Playing to Win with Polarized Sales - 10 Strategies to Help You Succeed

By Julie Bos
N o professional football team worth its million-dollar payroll would dare head into a championship game without a playbook — a set of plans or strategies for success. The same goes for labs that want to increase polarized lens sales. After all, as beneficial as these lenses are, they don’t just sell themselves.

And yet, the reasons to sell them are tremendous. In fact, polarized lenses can double the size of any eyecare business simply because customers who use these helpful products rarely go back to traditional tinted sunwear. If you want to boost your polarized sales and build your long-term profitability, consider using at least a few of these strategies for success.

Strategy #1: Encourage ECPs to Make a Commitment to the Niche

Everyone knows that ECPs aren’t likely to increase their business through any second-pair sales without a commitment to do so. Once that decision is made, they need to invest in their business by bringing in top-quality products, getting educated on those products and allowing experts to help them present the products in the best possible light.

Strategy #2: Stock Up on Educational Point-of-Purchase Tools

Perhaps more than any other lens product, polarized lenses demand a demonstration. The good news, however, is that once customers see the benefits for themselves, they are often hooked for life.

Many lens manufacturers know this, and strive to help by offering a comprehensive variety of selling tools, top-notch POP displays, consumer brochures, merchandising materials and educational support.

ECPs need to do their part by getting familiar with new polarized products as they become available and stocking up on materials that can communicate their benefits to patients.

Indeed, many POP displays let patients not only try on polarized lenses (and see the visual clarity they provide), but also to view the span of cosmetic options — like tints, AR coatings and flash mirror coatings — so they can choose the ones that fit them best.

Strategy #3: Stay Up-to-Date on Product Innovations

Just like with any industry, ECPs and labs need to stay current with the latest product offerings. Consider the following market newcomers:

• Chemistrie Sun Lenses by Eyenovate – Miniature magnets embedded inside sleek, polarized lenses help create the first lens that’s base-curve matched to a patient’s individual frame and prescription. Offering 18 colors and compatible with any frame in the world, this product enables labs and ECPs to vastly increase their sales by offering different lens properties in different layers, without the bulk and expense of multiple frames. Learn more at www.eyenovate.com.

• Kaenon Polarized SR-91 Freestyle Progressive – This brand new lens material combines the highest optical quality of the finest glass lenses with the ultra-light weight and strong impact-resistance of the best polycarbonate lenses, all wrapped into the first Free-Form polarized lens design on the market. Available in 6.25 and 8.25 base curves. Learn more at www.kaenon.com

• Younger Optics’ Image Wrap is perfect for patients who want polarized wrap sunglasses and need a progressive lens. Image Wrap in polycarbonate NuPolar Gray allows for a maximum cut-out wih an effective blank size of 83mm. Learn more at www.youngeroptics.com

Strategy #4: Have Low-Cost Alternatives in Mind

Over 170 million people in the U.S. wear prescription glasses, yet only 15 percent buy prescription sunwear or photochromic lenses. Many times, the decision to forego a second pair comes down to price.

Therefore, encourage your ECPs to have a “lower-cost alternative” ready to recommend to patients who elect not to purchase a more expensive form of sun protection.

One suggestion could be OveRx (over-prescription) products — such as Cocoons and Vistana lines—from Live Eyewear (www.liveeyewear.com). And by packaging Cocoons with traditional Rx solutions, you can create attractive product bundles that drive profit margins for both you and your ECPs.

Strategy #5: Pay Attention to Product Placement

Another way ECPs can bring attention to polarized lenses is by placing POP displays on their check-out counters or fitting tables — anywhere customers will see the product before they pay for their products or services. More often than not, seeing the product in a prominent place will lead to conversations, which may lead to sales.

Strategy #6: Don’t Neglect Customer Service Reps

Eric Lindquist, sales and marketing manager at Specialty Lens Corporation, offers another great strategy: aim some focused product training on customer service reps.

“These people are the ones who are typically fielding questions about polarized lenses from ECPs — and they need to be able to offer compelling answers,” he says. “It’s critical that these staff members understand polarized lenses — not just basic information about what’s available, but also how to help ECPs recommend polarized lenses for patients with particular prescriptions or lifestyle factors.”

“In these cases, the customer service person is stepping into the sales role, and they need to be equipped to think on their feet and communicate product benefits,” says Lindquist. “It doesn’t take that much information for them to be able to answer a whole lot of questions — and the benefits can be fantastic.”

Strategy #7: Use and Leverage “Loaners” Want another suggestion for helping patients fall in love with polarized lenses? Loan them a pair.

One clinic, Fairmont Eye Clinic in Fairmont, Minn., lets patients leave their office with a pair of polarized Cocoons OveRx (over-prescription) sunwear lenses, which they can use until they return to pick up their order.

“After only a few days of wearing their borrowed Cocoons, patients are usually sold,” says Dave Dean, vice president of marketing for Live Eyewear. “By the time they return, many have already told several friends about the product and have decided to purchase a pair of their own. They quickly discover this sunwear is more comfortable than they thought it would be, and delivers much more protection than other options, such as clips.”

Strategy #8: Lengthen Your Price List It makes perfect sense: If ECPs don’t know all the polarized products you carry, they won’t know to ask for it.

Many times, labs’ Web-ordering systems aren’t always updated with all the polarized lenses it offers — and not everybody will probe. They assume that whatever is listed in the catalog is all that’s available.

Therefore, make sure your price list is comprehensive enough to highlight all your options in polarized lenses, including all the available materials, colors and styles. Make it easy for ECPs to order polarized options, and you may be surprised when they do.

Strategy #9: Encourage Discussions about Lifestyle

Computer salespeople know what works: they don’t ask what specific processor you want or how much RAM you need; instead, they ask what you’ll be using your computer for. This knowledge helps them zero in on the just the right hardware — since they’re the experts.

The same goes for selling optical lenses. ECPs will have much greater success selling polarized lenses when they inquire about patients’ lifestyles — and make a recommendation about how polarized lenses can improve their vision in specific circumstances.

Therefore, encourage ECPs to focus on patients’ lifestyles, and to be prepared to follow through with an appropriate product recommendation, as appropriate.

Strategy #10: Use (and Reuse) Product Demonstrators

Remember the ViewMaster — the children’s toy that enabled viewing of colorful, 3-D images from a paper disk?

Recently, Eyenovate transformed this same device into an easy-to-use product demonstrator to show off polarized lenses in their full glory. Here’s how it works: The company supplies the ViewMaster device, along with image “reels” that contain colored swatches of actual polarized lenses. The ECP gives this tool to the patients, encouraging them to go outside and flip through the various shades until they find the one they like best.

“It’s an easy, trouble-free way for ECPs to show off the product — in a format that most consumers are already familiar with,” says Dennis Zelazowski, chief innovation officer of Eyenovate. “Plus, it means the ECP doesn’t have to clean lenses all day.”

“We also have a lens display, which showcases all the colors on the retail countertop,” he adds. “It’s a way to show patients how the lenses will look cosmetically and builds familiarity with the product.”

Just like a professional football team, your lab can score big in the polarized niche by planning your sales plays carefully and keeping your eye on the end zone.

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May/June LabTalk 2017