RULE 8. OBJECTIONS: Know how to address them.
Patients are going to raise any number of objections, whether it is time, fear, cost, etc. It’s naïve to think that they won’t. Don’t resist it; be prepared. Sometimes these objections are legitimate, and sometimes they’re just a cover for the real objection.
“I can’t afford it” or “I have no money” often just means that dentistry isn’t a high enough priority for them to spend that money (meaning they haven’t really understood the treatment plan yet)—or they’re actually scared of getting a shot or being in pain but don’t want to say it.
So you need to ask questions designed to discover if their objections are “faulty” or legitimate.
And what do I mean by that?
Well, a “faulty” objection is one that is a cover for the REAL objection. The typical faulty objections are:
- I have no money
- I’m only doing what the insurance covers
- File a predetermination of benefits for me
- I have to think about it
- I need to check with my spouse
- I’m too busy to do this right now
The problem with most of these is they are not the REAL reasons a patient doesn’t want to move ahead with treatment. The real reason (as I mentioned earlier) might be they don’t understand the importance of treatment or they’re scared of needles, etc.
One thing you’ll notice about a faulty objection is that a person will bounce between them, not sticking with any particular one. In other words, you’ll address that they “can’t afford it,” with a payment plan and then they’ll move on to talking about how they have no time. And so it goes. The handling here is to find out what’s REALLY going on! The patient says they have to think about it. Well, who is actually going to go home, sit in their easy chair and “think about” their treatment plan? That’s right… no one. So, don’t ask “What is there to think about?” You’re wasting your time – it’s not the real reason. Instead acknowledge their objection (ensure they get that you heard and understood it) and ask something like:
“You know, when patients say something like that, it usually means there is something else they have a question about, or are worried about. Maybe you don’t feel like doing the treatment and you just don’t want to tell me. Please don’t worry about it, you can tell me exactly what’s on your mind – you won’t hurt my feelings! My job is to help you.”
Or something of the sort. There’s no “script” for this, just say whatever is real to you at the time based on the circumstance.
The end result is the patient ends up communicating about the ACTUAL issue.
A legitimate objection on the other hand is the ACTUAL objection to moving ahead. How you’d handle these depends on the objection.
The key things you’ll notice about a legitimate objection are:
- The patient sticks to it.
- It sounds authentic.
- The patient is willing to communicate about it – it’s not just a quick “I don’t have the time/money,” etc.
So that patient who says they have to discuss it with their spouse, and explains how it would cause marital issues if they agreed to and paid for the treatment without doing so, is probably giving you the real reason!
Handling this is simple: get them to come back in with their spouse. If their spouse isn’t a patient you might even get a new patient out of the bargain! Ideally though, you’d find this out BEFORE the consultation and get them to bring their spouse in the first time around.
Sometimes the patient explains how they want to do the treatment but they can’t make any large purchases right now as they’re in the middle of refinancing their home. Well, this happens! You’ll notice though, in this case that they’re not saying “I can’t afford it.” Instead, they explained what’s actually happening. Handling is simple: work out when this will be done and schedule them to come back.
The common theme running through all of this is communication. We’re not talking about scripts or tricks to convince someone to do something. Instead, we want REAL communication! We want to discover what is really going on with the patient so that it can be properly addressed!
RULE 9. FINANCES: The treatment presentation is complete when solid financial arrangements are made.
Now we’re getting to the “fun” part. Yeah… I’m making a joke. It’s also where most large case presentations fall apart: finance. It’s also where we (dentists) are weakest and the part of the presentation we would most like to avoid!
Well, let’s change this.
The first thing you need to start doing – on any size case, for that matter, is: You (the doctor) need to tell your patients how much it’s going to cost.
I know that many in dentistry will disagree with this, but in my own personal experience (plus that of thousands of our clients), it really does work the best. You have to say the number with confidence and certainty. If you’ve done everything I’ve said so far, then this will make it much easier on you.
I have no problem with a Financial Secretary being in the room with you. I actually recommend this if they are going to be helping with the financial arrangements.
It’s common for a patient to express surprise and state that they have no idea how they would pay for the treatment. It’s okay to discuss this further now. You could cover your different payment options, or other such fee related discussions. The key here is the object of this discussion is not “to get money,” it’s “Work out how your patient is going to handle the fee so you can DO THE TREATMENT THEY NEED!” This may sound rather courageous; but if you really believe that the patient needs the treatment and it will enhance their life, then it’s a lot easier than it sounds.
Assuming you’ve handled all of the objections (as covered above), explained how much it’s going to cost and have a general idea of how they are going to take care of their portion, you can let the Financial Secretary work out all of the details.
Any financial arrangement you make should:
- Be in writing and
- Include how the entire treatment plan is going to be paid for, whether they are paying in advance, putting down a deposit or financing. Once they pay, it’s “sold,” not before. Just like with any other product or service in society.
With a very large case, you may need to take 10-25% on a credit card as a down payment while they transfer funds. You may need to use Lending Club or CareCredit. Generally, the Financial Secretary would sort all of this out; but you’d want to have this done along with all the paperwork completed, appointments scheduled and so on prior to the patient leaving. If they start to change their mind and the staff member can’t get all of the patient’s questions themselves, they must come and get you. Then you can address whatever their concerns are.
10. START: Begin the treatment plan quickly.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but I added this step as I’ve seen this go wrong too many times.
You’ve explained the treatment, the patient is excited to start and has paid or made financial arrangements. Now it comes time to schedule and your next appointment is available…in three weeks… What a letdown!
This creates a number of issues. If a patient has to wait, any pre-payment they may have made becomes a potential refund. It also injects time for them to “think it over” (and change their mind), or for life to step in and throw them a curveball which makes their dental treatment a lower priority.
Even worse than all of this, the patient is excited and ready to get started – why make them wait? After all, the whole purpose of all of this is to get needed treatment DONE. So, if you find yourself scheduling them to start more than a few days from now, something is wrong. Either you need to sort your schedule out; you might need more assistants or even an associate if this is a regular problem.
You want to start AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. Reward the patient’s willingness with immediate and fast service!
I hope you’ve found this helpful. As with anything it’s going to take some practice and a bit of getting used to. I highly recommend doing the Communication & Sales Seminars at MGE. That’s a series of three-day seminars—one seminar a month for three months. That’s a total of nine days of information, examples and role-playing so you can help the patients get the dentistry they need. Call me at 800-640-1140 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll be happy to personally answer your questions about them.
I wish you the best!