Overcoming patient objections

It’s all going so well, you’ve discussed four options for treatment, the patient chooses one and the patient you thought was happy with your proposed treatment plan, out of nowhere, starts giving you objections. What do you do? Shy away, go red, cough, discount your price or encourage them to go away and think about it?

A real skill

Handling objections is never easy and is a real skill. But the longer you do not master the skill the harder it will become. It’s a tough one as dentists are in a situation where they are a care provider, not a sales person, and they most definitely do not want to come across as a sales person.

While those with confidence often jump in too quickly with, ‘we have 0% finance’ (which can often offend), there is a process that you can follow that will make your life easier. I have a three-step process that is tried and tested as I have used it for many years working as a treatment coordinator in a practice where our fees weren’t the cheapest!

These are my three steps for overcoming objections:

  1. Clarify
  2. Empathise
  3. Overcome.

Clarify – make sure you have heard the patient correctly, is cost the concern or the potential treatment?

Empathise – now you have confirmed their objection, tell the patient you understand how they feel. Next, tell them that you do have solutions and ask them if they would like to know them? This way you are not jumping in and bombarding them – you are obtaining permission to talk.

Overcome – if the patient has said yes to the second stage they have given you permission to talk and you can go through the solutions with them.

Objection handling is important but you also do not want it to look like you have been on a sales course. If you still find the conversation awkward, use it to your advantage as the patient will see you don’t possess the gift of the gab!

If the patient does not convert then you need to put them in a follow up system.

Follow up

Many people suffer with FOFU – fear of follow up. I don’t blame them. I used to hate being given a pile of patient notes with outstanding treatment and have to call them out of the blue!

Follow up really does work and I assure you that the fortune is in the follow up, however, it must be done correctly. Here are two of my many tips.

When you put a patient in a follow up system you must arrange a mutually convenient time to call them. If you do not have a treatment coordinator (as a dentist you do not want to do the follow up call) then the person in the team with the best relationship has to call the patient.

You must not call a patient if you do not have a relationship with them. It really does not work, I see companies offering this type of service and I do not agree with it from the relationship aspect through to data protection and patient confidentially.  

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