think patients value most should be a team standard. If you are the only one communicating to the patient about cosmetic dentistry, the patient may believe it is only important to you because it has a direct impact on your income. If your team does not understand the effects of great dentistry, they have never had any. Use your team as the calling card of your skills, so patients can marvel over their gorgeous smiles. At the end of the day, trust results in satisfied patients who buy from you first, every time.
About the Authors