Getting Over Guilty: Selling Products to Clients

Written by Shelly Steadman

Show of hands if you hate trying to sell clients retail products? There better not be a single hand waving in the air. Homecare is essential to good skin. Without it, anything you do in a treatment room is a waste of time. So, why do most aestheticians and hairstylists abhor the thought of recommending retail? I have a theory, well, I have three, actually – pressure to meet numbers, an odd sense of guilt, and trying to convince a jaded client we have their best interest at heart is enough to keep all of us away from our lovely retail areas.



Constant pressure from a manager or owner to meet numbers each month is extremely stressful. It’s not that beauty and skin care providers don’t understand the importance of keeping our respective spas in the black – we do. But we also understand our clients hate that awkward moment when we stroll over to the shelves of products and start extolling the virtues of yet another step to their routine. We come off as less than genuine and a tiny bit desperate. Building trust with a client is a process, and a sure-fire way to break that trust is to sell them a product just to meet a monthly goal. No one wins when the client brings the product back or, worst case scenario, doesn’t come back because they don’t want to be pressured into a purchase each visit.



Do you wonder what guilt could possibly have to do with selling or not selling retail? Allow me to explain. Picture it – you are a fabulous aesthetician with a client you’ve seen once a month for the past three years. You know all about this client’s family, you know her husband just got laid off, you know her daughter needs braces, and you also know she needs to start using a retinol at night. The retinoid you retail costs $125. You discuss it in her service and agree to show her the product when she’s checking out. But, wait. Her kid needs braces and her husband is out of work – $125 is kind of pricey. Does she really need to get the retinol right now? She’s spending $175 on her service today as it stands. Maybe you shouldn’t recommend it until her husband finds another job. Yeah, you’ll just give her enough samples to get her through a month. Sound familiar? You’ve completely taken the choice away from your client because you feel guilty at the mere thought of her buying something so expensive. Stop it. It’s not up to you to make that decision. Give a recommendation and let the client decide.



The most difficult retail nightmare to overcome is the jaded client. You know the one. The minute she sits in your chair or lies on your table she tells you she isn’t going to buy anything. She just wants a facial and she doesn’t want to hear your sales pitch. Great way to start any appointment, right? I know you are going to find this hard to believe, but there are aestheticians out there who will say or do anything to make a sell. A lot of your clients have experienced this and anything you tell them is a cause for skepticism. I had a client I saw for almost six months before she’d even entertain buying so much as a cleanser. She’d been suckered into buying an entire skin care routine from an untrained multi-level-marketing consultant and saw absolutely no results from her over $300 purchase. She was still reeling from the disappointment when she started to see me and I paid for that disappointment at every visit. She’d scoff at my suggestions or shut me down completely when I started to talk about replacing her cold cream. Eventually, with patience and samples (yay samples), I convinced her to give our wonderfully creamy cleanser a go. She loved it. Slowly, we are working new things into her routine and she’s seeing subtle changes as we go. Victory.


As you gain more knowledge of ingredients and experience with clients, retailing does get easier. I wish I could tell you your boss will stop harping on you to sell, just for the sake of their spreadsheets, but I can’t. It’s part of the industry. Maybe one day they’ll quit trying to turn us into used car salesman, but, until then, sell products you love and use and never be afraid to make recommendations. Your clients will thank you for it.


Shelly Steadman 2019Shelly Steadman is a licensed aesthetician and educator with over 11 years’ experience in the skin care industry. After spending the last six years of her career behind a teacher’s podium training new aestheticians, she transitioned back into a treatment room. Steadman is currently working as an aesthetician at artistrySPASALON in the beautiful city of Franklin, Tennessee.

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