When Does a Strong Professional Relationship Fall Short?

In Impacting Patients by Renata Jabuka

How many times do we find ourselves touting the benefits of our client and patient relationships; “friends as patients”, “we play golf together”, or our “best customers that have been friends for years”, “they buy it all from me.” Both scenarios certainly are very personally fulfilling and enrich our lives as professionals. These folks can be our greatest advocates and supporters.

However, when we dig a little deeper, there may be other things to discover.

Consistently high levels of strong client/patient relationships are a known universal goal in all healthcare businesses. The perception of these strong, productive relationships may be misleading. How many times do we learn too late that a customer purchased a competitor’s product or went for a second opinion on dental treatment? How could this be, with such a strong perceived relationship?

Many of us believe client/patient satisfaction comes from what is believed to be a solid, dependable two-way street. We believe the relationship is evenly balanced, providing a win-win for all, by managing and measuring expectations of the status quo—of what you already do and have been doing—rather than truly ascertaining what customers really want, knowingly or unknowingly.

Look at your business. Are your ‘best’ relationships really the ‘best’? Meaning, is reality matching up with your perceived mindset of these relationships? Has it lost its dynamic nature in providing innovation, cutting edge treatment, comprehensive solutions, and current best practices? Or are you and the patient/client just dug in and comfortable with smiling and playing golf?

In today’s competitive business environment, our professional responsibilities include:

  • Making clients aware of the most current and beneficial options for their oral care or dental practice.
  • Making challenging conversations positive and consistent, showing the patient/client that you have their best interest at heart to continuously improve and that your pocketbook is not the prime focus.
  • Promoting, but not pushing, unrecognized needs, making the relationship about positive benefits for them by bringing to light new market trends, products, and services they may not have been aware of. (Remember if not you, who will shine this light on them…the competition?)
  • Questioning and listening to your client/patient to get a complete picture of their needs, clinically or in business.

In “Professional Sales Teaching” the healthcare clinical or sales professional approach to your responsibilities consists of four basic elements:

  • To lead with your unique strengths – Why should people accept treatment from you or buy from you over anyone else?
  • Challenge client/patient assumptions – How can you reframe the problem or bring attention to an unknown need they may have.
  • Catalyze action – Patients and clients need to understand exactly why they need to take action and have the urgency to do it now.
  • Standards across clients and patients – Professionals must have a core group of clinical, business, and market and industry standards that they follow and keep consistent with every client and patient served.