Pain-Free Selling
How to make product sales a natural part of your business

By Mandy McCleave

Originally published in Skin Deep, September/October 2009. Copyright 2009. Associated Skin Care Professionals. All right reserved.

Having been a beauty therapist for 25 years, my ability to sell retail products has been the one key element of my work that has enabled me to survive anything and has made me attractive to prospective employers. Selling product is something I have always been quite good at, as I have been eager to enlighten others about how they can improve their skin. But when I worked on cruise ships, I came up against therapists who were great, not just good, at retailing. I started to watch them and learn. I knew I could be great, too. Good retailing skills aren't something you are born with; there are certain keys to success you can learn.

You Are the Expert
Retailing is not a bad word. The sooner you realize it is an important part of the service you provide, the better. It is your job, not that of a cosmetics sales representative, to analyze skin and teach how to best take care of it.

"Yes, but, I couldn't sell water to a man in the desert," you might say. Don't despair. There is actually a method to successful selling. Being organized and methodical is important. Understanding not every client is going to buy from you is important. If a few clients don't purchase product, do not assume no one will.

In a supervisory role, I used to visit spas on small cruise ships in the Mediterranean. I met therapists who informed me clients didn't buy products on their ship and they just weren't bothering to recommend them. I demonstrated retailing to the staff and several clients left with their home care products, thanking me profusely. The therapists would stare at me with open mouths until I taught them what I am going to tell you here.

Get Organized
The first step to successful upselling and retailing is to make sure you have everything possible at your fingertips to treat clients. You should never have to leave the treatment room, which breaks the flow of the treatment and causes clients to become anxious. Your room should be stocked every day and you might need a checklist to stay on top of things. Make sure you have bags, home care recommendation forms, instructions, product brochures, and samples available. You may want to keep some of your more popular retail products on hand in your room.

Don't assume clients can't afford your treatments or home care. Clients are paying you for treatments, so they do care about their skin. They are likely to consider it an investment. Clients may not own expensive cars, clothes, or designer purses, but they do spend money on their complexions.

With a prepared workspace, you are now ready to engage the client. Greet your client in a warm and courteous manner. First impressions are everything. Introduce yourself and confirm which treatment you are going to perform. Take the client to the treatment room and give clear instructions on how to prepare to receive the treatment. Before starting, make sure the client is comfortable and has what he or she needs. Be conscious of your breath, have mints on hand, and beware of drinking coffee before a treatment. Your hands should not smell of food and you shouldn't have been near anyone who's been smoking. Sound basic? You would be surprised how many therapists are unsuccessful for these very reasons.

Treatment Protocol
As you start your treatment, set the stage with basic information.

Qualifications. If you have graduated from an especially good beauty school or have advanced training, tell your clients. For example, you could say, "I am a graduate of the advanced school of esthetics and am a trained specialist in DNA skin care treatments."

Treatment. You might say, "I am going to perform a treatment that uses advanced cleansing and detoxification techniques."

Product Information. Tell them the products you are going to use are from a professional line not sold in stores, but only from qualified professionals.

What to Expect. Tell clients you are going to analyze their skin and you'll offer advice at the end of the treatment. This introduces the concept of home care and they will anticipate your advice. If clients tell you they do not want home care advice, which happens occasionally, let them know this is fine, but that the home care instructions are part of the service.

Treatment Steps
1. Ask clients what their skin care concerns are, what products they are currently using, and listen closely to fully understand what they want from you.

2. Analyze skin and explain what you see. For example: "I am noticing your skin is a little dehydrated, but the pores in the nose and chin area seem to be blocked. You have redness from dilated capillaries on your cheeks and dehydration lines under your eyes."

3. Introduce any treatment you would like to give. If the client has booked a basic facial and you would like to give him or her a higher-grade facial, say what and why. You might say: "I'm noticing your skin has a lot of blackheads, so I would like to give you a glycolic facial to release those blackheads and prevent more from forming." The client will probably agree, because he or she understands you have analyzed the individual problems, listened to the concerns, and made recommendations. If the client agrees, this is when you mention the extra cost. Most clients just want good skin care. They don't mind the extra $20. If the client tells you she does not want to spend the extra money, let him or her know that's fine. You will be giving the client a gentle exfoliation with the basic facial; it just won't be as effective. At this point, note that the client may be budgeting for a home care regimen. You might be surprised at the number of clients who announce at the end of a basic facial that they want products to address issues you brought up at the beginning of the session.

4. Focus on some particulars as you perform the facial. Make sure you don't put cold products or cold cotton pads on the client without warning. Make sure you give an excellent treatment; more experienced therapists often can show you how to refine techniques and make them more luxurious.

5. When you have applied the face mask, let the client relax while you fill out the instruction card and update the record with that day's treatment and your recommendations. Keep good records of everything discussed, used, sold, and sampled. Gather the products you are recommending.

6. After you have removed the face mask and completed the facial, have the client sit on your stool at table-side with your instructions and products. Remind the client that the product line is a professional line that has more active ingredients than over-the-counter products. The bottom line is results. Explain step by step how to use the products. Be clear about where on the face the client should use the products, since products applied in the wrong area may cause breakouts that lead to clients rejecting the product. It's logical to you that the treatment serum or oil for very dry skin should not be applied to the oily T-Zone, but it won't be obvious to the client.

7. Finally, ask the client which products he or she would like to try at home. If you have explained well enough, the client will probably take all of them. If not, explain which ones are the most important to begin with. If you listened carefully about what the client is currently using and what the concerns are, it will be easy to choose products he or she is most likely to accept. Tell the client they will be in a bag waiting at the front desk. Don't forget to politely thank him or her.

Creating a routine with recommendations that are integrated into your treatments makes them automatic and easy to maintain. While the extra revenue and commission give you instant gratification, your clients' loyalty to you is ongoing. Both make you a valuable employee or a successful sole proprietor. These should be highly motivating and lead to your success and job satisfaction.

Mandy McCleave is a consultant and trainer, and has been a beauty therapist since 1984, when she received her international diploma in beauty treatments, body care, hair removal, manicure, massage,
pedicure, and skin care. She has worked internationally as a spa manager for Steiner Leisure Corporation. Contact her at 508-325-8920 or

Skin Care Therapy

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