I wrote a book a few years ago titled, But I Don’t Sell. The title is admittedly tongue-in-cheek, as I’m very aware of many eye care practitioner’s aversions to the term “selling.” I get it, and if you still don’t like the word, you’re free not to use it.
Except, you do sell, and it’s not just in the optical. You sell patients on ideas, like wearing contact lenses that reduce myopia progression. You sell people on priorities, like placing a higher level of importance on their vision than the designer shoes they are wearing. You sell people with the in-office experience you provide, aspiring to gain their business and loyalty. You sell people on clinical outcomes, convincing them that the cost of not following your recommendations outweighs the cost of accepting your advice. We all sell, and we’re about to enter a time where the ones who do not do it well are going to be exposed.
Selling gets a bad name because people associate it with twisting someone’s arm to buy something they don’t want or need. That approach is ill-advised and will never result in long-term success. On the other hand, some people go so far to avoid anything that resembles selling that it becomes a disservice to the patient when it prevents them from getting what they need.
Let’s redefine selling. Instead of looking at it through the eyes of the seller, put yourself in the position of the buyer. What do YOU want when being sold to? Are the comments below relatable to you as a consumer?
Ask me enough questions so I am comfortable you fully understand my needs and concerns.
Keep it simple and relevant. Don’t give me the feature dump. Just tell me what I need to know.
Show some enthusiasm! If you’re not excited about the product, service or idea, then why should I be?
Don’t assume my objections are shows of indifference. I don’t fully understand the value yet. I need more information before proceeding.
Demonstrate that you care more about me than the sale.
I’m here and I don’t have a lot of time. Make me want to give YOU the business, even if you’re not the cheapest.
There is a science to asking good questions. There is an art to making a persuasive presentation. There is a psychology to gaining people’s trust. These things can be learned and taught to your staff.
In the past, the ability to do these things effectively and consistently was a luxury. Moving forward, it’s becoming a necessity. People have options. It’s time to start “selling” people on why you are the best option.
Author note: I’m happy to share some of my favorite books on the topic of selling. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Vargo serves as Optometric Practice Management Consultant for IDOC. A published author and speaker with more than 15 years clinical experience, he is now a full-time consultant advising ODs in all areas of practice management and optometric office operations. For questions or comments about this article, please contact email@example.com.