My wife Sweet Lisa has an unusual verbal pattern when she wants me to do something. Instead of telling me to do it, she’ll ask me if I want to do it. For example, she’ll ask, “Paul, would you like to put your plate in the dishwasher?” Or, “Would you like to take out the garbage?” What she really means is “Put your plate in the dishwasher. Take out the garbage.”
What she says vs. what she means can be two different things. Patients are no different.
For example, your new patient Hank says, “I don’t like the appearance of my front teeth.” What he might mean is, “I want to feel more confident when I speak in front of people.” This is important because when dentists hear Hank say, “I don’t like the appearance of my front teeth,” they start thinking, “How can I fix Hank’s front teeth. Hummmm…maybe veneers, or maybe Invisalign first, then veneers.”
The moment you start thinking about Hank’s technical solution, you stop being curious about why he wants his appearance improved.
You may figure out the best technical solution for Hank, but if you don’t know why he wants them fixed, your case presentation becomes process-centered. Process-centered conversations focus on explaining clinical procedures and describing the steps to fixing his teeth. Here’s something to think about; how many different dentists can Hank go to and hear a process-centered case presentation about veneers? The answer… all of them. Process-centered case presentations don’t distinguish you in patients’ minds. I’ve they’ve heard one; they’ve heard them all. What will distinguish you are benefit-centered presentations. These presentations focus on why patients want their teeth fixed vs. how you plan to fix them.
Here are 3 steps to offering benefit-centered presentations. Let’s use Hank as an example.
First, discover why he’s bothered by his front teeth.
Then, after he tells you about the concern about his appearance, ask him something like, “Hank, give me an idea about when their appearance bothers you the most. Is it at work or home?”. Hank answers, saying, “It’s a problem at work. In my new role, I’m speaking in front of people, and I’m self-conscious about my teeth.” Hank being self-conscious at work, constitutes what I call his Disability. Disabilities are how dental conditions hinder patients’ lifestyles.
Step 2, by learning his Disability, you now know his behavioral benefit;
Hank wants to look his best when speaking at work. Behavioral benefits are always emotional opposites of Disabilities.
Step 3 step when offering benefit-centered presentations is to include his Disability and behavioral benefit in his case presentation.
This can sound like, “Hank, I know right now you don’t feel confident when speaking at work. I recommend we remove the dark and chipped enamel from your front teeth and replace it with new enamel-like material.” At this point, I’d show Hank a before and after photo of cosmetic dentistry. Then I’d say, “This procedure will help build your confidence in your appearance, especially at work.” This benefit-centered approach to case presentation will distinguish you in Hank’s mind because you’ve linked relief of his Disability and behavioral benefits to your technical solution.
By being distinguished in Hank’s mind influences him to accept your care, guards against losing him from sticker shock, and reduces the likelihood of him seeking second opinions. I hope you enjoyed this lesson on Process- vs. Benefit-centered case presentations
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