Once a upon a time, an optometrist was very eager to give me his opinion on “selling.” His attitude was that “selling” cheapens and degrades the profession of optometry. Optometrists and their staffs should not be salespeople. Optometrists should be the best doctors they can be and their staffs should be a reflection of that.
Agreed! 100 percent!Optometrists should be the best doctors they can be and their staffs should reflect that.
He went on to say that people who teach selling to eyecare professionals should be ashamed of ourselves; that we appeal to the lowest common denominator of money-grubbing optometrists. Ouch! It’s not the first time I’ve heard this from someone who’s never attended one of my workshops.
“Doctor, are you telling me that you’re dedicated to the health and comfort of your patient’s visual health? 100 percent?”
“Yes, of course,” he replied.
“Wonderful! Would you happen to know the percentage of your patients that purchase more than one pair of eyewear from you?”
“Maybe 5 or 10 percent, if I had to guess.”
“How many pairs would your average patient need?”
“On average? Three pairs.”
“So, your patients are leaving with less than they need? Tell me, how is it that you’re not in jail?”
I shared a story with this doctor: A woman won a $2.1 million settlement against her cardiologist for failing to give her an aspirin. Yep, an aspirin! Not as frivolous as it sounds. It was to be given to the patient before an angioplasty. But because the patient received less than what was needed (an aspirin), she developed gangrene and lost a foot.
Think about this: If you put your trust into the hands of any other kind of doctor ... a cardiologist, an oncologist, an orthopedist, etc., and they gave you less than what you needed, at the very least, isn’t that grounds for a lawsuit?
On average, 90 percent of patients in this country leave their independent eye doctor’s offices with just one pair of glasses. Yet, every time I ask eyecare professionals how many pairs of eyewear their average patient needs, I never hear “just one.”
Is it OK for anyone, in any healthcare field, to give their patients less than what they need? Just how do we, in the eyecare field, get away with this? More importantly, why would we want to get away with this? What’s the benefit to the doctor? To the patient? Yes, I understand that eyecare is the only healthcare profession that has “retail” (optical dispensary) attached to it. But shouldn’t that mean we should aspire to a higher standard because we are responsible for both healthcare service (eye exam) and product (glasses, contacts, etc.)?
I shared with my new optometric acquaintance that I don’t teach “selling” the way most people understand that term. Most people think that selling has something to do with persuading someone of something. Not sure about you, but I don’t like to be persuaded of anything. Do you? So I redefine selling to mean: helping someone acquire what they need. Yeah, it’s really that simple! Then I teach a method of asking precise, gentle and non-threatening questions, at specific times. These questions help patients recognize how their visual challenges affect their daily lives, at work, at home, at play, indoors and outdoors. At this point, patients tend to ask you for solutions to these challenges. As a by-product, multiple pair sales just happen to increase! Oooops!
Hey, I’m just trying to keep all of you out of jail!