By Janet Hagerman
Here are some alarming facts. Did you know that the average percentage of dental treatment acceptance is only 30-50%? Half, or even less than half of your patients never accept the treatment you recommend. Think about that. Think of the revenue you’re leaving on the table, and just as importantly, patients that are not getting the diagnosed treatment that they need. Are you in that category of only 30-50% treatment acceptance from your patients? Do you even know or track your treatment acceptance rate?
If this is you - it’s not your fault! You don’t learn this in school. You learned to be a clinician. Here’s the good news. You can learn to increase your case acceptance – to sell that smile. This is not about just selling dentistry - ethically, elegantly, and effectively. This is about being committed to patient care on a whole new level.
In the past, you’ve been taught that patient education is the answer. But education alone does not always change behaviors. While education is typically a clinical conversation, selling your dentistry is an emotional conversation and requires different communication skills. These types of conversations require soft skills – not clinical skills, which is primarily what you’ve been trained to use. These soft skills conversations need to involve the entire team. For example, do you and your team know how to present the very same clinical treatment differently to different patients, based on their personal values? Do you even know how to determine your patients’ values?
The old paradigm of simply presenting treatment the same way to everyone based only on clinical indications is not adequate. It doesn’t work. That’s why the only 30-50% acceptance rate. We need to change our thinking about selling dentistry. We need to learn to sell from the heart, not the head.
Studies consistently show that most buying decisions are made by emotion and then rationalized with logic. In dentistry, we make the mistake of trying to appeal to a patient’s logic when we need to appeal to their emotion. Making this heart-to-heart connection is what allows us to appeal to a patient’s emotional needs. This is what gets missed so often. This lack of soft skills by the entire team is what causes a lack of patient acceptance. It’s clinical overwhelm - our technical brain share - with no heart-to-heart connection.
So, how do you fix that?
- Know your numbers. See where you are right now so you can decide where you want to go. Dig into your software and determine what is your current percentage of case acceptance.
- Create a team mindset of selling dentistry and case acceptance as a standard of care. Production is a reflection of patient care.
- Invest in communication training selling soft skills.
Relationships Rule & Trust Is Your Treasure
How do you create a culture that creates synergy between each patient touchpoint that builds rapport and trust which leads to treatment acceptance? The answer is to plan, train, and implement.
What are your core beliefs and practice culture around the concept of selling dentistry?
It’s been said that 90% of selling is conviction and 10% is persuasion. Your passion and conviction are what move your patients. This is the mindset to cultivate with your team. Team dynamics are crucial because they affect a patient’s perception of doing business with you.
The most successful practices that have the highest percentage of case acceptance have some things in common. They create a clear mindset by focusing on the goal of achieving case acceptance for every patient. They introduce and discuss their strategies and protocols at monthly team meetings. Every team member knows how to have value-based conversations with their patients. There are conversations that prevent buyer’s remorse and validate their decision to follow through with your treatment plan. And there are conversations that turn reluctant patients into raving fans that refer their family and friends to you. These conversations don’t just happen. These are skills, and your team needs to be trained to adopt these skills so that they become second nature.
Do you have systems in place to train your team? How are you planning for your success?
Like a sharp axe and a skilled lumberjack, clear systems and well-defined preparation and implementation will be your steps to success for enrolling patients to accept your dental treatment.
Janet Hagerman is an international speaker, author, and consultant. A graduate of the Medical College of Georgia, Janet’s experience includes over 15 years of clinical experience, 20 years of coaching experience with both solo practices and small to large dental groups, past corporate Dental Hygiene Director for a 150+ DSO, PennWell Editorial Advisory Board member, and as the author of several books, as well as numerous articles and courses.