Through 2019 and into early 2020, many offices were starting to ramp up and dial in different equations for doing multiple hybrid arches per month. Then the pandemic hit. Everything stopped.
Over the course of the following months, we have seen some practices bounce back, some even averaging 20 arches per month. But there are others that haven’t reopened at all. Despite all this, through the entire pandemic, patients were still researching treatment. The leads, for dental practices that were advertising, never stopped coming in.
This presented an interesting dilemma because competition, in some markets, dropped 85%. The offices that remained open and maintained their marketing were facing a bigger problem than lead generation, they were filling up their schedule and they were having trouble keeping up with the demand. The next hurdle was handling the leads efficiently and closing cases quickly so that schedules aren’t being filled with unproductive treatment. This required a good amount of qualifying and triaging leads, meaning not spending an hour and a half with a patient that has no ability to pay for treatment.
Since the pandemic began, we have seen a general apprehension regarding dental procedures. There wasn’t necessarily a reduction in leads, rather a reduction in people that were willing to come into a dental practice. For a six to eight-week timespan people, for the most part, were staying home entirely. As a result, we saw a tremendous amount of pent-up demand, specifically for high-dollar restorative cases, high-end aesthetic practices that were marketing cosmetics were seeing a slower bounce back. We saw many practices lay off their entire staff, so many of these leads that were coming in were not being addressed by anyone. Because of this, many of the leads that were calling in simply wanted basic information. They want to know what options are available to them and ballparks for how much it will cost. During the height of the pandemic, simply being available to take the call was enough to get patients on the schedule.
One thing remains true during this pandemic and after. No matter what happens, never stop selling. Never stop being available for your customers. Never stop talking to them. Everything else can wait, but you never stop being there because it will always take you two, three, or four times longer to catch up from the downtime. We saw a willingness of patients to change clinicians based on availability. They had a regular dentist, but that practice was closed while others were open. They were willing to come into a new practice to get a consultation because they didn’t know when their dentist was going to come back, or if they were ever going to come back.
We also saw more patients that were interested in doing consultations over the phone. This was a game changer for many practices because it allows offices to collect information and conduct the first 10-15 minutes of the consultation over the phone. We were able to determine their pain points, their needs, their vision for their smile, and built rapport. We were also able to pre-qualify them, determine if financing is a problem, and reduce our no-show rate once they were able to come into the practice.
The Importance of a Sales Process
First thing to note is, if you don’t have enough leads or you don’t have enough opportunities, you don’t need to worry about closing. You need to worry about getting a marketing strategy together and creating leads. When closing full arch cases, you can’t have 15 or 30 leads, you need to attract 50, 100, 200, 300 leads a month.
The patients that are coming in are not referred by other patients, they aren’t referred by doctors, and they aren’t current patients. You don’t have any relationship with them, they’re completely unqualified. If you have a comprehensive patient exam that you put patients through that are referred from other doctors, friends, or family then you schedule them for an hour or an hour and a half exam, keep that. Do it exactly the same. But for advertising purposes, you have to be able to get through a lot of leads in a short amount of time. You have to create a standardized system just to handle marketing leads. It needs to be some type of truncated treatment planning process. We utilize a 10-10-10 model. 10 minutes blocked with the treatment coordinator, 10 minutes with the doctor, then 10 minutes back with the treatment coordinator. These appointments are always double or triple booked because the no-show rate is higher on direct-to-public unqualified leads. Pre-qualifying and triaging are going to allow you to handle more leads in less time.
Reducing the doctor time with the patient allows them to spend more time producing and turn over selling to their team. There is no point in talking for the sake of talking. The point is to dedicate the amount of time needed to get in rapport and get the patient moving forward with treatment.
How to Pre-Qualify
When we are marketing, we initially pre-qualify with advertising. There are basically two main markets to full arch. There are people that are looking for the best doctor or best protocol and they don’t care about price; they are just looking to have the best. There’s another market that is only interested in getting a deal. If we are running ads and we are targeting people that are price shopping, then our ads will specifically use keywords that reflect that. We can also qualify with forms on our websites. Long format form fills, ones that have a 16- or 17-point questionnaire are going to serve two purposes. First, they will give us information on the patient’s current state; what pain points they are in, what they are looking for, etc. Secondly, because they are so long, they weed out people that don’t have a genuine actionable interest in the procedure.
Quoting price to patients is often counterintuitive to what we have always heard in dentistry. We always hear; ‘don’t talk about price, deflect, get them in, do the consultation, build value, and then talk about price.’ But that isn’t an efficient use of your time. If they want to talk about price, then talk to them about price. We do it in every other industry, why should it be any different in dentistry? If you are doing your marketing correctly, then you should have way too many dental implant leads to get through to spend an hour and a half with someone that thinks implants cost a couple hundred dollars.
How and When to Triage
If a patient is in the consult room and they don’t immediately bring up price, then it isn’t necessary to immediately address price. If you do address price without them mentioning it first, it can come off presumptuous and pushy. If a patient comes in and immediately starts to discuss price then you can, by all means, begin your triage. If price is a major concern for a patient, they will be the first one to tell you. However, if they ask you price and you have not done a CT, you have no diagnostics, you are unable to give a recommendation, then your tactic should not be to give them a number. Your tactic should be to get a number from them. Inform them that there are many options to choose from when it comes to full arch, and then ask them if there is a number that they are looking to stay within that can help you offer the best treatment possible for what they are willing to invest. If they give you a real number, you can move forward with the sale. If they tell you that they are looking for Medicaid to cover everything, then you should immediately move to financing and see if that is an option.
Additionally, the doctor must always make ONE recommendation. We have seen many treatment coordinators put at a disadvantage because the doctor will present the patient with three options. There is no better way to have a patient tell you, ‘let me think about it’ than providing them with three options. You are giving them too much to consider, too much to think about.
Show Them They are Getting a Good Deal
When presenting treatment, you always want to show that you are giving them a good deal. This doesn’t mean discounting your prices, it means showing them how much treatment you are actually providing the patient that you typically never charge for. You want to show them that if you are doing a full arch zirconia, that case retails for thirty-nine thousand dollars and while you review what is involved with the treatment, you mark off the items that you already do provide, free of charge. That thirty-nine is going to turn into twenty-nine once you are done.
You want to preemptively show them that they are getting a good deal because if you show them the treatment already at twenty-nine, they look at it as if they are paying full retail. Then their brain immediately tells them to check around and see if they can get a better deal elsewhere. Always show the patient that they are getting more value than what they’re paying for.
Don’t Always Go Straight to Financing
Many times, we see a treatment coordinator go through the treatment and immediately move into financing. When we make a recommendation, what is our number one goal? It isn’t to get a deposit, it isn’t to get the treatment scheduled, it isn’t to get it financed. Our number one goal when making a recommendation is to receive payment, in full. That’s the best that you can do, so that’s what you go for.
If the patient has an objection to paying in full, then you can offer other options. ‘Would it help if I could spread it out over time? Maybe spread it out over a couple months?’ They have to say yes to that before you can provide financing options because you don’t want to just give them an option, have them look at it, and decide it’s too high. If they say it’s ok to spread the payment out over a couple months, you then move to determine what a reasonable monthly payment is to them. ‘Are you talking $500 a month? $600, $700? What ballpark would make it easy for you?’ Always get a number from them because once you are able to get them financed for that number, they can’t object.
What if They Can’t Get Financing?
If they can’t get financing for the total cost of the procedure, then your treatment coordinator needs to be skilled enough to discuss scaled options. If they can’t pay the $25,000 but they can do $15,000, then do the surgery and put them in the provisional. Collect it, close it, guarantee it for 18 months. 18 months later, have them come back in and sell them the final. They can’t do that, change the treatment. Put them in a removable that can later be converted to fixed. Know all of your options, but make sure that you don’t go to the second option until you know the first one is blocked. Don’t go to the third option until you know the second one is blocked.
Still Not Sure Where to Start?
Attend one of our continuing education courses, Catalyst, with your team. Learn how to create a strategy to mitigate the commoditization of dental implants and attract patients focused on clinical outcomes and quality instead of cost. Discover cutting edge marketing techniques including how to utilize powerful videography to reach people and inspire them to move forward with treatment in an emotional way. Master how to create bundles, warranties, and compelling packages that will create urgency and close full arch cases in half the time.
If you are interested in speaking with Progressive Dental about your goals for the practice, give us a call at 727-286-6211 to speak with one of our Senior Practice Consultants, or feel free to explore our website and the several case studies we have at progressivedentalmarketing.com.
If you are interested in hearing more from Bart Knellinger, come to one of our upcoming dental continuing education courses. Visit boostfullarchcases.com today to reserve a spot for you and your team!
Progressive Dental is more than just a marketing company, we are a company located in Clearwater, FL dedicated to dental practice growth. Our team was founded on creativity, collaboration and hard work. We are constantly evolving and are passionate about providing the best suite of dental marketing services for our clients. They are the reason we jump out of bed!