Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Selling lessons from dispensing Opticians - Reducing 'I' Strain with more U UR and U'll

"U can dispense with selling or can U ?"

The word Dispense has 2 meanings 
1. manage without or get rid of e.g. shall we dispense with formalities ? 
 2.  another word for selling   - To distribute or provide (a service or information) to a number of people hence dispensing chemist (pharmacists), dispensing opticians.

The Selling of Spectacles has a long business pedigree and much to teach us

Historians tell us that the city of Florence  by the middle of the fifteenth century led in terms of innovation, production, selling, and spread of spectacles within and outside Italy. Florence had become the leading manufacturer of readily available and affordable good-quality spectacles. The documentation available tells us that in Florence the name of 52 spectacle makers between 1413 and 1562 and the location of their shops.

The large numbers of spectacles circulating in north west Europe (especially London) from the 14th century were being mass produced in the  low countries.

They were then manufactured in England beginning in the 15th century. Other centres of production like Germany, France, and Netherlands began to appear by the sixteenth century but they never produced anything near the quantity of the Florentine as recorded in documentation until well into the seventeenth century. 

 Leightons Opticians, Downing Street, Farnham
Selling (Dispensing) of specs TODAY

Today's optometrists and ophthalmologists use eye charts, trial frames, retinal photography, colour vision deficiency, duochrome tests to produce the prescription for your eyes, with those mystical abbreviations.
 SPH (long or short sightedness), CYL for astigmatism and dipotres, AXIS (angle (or direction) at which the CYL value should be applied to the base lens specified by the SPH value.

A dispensing optician is trained to dispense and fit spectacles and other optical aids, working from the prescriptions written by optometrists and ophthalmologists. 

Dispensing opticians advise customers on various types of lenses and spectacle frames, including advice on style, weight and colour.

Like many markets, the optical dispensing world is experiencing huge changes in this era of the fourth industrial revolution and the Internet of Things ( IoT).

Some changes they can predict and forecast, others they will nimbly have to react  to. The new age of shorter buying cycles, with uncertain economies and markets are now complex and at times most confusing. 

Yet that is the same for many of us in selling, whatever our market

But whether customers communicate to the supply side through the virtual buy on line or real channels in the high street , their human nature does not change much.

Sporting my new silhouette lenses lenses thanks to
  Leightons Opticians, Farnham
Notice their new customer centred strapline
 '2016 The Year of YOU'
'Looking after No. 1' has always been a key buying motivation. We are at the centre of our own universe. We are  the 'stars' of our own story. We are motivated by our legacy.

Just look at the proliferation of selfies on Facebook as we lay down our personal legacy.


If you are tagged in a group photo on Facebook / LinkedIn  , when you click on the link who do you look for first  in the photo ?

Answer:         Yourself !

That is of course the same for your Clients. They see the world from their point of view - they are stars in their own story  not ours.

It means that we  salespeople need to express our communication from our client's point of view.
This applies even in a distress sell where one might imagine the customer is at the mercy of the seller. Here's a personal example.

Just before Christmas 2015 I broke one leg off my specs. 

As well as needing to get them repaired , I was also due for an eye test. 

I have worn specs since I was six.   Over the years I have had to change my lenses many times. Each time it was a distress sell since I cannot function without specs.

My first specs were those heavy toughened glass as thick as the bottom of milk bottles. Then came an era of more variety of frames. Then lightweight plastic lenses.  Then came in the fashion houses like Gucci, YSL with all their fancy frames etc.

Each time my new glasses were a distress sell. I did not just want them I needed them

None the less I still needed to be sold to because there is always competition of one sort or another. Take a look at the following photos of all the opticians in my local town  of Farnham, Surrey.

Bartlett and Austin Opticians
in West Street, Farnham

C E Hall Opticians
West Street , Farnham

The Optical Studio in Lamb
 and Lion Passage, Farnham

There is considerable competition in optician outlets in Farnham . The big multiples such as Specsavers , Boots and Vision Express as well as local independent dispensing firms and family businesses. 

Vision Express,
Borough, Farnham

Specsavers in
West Street, Farnham
With such a variety on offer I asked locals who were the best opticians. My sight is important to me and the cheapest provider is not my priority. The after-care is important as well.
Boots Opticians, The Borough , Farnham

Others may see my specs as part of my face but that is from their perspective but when I look through the lenses I look from the opposite direction, outwards towards their faces. They do not see the world as I do nor do  I theirs. 

Most folk who wear glasses don't have to until they get a bit older and notice reading and driving are becoming more problematic.

But once you need to wear specs , you will get your  prescription with mystical optical jargon  SPH, Cyl  and Axis ( see above) . You  need a bespoke solution. We can learn about selling a bespoke solution from the dispensing optician.

AS the customer we look at the eye chart and the trial specs are loaded up lenses . Then there comes a point when it is nearly clear. 
Unlike a conventional eye chart
 with an "I strain" chart the higher up the chart
 is better when communicating with a client.

The addition of one more lens whose power is barely recognisable on its own; but when added to trial frame it hits the visual equivalent of the 'sweet spot'. 

The communication from the optometrist relies on our response to reading the letters on the chart and check questions such "Is better with this lens or this lens? "

The salesperson's 'I strain chart' works in the opposite direction to the traditional eye chart. The higher up the chart the better your selling prescription will be for your client.

Firstly, listen to your client. 
When you speak use language from the client's point of view. This is achieved by use words like you, your, you'll.

Remember, to the client their selfies are very interesting. Our selfies are only so so. 

Best words are the You , Your and You'll words . 

It's best to drop the royal WE of corporate speak. It may be OK in a brochure which broadcasting - but selling / dispensing is about focused narrow-casting. 

Just think how quickly we all soon switch off to salespeople spouting:- "we are the leaders i..., we have won these awards....., we are registered with ISO,.........

 Even more dangerous is to swamp clients with 'I'- strain talk " While I'm here,... What I'd like to do, I would like to have a little chat about...

So focus on the client's bull's eye - your bespoke target.

Use 'U' speak a bit more 
e.g    YoU, YoU'll and YoUr

Reduce the We*

Minimise the i

( *If the 'We' means You-and-I together, that is OK; but try and reduce the royal 'We' Queen Victoria "we are not amused")

'U speak'  helps with written and verbal communication e.g. Speech, Email, Twitter,Social media Linked In  /Facebook  Texting .

We celebrated Burns' Night last Monday. So here is a little bit of Burns relevant to all sellers and dispensers

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!

The power of using  'U' speak such as "You", "You'll " and "Your" in your communication with clients is such a gift. 

 'U' speak helps professional salespeople to express the world as 'ithers' ( others) see it and personalise their offer to the client.

Good Selling

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Friday, 22 January 2016

Selling in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Davos 2016 from VUCA into the 4th IR.

Following on from the introduction of steam power the (first industrial revolution), came the electricity revolution then the electronics  revolution, we are now entering the fourth industrial revolution (4th  IR).

Five years from now the World Economic Forum ( Davos 2016) predicts, over one-third of skills (35%) that are considered important in today’s workforce will have changed.

The new Selling Paradigm

Selling skills sets will need to adapt similarly or selling in its conventional model will die -we have been warned  ( not for the first time). 

This book was on the shelves
in W H Smith within the week
of David Bowie's death
'Speed is the new currency of business'
 as Marc Benloff –CEO of Salesforce said
 at Davos this week

Like the late David Bowie we need to reinvent ourselves periodically.

The nature of the change will depend very much on the industry . Global media and entertainment, for example, has already seen a great deal of change in the past five years.

The WEF report stresses the financial services and investment sector, however, has yet to be radically transformed. Those working in sales and manufacturing will need new skills, such as technological literacy.

Some advances are ahead of others. Mobile Internet and cloud technology just think of systems like are already impacting the way many in sales work. Artificial intelligence, 3D printing and advanced materials are still in their early stages of use, but the pace of change will be fast.

'Change won’t wait for us': 

Business leaders, sales trainers and governments all need to be proactive in up-skilling and retraining  salespeople so each can benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

The WEF 'Report on Jobs' states Creativity will become one of the top three skills workers will need.

 With the superfluity of new products, new technologies and new ways of working, it suggests that salespeople are going to have to become more creative in order to benefit from these changes. Sales managers will need to recruit train and re-train their teams accordingly.

Robots may help us get to where we want to be faster, but they can’t be as creative as salespeople quite yet but Cobots ( Collaborative Robots) will become a more powerful threat / opportunity to salespeople.

How does your current skills set match up to what the WEF predicts ?

Source : Future of Jobs report World Economic Forum
Does your refreshment training include all of these ?

Whereas negotiation and flexibility are high on the list of skills for 2015, in 2020 they will begin to drop from the top 10 as machines, using masses of data, begin to make our decisions for both buyer and seller.

"Mastering the Fourth Industrial Revolution" is the theme of this year's World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting in Davos 2016 . 

I am not sure we can master it, but we can use our current skills in risk managing the era of cyber-physical systems from what we have learnt in selling in a current environment  which is volatile uncertain complex and uncertain  ( VUCA) times that we now operate in.

This revolution has been designated as one of "cyber-physical systems," or, generally speaking, Cobots, driver less cars, the Internet of Things,etc..

The WEF  have already predicted that 7 million jobs could go in five years.

A new report from UBS predicts the 4IR will have less of an impact on developed economies, such as Switzerland, Singapore and the UK

Possible consequence to Emerging markets will be felt more so – notably in parts of Latin America and India – will suffer when artificial intelligence and robots become widely used, reducing the competitive advantage of their cheap labour.

For nations, the largest gains from the fourth industrial revolution are likely to be captured by those with the most flexible economies, adding a further incentive for governments to trim red tape and barriers to business.

4IR Automation will continue to put downward pressure on the wages of the low skilled salespeople in commodity markets and is starting to impinge on the employment prospects of middle-skilled salespeople. 

By contrast, the potential returns to highly skilled and more adaptable salespeople are increasing.

I am re-reading 'Selling is Dead'
by Milller & Sinkovitz.
Still pertinent ten years on
yet we will still see 'new' paradigms for selling
 especially in this new era of fourth industrial revolution
From Robots to Cobots

 Cobots  (Collaborative Robots) are robots intended to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace which are able to perform more intricate tasks. This is in contrast with other robots, designed to operate autonomously or with limited guidance.

The greatest disruption from 4th IR, however, could be experienced by those in Selling who have so far felt immune to robotic competition, namely those in middle-skill professions. The UBS bank report points to clerical work, such as customer service, being replaced by artificial intelligence. For example :- Insurance claims could also be settled without human intervention.

“Change won’t wait for us” the  UBS report warns.

Reminding me of something James Goldsmith once said 

‘ If you can see the bandwagon – you’re too late!”

So as sales leaders,  sales trainers and  relevant government departments -we all need to be proactive in up-skilling and retraining salespeople so they can benefit from the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

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