By Robert C. Bell

Remember: Selling is a process in which the eyecare professional helps a patient to acquire all the goods and/or services that would assist that patient to fulfill any and all visual needs in exchange for compensation.

Let’s strive for a different approach. Instead of trying to “sell” or persuade a patient that they need a certain product to satisfy a need, we turn 180º in the other direction. Wouldn’t it be better for both the patient and you to have the patient try to convince YOU that they need those products? “Well doctor, don’t I need those polarized sunglasses (or spare pair or computer glasses or high-index, etc.) too?”

Wouldn’t that be easier, more professional and more profitable for you if this occured? Don’t you think they want to ask the expert—you—for help? Of course they do but right now, they don’t. It’s not that they don’t know how, it’s that they don’t know when.

The same is true for most of us when showing the features and benefits of product to our patients. We just don’t know when to make it and… the “when” is so important. The presentation should be made after the sale is closed.

Most sales training courses, especially in this industry, are geared to improving your presentation skills. Because of this, it’s easy to assume that “presentation skills” are the most important aspect of successful selling. If we think this, it just makes sense that we are eager to show our patients how knowledgeable we are about our products. We get very good at making our presentations and, of course, we’re eager to share our expertise.

If we are eager, we tend to make the presentation much too early to the patient. Because it’s too early, the patient resists. You can’t believe it. You just did a great job presenting the benefits of this product, so why didn’t the patient just open his wallet?

So, you try again, “But Mr. Smith, this lens is the best lens on the market. It does this, this and this…, isn’t that great?” “Yeah, it sounds good but I just don’t need all those bells and whistles.”

By making the presentation too early, you are force-feeding them information. This is information they most probably need but they are not ready to hear because they never asked for it. This is a crucial point for understanding the selling process. If you make a presentation to a patient before they are fully self-aware of their needs, you are in for a frustrating time. The patient will object. You, in turn, try a little harder to convince them they should buy it and frustration for you and the patient ensues.

Think about a time when you were the customer and a salesperson was making an impassioned presentation to you. This person may have been very knowledgeable. Yet, you resisted because the salesperson assumed you understood you had a need for the product they were offering.

If you thought you had a need for this product, you would ask the salesperson certain questions to make sure the item would satisfy your needs. When the customer/patient starts asking these kinds of questions, this is the signal the “sale is closed” if the product does, in fact, satisfy their needs.

This is “when” you make the presentation.

Present the feature but not the benefit. Instead, after each feature is explained ask the patient, “Do you see how this would help you?” When they say, “Yes,” they now understand and appreciate the benefit.

You just may hear, “So, I really do need another pair of glasses.”

Robert C. Bell is president (and head coach) of EyeCoach, an organization designed to teach and coach innovative and industry-specific sales techniques to eyecare professionals. You can contact him at