If your practice has a dispensary, you may be familiar with the following situation:
A patient is enamored with the high def progressives they just tried on (in the Cartier frames, obviously). Then, the optician starts talking price. You know what happens next. The patient politely asks for his or her Rx and leaves, heading to the local discount chain (or worse, online).
The stereotype of the “overpriced” dispensary continues. Are your outmoded sales techniques to blame? If you’re looking to sell “bunches” more, those strategies may need an update to improve your financial forecast.
According to optical consultant Carolyn Salvato, Chief Administrative Officer at Loden iVision Centers, competing in a modern economy requires implementing sales techniques that are fundamentally opposed to traditional methods. Top-down selling is as old fashioned as Benjamin Franklin’s double spectacles, and typically results in one of two scenarios:
- The patient doesn’t purchase. After being initially shown higher priced products (often with bundled lens options at one add-on price) they become dismayed and decide to shop elsewhere. The opportunity to offer lower cost options is lost.
- The patients purchase, but feels poorly about it. They’ve had to ask (maybe more than once) to see less expensive products. They were told that prices “depend on what you need,” so they believe they’ve sacrificed needed options to reach an affordable price.
If you build it, they will come.
To remedy situations like these, Salvato recommends taking a cue from brands like Apple, Longchamp, and even M&Ms. Follow these industry leaders and implement a “build-your-own” sales strategy. Here are the basics:
- Start with a base price. Narrow the patient’s lens choices according to the prescription. Tell the client the base price of each without any add-ons.
- Discuss options. Patients are often confused by the number of lens materials and coating choices. Assess their lifestyle, daily activities, and any visually challenging situations they routinely face.
- Recommend and build. Based on that professional assessment, help the patient choose options that address his or her top priorities while remaining consistent with his or her pricing needs.
The “build-your-own” strategy may seem counter-intuitive. After all, if patients are presented with a basic option that meets their needs, what incentive is there to spend more?
Look no further than the nearest auto dealership. Sure, you can get a brand new BMW for around $34,000, but it won’t include most of the luxuries the brand is known for. Alternatively, a Ford Fusion with nearly all the bells and whistles can be had for about the same price. It’s all about priorities, and every patient values something different. A “base model” lens with budget frames will work just fine for some, but others invariably need and want more.
Patients love the idea of single-source eye care. They value honest recommendations from professionals that they know, like, and trust. They want to spend their money on quality products that will improve their daily lives. Unfortunately, an outsized number of patients still think it is more expensive to buy eyeglasses from their doctor’s office. The profitability of the “build your own” sales strategy lies in helping patients overcome their misconceptions about private dispensary prices, quality, and service.