What I Learned about Sales from a Patient Appreciation Luau.
By Dez Merrow, DPC Sales and Integration Consultant
Not long ago, I attended a plastic surgeon’s patient appreciation luau. It was a huge affair with food, drinks, and entertainment. There were demonstrations of actual treatment on live patients with products like Botox and fillers. As I was looking around the room, I noticed that there were an inordinately large number of young women between the ages of 17 and 22 walking around the event, not really doing anything but being seen. These girls were absolutely beautiful and I suspect they were paid models. The majority of them had their hair pulled away from their faces to show off their youthful, line-free complexions. In addition to this, the practice’s team members are also beautiful! Gorgeous skin with the most natural appearance. Other women would simply look at these all these beautiful women and run, RUN, to the nearest mirror to inspect themselves. Then they would get in line to purchase the products that were discounted for the event. After looking at the discounted pricing I was shocked. Some of these products were well over the price of a crown or veneer. And women were purchasing them at the patient appreciation luau – without the benefit of insurance – in BULK.
After watching this for some time I began to wonder why it is that most of the dental profession does not follow suit. Yes, most dentists will say things like, “IF you want that front tooth straightened out, we can put on a veneer, or send you to an orthodontist”, etc. etc but typically its done with a blasé attitude. “If you want…if it bothers you”. And that’s typically where the treatment recommendation, and the SALE, dies. Now put that same patient in an office where beautiful smiles are everywhere – NOT just in frames on the walls, but in the mouths of everyone they talk to: The front desk, the assistant, the hygienist, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, the dentist. On the monitor in front of them is a picture of their mouth in all its glory. I can tell you from experience, you don’t have to say anything. 9 out of 10 times the patient would say, “How can I make my smile look like yours?” This opened up conversation about cosmetic options that were not covered by insurance and we could explore how these changes would impact the patient’s life. If you don’t offer cosmetic treatment options in a manner that motivates them EMOTIONALLY to make a change…they won’t. At least not while they are your patient. Showing them a model or a video of computer generated animation is not going to elicit the emotion necessary for them to want the cosmetic outcome you can provide.
When I visit dental offices now, I always look for 2 things: Intraoral and digital cameras. Many dentists have both but the majority only use one of the two tools, the intraoral camera, successfully. I have found that many of the dentists that use digital camera setups successfully are often also photography hobbyists that have good camera skills and enjoy taking the photos themselves. I have also found that too many offices have an expensive camera setup that is collecting dust in a corner for a number of reasons like: someone changed the settings and now they are all wrong, it takes too long, the team member that used to be the camera person is gone and now no one knows how to do it right, etc, etc. As a photographer, this makes my heart sad. As a past dental assistant, patient coordinator, and sales person, this makes me very sad for the dentist because I know first-hand how many cases I sold because of the photos I took.
Invest time into restoring your team’s smiles to the level that you want your patients to invest in theirs. Make sure that your smile is also a representation of your practice and your recommendations. Take the time to learn to properly use that expensive camera and flash and incorporate those photos into your new patient exam and your treatment presentation. As I sipped on my delicious Pina Colada at the patient appreciation luau (these guys spared NO expense) and watched the beautiful people walk by, I realized that the old saying “You sell what you show” still holds true today.