Recently, I was invited to participate at ClearVision Optical’s National Sales Meeting. I’ve been to countless sales meetings before but I’ve never seen the likes of a meeting such as this. Nor have I ever met such a collection of sales people who were so impressive and skilled at what they do. As a result, I want to share some insights I came away with.

I found that every sales person I met had graciousness, warmth, an eagerness to absorb information, sincerity, support for their team and true respect for their managers and employers. In reciprocation, the managers and employers had a pride, appreciation and respect for the sales people. A company like this is a rarity in our time. But thank goodness they exist.

The shining example of ClearVision, which is celebrating their 60th year, was this: Everyone had an intense desire to learn about the challenges their customers face, now and in the future, and how they can provide for and be a resource to these customers in helping them find effective solutions.

Over a four-day period, I did not once hear anyone ask, “How do we sell more frames?” Their m
ain focus seems to be to help their customers overcome challenges so that doing business is easier, more rewarding and profitable.
In my very first column for 20/20 (August 2007), I related this quote: “The easiest way to get what you want is to help someone else get what they need.” I believe this is what drives a successful frame company like ClearVision.

Praise aside, this column is about sharing ideas and lessons for the eyecare professional in order to assist them in helping their patients acquire all they need. Allow me to relate some lessons learned from the professionals at ClearVision that you may find valuable.
Eyes on the prize. The goal is, and always should be, helping the customer/patient overcome their particular challenges. An increase in sales is a natural by-product.

Seek to understand. Ask inquisitive questions. Find out all you can about the challenges your patients/customers face. Become a working partner in finding solutions to current challenges.

Be genuine, gracious and grateful. Your patients/customers aren’t there for you, you are there for them. Your reward is the satisfaction of solving the problems of your patients. Everything else naturally follows.

No one is bigger than the team. Treat your co-workers, managers, employers, etc. with respect. Admire each team member’s talents. Find out what each member of your team does well and ask if they would share that knowledge with you. When asked, be willing to share your knowledge.

Smile. Be happy where you are, appreciate your talents, realize that you will be even better tomorrow—that in itself should make you smile.

Take pride in what you do. No matter what role you play in our industry, you have a hand in improving the vision of others, helping them to see the world better than they had before.

For employers and/or managers. Appreciate and recognize a job well done. Celebrate the successes of your employees. Don’t dwell on mistakes they’re sure to make but seek to find solutions with them. Nurture an individual’s growth. Seek their opinions. Help them acquire new knowledge.

It’s been said we are judged by the company we keep. With that in mind, I’m honored to have kept company with the ladies and gentlemen of ClearVision Optical. Thank you for your example and for the lessons.

—Robert C. Bell

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. Contact him at