Smooth Seller: Sam Morgenstern


Sam Morgenstern says opticians are first and foremost problem solvers, and he specializes in the stealth approach to eyewear sales. “My secret weapon for selling is being able to subtly and discreetly take over the sale,” says Morgenstern, who will mark 25 years at the Princeton Eye Group this fall. “After the patient tells me what they are looking for, I provide them with suggestions on what they might like. It may not be what they originally came in for, but it is my job to show them all possibilities.” Morgenstern is active in many professional organizations, plays the tuba in a Dixieland band — and gets a good laugh when, noting popular confusion over exactly what opticians do, he says many people “think we deliver babies.” — JULIE FANSELOW

I own over 40 pairs of eyewear, of which I have 12 or so in my current prescription. I can’t say I have a favorite pair. I try to match color schemes of outfits I am wearing. I hope my patients will never see me in the same pair of glasses. After all, if I can’t have multiple pairs, who can?

My favorite type of customer is one who is open about change. I love a patient who comes in with an old look and an old pair of glasses. By the time I am done with them I can transform them into a younger, more modern, version of themselves.

I am always trying to do better than last year. Theoretically, if we do more business, then we will make more money. That is the only benchmark. If I find my numbers are lacking, then I will use my vendors to find out what has decreased and what we can do to fix it. I also keep track of how many patients we take care of, and to see if traffic has increased or not.

I like to keep up with the newest trends, both frames and lenses.

My ideal salesperson is someone who is well dressed, neat, presents themselves as professional. They are well-versed in frame trends and new lens technology. They should be friendly and helpful to all patients, even when they themselves are having a tough day, either professionally or personally.

The patient really doesn’t care whether you are having a bad day or not. ... Patients come into us because they cannot see. We are there to help correct this.

I have found that the key to working successfully with the medical side of the practice is to keep the dialogue between my optical staff and both the techs and the doctors constantly open. I am not just talking about keeping them aware of new products, lens treatments etc., but also keeping them aware of problems and hopefully how to solve them. We are also not afraid to question a doctor about their refraction when we might see some abnormality — for example, if we see a big axis change or any large change in the Rx.

We have only one event a year, (for) LaFont Eyewear. Our rep comes down, takes most of my frames off my boards and puts up his whole line. We contact patients through e-mails and our mailing lists. We also runs ads in the local papers — the only time I ever advertise — and, of course, we now have a Facebook page where we announce it.

If I met someone on their first day in optical sales, I’d tell them to not be afraid to take over the sale and show the patient what you think would look good on them. Most patients want you to help them, guide them and to give your opinion. You are the lens expert, and you can educate the patient as you show them frames. You can be their fashion consultant.

I’m most optimistic about the future of our business because there will always be a need to see better and there will always be fashion. Think about it: What other health-related field is also just as important on the fashion side?