When Linda and I observe teams we are consistently struck by communication skill opportunities. Asking questions, listening, and using benefits are the top three areas all practices can work on. Teams are excellent at explaining the technical aspects of what they are going to do, how strong a crown will be, how beautiful a smile will look but the benefits the patient will receive, that deeper core issue, is generally not delved into. Benefits are why your patients buy.
Think about the following. If I asked you what you wanted (business related) in the next 90 days, many of you would say you wanted more new patients or better cash flow. What does that really give you? Does it actually give you more than money in the bank, or a wallet filled with cash? I’ll argue that what you are really looking for is financial freedom, peace of mind, more time with your family, reduced stress over making ends meet, or some combination these. That’s why most of you hire us, to help you get to the benefits that are most important to you.
The same is true in your practice. Identifying benefits allows you to speak to your patients on a much deeper, more personal, and emotional level. The more questions you ask, the more benefits you uncover, the better the relationship, the more likely it is that you will have case acceptance. As challenging as it is for most teams to believe, patients are buying the benefits they receive first and foremost, not the technical quality of your work. Your role is to understand what benefits the individual patient is looking for and to help them understand how your high quality dentistry will get them those benefits.
When you look over the services offered by practices, the easiest “sell” is the whiter brighter smile, relief from migraines or headaches, (or other pain), or better sleep. Patients don’t know why they would want to replace a filling. How often in your practice do you hear “it doesn’t hurt”? Most patients don’t care that replacing the filling now is better for the tooth, will make it stronger and it will look better. What is the individualized benefit for that patient? Is it so they don’t have a painful experience, is it so they don’t miss work unexpectedly, or perhaps it is so they don’t incur a larger personal expense, or is it something else?
Think about benefits as motivators or concerns. A patient can be motivated to come to the dentist by: their appearance, their spouse (or lack of spouse), pain, embarrassment, or what else? Concerns are those things that prevent the patient from moving forward with treatment (money/insurance benefits, fear, distrust, time and others).
By really listening for a patient’s motivators and concerns you will understand what you need to explain to help them make a decision regarding treatment. This also helps your patient’s feel you really understand them and they will be more strongly connected to your practice. This is the foundation of having a relationship-based practice.
Here is some homework: Identify the potential motivators and concerns of your patients regarding your treatment recommendations. See how many times in the next week you can hear your patients indicating a motivator or concern. Watch how using the patient’s motivators and concerns in conversation helps patients and improves your connection with the patients. Enjoy!