Selling Spectacle Lenses Through Show-And-Tell
Selling eyewear is a visual selling process. People choose with their eyes. Patients want to experience the feeling of a hands-on approach to designing their eyewear.
Make A Professional Recommendation
You know that feeling when you go to your favorite 5-star restaurant and after 5 minutes of staring at the menu indecisively, your mouth starts watering? You probably felt super confused about what to order on the HUGE menu. However, when the waiter helps you sift through the menu, it becomes much easier to decide on what is appealing. When designing lenses, take the frustration away from patients and do not allow them to be indecisive. The menu of lens options is insanely large today. The worst part is the lens menu is full of optical jargon that only seasoned optical patients know what we’re talking about.
For the sake of your sanity, develop a standard of care for recommending lens options that will create the best aesthetics and best vision in glasses. After all, you are the expert. If you ordered a breaded pork chop and the waiter offered you 8 different bread-crumb options and explained them all, you would be a bit overwhelmed. It would be much easier if the waiter just told you the best 1 or 2 options from experience. With selling lenses, it’s good to confidently tell the patient what they need. For example, “We are going to go with the thinnest lightest lenses that allow for the best clarity in your prescription.” Leave the professional judgment decisions up to opticians. Keep it simple and easy for the patient. You should have a default standard of care, whatever that is in your budget or luxury optical.
Opticals Are Not Self-Service
The reason many people are going online to purchase eyewear is they are used to a self-serve eyewear buying experience. The traditional way of buying glasses is to tell your patient to go to the frame board with a shopping tray and select some frames they like and bring them back to your desk in 10 minutes. Then, the optician helps narrow down the selection for proper fit and make sure the frame will accommodate the prescription.
As eye care professionals, we must adopt the mentality of being service oriented! Bricks and mortar cannot compete on price always, but service is easy. If you have noticed, e-commerce giants like Warby Parker, Untuckit (they make men’s dress shirts), and even Amazon have opened bricks and mortar stores. The reason in-store experiences are important is sometimes our personal needs and questions go beyond emailing support, reading F&Qs, or reading product reviews. We need someone to hold our hand and tell us exactly what we need to have as a trusted lens and frame advisor. That service has a value.
Lens Merchandising and Visual Shopping Aids
Let patients sell themselves on their lens choices by letting them interact with optical visual aids. Let them be a lens “chef” and choose colors, materials, and accessories. Now don’t just a dump a pile of lenses in front of them. Guide the patient through the process of pairing complementary colors of frames to lenses to achieve that star-studded appearance or muted look they want.
Every optical need to have really great frame merchandising, but also have a lens merchandising approach. Lens merchandising involves creating a specific area in your optical where ALL the lens options are organized in a creative manner and accessible for patients to play with (we’ll get into this more later) or you have them neatly organized in a portfolio and readily available when the time comes to discuss them. Lens options are similar to purchasing paint for your house. You can compare the wall of paint sample color chips neatly displayed with names and other tips.
By the way, if you need great frame merchandising inspiration, Pinterest is a good place to start. Inherently, lenses are pretty boring. It’s just a piece of plastic that makes us see well. Most patients eyes glaze over when we go through lens options. They just want to see well, that’s it! However, creating a hands-on informative and fun approach to educating on lenses could peak someone’s interest and result in multiple pair sales.
Educate Patients With Knowledge, Not Marketing!
Patients don’t know what they don’t know. The best thing a patient can say to you is “I didn’t even know this existed.” Or, “nobody told me this before.” These are keywords that a patient is enjoying your consultative sales process.
It’s important you ditch all the phoney marketing sales aids the lens vendors give you. The branding and marketing messages on brochures, desk mats, and table tents just confuse your patients. They have no clue what Hoya, Essilor, Zeiss, or Vision Source branding is. The moment you start introducing brands into the equation, your patients get lost. Show patients lens samples instead of selling them on a brand, other than the brand of your office.
Every Optical Need The Following Sample Kits:
Thick Vs. Thin Lenses
PAL, Bifocal, Trifocal comparisons
Create a custom-made kit of tint samples in wild and standard colors. Choosing from gray or brown is boring. Sadly, most patients think these are the only two options. Why? It’s due to opticians not thinking creatively. Tints should be displayed in different combinations of solids and gradients. Patients don’t have a clue that fun or obscure tints can be custom made. I would recommend having a minimum of 20 different tint samples. Go crazy with some off-the-wall colors like Blue Horizon or Berry Burst. Notice how I gave the tints fun names? Think ice cream or nail polish names.
You want patients to be bragging about their sunglasses when they wear them. They will tell that story of selecting the lenses and will even brag about their lens color to their friends! We all remember our favorite drink names at fancy cocktail bars, so why not remember tint names? You also should be professionally labeling your tint samples with a sticker or laser engraving. This will help patients choose lens color not only based on visual appeal but word appeal.
You need to develop a tint sample kit neatly displayed.
Step 1: Write out 20 different solid and gradient lens combinations you want (you can always do more, but this is a starting point).
Step 2: Call your lab and have them create…it’s that easy to make plano samples. Or, if you have a tinting machine, fire it up.
Step 3: Next, decide how to display them. Don’t just dump them into a box like a piece of clutter.
Here’s an affordable place to buy a lens organizer. The way the lens samples are displayed will tremendously influence people’s purchasing decisions. Why do you think houses are staged during the FOR SALE process? People want to buy things with curb appeal. Lenses have “optical appeal” so go ahead and display in an organized interesting way.
Mirrors are not just for skiers and celebrities, it’s an essential part of everyday optical lifestyle fashion. Mirrors can take a pair of sunglasses from blah to wow in one second. If you think of sunglass lenses like a cake, it’s the buttery icing on the outside of the lens that makes a standard pair of sunglasses extravagant. I know you are dying to use that analogy with patients, I dare you to!
Just like tints, mirrors need to be merchandised in a creative way as well. Don’t just sling them in a drawer and get your grimy fingerprints all over them. Patients are hypersensitive to smudges on lenses. A good way to prevent fingerprints on mirror samples is to place a circular sticker on the front and back of the lens. Only pick up the lenses by touching these circles.
When you are selling mirrors, this is your time to romance the patient. You can be anybody you want when you wear a mirror. Tell the patient they can be a Marilyn Monroe movie star, look like a successful CEO, or pretend to be a private detective. It’s important to get the patient to have fun during the decision making stage of buying mirrors.
Opticote is a great resource but make sure to check out their comprehensive guide to selecting the right color for your patient’s needs.
I can’t tell you how many times during an eyeglasses sales presentation I have forgotten to mention the option to add photochromic technology. Then, the patients come to pick up their glasses with the assumption I read their mind that they wanted it. I learned my lesson and you should too…mention it to everybody! Just because you don’t like something doesn’t mean other people feel the same way. Plus, it’s one more way to increase your revenue with a simple feature request.
(photo courtesy of Indizen Optical Technologies)
I think we’ve gotten past the stigma of photochromics not changing indoor and outdoors fast enough. Most people are happy with the lens performance. If you have a newcomer curious about the technology, make sure to bust out some samples. Heck, I would recommend going outside for the full optical experience your patients deserve. To us, it seems boring, but to patients, it’s fun (kinda like watching a gumball machine, you know what’s going to happen but you want to see it anyway). Let them look through the dark lens and realize it’s a good alternative to full-time prescription sunwear or in addition to. Put a label on the lens that obstructs the sun from making it turn so you can show how dark it got. Remember, photochromics get dark in cold weather, also.
Don’t be fooled, there are multiple brands of photochromics
Lastly, it’s important to note there are many brands of photochromics available to opticians. Transitions may be the big name you are aware of but, Zeiss, Hoya, Rodenstock, Indizen Optical Technologies, Conant, and even more lens manufacturers all produce photochromic lenses. It’s important you experiment with different lens manufacturers products to determine which tech you like the best! Relying on vendors to spoon feed you information is not wise as there is always a sales agenda, as you would expect.
I would recommend reading this short article to get a brief summary of the different brands. If you are really curious about how photochromics were invented, you should dig deep into the original design patent on file and then read this good description of how photochromics work.
List of Popular Photochromic Brands
- Brand: IOT
Technology: Neochromes Dynamic Photochromic Lenses
- Brand: Zeiss
- Brand: Rodenstock
Technology: ColorMatic IQ
- Brand: Essilor
- Brand: Hoya
- Brand: Conant Optical
- Brand: Mitsui Chemicals
Don’t worry, I’m not going to tell you how amazing one anti-reflective brand over another. Let’s be real, that’s old news. When’s the last time you heard Apple or Nike telling you how amazing their processors or shoe sole technology is? NEVER. That’s because we’re beyond a society discussing technical aspects, but rather building an emotional connection to people through storytelling. Benefits sell. Features are factual. Benefits are emotional, and we buy with emotion. Don’t bore your patients with boilerplate AR education. The best way to sell more AR and make patients believers in choosing the best is a simple show-and-tell visual aid. Turn a 5-minute conversation into a 30-second decision. Make it your default, not another decision.
How do I educate my patients better about AR?
Take a pair of glasses and make one lens with AR and one without. During each sales presentation, put this pair of glasses on reminding patients of the feature you will be putting on their eyewear. It’s best to not even give patients the option to NOT buy it. Be presumptive all patients want the best. Patients can sense when you don’t believe in a feature and this will put off negative energy. Next, it’s essential to remember people are vain. Mention to patients it will improve their facial appearance and make them look beautiful or handsome. Go ahead, romance the patient a little. Other opticals will just talk about it, but you will show them a real-life demonstration of ugly glare and super clear.
If lens manufacturers give you handouts about AR and the comparison between the good, better, and best versions, please throw this away! This type of education is too intangible. People will get confused by just looking at a comparison chart. These tactics of selling are old school and very “salesy.” By removing the literature aspect from the lens presentation and actually engaging with a patient in show-and-tell conversation, you will build value with your patient as a trusted lens advisor.
Do your lens vendors give you those anti-reflective comparison lenses? Throw those away too. It’s never realistic showing a patient this. The only realistic tool is showing a pair of glasses on a REAL face.
Thick versus Thin glasses comparison in + and –
To all the high myopes and hyperopes out their buying glasses, mostly they care about creating a thin pair of lenses that looks pleasing. If you can make a razor-thin pair of lenses for one of these patients, you will instantly gain 100% loyalty for a lifetime potentially.
Quick tip: Put contact lenses on high Rx patients during frame and lens selection process so they can see what they are looking at.
It’s a good practice to educate new patients and remind previous patients of your lens knowledge. Your goal as an optician is always to take the guessing game out of buying glasses Not every consumer will act as an engineer with a pocket protector and research everything. Get a sense of their knowledge and at least review the highlights of the information.
How do you demonstrate lens thickness education?
Create a pair of metal full-frame glasses using a -6.00 in CR-39 in one lens and 1.67 index in the other, using a 54 eye size frame with a 62 PD. Do the same thing for a +6.00 Rx. Hand the patient this example frame and let them touch and see the difference. You’ll be surprised how fast the patient will say “yes, let’s go with the thinner option I would love to pay the extra money.” As an optician, you already know that frame selection is much more important than the difference in a 1.67 or1.74 high-index material. You are bound to get a 5-star Google review if you can help patients get their thinnest pair of lenses in their lifetime.
Progressive, Bifocals and Trifocal Visual Aids
If your patients are over 40 years old, it’s likely they will need some assistance at the near working distance. Today, the decision is pretty clear-cut that nearly all people will want a progressive lens versus more traditional lined bifocals and trifocals.
If you work in a practice or own a practice, hopefully, you or the doctor is recommending lenses in the exam lane and “teeing” up the sale for you to discuss progressive lenses automatically. If and when the time comes to compare these lens options, you should be prepared to make the decision making the process a 60-second choice. Over-analysis leads to paralysis.
Don’t just show a static picture of the lens style. People will lose attention really quick. We’ve been accustomed to watching videos and digital media with live motion. Keep your sales process alive by always entertaining your patient with motion. Good news, motion doesn’t need to be some fancy video, but simple drawing pictures works well.
I would recommend using a nostalgic old school notebook with a cool leather wrap or using a tablet device to draw the images. Presentation matters when discussing lens options. If you pull out some lame white sheet of copy paper, you will devalue the experience. You want to make the patient think “what is next” like a magic show.
Simply, draw out each lens design and then verbally go over the features and benefits. Assuming most people will opt for progressive addition lenses, make sure you don’t get into the granular details of progressive lenses during this conversation. Keep it simple and tell the patient they will enjoy being able to see far away, mid-range and up close with one lens. This simple explanation is usually adequate. Do not make any bold claims corridors are an edge to edge or these are the ultimate computer glasses. The moment you mention things like this, patients will expect perfection. Let the patient go on their personal journey of discovering how to use progressive lenses. It’s okay to give some tips and tricks about moving the head and turning neck though.
Lastly, for the more tactile folks who want to look through a lens, have your lab make some plano lenses in each of the 3 lens styles. Remove the fear from patients of trying to decide between random pieces of plastic they will wear in front of their eyes.
Be the trusted lens advisor
Going to the local optometrist or optician to purchase a new pair of spectacles is not the highlight of the week for everybody. Some people drool over having to buy glasses. It’s just a chore and they want it to be over. This is the very reason you need to develop your lens advisory skillset to help patients leap over their hurdles and make their pain points softer. Some patients have never experienced how easy it can be to purchase a good pair of glasses.
When you can help patients make decisions quickly, they will learn to develop an intimate optics relationship with their optician. This is where loyalty can be built. Today, people buy retail goods from convenient locations both online and in-store. Make your bricks-and-mortar location the easy place to buy and stand out from the crowd. Make the investment in developing your visual aids and displaying them in a cool merchandised layout. Gone are the days of pulling something out of a drawer and showing a patient. Consumers today want to be romanced by a brand and feel apart of the culture. If you go look at Instagram today, people are constantly bragging about brands. Consumers are feeling more connected to the goods they use and wear. What story are your patients telling about you? Make them tell the story about how they customized their lenses with a Raspberry lens tint and buying their first pair of progressive didn’t feel like a used-car buying experience.