Set Your Sunwear Sales on Fire

By Mike DiSanto
Labs Don’t Sell Sunwear

The difficulty of any guide that teaches labs how to sell certain lenses is complicated by the fact that wholesale labs don’t actually sell lenses or sunwear, they only fabricate and fill orders for lenses or sunwear that has already been sold to a patient by an ECP. Your accounts are the ones who actually sell the sunwear, or would it be more accurate to say that the accounts “should” be the ones that sell sunwear? You see that is your real problem, your accounts are not selling sunwear so you don’t either.

The statistics bear witness to the lack of sunwear sales. In a survey from this past year it is estimated that your ECP’s allow 80 percent of their patients to leave without purchasing sunwear. For that matter most of their patients leave with only a single pair purchase.

It would seem that the real guide to selling more sunwear as a lab rests on your ability to motivate accounts to do what the accounts say they are already doing. You’ll see this on their brochures and hanging somewhere in their office - “Our mission is to provide the highest quality eye care available.”

NOT!!! It is impossible to provide the highest quality eyecare with only a single pair sale. Maybe they should change their mission statement to read, “Our mission is to provide the highest quality eye care available --- As long as the patient lives their entire life indoors.” That of course would still be a stretch with one pair, but it may be a little closer to reality.

Opportunities Lost

It isn’t as though you haven’t tried to help them. For years labs have pointed great programs at sunwear sales. On the lab level, in conjunction with lens manufacturers you have offered your accounts:

• Buy two pair at once get the second one for half price. Great program. Why don’t they use it?

• Buy two pair at once, pay for the more expensive sunwear pair and get the clear pair at no charge. Wow, Free. And they still don’t sell sunwear.

What could possibly be wrong with half off and free? Why don’t these work better? What’s a lab to do?

Time to ReTool Your Approach

A deal is only a deal if what’s being offered is perceived as a need. Maybe the reason your programs are not working as well as you would like is because they only involve the dispenser who is only one third of the patient’s triennial visit to the eye doctor. That’s right, the average visit is once every 2.7 years.

In order for your sunglass promotion to work, the dispenser, in the last 20 minutes of the exam visit is expected to sell not only a primary pair, which was after all the sole purpose of the visit, but also must create interest and sell sunwear to someone who thinks they don’t need sunwear. Odds are they have not worn sunwear for the last three years so offering them a deal on something that they don’t need rarely works.

The key to your program’s success must begin in the first two thirds of the visit. Your programs should involve the 15 minutes in reception to suggest a need for sunwear, and the 25 minutes in the exam room where sunwear is prescribed or at the very least recommended.

The deal part of your program is great, but your success really hinges on what leads up to the deal– the part that your program leaves out. Your lab reps must encourage participation in developing a “need” for the deal. Your programs should incorporate tools like vision assessment forms (a better label than lifestyle questionnaires) that point out the need for sunwear. The receptionist should insist that patients use them as a part of the visit. Doctors should then use the power of the white coat to recommend sunwear.

If reception suggests a need and the doctor recommends the need, the dispenser—armed with your program—will fill the need. To be successful with sunwear sales your lab reps need to concentrate their sales calls on reception and the doctor.

In the reception area you’ll find they usually need a little help in the form of tools and extra training, and maybe even a small spiff. Doctors need to realize that a huge portion of their income depends on eyewear and that a great exam without product recommendations will lead to an uniformed patient making the ultimate decision solely on price. This is always a lose - lose situation. Low price doesn’t do the great prescription justice nor does it fulfill the patient’s level of need. If you want them to sell sunwear, you will first have to sell reception and the doctor on the idea that your great sunglass deal will only work if it has their participation.

Think of the labs sunwear sale program like a match. Reception hands the patient the match by suggesting a need, the doctor strikes the match by recommending the need and the dispenser ignites the smoldering need with a great sunglass sale. Hey does anyone have a blow torch?

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May/June LabTalk 2017