Smooth Seller: Kira Connally

top sellers optical sales eyecare business

Kira Connally’s first job in eyecare was as bookkeeper at a retail optical chain in Atlanta. But, she remembers, “I couldn’t keep my hands off the frames, so they put me out front with the opticians and started training me as an apprentice.” Sixteen years later, she co-owns Spectacles West in Weatherford, TX, which opened in 2012. Now she does “everything from administrative work to frame buying, selling and fitting eyewear, training, dispensing, taking out the trash and sometimes edging.” As a veteran of large optical chains and private optometry practices, she strives to create “a blend of the best of both worlds — great selection, the latest lens designs, and knowledgeable, caring staff members.” — JULIE FANSELOW

I own 12 pairs of eyewear. My favorites are my red limited edition Lulu Guinness sunglasses because they are metallic red cat eyes. How much better does it get than that?

If I met someone on their very first day in optical sales, I’d tell them to listen more and speak less. Be a problem solver first, a salesperson second.

My favorite type of customer is the one who has had an awful optical experience in the past. It’s an opportunity to create a great experience for someone who really needs it.

Premium point-of-wear progressives are my favorite product to sell. They make such a difference in how a client experiences their day-to-day life, I get excited for people to experience it.

To get psyched up for a day at work, I usually listen to very loud music and take the back road on the way in. The louder, the better.

The seminar that had the biggest effect on the way I sell was a seminar given by Sharon Carter. Every time I hear her speak, I am motivated to become a better version of my work self. She’s great at creating the inspiration I need.

I know a sale is going awry when a woman says she needs her husband’s opinion before making a frame choice. And here’s what I do about it: I start asking questions, to get the lines of communication open again.

My all-time greatest sales achievement (so far!) was when I sold 28 pairs to one woman in a two-month time span.

The mistake I catch myself making most frequently is forgetting to ask clients about their old eyewear before letting them get further into the process. Their past experience shapes their expectations of us as opticians and how their eyewear will perform so completely that we can do a much more thorough job if they share their past gripes.

I can’t believe I used to forget to check whether sunglass lenses were glass or plastic before adjusting them. That crunching sound when a temple adjustment cracks a glass lens is horrible.

I’m most optimistic about the future of our business because science and technology are finally bringing some great breakthroughs to our industry. We may just be creating a pair of glasses, but in doing so we shape how our clients experience their everyday visual world. And that matters.

The more of a medical history an optician has about a client, the better we can choose the most appropriate frame and lens combo, and manage their expectations. And the fewer prescriptions opticians see with the notation +.25 add for PAL, the better off the whole industry will be.

I know it’s time to take a few days off when all the coffee in the world won’t stop my tendency to be impatient. And when I get those days off, my favorite thing to do is turn off all the technology and stick my nose in a great novel.