Asking your patients the right questions is the best way to lead to a tailored treatment plan that you can confidently discuss with them, without the need for a ‘hard sell’. Here, Ruth Findlay, Regional Support Manager discusses the best way to sell with confidence in your dental practice.
The word ‘salesperson’, fairly or unfairly, often has negative connotations of Del Boy wheeler-dealer characters. That can go some way to explaining why people often feel uncomfortable when they are asked to sell something or when they feel like they are selling.
Working in the dental arena, the chances are you didn’t take on your role to become a salesperson. Yet, there is an element of ‘selling’ involved – whether you are on the reception desk managing calls from potential new patients or the dentist advising on new treatments – as ultimately the practice is a business that needs to turn a profit if it is to be sustainable for the future.
“I believe the key to being able to confidently speak to patients, whether they are existing patients or potential new additions, is not to think about what you are doing as ‘selling’.”
I believe the key to being able to confidently speak to patients, whether they are existing patients or potential new additions, is not to think about what you are doing as ‘selling’. As I said earlier, you probably didn’t embark on a career in dentistry to sell, and whether you are talking to patients about new or different treatment options, or telling them about the benefits of being on a membership plan, should you have one, you are not selling something. Rather, you are entering into a discussion with them about what you believe is in their best interest – something few people would have qualms about.
Through my experience of working with many practices and from specialist training I have undertaken, I think it is vital to focus on building relationships, and you can only begin to create a successful relationship if you truly understand the other person’s situation, know what is important to them and have a genuine desire to help them achieve it.
When I meet with clients, I ask as many questions as I can in order to find out more about them and what their issues are, as each dental team has different objectives and challenges. I believe that by doing so and really listening to the answers, I can act as a partner and present a solution that will really make an impact. The same should be true when you speak to your patients. They’re all individual so it is crucial to gain insight as early as possible into what their needs are, any fears they may have and what they are hoping to gain from their visits with you.
“When I meet with clients, I ask as many questions as I can in order to find out more about them and what their issues are.”
The key here is to ask open questions in order to engage in meaningful conversation. Often it can be easy to take a situation at face value. For example, if you ask a patient if they are interested in a certain treatment or hygiene visit, they may simply reply ‘no’, and that can be hard to challenge.
However, if you begin with a friendly conversation that can garner background information, such as why they are looking for a dentist, how happy are they with their smile, how do they rate their oral health – you can begin to gain insight into how you can help them. You can even ask these questions via a survey and use the responses to spark a conversation.
The answers to these questions will enable you to speak to patients about their individual situation and offer a treatment path that will really make a difference to them, resulting in the best outcome for all. This approach should allay any concerns you have about being seen to be ‘selling’ and will help to build credibility with your patients.
Taking the time to show genuine interest, asking in detail about patients’ needs and understanding what they want to gain from dental treatment, will build their confidence in your ability and reassure them that you are the best person to help them.