Increase Optical Profits with Needs-Based Selling

By Mindi Lewis, MA, ABOC, FNAO


Build optical sales by training your staff to meet the “hierarchy of patient needs.”


UNDERSTAND NEEDS-BASED SELLING. An individual is ready to buyonly if basic needs are met first.
APPLY NEEDS-BASED SELLING TO EYEGLASS WEARERS. Address basics like prescription and lenses before worrying about frames and style.
UNDERSTAND ADDED NEEDS OF LUXURY BUYERS. Emphasize lens and frame quality including advanced technology, along with frame brand and the status it confers.

We take a needs-based approach to selling optical goods. This is based on a groundbreaking theory called Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Understand Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

In 1954, Abraham Maslow synthesized a large body of research related to human motivation. His widely studied Hierarchy of Needs is still used today. According to Maslow, an individual is only ready to act upon or move up the hierarchy to the next level if all the needs of the basic lower level are met.

With respect and gratitude to Abraham Maslow, let’s examine the Eyeglass Wearer’s Hierarchy of Needs.

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Apply Maslow’s Hierarchy to Eyeglass Wearers

Eyeglass Prescription
It all begins with the eyeglass prescription. It is important to check the new prescription against the previous prescription or the lenses they are currently wearing. I go through a mental checklist . . . Was the prescription written within the last two years? Is it complete? Is there prism in their current Rx that may have been left off the new prescription?

A growing number of prescriptions written today include purpose or recommendations on the Rx, which is very helpful. This information is a great starting point for recommending lenses and frames. It is very persuasive to a patient to say “ I see that Dr. Wong has recommended that you might benefit from antireflective lenses.”

Eyeglass Lenses
Patients expect good quality optics and vision from their new glasses. They are not trained to evaluate the quality of the lenses, optics, treatments, powers, fitting and placement of the lens. They depend on ECPs to do this for them. This is what sets us apart from ordering online. It’s important to do this well because your professional reputation and long-term patient loyalty is dependent upon it.

Eyewear Frames
Much like the lenses; patients aren’t equipped to evaluate the quality of a frame any more than I’m equipped to evaluate the quality of a car engine! An experienced optician knows the difference between a lesser-quality plastic or metal frame. Combined with frame quality is frame fit. My starting point is always the bridge fit. If the bridge doesn’t fit correctly the entire frame will never fit and be comfortable.

Meeting the levels of Prescription, Quality Lenses and Frames are the basics. Once these are met and your patient trusts you, moving to the next level is not difficult.

Understand Added Needs of Luxury Eyewear Buyers
There are three prevalent types of luxury buyers: quality, brand and status.

Quality/Technology: Patients interested in higher quality products are usually obvious. They may not say much at first because they are evaluating you and your product for quality and knowledge. When they start asking questions it is about warranty, sturdiness, performance, etc. This is when you show them sturdy hinges and explain different frame materials and longer warranties offered by the manufacturers.

Brand: These are the patients who come in asking for brands like Maui Jim, LaFont and Silhouette, to name a few. They developed a connection to particular brands that are frequently more expensive, but worth it to them. These are the people who like to hear the back stories of how the little company in Italy hand painted the temples or has been family run for the past 100 years.

Status: This patient wants to know they are buying the best available today in technology and quality, as well as popularity.

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Mindi Lewis, MA, ABOC, FNAO, is an industry professional with experience from exam room and dispensing table to marketing and national account management. She has an AS in Optometric Technology, a BS in Allied Health Education, and was an Optometric Technology Instructor at St. Petersburg College, Fla. She has worked for SOLA Optical, Carl Zeiss Vision and Essilor, and is currently a dispensing optician in a large MD/OD practice in Marin County, Calif., and Managing Editor for Jobson Medical Information’s Optician’s Handbook. To contact:

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