What I Didn’t Know When I Became an Eyewear Field Sales Representative

I thought I knew what to expect when I became an eyewear field sales representative. I have held numerous roles that included the responsibility of inventory managing and purchasing for several practices. I have  interacted with many vendors over the years and always had a curiosity to know more about their profession. Over the years, I had asked many reps questions and knew that many were independent contractors — they paid their own health insurance, car and travel expenses and their income and success were dependent on their efforts.  

In the beginning of my career in B2B sales, I learned the value of researching businesses online before cold calling on them. This information made me feel more confident to know something about who I was about to meet and how I may be able to help them.  Sometimes I had to quickly readjust my approach since I have found that some websites weren’t up to date and did not represent the business accurately.   

I do know that most opticians love the fashion and the possibilities of personal style that comes with wearing eyeglasses. Therefore, many were excited to see and meet me, and on occasion, I would meet some that were not. I think these awkward introductions were largely a misunderstanding by the optician as to why I was there and what I hoped to accomplish. Within the first week, I learned that rejection would be part of everyday life as an eyewear sales rep and new business wouldn’t come easily.  

As I become more invested, I wanted to figure out how I could become a valuable resource to prospective clients. My renewed confidence made me realize that my past experiences and successes were valuable to my new and potential partnerships. Each potential or new client had different needs and being an active listener gives you the opportunity to help others. Sometimes, it’s just having a conversation to help them understand possible solutions or provide them resources to help them problem solve.  

A lot can be learned when seeing an office in person, and to my surprise, some offices do not make logical plans for their frame inventory. This can be verified by just looking at their frame boards and noting that there isn’t color or style variation. Ironically, these are the offices that can’t seem to figure out how to rid themselves of their unwanted  frame inventory and often complain that business is slow. I find just asking about what they like about current inventory, what is selling, who their clientele is, and the area demographics, creates a foundation to have conversations and give advice. Sometimes you can make targeted comments to bring awareness to their situation. “Have you noticed that you have 10 similar rectangle styles just in this section that are dark brown and a 52 eye?” The key is to help them understand the value of a diverse selection,  don’t belittle them and avoid selling why your product would be great in their office.  It’s especially rewarding when you can establish a connection to help and this leads to a new business partnership. 

I most value having a flexible schedule and having the freedom to determine how to best use my time. I did join the Optical Women’s Association,  and was excited when I was accepted to the Digital Marketing Committee (DMC). The DMC has helped me polish my marketing skills and I have gained knowledge on tools available to create and schedule social media posts. They also gave me the opportunity to utilize my creative and writing ability which resulted in publishing my first article, “Retaining Your Team.”  

Being a sales field representative has given me opportunities that I did not foresee happening and so many human interactions that I am thankful for, that have contributed to my career successes. You may or may not want to be an eyewear field sales representative having read this article, but I do hope that it gives you the urge to form mutual partnerships with your vendors and provides added understanding of rep life. 


Article written by Jill Kielas, ABOC

Find Jill here: Instagram | LinkedIn

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