Death of a Super-salesman

Death of a Super-salesman


The optical industry lost one of its super-salesmen last month when Jay Little died of a heart attack at age 59.  Jay was widely respected by colleagues, customers and competitors for his comprehensive knowledge and understanding of lens processing and laboratory technology. In his four-decade career, most of which was in optical equipment sales, he played a key role in the explosion of the super optical retail chain segment in the mid to late 1980s and in the growth of the independent wholesale lab segment.

Apart from his name, there was nothing little about Jay. He was a large man with an outgoing personality who invariably left a big impression on everyone he met.

“He was a legend, a great guy, a salesman’s salesman,” recalls wholesale lab owner Ed Dietz III, president of Dietz Labs in Ft. Worth, Texas. “He could truly sell ice cubes to an Eskimo. He could sell a concept, product or thought to anyone whether they needed it or not.”

I believe the remarkable thing about top-notch salespeople like Jay Little is not that they can sell you anything, but that they can sell customers what they need, even if they didn’t know they needed it. That intuitive ability comes from being a great listener and observer, as well as completely knowing one’s product line.

This skill should be developed by ECPs, too. Whether you’re an OD who is advising a patient about their ocular health or an optician dispensing the latest lens products, taking time to talk with patients and having them fill out a detailed lifestyle questionnaire is the only way to find out what they actually need. Don’t think about “selling” a particular product or service just because you offer it. Think instead about how to best solve the patient’s problems. Your patients will reward you with their loyalty.

—Andrew Karp

A Jay Little memorial fund has been established, the mission of which is to improve the resources, programs and options for recovery available to individuals suffering from substance addictions and/or brain diseases and their caregivers. Donations can be sent to the “Jaybird Trust” care of Linda Little, PMB 128, 6710 Virginia Pkwy Suite 230, McKinney, Texas 75071-5516.