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Robert Bell

You’ve Been Brainwashed, Part 2: Not the Insurance Question Again!

If you initiate the insurance conversation with your customer, you are shooting yourself in the foot.




You’ve Been Brainwashed, Part 2: Not the Insurance Question Again!

AT THE TIME of my writing this, INVISION put out a story on their website, “These Were the Most Popular Eyecare Stories of 2017” ( I was taken by surprise that an article I wrote over three years ago was the number two most read. You’d think I’d be happy and honored by that. I wasn’t. I was concerned!

The gist of the story I’m referring to, “You’ve Been Brainwashed,” was about me blind shopping 11 eyecare practices and shops, in a single town in Northern California. And though I came in professing my love for eyewear (like it was an addiction with me), with every person, at every location, the very first thing out of their mouths was: “What kind of insurance do you have?” (Read it here:

To be greeted, by everyone, with that question struck me not only as odd but as the antithesis to good selling. So, I wrote about it and made suggestions as to how to improve upon it.

Some of you thanked me for the piece, some of you thought I was right on the money, some of you disagreed with me and, thoughtfully, gave me your insights as to why you disagreed, and some of you disagreed so vehemently that you lost your freakin’ minds … calling me a liar, accusing me of not knowing what I’m doing, etc. 

Ironically, it was obvious, by the comments shouted, that those in the latter group did not read the article in its entirety or decided to take certain aspects of the piece out of context. However they came to their anger, it has struck a nerve with some of them. 

Now, I do not write for INVISION Magazine for accolades. I write because I’ve been asked to share, what they call, “my unique perspective” with the industry. I went into it knowing that some will agree with me, some will not. Either way, my goal is to get you to think about things in different ways.


For those of you who had a visceral reaction to this, I  failed to make you think in a different way. So, allow me to try again: 

I am of the opinion, if you initiate the insurance conversation with your customer, you are shooting yourself in the foot, sales-wise. Not only that, you are conditioning your customers into a certain mindset and, by the way, whether you’re aware of this or not, please make room for the possibility that you’re conditioning (or brainwashing) yourself into that same mindset.

What to do? Change the conversation!

Take control and turn it around. Break the mold!

If a customer doesn’t mention insurance up front, why should you? And if it does come up, ask the customer whether they’re more comfortable with an insurance company dictating what services and products they should have — or would they prefer to follow the expertise, counsel and guidance of their eye doctor? Seriously. Ask it, then don’t say another word until they answer.

Here are a few EyeCoach “commandments” that may help you look at this in another way:

  • Thou shall never initiate a discussion about vision care plans with the customer.
  • Thou shall not tell a customer your plan “covers” this amount or your plan “pays” for that amount.
  • Thou shall never say “your plan is like a discount.”
  • Thou shall substitute the word “contributes” as in “Your plan contributes to the retail price of…”

Amongst the other things Robert Bell does in the eye care industry, he helps to oversee the Vision Services Program for California CareForce and inspires others to volunteer in their own communities throughout the United States. You may contact him at [email protected] or send him a message on The Vision Volunteers page on Facebook.


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