Enviable, isn’t it?

The way some people manage things so effortlessly, when it’s so much harder for the rest of us.

Some dentists manage to easily guide a patient the right way during case presentation. They step from one interaction to another, always getting what they want.

Of course, they’re doing the best for their patients too. That goes without saying.

They just don’t seem to have any trouble influencing their patients.

They diagnose and present options naturally, easily and painlessly.

They’re not slick or salesy, just caring and professional.

They never seem clunky, awkward or uncomfortable.

And there’s a reason for that. It’s not just confidence or natural talent.

It’s knowledge.

You see, there are psychological principles behind the art of influencing. They take a little effort to get to know, but they can make a huge difference to you and your patients.

And here’s the thing that no one will tell you.

Regardless of your motives, the way that you provide information is going to influence your patients and the decisions they make.

So the best thing you can do is to understand how people make decisions, and how to present information. That way you’ll be able to give your patients information in a way that will allow them to make the best decision possible.

That way you’ll be able to give your patients information in a way that will allow them to make the best decision possible.

The Godfather Of Influence

Robert Cialdini is best known for his 1984 book, “Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion”. Cialdini is widely regarded as the “Godfather of influence” because of his years of scientific research on the psychology of influence.

Why should you learn about influence?

Well, it turns out that we all use shortcuts and rules of thumb because we live in a world full of stimuli.

We use them because we don’t have the mental capacity to process all the data in the time-frame required to make decisions.

These rules of thumb and shortcuts begin when we’re infants and are reinforced by life experience.

When used, they induce a mechanical and automatic reaction.

So let’s discover the principles of influence and the secrets of successful case presentation.

Cialdini’s Principles Of Influence

1.  Reciprocity

The principle of reciprocity is based on the human tendency to return a favour.

Have you ever been given a gift and felt compelled to give a gift in return, when you didn’t really want to? That’s reciprocity in action.

A commercial example is giving a free trial of products or services, such as Amway. Or charities that send cards or address labels and then ask for a donation.

2.  Commitment and Consistency

This principle is based our deep desire to be consistent.

So, people tend to honour agreements even after the initial motivation or incentive is no longer present.

If you can get your patients to make a commitment publicly – to attend an appointment or maintain their oral health, for example – then they’re more likely to follow through on that commitment.

3.  Social Proof

Social proof is based on the fact that people often do what they see others do.

If some is struggling with a decision, they’ll often find ways to work out what other people do in the same situation.

Many people use this on their websites by providing convincing testimonials, from people similar to their target audience.

Of course, we can’t use testimonials due to advertising rules, but we can use this principle in other ways.

4.  Liking

The fact is that we’re more likely to be influenced by people we like – and we’re more easily persuaded to say “Yes” to them.

This is why you’ll often see attractive, friendly people in television commercials, and it’s why so many websites have friendly, informal copy.

Whilst we can’t change our appearance, we can present ourselves at our best.

You can also use this principle to build strong relationships with your patients, so they feel like they’re with someone who is similar to them.

5.  Authority

People tend to obey authority figures. This is why advertisers of medical products use doctors to front their campaigns.

Titles, uniforms and even gadgets can show authority and persuade us to believe these people.

In order to be a successful dentist, you need to position yourself as the trusted authority so that patients will listen to your opinion.

You can increase the perception of authority by wearing a uniform, and encouraging your team to refer to you as ‘Doctor Jones’ rather than ‘Bob’, particularly when patients are within earshot.

6.  Scarcity

Have you ever desperately wanted something you can’t have – or something difficult to obtain? That’s scarcity in action!

People are more likely to act quickly when things appear to be scarce. This is why there are so many “hurry, last days” type phrases in advertising.

Time-limited offers are no longer able to be used in advertising, but there are other ways it can be used (consider scheduling, maximising health fund rebates).

 A Smart, Scientific Strategy

The power of influence isn’t luck or magic.

It’s science.

There are scientific principles behind the way people make decisions.

As dentists, we’re not trying to influence people for our own benefit.

We’re trying to give them information that allows them to make sensible, informed decisions about their health.

And whatever way we provide information influences our patients. And the decisions they make.

So you can choose to use smart, scientific strategies in your case presentation.

Or you can bumble along, feeling awkward and uncomfortable.

The choice is yours. So choose wisely.