As promised, here’s part two of my guide to creating and using effective smile questionnaires.
In part one, we looked at the design and completion of your questionnaire.
Now let’s move on to putting completed questionnaires to use.
Once your patient indicates on the form that they have a need to solve a problem, or a desire for a cosmetic enhancement, you need to click into ‘sales mode’.
Note that by sales mode I don’t mean go on the ‘hard sell’. Rather, adopt a simple ‘script’ to introduce pre-prepared marketing materials at your disposal.
There is no hard and fast rule as to what materials work here. Successful treatment sales I have seen are aided by the use of:
Visual tools such as intra oral cameras
Patient case studies showing past patient treatments and giving quotes from the patients on their experience
Use of split screen photo technology to talk about real life before and after patient cases
Video recording of patients talking about their treatment and experiences
No doubt this list isn’t exhaustive and there are other tools put to use by dentists.
In essence your aim should be to show the patient ‘I have done it before and I can do it for you too’.
Of course, if this sparks an interest in the patient, you need to be able to talk about treatment payment options and payment timings to allay any financial concerns they may have. Allow me to return to working to your strengths here as this is a crucial part of the ‘sales’ process…
If you are not comfortable talking about costs, payments and money in general, it will pay you to employ someone who is. The rise of the Treatment Co-ordinator is no coincidence in a sector where the majority of dentists’ prefer to stick to their trained dentistry skills.
However, if you can’t employ a new team member or you don’t have an existing team member with the right strengths and skills, your confidence in these areas can be increased through ‘role play’ sessions. It’s likely you need to practise your ‘sales’ techniques in order to become proficient in this area, just like you needed to practise your dental techniques.
It pays to recognise who you are dealing with. Each one of us has a unique personality profile. And yet each of us has certain dominant characteristics.
To summarise the four basic personality types and how best to communicate with them (you’ll find different versions of essentially the same information on the internet):
D – these people are high in dominance. They are time conscious and accustomed to making decisions. So they’ll want just the facts, to be shown an example of the end result and to know the price ‘straight up’. A convoluted treatment plan is unlikely to have the desired effect.
I – these people are high in influence and adept communicators. They are outgoing and will want to hear how a treatment makes your patients feel (so provide patient stories). So talk about feelings and emotions and they are likely to make a decision based on impulse.
S -these people are highly supportive, ‘steady’ types. They don’t like fast change and you’ll need to create a firm relationship to gain their trust. They go at a slower pace so be prepared to leave them with information to consider and the need to keep talking to them about the treatment over time.
C – these people are highly conscientious and live for detail. So they’ll need you to go through all the treatment benefits, process and outcomes. They’re also likely to need to time to analyse and consider the treatment, so give them a detailed treatment plan and as much supplementary information and evidence as you can for them to go away with.
You start to recognise people you know when you read these descriptions don’t you?!
When you come to discuss your treatment solutions with a patient, consider which stronger personality traits they have. By recognising and working with their dominant characteristics, you’ll enjoy a more productive conversation and get results in a way that suits the individual patient.
You then need to be ready for three possible outcomes:
If the patient says yes to the treatment – be prepared to book them an appointment straightaway and consider what they will take away to confirm their appointment and treatment plan
If the patient asks for time to consider the treatment – make sure you have a defined follow up system in place. Leave them with appropriate treatment plan details and make sure you ASK for permission to follow up with them, agree how you will do this and then DO IT!
If the patient says no, accept that some patients do and ensure they continue to receive information on the treatment and other related treatments and news from the practice. There may a number of reasons they said no at the time, but they may come back to the idea in time if you keep it in their mind. Keep in touch with them and be open to conversation.
Measure, Measure, Measure!
A final crucial point on using smile questionnaires…
Make sure you measure your results.
As the old adage says, ‘if you measure it, you can improve it’. So keep an eye on the number of treatment plans you present (in whatever level of detail is appropriate to the individual patient), how many patients accept treatment and the value.
Don’t be put off if your initial measurements aren’t what you want them to be. The key is to know how you’re doing now so you’ll know when results improve.
Plan and deliver your ‘sales’ function and you will see the fruits of your labour.