How to deal with pricing questions over the phone
One of the most difficult issues at any dental office is in dealing with price. How do you deal with price? The best patients are on the internet, especially for the most lucrative procedures, but they almost always ask about money. What can you do?
The good news is most prospective patients who ask about how much a procedure costs is a serious buyer. Think about it. If you had something you wanted to buy wouldn't you shop for it and make sure you are getting a good deal? And this basic understanding is your key to being successful with pricing and dealing with these most common questions about price. Here are some basic rules when it comes to price.
1. Know your market for each dental service you offer. To often I hear dentists say "that's what we charge" without really knowing why. If you realize that most of your patients are going to come from within the immediate area of your office, about 5-7 miles for general dentistry and up to 20 miles for implants and veneers, you just need to call, or if necessary, visit competitors and see what they are charging. This is the same process your prospects are going to go through, and it's important to know if you are higher than everyone else, or maybe even to low for your area. But without the proper knowledge, you are working with new patients in the dark. Write down on a spreadsheet all the procedures you would like to sell most. Put your main competitors, the ones who are most likely to get he same type of patients as you in a column and make it your business to learn what their fee schedule is, as well as any promotions they are running, and mark them down to see where you stand. This is the same process large marketers go through every day and luckily, most dentists don't really change their pricing or promotions all that much.
2. You don't have to be the cheapest. But you do need a reason if you are not. If a patient asks you, "why are you so much more than Dr. so-and-so", what would you say. Getting defensive or upset at the question will not get you new patients. You have to be prepared to sell a quality story, a story about the office and the dentist and the materials you use, etc. You need to have a rationale as to why you are more. This leads to a basic understanding of just how to deal with price effectively.
A. if you are the best price or close to it, quote it proudly. If you want to increase your patient base quickly, nothing moves people faster in a bad economy than offering a good deal. You still need to be a great office of course, but the added incentive of having a great price on something or a promotional price will motivate prospects to visit you first and stimulate immediate appointments.
B. If you are expensive for your area or more than the majority of your competitors selling the same services, you will need a reason for the added cost. Patients don't care if you just want to make more money, have invested in real estate or have more bills because you employ better people. They want to know why your price is higher and how spending money with you will benefit them. They need to understand that even though you are more, you are a good value and actually worth the extra money. You can still quote pricing over the phone where appropriate, but you will need a greater sales presence when doing so. Your front desk will need to persuade the prospect by letting them know just what a great office you are, how you use better materials, have more training, incredible testimonials and that your doctor refuses to do anything but the best for his patients. You need to let the patient know that not all dentists are created equal and that others use materials you would not touch with a ten foot pole. This is especially true with crowns, veneers, implant restorations, etc. These arguments can be made all day and while your percentage of closing appointments will not be as great as just having a super price, it will draw the patients who understand quality and what you have to offer when presented properly.
Make it your goal to convert as many patients as possible and keep track of your closing percentage. Expect everyone who answers the phone to learn and have the proper execution to convert any prospect.
Here are some average closing percentages to judge yourself by.
- Insurance & callers who ask for appointment: 90%+
- Cash Patients - General Dentistry: 50% to 70%
- Teeth Whitening: 80%+
- Veneers: 30% to 50%+
- Implants (if placed by in-house) - 50%+
- Implants (if placed by specialist) - 20%+
- Other elective procedures: 30% - 50%+
if you are falling within these ranges - good job! These represent averages from successful offices selling effectively for their area. If you are not falling within these ranges, then study harder, practice more, learn everything until it is second nature. But most of all, be a best friend to everyone who calls. You will see the results almost immediately.
For the doctor: If you find that you are getting call after call without making appointments, don't make the assumption something is wrong with the leads. People don't just go around calling dentists on the phone for kicks. Realize that it is your job to create a practice that meets the needs of the community and not just the needs of the practice. Realize that in most cases, these price shoppers are active prospective patients and they will be going somewhere if you don't book the appointment. Don't take excuses from your staff. Expect them to close. Labeling internet shoppers as look-e-loos or cheapskates will send the wrong message to the patient and your staff and give everyone in the office an excuse for treating prospects asking about price as less than desirable. This will come across in the future calls and result in lost revenue for the practice. Just realize people care about money. You do too. If you are going to do something major and spend more than a hundred dollars on something, you will probably want to know what you are paying for. You are going to shop. Learn how to deal with price shoppers and you will always be successful. But give the staff the ammunition they need by making sure you are competitive for your area or have the reasons necessary to convert patients over the phone with a higher price.
With this understanding, you can either adjust your pricing or be higher priced because you have a rational that works for your office and patients are buying it. The key is to understand where you are, and have the ammunition necessary so your front desk can answer any question confidently and knowledgeably. Either way, the front desk must become experts at dealing with prospects, converting them and helping the office be successful in the marketing process.
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