As a profession, we have a lot of different views about the concept of selling. Some feel that we are healthcare providers and we shouldn’t need to sell. Others believe that if we don’t sell, we won’t help many of our patients. Finally, there are those that don’t necessarily have an opinion either way, but they are not good at sales, regardless of whether they are for it or against it.
I am smart enough to avoid taking a position in this article, but I do want to share an idea that I heard recently from another dental office manager recently and it makes a lot of sense, whether you are for or against the idea of selling. I was at the AADOM conference (American Association of Dental Office Managers) and we were sharing ideas with other office managers about things we do that work well and looking at ways to overcome challenges that we have in our offices.
Our group was discussing the topic of getting better case acceptance on implants. Shannon Estep, a colleague and office manager, explained what they do in her office. Their doctor recently finished his implant training and was ready to help more patients get implants and provide this great service. The doctor’s goal was to get acceptance on at least one implant per day. When he set his goal, there was a lot of pushback by their staff. “Implants are expensive. How will we get one a day? That is going to be hard to do.” The result – they were not reaching their daily goal.
After trying to motivate her team and trying to convince them they could do it, Shannon came up with a new way to attack this challenge. She decided that each morning during the huddle, when the hygienists were reviewing their patients for the day, they would note whether each patient was missing any teeth, and if so, how many. (According to Shannon, they live in a geographical area that tends to have a lot of patients with missing teeth). Based on this new plan, they track the total missing teeth from patient reviews and at the end of the huddle they count up how many missing teeth will be in their office that day. Some days, it could be as many as 54 or more missing teeth, just from their recare patients scheduled in hygiene that day. Remember, the goal for the office is to close on a single implant per day.
By getting her team to identify the number of missing teeth during patient reviews each morning, she changed the way they saw the target. Originally, the team had the perception that out of a limited number of patients scheduled that day, they had to get one patient to schedule for implants, which seemed daunting and undoable. Looking at it this way, it didn’t feel as though the odds were in their favor.
Office sees 22 patients and ONE implant is the goal = the perception is a 5% chance of success
But, let’s change the way we perceive the goal.
Office sees 22 patients who are missing 55 teeth and ONE implant is the goal = the perception is a 40% chance of success
Now, by changing their game to think in the terms of teeth and not people, the odds change and feel more in their favor. When you consider that you are only looking to help a patient replace one tooth that might matter to them a lot—instead of thinking that we have to replace all or none—then we can talk in bigger numbers. The team started to talk to patients about all their missing teeth and the benefit of even considering replacing one with an implant, and their odds of getting a patient to say yes to at least one was much higher.
As a result of looking at it from a different perspective, the staff actually started to feel it was doable, and they started having the conversation more often with patients. This resulted in more patients saying “yes,” because the staff did not decide the answer would be “no” before ever opening the discussion with the patient. In fact, this team has had such a success with this version of the game that they’ve added something new. Now, in the morning huddle, they don’t just count up how many missing teeth they have coming in the office that day, but also how many baby teeth have appointments that day with no sealants.