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Home > Off the hip – by Daleen Slabbert

Daleen Slabbert – consults to the optometric industry. Her services include: new practice set-up, implementing practice systems, implementing financial check points, staff training, implementing marketing strategies, human resources management, motivating staff, etc. She has amassed an incredible library of information and has vast experience in the running of high performance optometric practices. Daleen offers an on-site service, where she will be at the fore front of implementation of her systems. She has also developed an outstanding online course for optometric staff. She can be reached at 0825571418 or on email: dslabbert@mweb.co.za. Visit: www.daleenslabbert.co.za


Open your mind to selling multiple pairs

Selling multiple pairs of glasses is the area where optometrists have the most to gain. All patients can benefit from an extra pair, be it for sports, hobbies, reading, sun wear or evening wear, but first, we have to come to terms with a very important fact. No single pair of spectacles can fulfill all visual functions. This is a fundamental truth that is underpinned by working distance and posture. Coming to terms with this fact can provide the confidence required to fill multiple prescriptions.

Some people are just naturally brilliant salespersons.  Others, like me, have to work according to a plan, or “Begin with the end in mind”, to quote Stephen Covey.

First ‘sell’ yourself

One of the greatest assets a practice can have is a well-trained salesperson that understands the art of identifying the customers’ needs and knows how to proceed to exceed their expectations.

The first aim is to sell yourself.  The optometrist plays a large role in this vital step to successful selling during the “transfer of trust” moment.  When handing the patient over to you, the instructing/prescription should be very clear.  “Yolandi, Mr. Jones will need your help in finding a frame for his new multifocal.  He also needs to decide between an office lens for computer work or a single vision computer pair.  Please tell him about the current sunglass promotion too.”

When greeting a customer, bear in mind that it is not what you say or how you say it, but how you make them feel that counts. “Good morning Mr. Jones.  Please come with me.  I am going to show you the options available to ensure that your frames are perfect for your prescription and not only look good but are comfortable too.  Tell me, what you do not like about your current frame?”

Remember, the rewards of selling are directly related to the effort you put in.  If you enjoy what you do, you will do more of what you enjoy

Establish the REAL need of the customer

Asking a patient to complete a lifestyle questionnaire while waiting to see the optometrist, provides a solid platform for multiple sales. This sets the stage to link their activities to the best optical solutions.

Please tick the appropriate boxes:

I currently wear:
▢ Spectacles
▢ Contact lenses
▢ Sunglasses
▢ Combination

Please tell us about yourself:                                                                                     

▢ I spend a lot of time outdoors
▢ I have trouble seeing at night
▢ I am uncomfortable with the weight and/or thickness of your glasses
▢ I am very light sensitive and glare bothers me
▢ I participate in active or competitive sports
▢ I have trouble with close work while reading
▢ I have trouble with close work while working on the computer
▢ My current eyewear does not meet my work and recreation needs
I use a computer ______ hours per day
I drive ______ hours per day
I own ______ pairs of glasses
I own ______ pairs of sunglasses

When it comes to fashion, I consider myself:                                                           

▢ Very fashionable
▢ Fashion-conservative and prefer a classic, trendy style
▢ I value and recognize quality brands
▢ I believe my eyewear should make a statement
▢ With all this information at hand, you are ready to start your sale.

Ways of ensuring a second pair sales opportunity

Whilst there are many economic reasons for slow sales, the two reasons that carry most blame are the poor customer service and failure to suggest multiple pairs. The main reason why we are not selling multiple pairs is that the person making the sale is afraid of mentioning it!  

The basis of success with second pairs lies in ensuring that the patient understands the need for the second pair as well as the advantages it holds.

The optometrist’s mission statement usually goes something like this:  “It is our mission to provide the highest quality affordable eye care by informing and educating our patients about everything that will restore, maintain or enhance their vision.”  Do we really?  Of course, it is impossible to accomplish that mission by providing just one pair of spectacles. In the scope of almost anyone’s lifestyle, one pair of spectacles is a fairly large compromise to the promise of “total quality eye care”.

Imagine the potential of tapping into the large numbers that didn’t purchase more than one pair. No need for additional advertising, new equipment or more help. After all the increased profits will come from the patients who are already in your store being handled by the help and equipment that are already in place.

Medical Aids and Pricing

One area that sets the optical industry apart from most other retail businesses is the involvement of medical aids. Most professional practices derive the majority of their business through some form of medical insurance plan. These plans provide a degree of coverage, but with a lot of restrictions and limitations. As a consequence, many practices begin to view medical aids not as an ally, but rather as an awkward and unwilling partner. The medical aid “benefits” are seen as the sum total of what that patient can afford. Of course, this results in a very limiting approach to the primary pair, and because they are not covered, second pairs are not even presented.

The solution to this type of thinking is to turn everything inside out and begin looking at the coverage not as the beginning and the end to what the patient can get, but rather as a contribution towards what they really want. Medical aids can be used not as a problem, but rather as an advantage.

Where medical aids are involved, it would be especially good to begin by letting the patients know that their plan will supply them with very basic eyewear or it can serve as a contribution towards their eyewear. Don’t expect the patients to make an immediate decision.  Rather ask them to allow you to show them a complete overview of all the options that will suit their lifestyle. This approach allows the dispenser to start at the top and to dazzle the patient with new and advanced technology. The benefits of the right eyewear for every task carries so much more weight than motivating for an extra pair of shoes!

Don’t Wait to Suggest Second Pairs

Perhaps one of the biggest problems for second pair sales is the fact that the topic of the second (or third) pair usually doesn’t come up until after the primary pair is in place. This is a fatal error. Imagine just purchasing a great pair of spectacles with high index, anti-reflective lenses in a designer frame. The dispenser reassures the patient that they got the very best; then quotes a price. Price always has an impact, but before the notion settles in, the dispenser then asks, for the first time, “Would you like to buy another pair on top of that.” Needless to say, the likelihood of a “yes” is far less than if the notion of two pairs were discussed as the goal from the beginning.

The price

Some practitioners are wary of discounts. They wonder if they can afford to offer a substantial second pair discount.  In the case of second pair sales, a discounted profit is better than no profit at all. Remember that 70% of those sales are currently not being made. Most patients leave without a second pair. There is no doubt that price will always be an important factor, but if the dispenser leads with value, the price issues usually fall to a lower ranking.

The technique

Dispensers should expand their presentation vocabulary to frequently include references to; safety eyewear, sunglasses, sportswear, back up pair, occupational and recreational eyewear. After establishing some needs, the most important area then becomes patient education of which demonstrations are a key element. The most impressive and successful method of selling polarised lenses is not to explain their technology, but rather by demonstrating their unique performance with a sample and a glaring lightbox.

When frames do become a part of the presentation, dispensers should take a multileveled approach by simultaneously showing frames for primary wear with additional frames, incorporated specifically for sunwear or some other special use. The entire process is leading to a complete solution for the patient’s eyewear needs. As the process is unfolding, remind the patient of any special offers, discounts or packages that will add value and prove advantageous to them. Quality, high-end products in the latest fashion frames should be worn by anybody that forms part of the sales team in the practice (in other words, everyone!)

Structure

How do we entrench an effective strategy that will lead to multiple sales? No show can go on stage without a script, a score, and rehearsal. Same here. Document the strategy in a staff training manual and then role-play it. There is no better form of training. No single pair of spectacles can fulfill all visual functions – draw your confidence from here.

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