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John Marvin

Your Competitive Advantage is Product Knowledge

Consumers want to purchase their prescription eyewear from knowledgeable experts to make sure they make the right purchase decision. But expertise doesn’t just happen. It must be intentionally learned.




“Nothing happens until someone sells something.” – Henry Ford

HOW WELL DO you know your product? How well do your employees know your product?

Early in my career, I attended the Dale Carnegie Sales Course. One of the books that we read for the course was The 5 Great Rules Of Selling by Percy H. Whiting. This book opened my eyes.

Until that point, I thought of sales as some contrived act of conversation that enabled me to convince someone to do something they didn’t want to do. I think many people still think of sales like this. People in our profession often say, “I don’t want them to think I’m just trying to sell them something.” What do you think the customers think? They didn’t just walk into your office by accident. People come to us to purchase eyewear and expect us to sell them eyewear. When we asked 500 people who wear prescription eyewear what is most important to their decision about where they purchase their eyewear, three factors dominated their replies. One of these most often mentioned factors was knowledgeable salespeople; their words not mine.

I believe many optometry offices do not have the revenues they want because they do not embrace a culture of retail sales. If they did, they would understand the importance of product knowledge and ensure their employees were more knowledgeable than their competitors.

People can navigate through choosing a frame, much like purchasing other fashion items. However, lenses are confusing, and people do not feel knowledgeable about making those choices. So, they want someone to help them. They want someone they trust, and the most crucial attribute in creating trust is the employee’s knowledge about what they are selling. An employee who knows their product better than anyone else has confidence, and confidence builds trust.


Another significant result of really knowing your products is enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is contagious, and if the salesperson is enthusiastic about their product, it transfers to the customer. People enjoy shopping and purchasing prescription eyewear from a knowledgeable salesperson who is excited about selling prescription eyewear. We want to make a purchase decision with someone who has built confidence in us that we are making the right choice, especially if we are talking about a pair of prescription lenses that sell for more than $500.

Knowing your product better than any other person also builds confidence in the salesperson. A person who knows their product is confident that they can provide their customer with the best options. Confidence in a salesperson is persuasive. It is hard to be indecisive when working with a salesperson who is an expert.

Training your staff on the products and services you sell produces knowledgeable salespeople. Customers want to purchase from knowledgeable salespeople. It will create enthusiasm among your team and customers who are confident in their purchases. They will tell others how pleased they are with their new eyewear. Product knowledge does not just happen. It must be intentionally learned.

John D. Marvin has more than 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry. He is the president of Texas State Optical and writes about marketing, management and education at the blog. You can email him at


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