Great advice from a great Opti-Pro positively looking to a time in our future when personal contact returns to eyewear retailing at the front line. —James S. Spina

It’s 2020, and cold-calling is dead—right? Wrong. It’s alive and well.

Done correctly, cold-calling eyecare practitioners and retailers can be an effective way for you as a rep to gain a new partner that can help you grow your business. And while those who receive cold calls might detest them, it’s actually a good sign that reps deem your optical shop worthy of their attention.

Cold-calling can be painful on both sides. Here are a few things to remember that will help ease the pain when making or receiving a cold call.

For Retailers and Eyecare Practitioners:
Reps are just doing their job. Have you ever called or emailed patients or customers who have not been in for an eye exam or purchased eyewear in the past few years? If you answered yes, then you have cold-called as part of your job too. Understand that sales reps are just doing their job; growing their account base is how they make a living. They aren’t cold-calling to annoy you, and there is no reason to be rude or disrespectful when they call. Remember the golden rule: “Treat others how you would like to be treated.”

Keep an open mind. Blindly saying no or not even considering a brand or product isn’t the best course of action. Unless you read every trade publication and take every industry course available to you, sales reps are your best source for industry trends and best business practices in your local area. Besides, all well-known name brands were once unknown too.

Be honest with the rep. If you 100 percent know that you’re never going to buy either that line or anything from the rep, tell them that and give them the reason why. Not only is this respectful of the rep’s time, but they will more than likely not continue to call on you if your reason is legitimate.

For Sales Reps:
Don’t waste the customer’s time. Retailers and ECPs get bombarded with cold calls regularly. They are constantly being called on by reps who sell eyewear, lenses, lab services, contacts, business services, etc. Unfortunately, they don’t have the time to do their jobs, see multiple current vendors, and listen fully to cold calls every day. Remember this when cold-calling and be respectful of their time.

Do your research. Seriously. It may seem like a no-brainer, but too often, reps don’t think about this. Not every brand or product will work in every optical shop. Check out a retailer’s website, connect with them on social media, research the brands a retailer currently carries and the customer demographics of the area. If your product is a true fit, and you can quickly relay that you’ve done your research, ECPs are more likely to consider you now or remember you for the future.

Differentiate yourself. Why should an optical shop even consider taking a look at your line or product? A good sales rep will be a retailer’s partner, not just another vendor. Show your value so that the gatekeeper doesn’t shove your card and catalog in their drawer (or worse, the trash). Give them reason to consider your product and pass the info along to the decision maker. By all means though, keep it short and concise.

One last reminder for everyone: Friendliness and empathy go a long way.

–Alana Whitaker, [email protected]

And… This Happened
On my third physical cold call at a small practice, the OD said, “Well, you’re certainly persistent. OK, let’s schedule an appointment to see your line.” We scheduled for later that month, and he told me at our appointment that he was surprised anyone would continue to cold call after being told no twice before. Differentiate yourself. –AW