Let’s face it — many suitable patients don’t buy your teeth whitening service. The question is — why not? Why would people not pay for a better-looking smile? Even if you provided teeth whitening for free, would these patients be interested?
In order to understand the mechanisms which dictate who buys teeth whitening and when, we need to look at 4 determinants (or prerequisites) of purchase.
1. Patients never thought of it
Patients may not talk about teeth whitening because they have never thought about it (and vice versa). Perhaps no-one ever mentioned teeth whitening to them; maybe the dentist should have said something about whitening or asked the patient. The idea of having ‘white teeth’ may not exist in the patient’s mind. Even worse, the patient knows about it but the symbolic value of whitening doesn’t carry any emotional meaning. No-one told the patient that white teeth give confidence and being happy with one’s smile is a prerequisite to smile more, which may prolong life (an actual study). Smiling is an immune booster and mood stabiliser; it helps release endorphins and serotonin — the hormones of happiness. That could be a brilliant message on a poster which you can hang up in your waiting room. Always remember to educate your patients. Now, you don’t need to feel guilty of not offering your patients a way to enjoy a better quality life. Just mention teeth whitening next time and what it can do for the patient. You can find a more detailed description of how to modify your patient’s perception in the Hackbook.
2. Clashes with their beliefs and values
Our beliefs and values are the filters which determine our actions. Patients’ beliefs hold the story of their lives in a nutshell. Beliefs, like the layers in a rock, take time to form and they define the personality of the patient at the present moment. Patients will feel ‘good’ or ‘bad’ about doing certain things. Therefore, the things which patients feel ‘bad’ about, they will ignore and avoid at all cost. Conversely, the things they feel ‘good’ about, patients may decide to have regardless of the cost — immediately or in the near future. So, what would those core beliefs be which may inhibit the patient’s desire to have teeth whitening?
Your patient may believe that putting themselves first is ‘a bad thing’. Maybe your patient’s life story has made them a caring person who has grown to look after others first (brothers, sisters, parents, etc). Following from that, the patient may believe that having teeth whitening is unnecessary, a ‘selfish thing’ or a sign of ‘being vain’.
Depending on the age of the patient, some may believe that white teeth ‘look false’. Such patients usually believe that teeth should age as the patient ages. Zooming out of that context can help you overcome such beliefs. You can ask the patient if they have seen elderly people with healthy teeth and think why their teeth haven’t aged the same way. Or, ask them to think of a person who looks young for their age. Alternatively, ask the patient to think of a young person who has already lost many teeth or their teeth look very unattractive.
Patients like the sense of control and may resist ideas which diminish that feeling. In such a case, if you presented whitening as ‘a trend’, the patient would not like it. This is because the patient may feel that they ‘become like other people’ or are being presented with a way to conform to others; a way to become ‘mainstream’. Whereas this may not be a bad thing, some people will actually believe that ‘looking like others’ reduces their control over their own looks or their survival. This is easily debunked — simply tell the patient that they have control over their own appearance. Mention that many people have white teeth but that doesn’t mean they have control over other people’s lives. Conversely, there are people in charge who don’t necessarily have white teeth.
3. Gain was not discussed
Patients who have not thought of teeth whitening or know little about it may not be aware of what they gain with teeth whitening. There are a few aspects to this. You can discuss the health benefits of whitening (physical, mental and well-being). You can discuss the financial gains of having whitening today — 10% discount or a free hygienist visit worth $$ today only. You can present whitening as a ‘deal package’, add a gift, etc. You should also discuss the personal gain — what the patient will feel and how teeth whitening will give them more confidence when smiling among their colleagues, friends, relatives and in photos to preserve their good memories. Demonstrating gain is part of the 4-step sales process described in the Dentist Hackbook.
4. Cost is a problem
Patients may find the price of teeth whitening too high if they compared the exact same service with your competition. Also, patients may think that the price is high because they haven’t identified enough reasons to buy the service. You can always say that your price is slightly higher because you provide the patient with extra steps of care and support during and after teeth whitening. Then, show what these steps are and how they relate to patient safety and to the final result.
Make the service accessible to more patients by providing 0% finance options. Add a special gift to the package, for example, a hygienist visit worth $$ and 10% whitening coupon for friends and relatives. You can also mention that many people would love to pay for whitening only however they end up paying tens of thousands to have veneers instead to hide their brown teeth. This contrasting argument will have your patient nodding in agreement.