The good news is, your dental practice has one primary goal that is ethically sound and easy to explain: you want to take the best possible care of your patients. However, you still need to be able to explain procedures and plans for care to patients, especially when they involve new technologies or new treatments. 


Bridging the gap between your knowledge of what is best for patients and their willingness to go forward with care can be difficult, especially with new dental patients. Above all, forming relationships with dental patients requires building trust. This post will help you navigate the tricky difference between Educating and Selling to your patients so you can provide the best dental services possible.

Defining Terms: The Difference between Educating and Selling

Selling to dental patients involves engaging in persuasion marketing: designing strategies to win over customers or clients using principles of consumer psychology. This entails approaching your audience at moments when they are most likely to feel positive about your product or service, as well as using concepts like scarcity, authority, and reciprocity when designing marketing and sales campaigns. Your goal when selling services and treatments is, above all, to get the patient to agree to the treatment.

Education is not a marketing strategy. When you educate patients or customers, you convince them of the benefit of a service or product using concrete information. To put it in marketing terms, convincing in a marketing context requires developing trust based on character, competence, and a common sense of purpose. Educating your patients means explaining the benefits of treatment and communicating your knowledge and ability to help them. Your end goal is not to get them to agree, you want them to trust you and understand the treatments you are offering them.

Putting it in Action: How to Educate your Patients rather than Sell to Them

The wrong way: If you only try selling a new treatment to patients without properly educating them, they are likely to trust you less. The same effect comes from rushing through patient consultations, getting caught up in technical jargon and not listening to patient concerns and addressing them along the way. Lots of dentists offer advice on how to build trust with patients—here’s a hint, it almost always involves giving patients more information, which brings me to…

The right way: Build trust with patients by being honest with them from the beginning. Never minimize patient concerns: for instance, don’t downplay the possible pain involved in a procedure or avoid the subject of fees. If you encounter resistance or hesitation about a new technology or treatment, educate them with understanding and information from trusted sources. Research suggests that patients are more likely to trust dentists when they are involved in decision-making about their treatment. As I said above, educating patients involves explaining benefits rather than just features: don’t only emphasize the innovations of new treatments, but rather lead with the immediate benefits to patients.

Emphasizing educating over selling is one way to help building trusting relationships with your current patients. Still wondering how to get new dental patients? Growing your dental practice into one that provides the best care and has the best patient-staff relationships possible should be step one in any dental practice marketing plan. Your current patients will be more likely to recommend you to friends, post positive reviews online, and continue to view you as their trusted source for dental care and information. 

Categories: Patients