Selling is a process; it is teachable, repeatable, and measurable. It is a process for guiding an effective conversation in which both parties feel satisfied with the conclusion. The process begins with each party knowing up front what will happen over the next few minutes or hours. This is called setting the agenda. It may sound like "Mrs. Smith, the doctor has recommended a new prescription for your glasses. What I would like to do is first find out a little bit more about your average day, what you like to do when you relax, and finally what you do for fun. Then we'll help guide you to your best lens options that match your lifestyle. Finally, we'll match your lenses with a great frame that will complement your style and make you look great. Does this sound good to you?"


The three simple steps to remember are to describe what you are about to do, why it is important and finally, checking to see that they are on board with you. Setting the agenda and getting buy-in from the patient is crucial to helping them feel in control and lowering their fears about what will happen.

The second part of the sales process is to ask questions; almost like a mini-interview. Find out about their lifestyle or "How do you use your eyes?" This is a crucial step that many professionals fail to do well to the peril of a looming objection down the road. We must have a clear, complete, mutual understanding of our patients wants and needs before we can provide a solution that will make sense. Failure to gain this understanding will lead to recommending an incomplete, misaligned, or off base solution. All will eventually lead to an objection when you ask for the order.

Third, recommend your solution to the patient by using features and benefits of the relevant products you suggest. Keep in mind that you only suggest products and describe features that are relevant to your patient. If you describe too little you will seem like you didn't listen to a word your patient said during the "interview;" and if you say too much you will have nothing left to share should you need to reinforce your position.

Features are the product characteristics that cannot be changed. For example, the lens material is high index, the frame is Zyl and the color blue. Benefits are what the features do to relieve my concerns, address my needs, or relieve my pain. In other words, they answer the question "So what?" "The high index material will be lighter and thinner which will allow you to wear your glasses longer and with greater comfort. The Zyl frame is very colorful to match your style and is highly durable to stand up to your outdoor activities. It is the perfect solution for your active lifestyle!" "What do you think?"

Remember the law? People buy with emotion and justify with logic? Features equal logic and benefits equal emotion. If you spend all your time trying to impress a patient with the features of a lens or frame, and do not spend any time relating the emotional benefits, you will earn yourself an objection! Spend some time practicing how to describe your products to patients minimizing the use of features. It will make you a more effective communicator and sales professional.

Finally, we ask for the order or close the sale. Have you noticed that with every stage of the sales process we have concluded by asking a question to check back with the patient? This important step is critical to sharing control of the conversation, reducing fear, and making sure that you and the patient are together on the solution throughout the process. Asking for the order is a natural part of the process, providing the process is executed well. However, there is a second law of sales that has to be followed; he who speaks first, loses. Ask for the order, and then shut up. Plain, succinct, and straight forward—do not say a word. Not obeying this one law has cost us all millions of dollars a year in this industry alone. Our job is to help people buy the best possible eye care solution that will last on average two years. It is not often the cheapest solution—it is the best solution. Contemplating this decision will often require the patient to sit quietly for a few seconds to evaluate all that is mired in this decision.

Give the patient the time and space to make the decision. If you speak while the wheels are turning in their heads, you will send the wheels flying and the deal goes out the door. It literally is that simple, and that dangerous.

Those who execute the sales process well will still receive objections, however they are greatly minimized.

Look for Part Three of this three part series on handling objections

Michael Karlsrud, M.Ed., is the principle consultant of The Karlsrud Company, a leading training and development company serving organizations throughout the United States. He also is CEO of K-Calls, a contact center that provides communication solutions to the optical industry's suppliers and doctors. You can hear Michael as the host of The Vision Council's On The Road Sales Coach, or read articles in LabAdvisor magazine and The 20/20 Opticians Handbook.

www.karlsrudcompany.com; www.k-calls.com