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ECPs Weigh In on the Concept of ‘Slow Selling’ in Their Businesses

It’s a mixed bag of opinion with many having shifted due to the COVID-era rise in the popularity of the appointment-only model.





The idea of “slow selling,” that customers should basically be left to shop and purchase at their own pace without any pressure applied by the retailer, has gained some traction in the last few years. In light of the popular move to an appointment-only model, what are your thoughts on such an approach to selling?
  • It’s not so much pressure selling — we’re not on commission — but especially during the pandemic (and previously in our former small location), it’s been better to help the patients find what will work for them and be available to answer questions. — Betsy Brockett, Zionsville Eyecare, Zionsville, IN
  • We do both. Some patients come in not knowing what they want and some patients know just enough to be dangerous. — BJ Chambers, Carrera Optical, McQueeney, TX
  • When I shop for anything, I like to look on my own and ask if I need help. Because of that I offer patients the choice of looking for glasses on their own or with my help. If they choose to look on their own, I give them a few minutes and check back. Most times the patient is ready for help by then or at least have narrowed their selection. I go over fit, size and shape with them at that time. If they still aren’t ready, they are welcome to keep looking with or without my help. — Ann-Marie Weaver, Optimal Eye Care, Lewis Center, OH
  • I like and dislike the idea because it is hard to turn people away when they want to come in and look on their own for glasses and have money to spend. Some people are like that. Others like help and want to come in on their own time too. Also people that have purchased glasses here want to be able to come back for the services we offer like adjustments and cleaning and just to come in and chat. I don’t want to have a closed-door policy for that reason. — Caitlin Wicka, San Juan Eye Center, Montrose, CO
  • Allows for better 1:1 time with staff. — Joanne Larson, OD, Palmer Family Eye Care, Easton, PA
  • We have done it both ways. But with some patients I take a “slow selling” approach and some patients need a little pressure to focus on the task. I keep things mainly medical with them. — Anna Brown, Family Eyecare, Campbellsville, KY
  • We take the cue from the patient. Some like to browse on their own and others need help. We just ask the patient and go from there. — Cynthia Sayers, OD, EyeShop Optical Center, Lewis Center, OH
  • Many customers come to us for just that reason. We have used consultation styling selling since the ’80s. We find people prefer it. Also, many people comment how “comfortable” they feel in our office. We don’t have the ‘sterile’ clinical look of most offices. — Dave Goodrich, Goodrich Optical, Lansing, MI
  • I think a combination of “selling” strategies is probably best. You have to gauge what your customer prefers while being available for input. — Samantha Hornberger, OD, Bright Family Eye Care, Lawrenceburg, IN
  • Patients need guidance with spectacle selection and especially in the current climate we don’t want unsupervised handling of our spectacle stock. — Marc Ullman, OD, Academy Vision, Pine Beach, NJ
  • I like a low-pressure sales environment. That being said, letting people wander through frames is a poor idea. A guided approach seems to work better in my office. — Kevin Count, Prentice Lab, Glenview, IL
  • A vast majority of our customers like the one-on-one and the fact that the optical has few people in it makes it feel more exclusive. — Heather LeClaire, Binyon Vision Center, Bellingham, WA
  • We have always employed this tactic. Low pressure approach, take your time, and saying phrases like “Listen, if I show you a frame and you don’t like it, you are not breaking my heart, it’s totally fine!” and “Hey I’m going to head to the lab/office for a few mins, entertain yourself and cruise around looking at glasses, if you like something and it’s a contender, place it at your dispensing desk and I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Our clients tell us daily how much they appreciate this. Sometimes they need time to make faces of disgust, or call a friend, or look at themselves in the mirror without us watching. We capture 95% of sales. — Mallory Haun, MetroSpecs Optical Shop, Fayetteville, NC
  • We love it and it has really paid off! Easy laidback approach, it’s better for the patient and the optician. What’s best for the patient is best for the practice. — Gayle Bergthold, Bee Cave Vision Center, Bee Cave, TX
  • I feel like most often when a customer comes into my shop and says they’re just looking they usually leave. I actually just had a customer try that; I was busy with another customer so they looked around and by the time I could get to them they wanted to leave. I asked her to at least let me know what she was looking for and I ended up helping her and selling her a pair of eyeglasses. — Julie Uram, Optical Oasis, Jupiter, FL
  • It does not do well with our current shopping model. We have found that most customers will pick items not appropriate for their face or their Rx if they are left alone. — Colby Spivey, Vision Center South, Dothan, AL
  • Our opticians are not a fan of “slow selling” people may need time to browse alone — that’s ok — but a great introduction sets a first impression, then learning the customers wants and needs helps to build the selling relationship. — Scott Mann, OD, INVISION, Christiansburg, VA
  • Some customers need this approach, which is fine. Most others need some type of guidance. — Mark Perry, OD, Vision Health Institute, Orlando, FL
  • I don’t agree with the appointment-only model but we do “slow selling.” After too many years in big box stores where it was constant pressure to upsell whether a customer needed it or not this model is a refreshing, inspiring way to sell. We are in a small market but our business has increased dramatically because of our approach and frame styles. — Rick Rickgauer, Vision Associates, Girard, PA
  • We are hybrid; we allow them to browse on their own a bit and/or leave them be if they do not seem to want help. A terrific employee will be able to tell which “selling style” is going to work best for a patient, since some customers still do prefer to be fussed over. Shopping style seems to be very generational. — Sarah Brozzo, Harrison Eye Care, Harrison, MI
  • We work together making choices that can benefit from precision with high end lenses into a best fit frame. — Ken Weiner, OD, Livingston, NJ
  • With “slow selling” you still have customers who are undecided. They will FaceTime people, take selfies with the frames on, and even have someone with them and still not make a decision. Sometimes it works and other times it doesn’t. — Danielle Doniver, Heritage Optical, Detroit, MI
  • I think you have to put feelers out to the patient. Some have an idea of what they want and want to be left alone, some feel lost in a sea of eyewear and want to be led. — Angel Miller, Cynthiana Vision Center, Cynthiana, KY
  • Depends on what you’re selling. Slow selling works great in a low-cost environment where everybody can afford anything. The higher end you go the more service is expected and more you are expected to be an expert on the products you sell. — Jason Klepfisz, OD, Urban Eye Care, Phoenix, AZ
  • We help every step of the way. — Kristina Jordan, The Eye Site, Mishawaka, IN
  • Most of our patients appreciate us taking the guesswork out of frame selection with our “concierge” or “personal shopper” experience. Typically we can make a selection with fewer frames than when the patient is selecting. — Pam Peters, Midwest Eye, Downers Grove, IL
  • I am not a fan. Since COVID is an ongoing concern, we strive to keep the number of patients in the office to a minimum on an appointment-only basis. — Sonja Franklin, OD, Modern Eyes, Austin, TX
  • We don’t rush them, but have our staff help them narrow down best sizes/shapes for their face and Rx. — Laura Miller, OD, Northwest Hills Eye Care, Austin, TX
  • I personally do not hover. I guide the patients in frame styling and leave them to it with the option to share my opinion if desired. Once frames are narrowed down we fine tune the choice based on Rx, comfort and overall look. I refuse to force my opinion on a patients frame choice unless it will interfere with the function of the prescription. I guide, educate and comment if desire but let the patient fly free! — William Chancellor, Best Chance Optical, Forsyth, GA
  • We are definitely low pressure. But also available to educate and answer questions. If patients are left too much alone they may pick something that doesn’t fit well or work with their script. Wasting everyone’s time. — Kathryn Collins, OD, Kissel Eye Care, Lititz, PA
  • I don’t love it. We know where the best fits are, the best value for their budget, the right materials and features to meet their style and comfort needs etc. Otherwise, patients often get overwhelmed or try on WAY too many options. We can also better manage the experience by directing the frame selection because we can ensure we tell them the details that set frame lines apart (made in USA, made from recycled materials, donates a pair of glasses etc.) and show off the unique details of each frame (filigree, workmanship details etc.) that can be easily missed by an overwhelmed shopper. Even if the person wants to look on their own, they should never be left completely alone to fend for themselves. Clean some frames nearby and offer little tidbits here and there of info that could be helpful or even maybe just an “Oooh, that one looks great on you!” to encourage them to build rapport with you so that you can establish trust and secure a great patient experience. — Tiffany Firer, Lifetime Eyecare, Jenison, MI
  • That would never work at this point. We are short staffed and our time is very valuable. — Judy Scheuerell, Fox Valley Family Eye Care, Little Chute, WI
  • Slow selling is not selling! Shopping appointments during the pandemic has taught us a lot; MOST BUY! — Dave Schultz, OD, Urban Optics, San Luis Obispo, CA
  • I don’t mind giving customers an opportunity to browse, but ours is a technical business and most customers don’t have the expertise to understand what may or may not be a good choice for a particular prescription. — Steve Burek, Metro Eye, Milwaukee, WI
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    I don’t agree with letting patients shop by themselves; if that were be the case I would be only an order taker. — Ron Catterson, Clear View Optix, The Villages, FL
  • I like to be left alone to shop, so I have no problem letting people shop that way in our store. We didn’t switch to an appointment-only model so I’m not sure how it would work with that model. — Frances Ann Layton, Eye Associates of South Georgia, Valdosta, GA
  • The doctor brings us the patient, gives her recommendations for lenses if needed, then we have the patient sit and we bring them frames to try on. We take our time and make sure that the frame they like is a good fit and looks good then we proceed. We have been doing this since our office opened in 2005 and the response we get from our patients is that they love it. It takes the pressure off of them and they know they are going to be stylish. — Stephanie Crowley, Sie Eyecare, Charlotte, NC
  • The opticians always walk the patient around the optical to showcase a few new styles, sales, etc. Once they are familiar with the optical, we let them roam. Always keeping an eye on them for opinions or answers to pricing. This allows us to do other things, but the patient still knows we are watching them. We have adapted this approach and it has worked great. — Heather Aites, Family Vision Center, Westminster, CO
  • I approach the patient and let him or her know that I am here, ready to answer questions or offer any help. It seems to work better that way, as our office is high end in terms of products. We are more consultative in our approach. — Pablo E Mercado, Highland Eye Boutique, Alpharetta, GA
  • Appointment works well for my optical dispensary. — Will Taylor, Eye 2 Eye Contact, Northville, MI
  • Patients need guidance but not selling. High minus patients need to be guided away from wire frames and resin lenses. My opticians do their best to guide patients into best looking frames and proper lens and accessories for their Rx. — Texas L. Smith, OD, Dr. Texas L. Smith & Associates, Citrus Heights, CA
  • Frame selects are done by appointment-only unless they saw the doctor. — Janet Cole, Dr. Pattison Family Eyecare Center, Roseville, CA
  • Eyewear is not something that should be sold using a slow sell technique. Every one of our clients is helped one-on-one and is given options that fit with colors that compliment them and from what we have been told we are the only optical nearby that does this and that’s why people continue to come back. — Travis LeFevre, Krystal Vision, Logan, UT
  • I don’t think that opticians need to hover and pester a customer/patient, however a quick acknowledgement and periodic check ins are still a good idea to discourage potential theft, in addition to being available to help if and when the customer/patient has questions. — Amber Fritsch, OD, Precision Eye Care, Mt. Juliet, TN
  • We have pretty much always done it this way but with helping and guiding them along the way. — Bret Hunter, Sports Optical, Denver, CO
  • I think some guidance is okay. Sometimes people who walk in with an Rx from another office pick out a frame THEY LOVE! Then I see their RX and it is not something I would recommend for them. After explaining to them why, I get a “no one’s ever told me that.” — Lindsey Pulford, Insights Eyecare, Manhattan, KS
  • Both are needed. Introverts need a little time alone but they also need interaction. We love appointment times and it makes people feel special. — K Elizabeth Bouravnev, Bergh White Opticians, Springfield, IL
  • We are striving for more of a boutique feel, and while appointments are always welcome they are certainly not required. We allow patients to peruse our gallery on their own. While they are “trying on” the optician is free to do other tasks in the area. Maybe dispense or schedule an appointment, place an order. The optician does check on the patient occasionally, until they are ready for more assistance. The optician then sits with them to discuss options for their lenses. We like to provide a completely custom product that reflects the patients personality. Glasses are an investment and when patients feel rushed they are more apt to have remorse and concerns after the sale. We find this model works very well for our office. — Amie Robinson, Spring Hill Eyecare, Spring Hill, TN
  • As the doctor I recommend what is best for my optician to follow. The optician does her best to show the patient what I recommend. I do not believe in using scare tactics or hard sale techniques. — Robert M. Easton Jr. OD, Oakland Park, FL
  • I think that “slow selling” is actually an art. You can allow certain customers to purchase at their own pace, we actually find that taking the purchase OFF the table is all that’s missing in closing the sale. We’ll offer to write up a quote for a patient and save it to their file. It lets the customer know that the pressure is off and that we aren’t looking to close that day … or are we? Often times, before the patient leaves we get the “You know what, just do it!” For those that don’t go for this, we often get a phone call the next day with the go-ahead. — Harris Decker, Eye Designs of Westchester, Scarsdale, NY
  • Simply ask the customer their preference… “Would you like us to help you right off the bat or would you like to browse a little on your own before we offer help/advice?” — Scott Keating, OD, Vision Trends by Dr. Scott Keating, Dover, OH
  • We do not endorse that type of selling. — Carol Marx, The Eye Care Center, Canandaigua, NY
  • People need guidance to step outside the box they created in their head. — Adam Ramsey, OD, Socialite Vision, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
  • I like the approach that allows the patient to browse for the first little bit. That helps me to determine what they are drawn to. Some people like the help right from the start, and others like to be left alone and not smothered. I respect the patients desires, whichever they prefer. — Star Taylor, Richens Eye Center, St. George, UT
  • We moved to appointment-only since COVID but we do accept the occasional walk-in as space permits, as we never want to turn away business. That said, with our appointments we never apply any time pressure and allow each person to take as much time as they need. — Larah Alami, OD, Hudson River Eye Care, Tarrytown, NY
  • Leaving a customer to browse is just the worst. That’s your time to build a rapport with the customer so that you have some baseline to make recommendations. The concept makes my eyes roll up into my head. — Nikki Griffin, EyeStyles Optical, St. Paul, MN
  • I try and read the customer to see what they want, and I’d say 90% of the time they want my help and about 10% of the time I leave them to shop but I stay nearby so they don’t have to look for me if they have a question. — Katie Billman, Meridian Family Eyecare, Meridian, ID
  • While this works for some customers, at our office it doesn’t work very well, because many people need an experienced technician to point them in the right direction. We usually do not do it this way. — Dierdre Fogle, OD, Eyetopia Eyecare, Littleton, CO
  • We have moved away from this. Working by appointment-only has afforded us the ability to connect more with patients, curate a specific selection of frames that we bring to them, and then if we really missed the mark, escort them through the showroom to make selections. — Justin Tenczar, Berkshire Eye Center, Pittsfield, MA
  • I allow patients to do this only after giving them some info on what to look for based on prescription and facial shape, at that point they usually request for my help. — Scott Thielen, North Country Eye Care, West Lebanon, NH
  • Works great for me. — Chris Gregg, IGH Family Eye Clinic, Inver Grove Heights, MN
  • Slow selling with advise towards the end of the sale to only help the customer’s decision. We will also guide as the customer desires. — Robert Hillman, Fabulous Fanny’s, New York, NY
  • Giving customers some time to look around while the employee helps another customer usually helps up our sales a little because they have more time to see what we have in stock. — Emily Kincaid-Smith, Sports Optical, Denver, CO
  • They can be at their own pace. We let the mice nose around a bit but we let them know we are close by for help. — Amy Ward, Aloma Eye Associates, Winter Park, FL
  • We have always allowed the customer to shop, with our assistance, with no time limits. — Mickey Bradley, Patrick Optical, Fort Worth, TX
  • Great question… like an economist would answer “it depends.” We get three types of customers that prefer to be left alone. First, the ones who cannot afford it. They probably look at the price tags and may be shy or embarrassed so they give you the “just browsing” line. The second is a person who actually knows what they want and they have a sense of style. If you are “too hands on” they walk so leave them be. They WILL buy but THEY like to be in charge of their own destiny. Lastly, are the people who think they know what they are doing but really don’t. These are in some ways the trickiest group. You can see they are struggling but they are hesitant to ask for help on their own. So you simply have to gently work your way in, with little bits of advice, until they see you actually want to help them instead of just selling them … then it’s off to the races. But the great majority of people that walk into our store want help and came in because we make it so easy to look good and find the right frame. — Steve Nelson, Eye Candy Optical, Cleveland, OH

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