How to Talk to Patients About Lens Technology

Because of today’s technology, there is a lens for everyone—literally. That technology is pretty darn cool, but it can also be tough to communicate the value of that technology to patients—especially when you may not know exactly how it works, or how to explain it in terms that patients understand. And if they can’t understand it, why would they pay hundreds of dollars for it? Well, they probably won’t—and that can leave your premium lens sales lagging.

7 Talking Points for Lens Technology

Tongue tied when it comes to talking to patients about lens technology? Check out these tips and become a smooth talker in no time.

#1: Establish your authority.

Knowing a little bit about the history of lenses will help you set the stage for a tech-talk. Lens technology is decades old, says Donna Suter, a business coach and trainer who presented at SECO 2018. Not too long ago, a few manufacturers made a few types of lenses. Now, there’s an overwhelming number. The most important thing to communicate to the consumer is that the patents those few manufacturers had expired and now, that technology is something that everyone can build upon, Suter continues. “That’s why we have [had] the explosion in the past 10 years for lens technology,” she says.

 “A lot of people think we’ve reached the apex (of technology)—Donna Suter, Suter Consulting Group

#2: Ditch the jargon.

Digital. Wavefront. Abbe value. “We’ve got to get beyond the buzzwords for technology,” Suter emphasizes. Patients don’t buy something because it’s wavefront; they buy something because it solves a problem, she adds. Patients may not understand abbe value, but they will understand sharp, crisp, clear vision. And that’s what all lens technology is working towards—eliminating aberrations.

#3: Know your stuff.

Coming across as unsure will cause patients to lose confidence in you and your recommendations. To sell the high tech lenses, you need to know how they work and how to explain that to patients. “I don’t talk about brands, I don’t talk about specifics, I talk about technologies,” Suter says.

The most important element of quality lenses is the design. “Anyone can do digital,” Suter notes. It’s the design that matters, and no amount of technology will overcome a poor lens design. How do you know if a lens is designed well? Just ask. Say to the manufacturer, ‘Tell me about the research that’s been done when you built this lens.’ ‘Show me the contour plots.’

#4: Find out what motivates your patient.

It’s not always what you expect. Suter tells the story about a woman shopping for glasses to wear to her 60th high school reunion. When the optician explained that her final selection wasn’t a good match for her prescription, the woman’s response was ‘I don’t care if I can see; all I want is to look smashing.’ Sometimes, it’s all about fashion. And once you explain what a patient is giving up visually if they insist on a certain frame, you are free to sell it to them.

#5: Put away the Sharpie.

It’s confounding when opticians still use sharpies to mark lenses, laments Suter. “We’re going to sell them a five, six, seven hundred dollar [package]. It’s Iike having an 8-track tape.” Now, there’s iPad technology and other devices, like smartphone-mounted and portable lensometers, that you can use. If your opticians shy away from that technology, have them call the equipment’s vendor and explain why they’re having a hard time, recommends Suter. A helpful vendor can often identify the source of the problem and work with the optician to correct it.

#6: Don’t expect to win them all.

Selling patients on the technology is simple—but selling them on the price can be a different story. Find out which lens designs give the most profit to the practice, Suter recommends. Then, figure out which lens gives you the clarity that works for your average client. Do that in three different categories (good, better best), continues Suter. Then if price is an issue, you can say “We have a category of lens called ‘good’ and I think that may interest you.” Remember that there will always be a cheaper place to buy glasses. If price is the only differentiator, you can’t win, notes Suter.

And what about patient who ‘saw something cheaper online?’ Sit down with them and say, “Let’s log in together and look.” You can explain that the online stores don’t ask for vertex, they don’t measure all the same things, etc. Let the patient make the decision, just be sure to explain the parameters so they know what they’re getting for their money, and what they’re not.

#7: Show and tell.

Selling someone on lenses without samples is “like handing someone a brochure to buy a car,” says Suter. You have to have a lens center to help you educate patients. Every top manufacturer has online videos that explain their technology, Suter points out. Download them on your tablet and share them with the patient. You can tell them “I’m going to show you how your lenses are going to be custom-made for your eyes.”

Reframing Progressives

“We have really seen a huge transformation in lens technology when it comes to progressive lenses,” says Suter. The days of taking off your progressives to go down the stairs are long gone, she points out. Whether you’re working with a current progressive wearer, or a new one (like an emerging presbyope), you can use current lens technology to overcome any reservations they might have.

“All this [technology] is used to eliminate aberrations,” explains Suter. Moving the patient’s head and pointing their nose in the right direction to see is not a lens feature, she jokes. The patient shouldn’t have to move their head with a good lens design. There are ways to measure whether someone is a head-mover or an eye-mover. You can measure the variations in the surface of patients’ eyes. That data can be incorporated into their free form, customized lenses. It’s not necessary to use the words “sweet spot” anymore, notes Suter. “The whole point of today’s technology is that they don’t have to move their heads around.”

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