The Dental Technician and the Art of Persuasion
Help your customer close the sale
Many patients defer the extensive treatment plans that their dentists present and hope to close. Some of the many reasons patients don’t accept the treatment as proposed is because they’re considering another dental office’s offer or are having financial issues that are delaying decision-making. Perhaps the patient did not fully understand what he/she was being urged to do and did not feel comfortable raising the question with the dentist.
Whatever the case for the indecision, your dentist-client’s goal is to persuade these prospective customers to eventually accept the treatment plan and start the process. Treatment presentations require time and preparation. The dentist’s role is integral to case acceptance, but details can be effectively and successfully handled by trained team members. Although this tactic may be less common, it also may be the best strategy for increasing treatment acceptance. The savvy dentist builds a team of trusted advisors, usually including the treatment coordinator and laboratory technician, and engages both of them to take part in presenting the treatment and potentially closing the sale.
Here are the general roles for the team members in the success of the treatment plan presentation:
1. The dentist: Discussing all issues and concerns, so the patient feels comfortable to consent to the treatment.
2. The treatment coordinator: The schedule, treatment financing, pre- and post-treatment complications, and any other issues the dentist did not cover. The treatment coordinator answers questions and listens to the patient’s concerns.
3. The laboratory technician: Material selection, artistry and esthetics, technical skills, and vast knowledge of technology.
Because the focus of this article is on dental laboratory technicians and the role they play in helping the dental team with effective treatment presentation and case acceptance, the author would like to share some of the techniques and tools that can be used to help achieve the dentist’s desired success and the patient’s expectations .
Here is a short list of tools that, if used effectively by the laboratory technician, could guarantee the dental team’s success, including patient satisfaction.
Patients perceive the laboratory technician as a part of the dental team, someone with whom they can raise difficult and often inconvenient questions that they may not consider posing to the dentist. The laboratory technician should be prepared and coached to answer questions based on the following:
• The experience the dentist possesses with the type of procedure recommended
• The warranties offered by the dental office and the laboratory for this type of procedure
• The typical concerns posed by other patients who have received the same type of procedure
• The technician’s personal recommendation, successes, and failures with this same type of procedure
Technicians who field these types of questions don’t just need the right personality, experience, and presentation skills to skillfully answer them; they must believe in the dentist’s knowledge, talent, and skills to perform the procedure to the patient’s satisfaction.
Successful dental treatments require effective communication between the patient, primary dentist, specialist (if required), treatment coordinator, and dental technician.
Here are some communication tools that the laboratory can use to help patients make informed decisions, establish their expectations and goals, and ultimately help obtain their approval to start the procedure:
1. Laboratory website: The dental laboratory website is a valuable and effective selling tool when used as part of the treatment plan presentation and patient education. The site should contain helpful information and the variety of modern solutions that are available for common dental needs. The site should be designed to answer patients’ questions and concerns on any dental procedure that is offered by the dental office and involves the laboratory. Videos are an effective way to show patients the solutions to complex dental problems, such as cosmetic veneers, snore devices, dental implants, flexible partials, and orthodontic appliances.
2. Computer imaging: The dental laboratory should have access to one of the many imaging software modules that can help establish the esthetic possibilities. This type of presentation can be compelling and more convincing than the traditional esthetic wax-up, especially when created in cooperation between the technician who is using artistic knowledge and the designer who is employing a realistic approach. When these two ingredients are present, the results are esthetically pleasing and very much achievable.
3. Case planning: This is usually referred to as the pre-treatment. Today’s many complex cosmetic and implant procedures require a good understanding of dentofacial esthetics. Case planning is where it all starts. This is the time when the laboratory technician makes suggestions for preliminary tooth preparation, choice of materials, case design, and other aids needed to facilitate the fabrication of restorations. The laboratory technician, through the use of computer-aided planning software, can easily establish the proper position and inclination of the dental implants in the patient’s mouth. Sharing the benefits of such diagnostic tools further assures the patient that the dentist is leaving nothing to chance and is taking every measure to ensure the success of the procedure and the full satisfaction of the patient.
4. Photography: Digital photography is critical in both the pre-treatment and post-treatment stages. The laboratory can offer the service as part of its overall restorative fee. The use of photography is important in evaluating the esthetic problems before starting the treatment, and has become as valuable a tool to the predictably successful cosmetic dentistry outcome as the articulator is to successful functional dentistry. Photography plays a vital role in evaluating esthetic problems as part of the workup; in case presentations with real and compelling possibilities; as great visuals to share with laboratory personnel, making it possible for the entire laboratory team (waxers, designers, ceramists, etc.) to view their work; and as an effective internal marketing tool for the office to share with other patients, showing off the dentist’s work.
A dental laboratory looking to put forth the effort to move forward in this ever-changing marketplace may want to consider providing services that could help train the dental team in acquiring new communication skills in order to increase the rate of treatment acceptance. Invest your time with a dental team made up of members who are willing to master new techniques and are as eager to succeed as you are. Be excited about the prospect of helping your customers, and they will always seek your help.
Nick Azar is a DAMAS consultant, business strategist, executive coach, and founder of Azar Associates in Santa Clarita, CA.