Dita Uses Interactive Training to Turn Retailers Into ‘Stylists’

In 2008, faced with increasingly dire economic conditions, many boutique optical stores, some of which had been in business for over 20 years, found themselves in jeopardy. Many vendors tried to work with their accounts to help them through the tough times. Dita, the L.A.-based eyewear manufacturer, took an innovative approach that essentially helped their accounts help themselves.

According to the company, cofounders, Jeff Solorio and John Juniper, felt a social responsibility to help their clients endure the dismal retail climate, so they created a program to increase closing ratios to compensate for declined foot traffic. Solorio and Juniper devised a fun, interactive program that utilizes subliminal and subconscious selling techniques at in-store locations and works in any retail setting worldwide. They dedicated over a year to perfecting their sales training program, customized with supplementary materials such as a scripts, manuals and an educational DVD for reference.

The program, which is available to any account who qualifies to become a Dita dealer, was introduced approximately two years ago and to-date over 1,000 domestic and international accounts have completed Dita’s Global Educational Sales Program.

“Everyone feels much more comfortable and confident selling Dita Eyewear,” said Anny Marrero of Florida-based The Edward Beiner Group. “Since the trainings, we have doubled the number of Dita frames we are selling. We sold six pairs the weekend after our visit. Not only did it help in selling the line it helped in selling other exclusive lines that we carry.”

The program is based on training retailers to behave more like stylists than salespersons. The interactive educational system utilizes role-playing as a training tool. Upon qualifying to be a Dita account, retailers are provided with a hands-on four- to five- hour program, structured into one-hour increment sessions taught over the course of four to five months. The sessions are performed by the account’s wholesale representative, each of whom have gone through hundreds of hours of rigorous training to become an expert educator, according to the company.

The program’s goal is to impart confidence in approach and to embolden retail “stylist” trainees to successfully push product. Some of the techniques include; how to create an instant rapport with the customer, mirror and matching techniques, breaking personal barriers and “assuming the close.” Each store who participates is left with a Dita kit that includes an educational DVD, manuals and scripts to perfect the program.

Dita feels that what sets their program apart is that there is no other eyewear company that equips retail reps with an educational system that’s scalable and provides educational DVD, scripts and in-house training support and monitoring with an interactive, fun approach. “I was a frame representative in the industry for 15 years before opening Glimpse Eyewear,” stated Karen Pagano of Glimpse Eyewear in Delray Beach, Fla. “I have never seen or heard of an eyewear company with a training program that teaches such a detailed process for selling. These sessions have made us confident and our clients respond to that confidence by purchasing. Our sales of Dita have nearly doubled and our average sales has gone up 25 percent since we started our training. The Dita training program has not only been educational but profitable as well.”

According to the company, these results are not atypical and thanks to their program, which imparts subliminal and subconscious selling techniques, many retailers have experienced up to a 30 percent increase in sales.

“Employing [Dita’s] techniques, we have sold seven frames in two days since [they] came in. Our unit sales were up 57 percent in 2010 versus 2009, which I think was a direct result of the training program,” added Richard Tilelli of Perfect Vision in Sydney, Australia.

Dita’s goal is to provide continual sales support to these accounts with the next chapter of the sales training program, which will go beyond turning retail staff into “stylists,” to implement an in-store events (including trunk shows) program to further stimulate foot traffic and sales.