At a recent Whitehall Team Training held here in Arizona, a survey of the group revealed that in 80% of Whitehall offices the staff make the treatment plan presentations. I might add that these are among the most successful practices in the country and most of them are heavily manned with associate doctors.
So why are staff so successful at closing cases that even owner doctors struggle with? Actually, there are several reasons:
- The personality of the owner doctor can be an impediment to his or her own success with treatment plan presentations. The owner doctor may be so non assertive that patients are quickly confused by his natural gift for draining all sense of urgency from the presentation. On the other hand he may be too dominant, leaving patients feel like they’ve been bullied into unwanted treatment.
- The staff’s natural patient perspective. So often, a dentist has so much clinical training that she’s unable to get down to the patients simple level of clinical understanding. The staff however, know exactly how a patient thinks and feels when expensive dental treatment has been recommended.
- The patient’s perception of ulterior motives. Most of you reading this article already know that patients trust staff when it comes to presenting expensive or unexpected treatment. As soon as the doctor walks out of the treatment plan presentation the typical patient will turn to the assistant and ask them if they really need all that treatment. That’s right, you already had your suspicions that staff have the edge where this is concerned.
- Assistants have far more time to spend helping a patient get up to speed. To often, the doctor’s body language communicates to the patient that he needs to be elsewhere ASAP. This leaves the patient feeling like they can’t air their doubts. This can only lead to one outcome: “I want to go home and think this over”, or “yes, I want the treatment but I need to check my schedule and call you back”. None of these responses end well.
- Patients feel more comfortable asking. what they fear will be perceived as dumb questions, to a staff person as opposed to the doctor. Unfortunately, we’ve found that it’s the unasked “dumb question” that leaves a patient with overwhelming doubt about the treatment.
We’ve found that a “team selling” approach is the end-all answer to improving case acceptance. This means that every staff person who comes in contact with the patient will do their part to infuse credibility and urgency into every presentation. Usually it’s what’s said before the doctor enters the room that imparts urgency, and remember, without urgency you’re not presenting a treatment plan, you’re just having a nice discussion about dentistry.