This quote is what my associate said to me after a few months in our office observing our practice style.
For many years I was told and felt that “selling” dentistry was a bad thing to do. By definition, “sell” means to give or hand over (something) in exchange for money. Perhaps the bad feeling came from the definition of “hard sell” … a policy or technique of aggressive salesmanship or advertising.
I remember being instructed to “help” a patient overcome their barriers to say “YES” to what I felt they should do. Perhaps I was a bad salesman, but I turned off many people. I was told that if I educated them with details, my patient would jump at the opportunity for me to create tooth dust. Wrong again.
Finally, I was introduced to the concept of waiting for a patient to ask me for care. What I have found is that when a patient is engaged and a part of the process that they really want to do, problems and barriers seem to disappear. The process goes easily, appointments are kept and payments are made with gratitude.
Many times when I mentor FGTP, I have an opportunity to share with my students how we use photographs and PowerPoint to engage a patient. It is important to me that my patients know I have heard THEIR concerns. Patients want to be heard.
When it comes time to help a patient understand what their concerns are or what my concerns may be, I always try to get them engaged emotionally. My first resource is always sitting face-to-face and discussing their concerns. We find ourselves using photographs, PowerPoint, handouts and videos to help with communication.
People absorb information in different ways. For some, just letting them know what you see is enough. For others, a photo or a pamphlet can be motivating. What can be extremely powerful is using a patient education video. Spear Education has videos that explain a problem as well as its management. Some videos show the consequences of not seeking care.
During our time together, I am waiting for my patient to ask me, "What do we do? When do we start?" Then I know they are engaged and are ready to start care. More importantly, they have become a partner in their care.
I believe the best resource we have for patient “education” is sharing our own concerns and caring for our patient. Using PowerPoint, pamphlets and videos allows me to individualize communication for each patient. Spear Education, specifically the FGTP workshop, helps show and train dentists on how to take effective photographs for dental use. Spear Online has videos that will help engage a patient and help explain the dental care proposed.
I believe patients say yes when they trust you. I do not believe selling is bad. It is what we do. We exchange services for payment. The fun part is when a patient pays with gratitude.
Good luck on your journey,
Carl E Steinberg, DDS, MAGD, LLSR