While I’m talking to business owners and the topic of retail sales comes up in the conversation, I’m always told the same thing: “I don’t bother with retail. It just doesn’t sell in my salon, and besides I’m not a salesperson.” Now this isn’t just from mobile businesses just starting out—this is from everyone. Mobile businesses. Salons. Spas. Almost every time, without fail: “I can’t figure out how to sell this: I’m not a salesperson.”
And that’s where they are all wrong.
The idea of a salesperson has been beaten into us by bad television and annoying advertisements so that instead of a helpful, thoughtful person we think of some slimy car salesmen named “Honest Eddie” who would rather gnaw his own leg off than see you walk out of his car lot without, “this pearl of a car, this absolute dream on wheels”. I would love to say that people like this don’t actually exist; unfortunately they do, but your clients already know that you are not like that.
Your clients already respect and trust you enough to work around their eyes and ears with sharp, potentially deadly objects; they trust you enough to cut their hair, paint their nails, alter their skin color with spray tan solution, and they trust you not tell their bosses what they really think of them after they vent to you during a cut and color.
Because of this trust, you may feel guilty about trying to “sell” them anything. But here’s the thing: a polish that keeps their nails from chipping, a product that extends the life of their tan? Why wouldn’t they want those retail items you have? Don’t think of it as “selling” them a product, think of it as recommending to them a product that you know they will benefit from.
To do this you need to build confidence.
You should already feel confident in yourself—you are a trained, experienced professional with clients who are coming to you for your expertise. If they didn’t trust your opinion then they wouldn’t be creating follow-up appointments.
What you really need to be building is confidence in the product you’re going to be recommending.
The worst thing you can do is try to sell a product that you don’t believe in. If you don’t believe in animal testing then you won’t be able to talk energetically about a product that has been tested on rabbits—it won’t sit well with you and that will come through the surface when you’re talking about the product. It will be more obvious than bad toupee if you don’t approve of the product. So why sell it?
Instead, sell what you love.
Try different products from tons of different companies. Read that again. TRY the products: make sure you know exactly what the product feels and smells like, and whether it delivers on what it’s advertised to do. There is no substitute for firsthand experience. This is also the best way to be able to recommend the products: if you have experienced it and you love it then you will be that much more energetic when you’re talking about it with your client. They will sense that energy and in turn be excited about it too.
Do your research!
This plays a very important role in choosing products, especially when it comes to spray tanning! There are tons of products out there that can damage your spray tan, just like there are products out there that dry out your skin or your hair more than others. Be aware of what these products are and look at their ingredient lists—compare these lists with other products to make sure you are avoiding the same mistake from a different retail item!
If you are unsure about a product, ask yourself these questions:
• Is this a product I would use personally?
• Am I willing to promote these products publicly?
• Am I selling this because the bottle looks good, or because the product works well?
• Are these products unique enough to differentiate me from the competition?
It’s this fourth question that can be tricky. Almost all of your competitors will have a moisturizer, a self-tanner, and various other products. You need to make sure that you have products that stand apart from the crowd. If your competitors are pushing moisturizers, but they don’t really have any great exfoliants—then that is a niche you need to jump in to fill.
Here’s a good tip: don’t try to sell your product by describing it, sell your products by describing how they will help your clients.
They can get a nice smelling moisturizer anywhere; make sure to identify the different talking points of your product, and what sets it apart from others:
• Is it Gluten Free?
• Is it Vegan?
• Animal Cruelty Free?
• Does it do something that other products don’t?
• Is it specifically designed for something/to accomplish something special?
• How and why will other similar products not work as well as this one?
These are all very important questions to touch upon, not just from a beauty perspective but also from a health-conscious and eco-friendly view too. Your clients are trusting you to make educated decisions built from your own experiences and knowledge; and once you’ve built this foundation of trust, you can begin to build upon this foundation with each visit.
This brings us to a very important aspect of being a salesperson: don’t sell—listen!
Talk with your clients during consultation. Find out their specific likes and dislikes—if they love all the outrageous celebrities then they will probably be less interested in a conservative look; likewise if they are always mentioning how elegant they looked at their wedding then perhaps they would appreciate the nostalgic feel of having that elegance again.
Here are a few basic guidelines for conducting a good consultation: Ask questions!
• How often do you plan on returning to the salon?
• What is your skin moisturizing regimen like?
• Are you prone to dry skin?
• What challenges do you have with tanning?
• Are you looking to try out a new look or style? Or do you want to enhance what you already have?
At this point during the consultation you can begin asking guiding questions. When asking questions—try to phrase your questions so that your client is saying “yes”. Getting a person to say “yes” a few times before a purchase is a proven technique to increase the likelihood of a sale.
You: So how do you like your spray tan?
Client: I love it!
You: Great! I knew you would. So this should last about 7-10 days, but would you want it to last even longer?
Client: Yes, that’d be fantastic!
You: I happen to have a product here that is not only a great moisturizer, but it actually has ingredients in it that can make your tan last up to several days longer. I’m guessing you already have moisturizers at home?
Client: Yes, that’s right.
You: I bet they’re good too, but I also bet that the ingredients in your moisturizer weren’t blended specifically for spray tanning—there are tons of ingredients in a product that can actually leech the color from you and cause your spray tan to fade faster.
Client: Woh, I didn’t know that.
You: Yup, and that’s why I have this product: if you love your spray tan and want it to last as long as possible, this is definitely the product for you.
It’s important here not to overreach!
Instead of overwhelming your client with a hundred different options, just try selling them one product. In addition to not boggling their mind, you will also have a greater chance that they’ll say yes to one rather than yes to a dozen.
No matter if you are a world class spa or just starting your mobile business, browsing through your products should be easy and fun!
Let your products sell themselves
Include little labels on your shelves that describe the product, highlight the differences of your product, or talk about why a client might want a particular product. And don’t forget to have a placard up if you’re having a sale!
- Clean your shelves! Nobody likes checking out a product that has an inch-thick layer of dust all over it, and no one is going to want to go near your shelves if there are spills or if the bottles look like the display was just casually thrown together. If you don’t care about your products, neither will your clients!
- Encourage testing: studies show that shoppers are significantly more likely to buy something if they are given a free sample first—why do you think the grocery store has all those employees offering you free cheese all the time?
- Room setup: if at all possible, try to design your room with inviting product shelves on both sides of the room or surrounding the seating area. This allows your clients to idly browse through your selection while waiting or visiting. And don’t make your clients sit around “twiddling their thumbs”: give them some coffee, tea, or at least some magazines to read—maybe a couple informative articles that compliments the products on your shelves, or a photo album of happy clients with what service they used written underneath. And remember: no room is complete without artwork. Make sure your art goes with the room—if you are going for classy and modern, then a vintage wagon wheel might not be right for your salon.
And don’t forget, with selling anything: Practice makes perfect!
Put your knowledge to the test—quiz yourself and your staff, make flashcards, give your sales pitch to your friends and see if you can answer whatever questions and concerns they come up with or address the different needs your clients may have.
So before you throw away everything on your shelf and swear off retail for good, just try these tips and before long your shelves will be empty for a different reason!