What the patient actually says or means versus what the employee thinks the patient says or means is key.
Patient: "That's a lot of money. I can't imagine spending that much money on this."
Front desk person hears: "I can't afford it."
But "I can't afford it" is not what the patient said or likely meant. What the patient probably meant is that the dentistry is not valuable enough to them. A sharp front desk person will recognize that more education is in order. No high pressure. Just more education.