One of our team members, Nick, recently had an experience at the auto mechanic’s shop that reminded him of what dental implant patients experience when looking for teeth replacement solutions.
For many people, a trip to the auto mechanic isn’t very fun. Even routine maintenance trips can be a stressful experience for people who don’t know their way around a car.
Nick’s experience at the auto shop matches what dental implant patients experience in a dental practice. Dentists who understand the surprising similarities between these two purchase decisions can be well on way to selling more implant dentistry. Those who don’t will likely end up with the result experienced by Nick’s mechanic.
Here’s what you can learn from your auto mechanic to sell more implant dentistry.
Both auto repair and implant dentistry invoke complex buying processes.
Consumers generally use one of four processes when buying products or services depending on several factors, such as brand differentiation, price, and risk of a poor purchase decision.
At one end is what’s referred to as habitual buying behavior. This generally refers to times where there isn’t a lot of brand differentiation between options and the commitment, price, and risk of a bad purchase decision is low. Table salt and crushed black pepper are two examples of products that fall into this category. Consumers will make quick decisions, often based only on price because the risk is low and the difference between one brand of salt and another is negligible at best.
Both auto repair and implant dentistry fall on the other end of the buying process spectrum, the complex buying process. Both auto repair and implant dentistry are high-stress transactions for consumers for many reasons.
Specifically, the consumer often has very little substantive skill or knowledge about the product and service.
They also know the symptoms needed to be addressed but are not educated enough to be sure that the proposed solution is the right one.
Additionally, both auto repair and implant dentistry come with high financial risk. Even routine auto repair can cost hundreds of dollars with simple implants costing thousands.
Both also come with high personal risk, both physically and emotionally. A bad auto repair could cause severe bodily harm. A bad implant could fail. Both situations would cause significant emotional distress.
Finally, while the symptoms are often certain with both auto repair and implant dentistry, the results of the procedure is unknown. A mechanic might replace a part only to discover a different part needed to be replaced or additional work is needed.
Implant patients might have their implants fail. In more complex cases, they might need care beyond what they can see, such as bone grafting, which could cause further uncertainty of their future state.
Helping patients move forward in complex buying situations such as with implant dentistry requires dentists to build a tremendous amount of trust with patients.
With both auto repair and implant dentistry, this is further complicated by the perceived built-in bias in the process.
STOP GENERATING LEADS, GET PATIENTS INSTEAD
Stop chasing unqualified leads and wasting your valuable chairtime. Learn how to fill your operatories with patients who are pre-qualified and serious about moving forward with your high-value treatment.
Overcoming perceived built-in bias in your dental implant practice.
With both auto repair and implant dentistry, consumers require even more trust to be built because of what’s perceived to be a built-in bias in the diagnosis process. Specifically, in both cases, the same person is diagnosing and often profiting from the procedure.
Thus, extra care is needed to close two types of trust gaps with both auto repair and implant dentistry. First, consumers need to close the knowledge gap they typically experience in complex buying situations where they rely on expert diagnoses to resolve their symptoms. Second, consumers need to close the personal trust gap to resolve the built-in bias they perceive when the same person is diagnosing and profiting from the procedure.
Closing knowledge and personal trust gaps: The auto mechanic.
In Nick’s case, he brought his wife’s car to a mechanic to have the air conditioning checked. Nick knew the problem (the air conditioning was in and out) but didn’t know what was needed to fix it. When the mechanic told Nick the compressor needed replacing, he was surprised.
Although Nick will be the first person to admit he is not very knowledgeable when it comes to auto repair, he didn’t expect to hear the compressor needed replacing because his air conditioner was working. It just wasn’t working as well as it once had.
So, he asked a couple of follow-up questions to try to understand why the air conditioning would work if the compressor was spent.
At this point, Nick was surprised at both the diagnosis and the price tag. Thus, he needed two things. First, he needed the gap in information about why a compressor could still work if it needed replacing closed. Second, he needed to feel that he could trust the mechanic’s diagnosis.
In Nick’s case, he ultimately didn’t move forward with the repair. While he trusted the mechanic in general, he couldn’t close the knowledge gap. Perhaps there’s a perfectly-reasonable answer about why the air conditioning would work most of the time but need a compressor. But Nick didn’t get it so he paid the mechanic for his time and picked up the car later that day.
Closing knowledge and personal trust gaps: The implant dentist.
Dental implant patients come to you with a similar mindset as when Nick went to the mechanic. They know their symptoms but rely on your expertise to diagnose what’s needed to treat the symptoms.
If your answer makes sense to them and they trust that you weren’t just trying to profit from them, they’re likely to move forward as soon as they can afford to. If not, they won’t.
Let’s use a dental implant equivalent to Nick’s air conditioning situation. Imagine someone comes in with one missing tooth. In their mind, they might need a single implant placed. They might also have searched online for a dental implant cost estimator and have a price in mind, which they based on their assumption that they will need one, simple implant placed.
But what if this patient’s jawbone wasn’t thick or hard enough to support the implant? What if you determined they needed bone grafting to make sure the implant won’t likely fail?
If you spring that on them out of nowhere, they might question your diagnosis. If you try to place the implant without grafting, it might fail. What do you do?
The way you interact with your patient will be key. Take the time to explain not only what you recommend but also why.
In some cases, you might explain that you could try to place an implant but you think it would likely fail and you wouldn’t want to do that. In that case, you might gain trust by politely suggesting an alternative solution or two, such as a removable denture or doing it the right way.
Taking the time to close knowledge gaps and build trust that you have their best interests in mind will help you sell much more implant dentistry.
Take a Lesson from Your Auto Mechanic to Sell More Implant Dentistry
Whether it’s a consumer with a sluggish air conditioner or a patient with a missing tooth, helping people overcome knowledge and personal trust gaps will be key to your future success.
Have you had an experience similar to Nick’s when facing a complex buying decision? What have you learned from your experience that can help you better empathize with implant patients and close more cases? Let us know in the comments!