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Optical Sales Booster: Know When to Use the Hard Sell vs. Soft Sell

By Linda Hardy, LDO, CPOT, COA

Nov. 25, 2015

SYNOPSIS

There are two ways to make a sale in your optical–the hard sell and the soft sell. Train your staff in both approaches, and analyze when it’s better to use which approach. Includes selling tips for your optical team.

ACTION POINTS

STRATEGIZE THE BEST APPROACH. Hard sell can be used when there is a strong medical eyecare or practical argument for purchase. Soft sell is for nice-to-have, rather than need-to-have items.

KEY INTO OPTICAL SALES PATTERNS. Work with office manager or lead optician to note sales patterns, and when one or the other of these sales approaches should be used more.

WORK OUT A DEFAULT APPROACH. In small, more laid-back communities, a soft sell approach may work better in most cases than the hard sell approach. In busier, urban settings, more frequent use of the hard sell may be best.

 

There are two distinctive ways to make a sale in the optical: the hard sell and the soft sell. A hard sell and a soft sell can both be very effective, depending on the situation and the tone of your office.
I work in a mostly“soft sell” practice. I think this may have to do with our location in the small, Southern town of Newnan, Ga. The community here is used to a certain style of interaction. If we are short, or too pushy, this may discourage the customer from returning. As the following examples illustrate, there is a time in every practice for use of both of these sales approaches, though you must proceed with caution to avoid having a hard sell backfire.

The optical at Newnan Family Eye Care in Newnan, Ga., where Hardy works as an optician. Hardy says the soft sell approach works the best most often in her small, Southern town, but that there are times when a hard sell should be used in every practice.

When to Use Hard Sell

A patient is a contact lens wearer with no back-up eyeglasses. “Mr. Jones, you do not have any back-up glasses. If you get an eye infection, and have no backup glasses, you can cause permanent eye damage. You need to get a pair of glasses today.”

You can be more forceful in a situation like this because there are real practical and eye health concerns at stake, which the doctor, in addition to the optician, can impress on the patient. Hard sells work well when there is a strong eyecare argument to be made for purchase of the product.
A patient is unsure about an eyeglasses purchase. “Ms. Randall, we are having a sale on glasses, but that sale ends today. You have to take advantage of the sale today, or you will not get the discount.”

All patients want a good deal. If they feel like they may miss out, it is likely they will go ahead and make a purchase rather than wait. In situations like this, you need an immediate call to action since your opportunity to capture the sale won’t last long.
When you are up-selling. A patient comes in with a prescription of -0.50-0.25×180 both eyes.

“Mr. Johnson, these glasses are definitely going to improve your vision, but if you do not get a thinner lens, with Transitions and anti-glare, they will not be attractive, and the vision will not be as clear. If you don’t have these upgrades added, you will waste your money on a product that you hate.”

Like the earlier example of the contact lens patient in need of back-up glasses, this is a patient who has a strong visual and quality-of-life need for the lens treatments that the optician (and hopefully the doctor in the exam room) has recommended.
Hard Sell Tip: You have to be careful with hard sells. Patients can find the optician pushy and rude. If that is the case, you may lose customers, and return customers are very valuable. Wording and body language is vital. If you seem too hurried to make a sale or that you are getting frustrated, a patient will feel your anxiety and may become uncomfortable. It that happens, instead of a sell, you will just have an upset customer.Whenever you do a “hard sell,” be careful with your wording and give as much education behind the purchase as possible.

When to Use Soft Sell

Opportunity for second-pair sale. A patient has committed to a purchase, but you see room to make an extra sell. “Ms. Smith, I know you like that pair of glasses for everyday wear, but everyone can use a good second pair of glasses to trade off on, maybe in a different style for times you want to be more playful. Maybe something more fun, like a pair of cat-eye glasses? And if you get a second pair I can give you a discount.”
During the optical hand-off. The doctor has finished with the examination and the optician has been alerted a patient is being transitioned for optical sells. Not being overly aggressive makes a patient feel comfortable, and that he or she can trust you. “Mr. Buter, feel free to browse at the frames, we have a lot to choose from. If you need any help I am here to assist you.” You can always transition to a hard sell approach later in the sales process, but your first goal when the patient first steps into the optical is to make them comfortable, including giving the space initially without bearing down on them with a sales pitch.
A patient shows he needs a different kind of eyewear. If a patient has shown he is rough on his glasses, a good way to make an upgraded sell is to give realistic reasons why they should invest more money into their glasses. “You are pretty hard on glasses Mr. Brown, you may want to look at the titanium frames. They are more expensive, but are much more durable and will be much more light weight for you.”

Linda Hardy, LDO, CPOT, COA, is an optician at Newnan Family Eye Care in Newnan, Ga. To contact: lhardyeyepro@yahoo.com

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