Zig Ziglar once said, "Every sale has five basic obstacles: no need, no money, no hurry, no desire, no trust."
No Need: This one's easy. In healthcare, we cannot "create" a need. Someone either has a problem (or compelling need for preventive service) or they don't. We aren't "making things up" for them. Obviously, without a true and honest need in professional healthcare, there can be no sale.
No money: Some of our patients truly do not have the money to pay for the care we are offering. Sometimes, they have financial access to solely palliative treatment and not our best options. However, often there are creative options to help them afford the care we would know is best for them. They never hear about it because we either haven't created these options, we don't offer them, or we don't offer them well. (I'll be writing more about how to improve these offerings and the associated verbal skills in an upcoming MMS soon.)
If the patient has their own sense of urgency such as severe pain or a displeasing appearance, the sale in healthcare or dentistry (assuming the patient has the financial means), is fairly easy. And again, we don't create the true urgency of a medical or dental situation however often we truly believe (and have the science to support) that, despite a patient's lack of symptoms, taking care of a situation "now" would be in the patient's overall best interest. It is up to the healthcare professional to master the skills necessary to illuminate for their patient this information and there are ways to do this without making a patient feel pressured or uncomfortable. I believe the very best way to create a true sense of urgency is to make the choices clear but simple and make it easy for the patient to understand not only what you're strongly recommending but what the consequences are for doing nothing or choosing a lesser option. Your confidence (not to be mistaken for arrogance or condescendence) is key here.
For example, "Ms. Jones, this tooth has a large broken-down filling and is at high risk for fracturing or breaking completely. You have three options available to you to solve this issue. My strong recommendation is to have a crown placed on this tooth as soon as possible to strengthen it. This is what I would do for myself or a family member and, in my opinion, is the most conservative and best long-term health and esthetic option for you. The other option would be to do nothing and wait until it either hurts you or breaks. In either case, you will likely require more extensive treatment such as a root canal and crown or possibly even an implant or bridge to replace the tooth if it breaks in such a way that it cannot be saved. Both of these options currently cost around $3,000 - $4,000, whereas the preventive treatment I am currently recommending is approximately 1/3rd that amount. Another consideration is that once you are experiencing pain with this tooth, I could not guarantee that we could treat it painlessly whereas right now, I believe we could. So again, I'm strongly recommending strengthening this tooth immediately with a crown to save you discomfort as well as money and inconvenience in the future."
Don't assume the patient knows the ramifications of waiting for a condition to worsen or begin to show symptoms you know are likely.
No Desire: Similar to "no urgency," there are patients who just don't care about their health or their appearance as much as we might and without their own desire, they are usually not sufficiently motivated to pay for and endure treatment. I suggest you not only accept this fact with patients but do so with no judgment. One of the things that make us all unique is seeing and valuing things differently. There are plenty of patients that will be a fit for what you have to offer in terms of what they value. Where you can impact this objection is with patients who would want what you have to offer but don't know about the options, what they could accomplish for them, or how easy it may be to obtain them. I see this all the time when doctors and teams feel all patients know that whitening, Invisalign, implants, etc. are available and that, if they want them, they'll ask. There is often this overriding feeling that if we continue to make patients aware of what we have to offer ... we are being "pushy" or over-selling. This is rarely the case. Again, there are easy ways to offer your services and check-in routinely with your patients about what they want without being pushy. I promise to recommend some of the ways specifically in an upcoming MMS.
No Trust: This one is big! It doesn't matter what they can afford or what they want or need. If they don't trust you, they won't buy. Trust is built by telling the truth, delivering what you promise, and standing behind what you do and say. Period. Without it, not much else is possible.
Need, money, urgency, desire, trust. Without them... people just won't buy what you have to offer!