As Easy as 1, 2, 3 Case Acceptance Steps
With time we have modified the system to work better and adapted it to the changing needs of our patients. It is a true “consumer driven system”. We tell the patient what they need and happily give them what they want. As a result — we never lose a patient. It is always a balanced, no contest, never be perceived as selling way to hit a home run. Here are the steps.
- THE PERMISSION STATEMENT: This was taken from Zig Ziglar’s book, Closing the Sale. The script goes something like this: “Mrs. Jones, I feel like my job is to show you the finest dentistry I can provide. Your job is to decide whether you want to do some, all, or none of the dentistry we propose. In other words, we want you to decide how quickly you get your mouth healthy.” This first part of the permission statement levels the playing field. It creates a non-confrontational setting for showing the patients what’s going on in their mouths. It is almost as if this changes their body language from defensive to open. If you’re a Star Trek fan, we just got them to lower their cloaking and photon torpedo shields. 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. You are just trying to justify your fees. They want something that looks good, feels good, and lasts a long time. The next and most important step is to ask: “How do you feel about this?” You can’t say: “Is that OK?” or any variation. It is ONLY “How do you feel about this?” This statement and only this statement will have the patient respond in a thoughtful manner. It keeps the shields down. It portrays you as a caring friend who, with them, are co-diagnosing their problems.
- INSURANCE: This comes from Walter Hailey’s Boot Kamp. This is the script. “Mrs. Jones, I see you have dental insurance. I’m not sure whether you have ‘good insurance’ or ‘bad insurance’, but if we find something that your insurance does not cover or does not cover all of, what would you like to do?” This little statement will eliminate the confrontation on only doing what the insurance will pay. Address the choking points ahead of time and you will eliminate most resistance. The phrase “I don’t know if you have good insurance or bad insurance” plants the seed. For the first time the patient is beginning to look at insurance in a different light. They always think that all insurance is good. This opens a non-confrontational discussion into the limits of dental benefits. At the same time, asking the patient what they want to do encourages them to answer, “I want you to tell me what is wrong and let me decide what I want to do”. This allows the patient to continue to feel “in control”. For the non-assertive hygienist or doctor, it removes the barriers to presenting ideal treatment. To the assertive doctor, it helps him/her step away from the doctor turned time share salesman and become a caring health care professional — someone concerned about the welfare, and budget, of the patient.
- DIAGNOSIS AND COMPREHENSIVE EXAM: Every exam should include: FMX, Pano, oral cancer screening, a co-diagnosing camera tour of the patient’s mouth, full mouth probing and charting, photos, and time to ask questions and be given answers by a staff person along with accompanying literature to satisfy every personality type. The key to this exam is that the patient must understand, verbalize, and feel that it is WORSE THAN THEY THOUGHT. In the process of the hygienist and/or your auxiliary staff triaging the patient (It is illegal for a staff member to diagnose. It is not illegal for them to record what they see and help the patient to see and understand the problems. This is called patient education. They are giving the patient options on what could be done if the doctor agrees or suggests this as a treatment option. They are assessing the patients dental IQ and their budget, while finding out what they truly want.) Patients feel more at ease asking a staff member questions, than asking a doctor. If this is done correctly, the doctor will not need to spend time doing it later.
- CASE PRESENTATION: This should only take 2 to 4 minutes. Remember that your staff members have gone over problems, used the camera, answered all the questions, and provided literature to further confirm treatment options. When I walk into the room the hygienist opens her mouth first. She tells me what she and Mrs. Jones have found and discussed, while I look at the photos on the monitor, look at the treatment plan already filled in on the chart, and knowingly nod, grunt, and just look plain studious. I then re-tell the patient what is wrong, what caused it, and what will happen if it is not fixed. I take a moment on each trouble area to tell them what I would recommend (it’s really easy, because the hygienist writes it down for me).
- THE CLOSE: I close with: “Mrs. Jones, what would you like to do?” If done correctly, over 90% of your patients will say yes. The only thing holding them back will be money. Follow your hygienist’s lead. Most times all I have to do is say: “It sounds like you would like to do __________________, but wait on _____________________, is that correct. Great”. You then hand off the patient back to the hygienist or assistant and tie urgency to the already agreed to treatment so that the only thing anyone at the front desk needs to do is figure out how to fit what they want into their budget.
We are still not done with Case Presentation. Just around the corner on our 180 Degree Dental Journey, you will find a few more things you will need to know.
Michael Abernathy, DDS