Last month, I discussed this definition: 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.
Keeping this in mind let me share with you a story I tell in my
The strangest thing happened last month and the doctor you
work for asked me to come in to explain the situation and ask you
Dr. Smith was in San Francisco waiting to cross the street one day
and he happened to notice a man on his cell phone and seemed
oblivious to everything around him. All of a sudden, this man
stepped off the curb and Dr. Smith grabbed him by the back of the
collar and yanked him out of the way of a speeding car. The man
thanked the doctor profusely for saving his life.
Two weeks later, the doctor finds in his mail a note from the man
that read: Dear Dr. Smith: You’ll never know how much my
family and I appreciate your effort in saving my life. Mere words
cannot express our gratitude so please accept the enclosed
gift as a small token of our appreciation. Very gratefully
yours, Bill Gates.
Yes, that Bill Gates. The Bill Gates worth $53 billion. The token
of his appreciation was a check for $100 million.
So, instead of shutting down his practice and buying an island
in the South Pacific, Dr. Smith wants to do something special for
his patients. For the next 12 months he wants you, his staff, to
GIVE away ALL the eyewear your patients NEED. That means
eyeglasses, sunglasses, contact lenses, lens treatments, spare pair,
sports glasses, computer glasses, etc.
So, for inventory purposes and the fact that you know your
patients far better than I… how many pairs of eyewear does the
average patient coming to your practice usually need?”
You can imagine I very rarely ever hear “One pair.” On average,
I hear three pair.
What’s interesting about this is that it has been reported 80
percent of the time, patients walk out of their eyecare professional’s
office with only one pair of glasses. That is the exact
opposite of the responses I get in my coaching sessions.
Put aside the “sales” aspect of this
for a moment. If you, as an optometrist or an
optician, assess and determine a patient has needs that would
require more than one pair of glasses to ensure the health of
their eyes, yet they walk out of your office with just one pair, did
you satisfy all of this patient’s particular visual needs?
I can hear all the “buts” right now: “But” the patient couldn’t
afford it. “But” the patient’s insurance didn’t cover it. “But” the
patient didn’t think they really needed it, etc.
I understand, but that is not the question. Did you satisfy all of
this patient’s visual needs?
Your challenge is not that you don’t know how to determine a
patient’s needs, in fact you are the expert at that. The challenge
is in having the patient understand and OWN your assessment
of their needs. Just telling them doesn’t guarantee this. However,
if you were able to help them to discover, for themselves, what
these needs are, they will ask you what they can do to meet these
needs. They will actually seek, and more importantly, want your
help. When this happens, you have implicitly just earned their
Additionally, if Bill Gates did write you that check and you
were giving away all the eyewear your patients need, would you
dispense just the “basics” or would you dispense the best
products available? And if you did dispense the basics, would
your patients be satisfied with that?
Hopefully we changed your perspective a little. It’s just another
step in understanding that our new definition of selling is a natural
extension of your core values as an ECP.
Robert 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.