Eyewear has historically been viewed as a medical device, but has also evolved into a key fashion accessory. This combination has been an incredible source of profit for optical retailers and optometrists, as they strive to have the best assortment to increase their capture rate, create multiple sales, and grow their business. As a sales rep, how do you begin the process of working together with your account to be the provider of the next new line for their dispensary?
There are two types of customers that are in the market for new frames — those that are brand driven and those that are design driven. While licensed brands are represented in most dispensaries, independent frame brands have increased their share of board space over the last 10 years due to unique designs and interesting color combinations. It is important to understand if the buyer leans toward one or the other, and why. How will you discuss this preference to help you gain better insight into their assortment and to demonstrate why your brand is a great fit for them? In any optical dispensary, a good assortment of both will give the patient a feeling of variety and comfort when choosing their frames.
A solid understanding of an office’s current product selection is critical to the successful introduction of new brands. Many reps walk through the door ready to pitch their brand without considering what the customer actually needs. Take a minute to look around. By identifying “holes” in their assortment, you can begin to see where the opportunities are for both you and your customer. Ask yourself some questions as you look through the dispensary’s assortment. Do they have or need a “package” collection? Do they have a sustainable offering? Do they have collections that cater to differing demographics? Do they have a go-to collection or large enough selection for hard to fit customers, both extra-large and narrow? And most importantly, how will this new collection increase their sales and add value to their dispensary? Strategic observation is the critical first step to understanding and growing both of your businesses.
Now you are ready to sit with the buyer and partner on a decision of what to bring in. Ask them the same questions you were asking yourself while looking at their boards. What do they see as their needs? What do they feel that they are missing? Listen carefully and ask questions that will help you understand their business better — this will ensure that you are positioning your brand as a product that they actually need and want, rather than pitching a redundant product line. This will also help focus you on the long-term partnership and growth of their business. If you work together to grow their business, you will then see the benefits too, as your own.
Brand education is extremely useful in getting the staff engaged with you and the new collection. The more knowledge they have about the brand and its unique selling features, the easier it is for them to sell it to their customers. Consider having lunch and learn, if time is tight, just bringing in a snack (opticians and buyers LOVE snacks!) and giving a quick 5-minute crash course will help educate staff and strengthen the relationship.
There are a million and one ways to use good sales skills to your advantage in this scenario. Offices are always looking for their next new line — it’s just a matter of who partners with them to bring solutions. One last step, the grand finale and the best part, close the deal by asking for the business!
Written by Heidi Orlando