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The trial close: When to ask for the sale in the optical dispensary


The successful optician must have the ability to recognize the signs that a prospective shopper is ready to become a buyer of optical products.



The successful optician must have the ability to recognize the signs that a prospective shopper is ready to become a buyer of optical products.



Dispensing Solutions By Arthur De Gennaro

Selling is both an intellectual and psychological enterprise. I find that most opticians are full of product knowledge and can adequately explain the features and advantages of the lenses and frames they recommend to shoppers. In other words, they have the intellectual side of the equation covered.

More in this issue: Promoting specialty eyewear within the dispensary

All the product knowledge in the world, however, will not close most sales. What these opticians miss is the fact that sellers are most effective when they are tuned into the softer side of a sales transaction. This softer side is always emotional and psychologically grounded.

Consequently, as the demonstration progresses, the optician should be paying close attention to the shopper’s behavior. What the shopper says or does not say-and how he or she says it-will give the optician powerful clues to what that shopper is thinking and where he or she is in the decision-making process.


Buying signals

Each shopper has a unique set of needs and wants. During the sales presentation, the shopper is exploring whether he or she can satisfy those needs and wants. As the shopper gets closer and closer to getting his or her needs met, the excitement level will build. This is an indication that desire is building and, as you’ll remember, desire is a strongest motive to buy.

There will come a time-presuming the salesperson has thoroughly identified the shopper’s needs and wants, presented appropriate products, and explained how those products will benefit the shopper-when the shopper will become convinced of the value of making the purchase. That shopper is close to making a purchase decision and becoming a buyer. At this time the shopper’s behavior will begin to change. He or she may ask: “When can these be ready?” “Can I get this in red?”

Or, he or she may ask about warranties and return policies. The shopper may also ask if the eyeglasses can be purchased on a credit or layaway plan.

The shopper’s demeanor will also change. He or she will begin to ask fewer questions and stop looking at merchandise or asking questions about it. The tone and tempo of the shopper’s voice will likely change. It will not be as excited as before and may not be as forceful.

All of the above are buying signals-nonverbal ways a shopper communicates that he or she is ready to make a purchase. When an optician notices buying signals, it is time to ask the shopper to make the purchase. Since the optician cannot be sure if the shopper will buy, this action is known as the trial close.

If the optician does not pick up on these buying signals, he or she is likely to continue offering the shopper additional products or additional feature/advantage/benefit statements. Continuing to sell when a shopper is ready to buy will cause that shopper to disengage from the transaction. This will result in the shopper becoming mentally-and more importantly, emotionally-distant.

This distancing of the customer will literally reverse all the hard work the optician has put into the sales transaction. In many cases, it will cause the customer to leave and characterize the optician as insensitive or overly talkative.


Losing the sale

Just as a shopper will display signals that he or she is ready to buy, some shoppers display signals that they are not ready to buy.

Asking questions such as: “Are you here every day?” “Can you write down the names of those frames for me?” or “May I have your business card?” are signals that the shopper is not convinced of the value of the purchase and is not ready to buy. In most cases, the shopper is signaling that he or she wants to continue to shop-only not at your dispensary.

Closing statement

An optician attempts to close a sale using what is known as a closing statement. There are quite a few types of closing statements, and these will addressed in another installment of this series.

When the optician uses a closing statement, one of two things will happen. Either the shopper will become a buyer (make a purchase) and the transaction is over, or he or she will raise some objection. How to overcome the shopper objection is the subject of the next installment in this series.


Arthur De Gennaro is president of Arthur De Gennaro & Associates LLC, an ophthalmic practice management firm that specializes in optical dispensary issues. De Gennaro is the author of the book The Dispensing Ophthalmologist. He can be reached at 803/359-7887, arthur@adegennaro.com, or through the company’s Web site, www.adegennaro.com. He maintains a blog at www.adgablog.wordpress.com.



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