Shortly after my “Seven Slides” article was printed in the previous issue, my phone started ringing off the hook. Doctors couldn’t wait to request copies of the slides. As I spoke with my colleagues, however, it quickly became evident that many saw the slides exclusively as a sales tool. While they are effective for case presentation, I must emphasize that other factors — many behind the scenes — are also required for the greatest success.
First, know that helping a patient get a winning smile may not be as straightforward as you’d like. Just when you think everything is going your way, something will inevitably diminish your momentum. For example,… a patient will object to cost, the case will be more difficult than you thought, another dentist will undercut your price, or you will find that the case requires skills beyond your scope. The list is long and—trust me—I have experienced my fair share.
How you deal with these challenges often determines whether you get to do the dentistry. If your only strategy is to show the client the Seven Slides and hope that gets you back on track, you will be disappointed. Instead, make the Seven Slides a sure thing by creating and maintaining YES momentum. It happens when you as a dentist learn to “see, say, and do.”
Seeing would seem to be one of the simplest things we as dentists do. Just open your eyes and there you go. All too often, however, things in plain sight remain unseen. To illustrate this, a colleague of mine recently shared how a woman stopped by his office on a whim and asked what could be done to improve her smile. Her current dentist had proposed doing six veneers on her upper arch.
As my friend examined the woman, he discerned issues that indicated a more comprehensive approach. Her jaw frequently locked open, her lower teeth needed to be lengthened for proper occlusion, and she needed splint therapy. Why did her previous dentist not see those issues? The answer is perspective.
Perspective is gained through training and studying a wide range of interrelated subjects. Unfortunately, I know many dentists who learn only what they need for their daily “bread and butter” dentistry. When I mention the implant courses I’ve taken from the Dick Barnes Group, they say, “I don’t want to learn about implants. I just refer my patients to a specialist.”
From my viewpoint, even if you don’t plan on doing implants, understanding them elevates your perspective. It allows you to see what is hidden in plain sight. While admittedly I used to say “occlusion courses are boring and not very applicable,” after taking the time to understand occlusion I now see things I never noticed before. I can share insight that patients don’t get from other dentists. Combine that added perspective with the power of the Seven Slides, and I have an unbeatable tool for helping patients see the potential and value of what I propose. The “saying” part of momentum building is a struggle for many of us. When a patient objects to treatment—or just says “no”—our first reaction is to say, “Well, think about it.” Or, we offer a less comprehensive option and end the appointment as soon as possible.
Remember: an objection is not rejection! It is merely a request to make the value or potential outcome clearer. Many dentists have told me that they can’t get patients to say yes even with the slides. I tell them, “You are not trying to get them to say yes, you are trying to get them to see value.” Once you do that, “YES” is the next logical step for the patient.
I’ll be honest—the first time Dr. Barnes told me how to use the Seven Slides, I inwardly questioned how they could really work. I resisted the teaching and had little success with the slides as a result.
Only after I committed to learning and using the verbiage Dr. Barnes teaches, did I begin saying the things patients needed to hear. I learned to speak the language of value, not expense. At that point, the Seven Slides became a powerful tool to help patients visualize results. They helped reaffirm the value of what I was presenting, and the “money” discussion I had previously dreaded became a non-issue.
The “doing” aspect of dentistry didn’t influence me much until a few years ago. Up until that point, I had focused on providing the simple dentistry that patients could get anywhere. I worked with a lab that sold me product. I was a service provider—not a partner in the evolution of my practice. It wasn’t vested in helping me develop and deliver extraordinary patient outcomes.
Over time, I found a dental laboratory—Arrowhead—that brought momentum into my practice. With the lab’s help, I can handle the large, complicated solutions that so many patients need. I can speak confidently to patients while presenting a treatment plan. I can focus on results first rather than price. The lab is my partner in delivering the outcome that the Seven Slides help my patients visualize.
While the slides are a powerful part of my case presentation strategy, they are not enough by themselves. They require a dentist who can see a treatment plan’s potential and say what can be done in terms of value. They require a dentist who is strong in advanced techniques—I found the Implant EZ and the Full Arch Reconstruction courses by the Dick Barnes Group invaluable. As you work to expand what you offer, consider the factors I have shared. They will help you deliver the dentistry the Seven Slides so powerfully illustrate.