I’ve spent countless hours in lecture rooms and CE workshops. I’ve made professional learning my passion. But nothing prepares you for life’s unscripted lessons and we’ve all had a good dose of that over the last three years.

The industry is changing and so are patients. They have no sense of loyalty to businesses anymore. It feels like they would rather price shop for the best price and the fastest results. But, is that the truth or our emotional bias?

Have you heard the saying that when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail, it’s the same in dentistry. When stressed about your revenue, every other problem seems to support your opinion that the only way to be successful is to sell more, push more treatment, and beat the patient up with education.

I’ve sat in rooms where experts told me to do the exact same thing; educate more, upsell treatment, and offer more restorative work. I felt like a failure because it wasn’t working for me and I just kept digging the hole deeper.

…Until I stopped and tried a different approach.

The “good old days” are not dead or gone. It just feels that way because so many businesses are ridden by their revenue and abstract benchmarks. However, when I started taking the time to communicate with my patients on a personal level, it made me likable and built loyalty. Patients returned when they were ready for care and I was closing cases $10,000 and up – without sales pressure.

My advice is to first,  get away from being a commodity. If you’re practicing just like every other dentist down the road, there’s no reason for patients to stay with you. You will always be stuck offering bottom-line busters, trying to overfill your leaking bucket. 

Second, start offering complete care. I’ve surveyed dentists nationwide, and over 70% say they fear losing patients to “sticker shocker”.

There’s a simple solution: stop educating and selling them – start listening. 

More people in the U.S. are salespeople than in any other occupation. Salespeople learn how to sell by overcoming objections and asking closing questions that nudge prospects into buying. What’s the likelihood that your patient is a salesperson, was one, is married to one, or their friends are? Can you imagine how your sales-savvy patients will react when you overcome their objections or ask a closing question? You’ll see the back of their heads. Keep using sales techniques with patients, and you’ll discover, over time, that sales techniques suck. If you are feeling stuck with what to do instead of using sales techniques, I can help

If improving your new patient experience and treatment acceptance is important to you, consider visiting Treatment Acceptance Mastery

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.

I’ve witnessed many dentists overeducating, overwhelming, and losing patients. Patient education can feel like lecturing, and in some cases, patients can perceive it as judgmental. Far worse, for patients who are not ready for care because of personal issues, a continued barrage of patient education feels like sales pressure. Sales pressure is a leading factor in patients abandoning practices. The irony here is many dentists, and team members don’t realize they’re exerting sales pressure. They believe education is good for patients. From my experience, patient education is overrated as a driver of case acceptance. Oh yes…I get it… we have to educate patients on their dental conditions, consequences, and treatment options. But, that’s not what I’m talking about. When I say overrated, we see it as the only way we can motivate patients to accept care. It isn’t.