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Robert Bell

Who Taught You That Selling is Evil?

Selling doesn’t equal persuasion.




WELL, OF COURSE selling sucks. It’s just plain evil. It’s awful and horrible. It’s despicable. Seriously, it’s just atrocious and immoral. And, it’s beneath you! It would have to be all those things according to what most of you, as eyecare professionals, tell me. When asked to define selling in an EyeCoach survey, here are a handful of responses from some of your peers:

  • “Selling is pushing someone to purchase something they may not need.” 
  • “Selling is convincing a person to buy something from you.”
  • “Selling is persuading a person to buy an item you’re trying to profit off of.” 
  • “Selling is trying to get money from someone to buy something they don’t want or need.” 
  • “Selling is trying to deceive someone to get their money.”

Yikes. These are actual responses! Now ironically, selling is necessary. If there weren’t any sales, none of us would have jobs. So, selling a product and/or service is necessary. But is it a necessary evil?

Well, it probably is if you subscribe to one of the definitions above, or have a negative perception in your head about what you think selling is. And you probably do because negative perceptions and definitions about selling is all we’ve been taught.

Most of us believe the notion that selling is all about persuading someone to buy something. Selling = Persuasion. Do you personally like to be persuaded? Yeah, neither do I … and neither do your customers.

So if Selling = Persuasion and most people don’t like to be persuaded, then of course Selling is evil. Selling sucks!

Uh oh, so what do we do now?


How about changing the definition of “selling” so it’s not so hideous and evil?

Try this on for size: Selling is helping someone acquire something they need.  

Isn’t that truly a natural extension of who you are as an eyecare professional? Helping someone acquire what they need?  

Selling has nothing to do with persuasion. As an eyecare professional, persuading a patient to buy something is laborious, painstakingly frustrating and makes you feel like you need a shower to wash away the stench of being a “salesperson.”

Here’s a quote I love:

“It’s not whether you win or lose. It’s not even how you play the game. It’s how you feel about yourself after the game has been played.” — Anna Quindlen


So I guess my question becomes this: What will make you feel better after playing “the game,” persuading someone of something or helping them acquire what they need?

Of course, the choice is always up to you. Me? I’m just trying to make your life a little easier. 

Robert Bell is the founder of EyeCoach, a Sales & Marketing Practice. He is 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




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Robert Bell

“Thank God yes! It’s Monday!!!”

Channel that sort of excitement every Monday with your own Monday Morning Mission Statement.




MONDAY, MONDAY… SO good to me. Monday mornin’, was all I hoped it would be.” — The Mamas & The Papas

You’re asleep. The alarm goes off.  You awake.  Your first thought is, “Oh lord no, it’s Monday morning.” Groan!

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You’re asleep. You awake a minute before the alarm goes off. Your first thought is, “Thank God yes! It’s Monday!!!”

Who do you think is gonna have a better week?

(If you’re currently the former, try re-reading my February 2017 article, “Go to the Hat!” at for a jump start!)

The biggest challenge for a sales trainer and coach, like myself, is to change someone’s attitude. It’s hard enough accomplishing this in person but even harder, still, in a magazine. Yet, I’m gonna try by challenging you today. We’ll call our challenge the Monday Morning Mission Statement.

I want you to write out two personal mission statements for Mondays but I’ll add a little twist.

First, a personal mission statement can be defined in a variety of ways but, for our purposes, let’s define it as a statement of what you’d like to achieve, what goals you’d like to accomplish… on a Monday. Here’s the twist: I’d like you to write these statements with a very specific challenge in mind.

The specific challenge for the first mission statement is: write it in a way that makes the experience your patients/customers have with you blasé and where you recommend products that make their lives unproductive. Here’s an example: “My mission on

Monday is to work with my customers in an ‘I don’t give a rat’s behind, half-assed’ sort of manner and to not make any effort, whatsoever, to share with them the products available that would certainly improve their lives.”

Don’t use my example, write down your own. Yes, I’m serious!

The specific challenge for the second mission statement is: how will you make your patients’ lives more dynamic today? Here’s an example: “My Monday Morning Mission is to recognize and act on the fact that I have the skills and products to dynamically change my customers lives at home and at work. I will always be exuberant in my efforts.”

Don’t use my example, write down your own.

Now, take these two Monday Morning Mission Statements and on Sunday night, put them, side by side, somewhere where you will see them before you leave for work the next morning. Read them. Decide how you’re gonna spend your Monday. By the way, this will most likely dictate how the rest of your week will go.

Or, if you’re a practice/business owner, write out these two Monday Morning Mission Statements and post them in your break room. Perhaps, have every employee (including yourself) initial the statement they’d like to follow before they begin work. Maybe in following weeks give each of your employees the opportunity to post their own two Monday Morning Mission Statements to place in the break room?

Monday morning, so good to me!

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Robert Bell

Be a Sales Contrarian

Just like Robert Bell.




OVER THE YEARS, people have said the most illogical things to me. So, I thought we’d start the new year by debunking some irrational thinking when it comes to sales and selling.

“Selling is persuading or convincing someone of something.”

On the contrary … selling is helping someone acquire what they need.

“Selling is really hard, especially for eye doctors and opticians.”

On the contrary … selling is the easiest thing in the world if you’re not trying to persuade someone of something. And, if selling is helping someone acquire what they need (see above) and since eyecare is a “needs” based biz, helping someone with their visual needs is pretty simple. Why are you making it difficult?

“Eye doctors and opticians aren’t really salespeople.”

On the contrary … who told you that, anyway?  Eye doctors and opticians don’t see themselves as salespeople because they think selling was about persuasion. So yes, I agree, if ECPs think selling is about persuasion then, you’re right: eye doctors and opticians aren’t salespeople (or, at least, they shouldn’t be). Again, selling is helping someone acquire what they need. ECPs are in a needs-based business so isn’t being a salesperson (with our new definition) more of a natural extension of who you are anyway? Isn’t it your primary job to help patients and customers acquire those products that will help them alleviate their visual needs?

“But Robert, don’t we already do that? I mean, we tell them about their needs, we tell them about all the products they need to help them and we tell them why they need them. Isn’t that helping them acquire what they need?”

On the contrary … every time you use the word “tell” you’re actually saying you’re trying to persuade them that they need these products. No one, and I mean not a soul, likes to be told what they should do. When you’re “telling” someone something, you’re talking at them. Their defense mechanisms flare up and they are resisting everything you’re saying.

What, then, would a sales contrarian do instead of tell? Ask! Instead of telling people, you should be asking people. Ask a question. Why? Because asking a question or a series of them is the best way to get people to engage in conversation. When you’re telling someone about something, it’s a monologue. You want a dialogue!

“But, I just don’t know the right questions to ask.”

Au contraire, mon ami … you’re just afraid to ask them. You think asking customers questions makes you look less professional. Nothing could be further from the truth. That’s what a true professional does: asks questions. Lots of them. Inquire about how they use their eyes during the day … at home, at work, at play. C’mon, you know this!

After asking all these questions and gathering all this information, ask them for their permission to help them. Sounds like, “Ok, great. I think you and I pinpointed the challenges you’re facing. Would you like me to talk about how we can best help you?”

This is the only time you can tell them about the products and services you provide. Why? Because you just asked them for their permission to do so.

“Well, I can’t sell like you, Robert.”

On the contrary…You can sell better than me!

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Robert Bell

The Terrible Twos and Overcoming that Multiple Pair Problem

If the average patient needs three pairs of glasses, why aren’t doctors writing three prescriptions?




TWO PAIR. It must be awful. In fact, that second pair of glasses must be terrible! Why else are independent ECPs only selling them 7 percent of the time?

Here’s the crazy part: That percentage was around 10 percent a few years ago and now it’s dropping. Again, terrible! Here’s something else to ponder, I have a friend that insists it’s less than 7 percent, that it hovers around 5 percent. Worse than terrible!

I’m not an eye doctor nor a licensed optician so I can only speculate as to why this number is so ridiculously and embarrassingly low: a second pair isn’t important to the customer and/or the ECP doesn’t think there is a need for it. It’s that obvious.

Or is it?

I wasn’t sure, so I asked this question of ECPs on social media: In a sentence or two, explain what you think the job description is for an optician?

I received some interesting responses but I was looking for a congruent mindset to help me better understand this dismal percentage. And, without fail, I saw it. This mindset is best illustrated by the following response — Read it three times and read it carefully before you continue with the rest of this column:

“An optician utilizes the doctor’s prescription and recommendations in order to help the patient find their ideal frames and lenses for seeing well and looking fine.”

Did you see what I saw? This doctor wrote the word “prescription” (singular) and the words “frames and lenses” (plural). In other words, do doctors expect their opticians to sell multiple pairs when they are only willing to write just one prescription for a patient?

The irony is that I have not met an OD yet (or optician, for that matter), who doesn’t tell me that their average patient needs three pairs of glasses. Ok, doctors, are you writing three prescriptions on average then? Just asking.

The other part of this multiple pair challenge, in my opinion, is that the majority of opticians have literally given up on second pair sales. That saddens me, of course, but it’s not that I don’t understand it. Whether or not they sell a second or third pair, most opticians will not make an extra dime from their efforts. So, why make the effort at all? After all, the second pair “conversation” seems to be a walk up hill and against a mighty wind. It’s a lot of work, though it doesn’t have to be (a solution is coming towards the end).

So, what we have here the majority of the time is:

  • Doctors writing only one prescription;
  • Opticians not wanting to make the effort of the dreaded second pair conversation; and
  • There is no incentive for them to make a concerted effort in making multiple pair sales.

What to do? My suggestions:

1. Doctors, at the very least, write a second prescription for UV protection (sunglasses).
2. Opticians, to make the “conversation” of a multiple pairs more comfortable for you and the patient, ask/talk about the second pair first. It sets the stage and, immediately and gently, changes the “just one pair” perception of the customer. In just doing this, your multiple pairs should skyrocket.
3. Business owners, please consider a bonus program for every one of your employees. I’m not a big proponent of spiffing individuals with a bonus as your entire office should work as a team. So, examine the possibility of rewarding everyone on staff, financially, if certain goals are met in regards to multiple pair sales.

If you were to only initiate one of these ideas, your multiple pair sales will increase. Can you imagine how powerful this becomes if you employ all three?

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