By Paul Surridge – Chief Executive Sight Care Group
We need to remove the word selling from our vocabulary. If you’re a practice owner or dispensing manager tell your dispensing team that “From today, we’re not going to sell anything to patients” and go silent. Don’t be surprised if the statement is met with incredulity, but then go on to explain what “creating an environment where people want to buy” really means.
The fact is none of us wants to be sold to. When we buy something, we like to think it’s our own decision, albeit sometimes influenced by others. We don’t want to be pressured in one direction or another by someone that quite obviously wants to make a sale.
The psychology of selling starts by suggesting that overt selling is akin to failure. The dispensing optician must view the purchasing process from the patients’ perspective. We need to know whether it’s a Need or Want purchase. It can be both.
If it’s a Need purchase ONLY, the discussion with the patient will almost certainly differ from that of the Want purchase and may well be concentrated on price, albeit not the only factor. Need purchases can be interpreted as “My vision has deteriorated, which means [reluctantly] I will need new lenses”. The discussion should involve presenting good reasons why the patient should consider, if appropriate, new frames, best quality lenses, tints, a second pair, sunglasses, contact lenses etc. By asking pertinent questions and importantly listening to feedback we’re in a position to turn a Need purchase into a Want purchase. This can only happen if we concentrate on the benefits rather than the features of what’s available. If we fully understand what people want by listening to them, we stand a better chance of making consistently higher value sales. Get this right and you build long-term relationships too.
The Want purchase suggests the patient already has a desire to buy; the challenge here is to present a strong case for the very best that’s appropriate rather than defaulting to a safe price point.