Instead of focusing on selling, concentrate on consulting with your client by asking her specific questions that lead to clear-cut solutions to her beauty needs.
Did you know that you already have the skills and client trust you need to successfully sell services and retail products to your clients? You are a service professional-a “people person”—someone who knows how to talk to clients about their specific needs and to offer solutions.
“Questions are your most important sales communication tool,” says author Richard K. Carlson in his book Personal selling Strategies for Consultants and professionals. “As a professional you should already have skills that enable you to gather from others the facts and opinions needed to explore a subject thoroughly.” Carlson says to always be asking, “What specifically?” whenever you are consulting with a client. If a client tells you. “I’m having problems with my cuticles,” ask her, “What specifically?” These two words help you pinpoint the problem your client is having and enable you to more easily formulate a solution.
TAKING THE DOLLAR OUT OF SELLING
When you understand that selling a client products she needs is an extension of your service, you’ll finally understand sales. Don’t focus on the almighty dollar. Says Michel de la Mar, co-owner of Salon Dynamics Corporations, a salon consulting firm in Denver, Colo., “We take the dollar out of selling. We don’t use the dollar as a force in making money in selling. Salons that tell their technicians ‘You made $400 in retail last month, shoot for $600 this month’ will get nothing but resistance from their employees.” And telling a client what a great deal a product is won’t make her want to buy. Most clients don’t want to buy something just because it’s cheap.
According to de la Mar, over the next 10 years we will see selling going in an entirely new direction. “Look at Nordstrom,” says de la Mar. “They make $400 per square foot. The average nationwide is $200 per square foot. Are they doing that by telling their staff they have to make a certain number of dollars? No. It’s strictly service. There are certain things you can do and the dollars will follow.”
SHARE PROFESSIONAL KNOWLEDGE
There was a time not too long ago when salon professionals were told they should keep their knowledge to themselves. Says Leslie Edgerton in his book you and your Clients; Milady’s Human Relations for Cosmetology students, “There was even a saying in those days, ‘You shouldn’t sell your hands, meaning that you shouldn’t educate the client…for if you did she would no longer need you.”
Sharon Bisoni, owner of Elegant Nails in Rochester, Mich., says nail technicians need to focus on sharing instead of selling. “I share what I know with the client. I share my professional knowledge to enhance her hands,” she says.
Carol Shanks, who managers Figaro’s Salon in Denver, Colo., and co-owns Salon Dynamics Corporation, says, “Nail technicians are by nature information sharers. They share everything they know. When nail technicians learn everything there is to know about a product, they can evaluate a client’s needs from a position of knowledge. This takes away the fear of selling that many nail technicians have.” Shanks says technicians need to take a hard look at the client’s hands and ask questions such as “What are you doing for your hands now? Are you having any problems with your nails or hands?”
GATHER INFORMATION ANALYZE, PRESCRIBE
Asking a client specific questions about her hands is what Shanks calls information gathering. “Gather the information,” suggests Shanks, “and then analyze it and select the professional product that will best meet the situation. “Then, says Shanks, present the product you have chosen by saying things such as “I’m using this hand cream on you today because…”Obviously, the technician knows why she’s prescribing the product. She’s explaining why so that the client understands. The client doesn’t want to hear “I’m using this product on you today because it’s latest. We just got it in.” Clients don’t want to buy because of fad or technological reasons. They want to feel the product has been customized for them.