Leaping Over Hurdles to Increase Polarized Lens Sales

By Julie Bos
Let’s face it. Polarized lenses represent a huge opportunity for laboratories to increase sales and boost profitability. Not only is this niche growing significantly, polarized lenses can double the size of any eye care business—once customers get hooked on polarized lenses, they rarely go back to traditional sunwear. Yet despite the lucrative possibilities, many labs still don’t focus on this niche. Why?

While the answer may vary from lab to lab, there are a few common culprits that could be to blame. The ECP is certainly the gatekeeper here but a savvy lab can help the ECP identify areas of difficulty and provide solutions to overcoming obstacles. Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons for stagnant polarized sales, and learn how your lab can leap over the obstacles to increase sales.

Problem: Prejudging the Customer —Some dispensers prejudge sales prospects and therefore avoid suggesting polarized lenses altogether.

“Many times, dispensers make up their minds that a polarized lens may not be a good fit so they do not offer it,” says Johann Van Zyl, director of sales-Americas for Younger Optics. “They either don’t know enough about the features and benefits of polarized lenses so they feel uncomfortable dispensing the product, or they prejudge the person and have already written them off as a sales prospect.”

Solution: Encourage ECPs and dispensers to proactively target every customer. “The truth is that selling polarized lenses is really not that complicated,” says Chris Bailey, KBco marketing manager. “In fact, retail outlets have absolutely no problem selling them—most likely because they are regularly talking about them and demonstrating them.”

According to the Sunglass Association of America, consumers said they want their sunwear to block glare and saw this as the number one benefit of sunglasses. Therefore, polarized lenses represent a ready-made opportunity to educate patients and meet a real consumer need. Plus, anyone who enjoys the outdoors stands to benefit from the unmatched comfort and safety that comes from polarized lenses.

“The fact is that when customers try polarized lenses, they can see the benefits right away,” adds Bailey, “and I don’t know that I’ve ever heard about a customer who has worn polarized lenses in the past who opts to go back to traditional tinted sunwear. Once the first sale is done, labs pretty much have a customer for life.”

Problem: Lack of Communication —Sometimes, a lack of communication between the ECP and the dispenser can translate into a missed sales opportunity.

Solution: Make a concerted effort to promote better synergy between the two. “I’ve been in a few offices where there is a very good link between the doctor and the dispenser, where the doctor will perform the tests and make a good transition to the dispenser,” says Van Zyl. “The doctor often recommends a second pair of lenses and points toward a specific lens, such as polarized. That positive ‘hand-off’ to the dispenser carries a little more weight for a purchase decision and goes a long, long way toward increasing sales.”

Problem: Lack of Focus—Lens options have increased substantially over the years, making it difficult for the dispenser to focus on a specific product.

Solution: Encourage dispensers to make a concerted effort to talk about polarized lenses as an option for a second pair when they discuss the primary pair. The single most important factor for success in selling polarized lenses is making it important. Those who have done so in the past are now enjoying the benefits.

Problem: Lack of Education—Many ECPs and dispensers still don’t have the proper education to speak convincingly to their customers about polarized lenses.

They may not know that there are more than 20 different progressive designs now available in polarized, in six different materials and dozens of color choices. Solution: Take advantage of the many educational opportunities and selling tools available.

In the past, the number of tools available to promote polarized sunwear was limited. But today, there are plenty of resources that can show customers exactly how dramatic the benefits of polarized lenses really are. Get to know the wide variety of tools available in the section below. Then challenge yourself and your customers to focus on the polarized niche by using the tools available, and get ready to witness a boost in sales.

Take Advantage of a Storehouse of Selling Tools

After you’ve figured out your barriers to success with polarized lenses, you can start to move forward. Unlike many other lens niches, polarized lenses are easy to demonstrate and offer a wide variety of selling materials. That can mean real opportunities to talk about these lenses and generate more sales. Fortunately, lens manufacturers offer plenty of marketing support resources to help you out, such as:

Desk-Top Glare Demonstrators

Even though these tools have been around for a while, they’re still among the best tools out there to use. One is the NuPolar Demonstrator from Younger Optics. When viewed without polarized lenses, an image will be obscured by glare. But when people view the image through the polarized lorgnettes, they can see a clear picture. Pocket-Size LOOK Card

If the patient is not yet ready to commit to a second pair, let them take home a LOOK glare card (by Younger Optics), an ideal leave-behind piece. First, it contains a small, polarized filter that lets people view the benefits of polarization firsthand; and secondly, it offers an option for the practice to offer a percentage discount toward a purchase if the person brings it back within a certain time frame.

Drivewear Lorgnette Demonstrator

This set of fixed tint polarized Lorgnettes shows representative lens colors, similar to how actual Drivewear lenses will respond to lighting changes. The greenish/yellow tint works for low-light/overcast conditions; the copper tint works for behind the windshield in daylight; and the dark reddish brown tint works well for bright direct light.

Sales Collateral

Most manufacturers of polarized lenses offer a plethora of brochures, sales sheets and marketing materials that explain the value and daily usefulness of polarized lenses.

Informational CDs

These CDs offer helpful tips on selling two pairs of eyewear, the benefits of polarized lenses, product overviews and other informational topics.

Color Swatch Books

The “Color Matters” swatch book from KBCo is a hand-held dispensing tool that demonstrates polarization while showing patients all available color choices. Each page also provides dispensing tips, light transmittance information and activities associated with each polarized film color.

Pocket Dispenser Guides

For the dispenser, pocket dispensing guides serve as a handy quick-reference tools that share the features and benefits of polarized lenses.

Seminars and Training

ABO-certified seminars, online trainings (like Specialty Lens Corp.’s www.irxlens.com site) and audio-conferences are great ways to educate ECPs on why their patients need polarized sunwear. Plus, most manufacturers also offer training opportunities on general topics, such as the value of selling second pairs of lenses, and how to overcome financial objections.

Customized Advertising

Many manufacturers also produce customized sales flyers and ads for labs on a case-by-case basis. These may include patient flyers that describe the benefits of polarization, e-mail blasts to ECPs, job stuffers and customized marketing support.

“The more people spend time understanding the product and using these selling tools, the more comfortable they’ll become in selling the products themselves,” says Eric Lindquist, sales and marketing manager at Specialty Lens Corporation. “Having these kinds of tools in the office really helps demonstrate the many benefits of polarized lenses—often prompting questions and making a ‘yes’ much easier.”

If your lab is ready to accelerate its sales of polarized sunwear, there’s no time like the present. For access to specific selling tools, demonstrators, education programs and customized marketing campaigns, contact your lens manufacturers.

Editor’s Note: To contact one of the manufacturers mentioned in this article about how you can increase your polarized sales, please use the following e-mail addresses: KBCo (chris@kbco.net); Specialty Lens Corp. (sales@specialtylens.com); or Younger Optics (jvanzyl@youngeroptics.com).

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May/June LabTalk 2017