Beyond Getting a Yes
What you want goes way beyond getting a “yes” to a treatment plan. Your goal is to create patient ownership in their oral health, then to develop their personal commitment to the solutions that you have to offer. That is what you REALLY want and need to happen in your practice.
How do you get that to happen? That is truly the million dollar question.
People will not buy much of anything unless they trust the person that is offering a product or service.
Your path to greater profit and fulfillment is in the R.O.A.D.
Relationship/Trust – Building relationship and trust is the first essential step.
Ownership – Emotional involvement and ownership in the conditions that exist.
Acceptance – Developing patient acceptance of their responsibility in solutions.
Decision – After your team develops trust and ownership with the patient they can facilitate the decision to proceed with treatment.
Relationship/Trust – Using a Permission Statement
One of the earliest foundations for developing a relationship of trust with your patients is to gain their permission to tell them what your evaluations are and to give them permission to ask questions as needed in order for two-way communication to be created. This is the foundation for creating rapport.
Developing a rapport with patients is critical to an ongoing relationship that will lead to better health for your patients, increased profits and personal satisfaction in your practice. Often we think of getting a “yes” on a treatment plan as a victory, but if that is our end goal, that is transactional thinking. The end goal should be growing a relationship of trust. This will lead to years of ongoing opportunities, both financially and in patient care. This is the difference between a transactional approach and a relational approach.
How do you set out on this mission of relationship building? First and foremost do an attitude check. What is your motivation? Your patients will know what you’re in it for. There is an old saying “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Showing interest in them as a whole person, not just their teeth and gums will begin to build trust. Another very powerful way to build trust and set the stage for open two-way communication is to use a tool called a permission statement.
When you ask permission to tell/ask your patient something, you honor who they are and they can feel the honor and respect that you have for them. It’s about having emotional boundaries, which most people don’t have or honor. If you are honoring your client’s emotional as well as physical boundaries, they will be more attracted to doing business with you.
As a highly trained professional you have lots of information and knowledge to give to your patients. Most people have a tendency to dump this information on the customer without asking, and usually, that’s not okay. The patient isn’t ready and so they feel uncomfortable, even violated. You should condition the conversation by asking permission.
The Permission Statement
The script goes something like this:
“Mrs. Jones, It is my job to take a close look at your mouth. As I do that I’d like to tell you everything that I see. Do I have your permission to do that? Likewise, you are always welcome to ask me any questions to fully understand anything that I am telling you or anything that I am doing. Does that make sense to you?”
This first part of the permission statement levels the playing field. It creates a non-confrontational setting for showing the patient what’s going on in their mouth. It changes their body language from defensive to open. Remember we are selling solutions to problems and good feelings. Buying is an emotional decision, not a logical one. More education will not sell your dentistry. They want to look good, feel good, and have something that lasts a long time. Most likely they want something that will make them feel better about themselves in some way.
Next, as you begin to dialogue, and as you talk to your patient about their conditions, it is important to gain understanding about how they FEEL about what you are discussing. It is important to ask: “How do you feel about this?”It is important to use questions that elicit the patient’s emotional reactions. This encourages the patient to respond in a thoughtful manner. It brings the shields down. It portrays you as a caring friend who, along with them, are co-diagnosing their problems.
Now you have begun to create an enduring trust and relationship that will lead to future treatment and even referrals. You are building a raving fan, that is priceless.