As we've covered before, strong sales skills are integral to a practice that focuses on selling products. This especially applies to opticians. That's why plenty of ODs hire opticians with sales experience, but not necessarily eyecare experience.
There's a strong intersection between a sales associate and an optician, which means that some sales skills can be applied to the training of a stellar optician. We reviewed this list of skills from Hubspot to see which are most applicable in an eyecare practice. Find out if your current or future optician possesses what they need in order to fit the best products for your patients and generate revenue.
Your job as a manager will be more difficult and time consuming if your team is not familiar with the tools you use. This applies to the Point of Sale System, inventory management tools, EHR, and patient portal. Either hire those who have experience using similar tools or have experience learning technology on the job.
Especially when it comes to the role of an optician, there are a few areas pulling your focus. Not only do you need to source and manage an inventory of frames and brands that patients would like to buy, but you also have to be an expert at correct CL and frame fittings, all while understanding the different types of customers and motivations. However, when opticians are with customers, they should focus on building trust, understanding their needs, and fulfilling them with a magnetic personality before anything else.
Of course, this is a skill that everyone in your eyecare practice should hone. When an optician is talking to a customer, they should be responding to the comments of the customer rather than waiting their turn to speak. A good way to practice this is through peer-to-peer feedback on your team. If your practice staff is used to actively providing and receiving feedback, they'll be practicing active listening outside of just sales conversations. Over time, active listening will become second nature to them.
Not only does a good sales associate approach every customer with empathy for their situation, but they also already know thoughtful questions to ask to customers to move them towards a sale that will be beneficial for everyone. Most of us are willing to trust someone who guides the sales conversation, takes note of our purchasing boundaries, and is willing to provide us with space to explore when needed.
Attending to multiple customers at the same time is expected of every staff member in your eyecare practice, especially during busy hours. That's why time management is parallel to multitasking without making a customer feel ignored or de-prioritized. This is a skill that can be developed before taking on the optician role, but needs to be honed on the job so to get a feel for the busy hours specific to that practice and plan tasks in advance.
More often than not, there will be nobody overseeing the exchanges between customers and opticians. Which means that opticians need to find intrinsic motivations for performing well. After the initial months of training, you'll want to make sure your opticians are able to generate tasks on their own. This simply comes from knowing the workflow of the office well enough that they know what needs to be done and what can be improved. Not only will personal autonomy make the optician feel more fulfilled in their career, but it'll free up time for the manager as well.
Building skills is part of staff management. Here's a full ebook on more tips to level up your team: