Put the magazine down for a second (yeah, the folks at INVISION are gonna love me for writing that!) and grab a notebook and a pen. We’re going to do a little homework today. Ready?

On the top of five separate pages, write the name of a store or business where you like to shop or receive a service. On each page, list all the reasons you like to patronize the business you put on that page. Write down the last time you shopped or purchased a service there (approximate, if you must). Now, think back a bit and jot down the “good” feeling you had after you made that purchase. Write down everything that made you feel this way. What attracted you there? How do they cater to your needs and/or wants? Will you go back? Why? Write it down.

After you’ve listed all the reasons, write down on the same page, two of that store’s competitors. If you have ever shopped at these competitors, write down the reasons you don’t/won’t shop there now. If you’ve never shopped there, will you give them a try? If not, why? Write down those reasons. If “price” is the reason, ask yourself is the item(s) you’re buying a commodity or is that item and/or brand generally available?

Write down 3-5 online stores you like to patronize (on 3-5 separate pages). Write down the reasons you like shopping with those companies atop the page. This next part is very important: write down where you would shop if these online stores weren’t available to you. Are any of them small businesses like yours? Uh huh.

"Putting yourself in another’s shoes, knowing where they are coming from, is everything in selling.”

A quick time-out so you know I’m not here to make you feel guilty or make you feel bad. I’m here to show you two things:

1. A mirror. Look closely and objectively at yourself. Don’t hold your customers or potential customers to consumer shopping standards you, yourself, don’t adhere to. Recognize this part of yourself and your aptitude for empathy will soar. Putting yourself in another’s shoes, knowing where they’re coming from, is everything when it comes to selling! 

2. The forest from the trees. I’m here to show you how to compete.

OK, let’s get back to it. So, these online “stores” have “won” your business from a local store, how? Write those reasons down. Here is the most important thing: write down what these local stores should or could do to earn back your business. By the way, if one of the reasons the online store “won” your business is because you’re lazy (hey, over here … me too!), write it down. What? You don’t think some of your customers are lazy? Write it down! How are you going to “un-laze” them?

You should have a lot of notes, insights and ideas now. With this new perspective, take a hard, objective look at your business. Would you shop there if you weren’t you?

You now have a new foundation, a new perspective in which to move forward. If you say, “this is great, I’ll start tomorrow,” then you’re in a lot of trouble. Those who talk about tomorrow have already given up on today. Hey, you’ve got a notebook and a pen in front of you. Get to work.  

Robert Bell is the founder of EyeCoach, a sales and marketing practice. He is considered one of the most inspirational, innovative and effective speakers/trainers in the eyecare industry. His workshop, “Don’t Be Afraid, It’s Only Selling” is highly coveted. Email him at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


This article originally appeared in the May 2017 edition of INVISION.



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