Judging the wallet is a losing game

Dr Michael Sernik, April 2012 - A friend of mine recently began renovating his home, and in doing so he really wanted to install an old 1950s style custom bar in the living room.

He contacted three different contractors for a quote for the job. Of the three of them, two came back and said that it was just basically impossible to create the kind of design he was hoping for because the materials were not readily available and people didn't do that kind of custom work anymore. In their minds, the job would be too expensive to do.

What these first two contractors didn't realise was that my friend was not concerned about the price. In fact, it was only when the third contractor mentioned that this would be a custom project and could be pricey that my friend readily admitted that price was not a concern to him. So while the first two contractors missed the opportunity, the third contractor went ahead and created the custom 1950s style bar my friend wanted.

The first two contractors missed out on the job simply because they prejudged the customer's wallet before the customer had a chance to explain what they wanted. They had likely formed the opinion that most people won’t pay high fees, and therefore didn’t even mention the work could be done, at a higher cost.

I believe this holds an important lesson for dentists...

If you look at the patients coming to your practice you might find you're doing a very similar thing. Often we can prejudge the wallet instead of giving a patient all their treatment options openly without price being a consideration.

To avoid doing this, you can choose follow two simple rules:

  • Diagnose as if dentistry was free and
  • Diagnose as if the treatment was for your own mouth.

While these 2 rules make sense in principle, the problem that is created is: how are you going to bring up a treatment option that is much more expensive than the patient expected? A simple solution that we teach in PrimeSpeak is to pre-empt the price objection in advance with what is called a ‘TakeAway.’

What you can do is; before explaining expensive options; say to the patient "there is another option that will solve this problem, but it isn't for everyone, and for some people it's far too much money to even consider; so I'm not even sure if you want to even talk about it".

By taking this approach the patient now has the option to say "no I don't want to hear about it" or to say "well, I'd like to at least hear about it".

From the patient’s perspective, they don’t feel like you are pushing them into anything and perhaps more importantly they will have made the choice to learn more about this option.

So whenever faced with a patient who has more dental problems than they may realize, remember to give them all the options, and try using the ‘Takeaway’ before discussing the larger, more expensive options. This will help them to make a decision without too much shock or pressure.

And it will also stop you from prejudging the patient's wallet and potentially missing out on treating patients who do want to choose optimal treatment for themselves.

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