Ashley Latter looks at why some patients base their entire decision-making process on cost alone
If discussing fees with patients is an area that you find challenging, you are not alone.
When people purchase everyday products and services, price is seldom the main issue – there are always other, more important factors.
However, to contradict myself, there are some people who will base their buying decisions based on price. In my experience, there are four types of people (and therefore patients) who base their decision making solely on price.
Professional buyers are trained to buy on price only. They could typically work for large department stores, where their job is to buy the best quality possible at the lowest price and on the best terms for their business. They are usually professionally trained, having been on buying and negotiation courses.
People with a limited income
People with a limited income will buy on price because they simply have no choice. In my first year as a business coach, I had first-hand experience of basing all my decisions on cost alone. I quickly discovered that you always got more for your money when shopping for food at the end of the day, because some stores reduced the prices of certain items, as they were getting closer to their sell-by date.
People who do not value their time
This may seem a little harsh, but there are some people I’ve met who are pound-rich but penny-poor and, in my opinion, do not value their time accordingly.
I know an orthodontist who openly admitted on one of my courses that he went to 13 different shops, spread over two weekends, before he finally purchased a rucksack for £75 for a walking holiday.
Here was a highly skilled professional, with the potential to earn hundreds of pounds, maybe thousands, every day, squandering more than 10 hours of his valuable time making a small purchase.
And he’s not alone – another dentist admitted that he had travelled more than 50 miles, on long country lanes, to save just £30 on seed for his garden; a saving that was surely negated by the extra petrol used and the extra hours wasted in getting there.
• Only certain types of patients buy on price alone
• If you receive a price objection from your patient, it is normally down to the fact that you have not communicated the full benefits of what you are offering
• A trusting relationship with your patients is more important than the price of your services.
People who have not been given a good enough reason to invest
People who fall into this group are undecided and do not yet feel they’ve received sufficient information to make a commitment. They might be comparing the price of one practice with another, or may be weighing up a private option against one available through the NHS.
In each case, the patient will need a detailed explanation before choosing a particular procedure. In short, you have not convinced them to pay your fees and they have doubt.
Invariably, this has arisen due to a lack of sales and communication skills, and an inability to fully explain the benefits a treatment has to offer. Because of this, it has left the patient unwilling to proceed. So, the patient feels doubtful. This may result in the patient giving you a price objection, such as ‘that’s expensive’, or they may not proceed any further with your treatment plan at all.
The bottom line
Although I have not got any statistics to back up what percentage make up the four groups, my gut feeling tells me that it is very low. The most important factor is always going to be the relationship, built on trust, that the patient has with the dentist and the team. After all, when was the last time you bought something from somebody you did not like or trust?
Ashley Latter is internationally renowned for helping dentists and their teams improve their communication and ethical sales skills. Ashley has also authored two books: Don’t Wait for the Tooth Fairy and You are worth it: feel comfortable communicating your fees & achieve the income your services deserve.