Monday, 01 February 2021 10:47

Seasoned Seller: Retail Revelations & Goal-Based Selling

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For seven long months, spas were closed due to COVID-19.Most spas were not earning a single dollar from service fees. Seven months is a severe income drought for any business, large or small. The sad reality of all of this could have included the majority of spas if it were not for one important thing – brisk and steady online retail sales to loyal skin careconsumers. And while those sales did not produce even a third of what normal operations did, they were enough to cover expenses until the day spas were finally allowed to service clients again. 


Many professionals still hold back from engaging in the important aspect of retailing to clients. And it is not just the newly minted aestheticians because there are multi-decade professionals who never warmed up to the idea of selling to people. The problem is usually one involving fear – a natural if exaggerated, concern about negative customer pushback over being pitched to. It is a scary thought –is it notSkin care professionals’ nightmares come in the form of inquiring if a customer would like to hear about the spa’s new eye cream even though theydid not ask. Suddenly,the client’s face drops into a menacing frown, eyes narrowing, as hands curl up into threatening balls and are pushed into the hips in a defensive stance. “How dare you try to pressure me into buying things I do not want. I came here for was a relaxing facial and not a high-pressure sales trick.” An aesthetician’s mind may actually believe this experience is eventually coming, and that is enough to keep most from ever speaking up about homecare products because happy clients lead to a fully booked schedule. In fact, some spa professionals will not talk retail even if a client requests assistance. Something between mild reticence and outright terror represents how most treat retail selling, particularly when a client's experience is not years deep. But, with experience and a better understanding of one’s role with clients in a spa setting, that fright can turn into a joyous opportunity – not to mention the extra earnings rewarded by-product sales.


Some skin care professionals may claim to sell 100% retail to service in their practice.However, most professionals making this claim may never provide the documented proof that they, in fact, achieved that percentage. This is not an impossible claim, but I should be taken with a grain of salt.Even if another professional is piling up big daily retail numbers, that does not mean that another professional should be too. What matters is that the skin care professional manages to improve their retail performance by any degree desired, regardless of how modest that improvement is. More is more – decide what the standards are on an individual level.

Another reality is that some clientsmay never buy anything from a past history of servicesReaching 100% sales success does nothave to be the goal.Rather, the goal may only be to do the best, with the idea that enough clients will make purchases to meet the spa’s overall income targets.

Personality – the foundational material that makes people who they are and what they can do. It is not something one should try to alter or ignore. Robust retail sales in a spa setting are not dependent upon high energy, extroverted presentation. A calm, gentle approach with clients can be just as effective, so long as the advice is sincere. 

Do not try to read customers in advance when it comes to retail sales. One may think that a quiet or distracted client who is showing no interest in products is a lost cause for potential sales –erase that thought. Skin care professionals have no idea what clients will do when presented with an opportunity to buy something that might enhance the look of their skin.Skin care professionals cannot afford to be the judge of what others will and will not do when they do not know what that is. 


It is the client’s first visit, and they are excited to hear about the treatment plan.After examiningtheir skin and agreeinguponthedesired improvements,the treatment can beginOn the contrary, there is more to do before proceeding to the treatment, in order to expect progressive results from a facial program.A skin care professional also needs to address what happens between spa visits, and that is the client’s homecare regimen, also known as an opportunity for retail sales. What a professional can achieve in the treatment room one day can be totally erased the following week by underperforming within or incorrectly approaching self-care. Neglecting to protect the skin, harsh treatments, or using the wrong products will tip any hope for facial benefits off balance. An example of this could be as follows:

“Linda, after our facial treatment, I will likely suggest some changes in how you care for your skin at home. Would that be okay?”

This simple question always receives a “yes” or positive response from the client. And why not? It is a no-pressure request and evidence that the professional is a caring and completely professional. Skin care experts should extend their therapeutic reach beyond the doors of the spa as much as they are permitted.With this question,the skin care professional is referring to what the client is doing when away from the spa. This makes post-treatment product suggestions easy. It also eliminates the need for treatment room selling since thesubject was broached before performing the service.


Every skilled aesthetician knows that the changing seasons pose challenges for environmentally exposed skin. As responsible advisors, it is important to address these influences before the client suffers from them. It is called planning, and planning is the best way to protect the skin and win product sales. Think about it these terms – a weight management coach assisting clients in controlling eating might address the coming holiday season where over-indulgence is an annual tradition. If a client has a plan in place ahead of time, the chances of curbing poor eating when rich temptations are everywhere is much more likely to succeed than with no plan at all. The same is true for skin care

When a September facial client arrives for their appointment, inform them as follows, “Rachel, we are about to head into the colder months and that means your skin will likely feel and appear more dehydrated. That makes it subject to more fine lines, so when you come in next month, would you bring in anything you are using on your skin or make a list of those products, so I can evaluate them for the coming season? This way, I can suggest adjustments to your homecare routine if needed.”

Do this dialogue in the spring, before the over-exposed sunny season arrives.This is a great way to demonstrate professional excellence while boosting retail.


Skin care professionals must remember to do well in planning their own goals for sales achievement. Focus makes the objective more likely, as it demands attention and a plan. It is too easy to sail along and let available dollars escape the charge terminal. Stay focused and plan ahead.

Create a sales tracking form on the computer or on a sheet of paper. Select a product from the retail collection that needs an increase in sales. At the top of the sheet write the week and start planning the sales goal. Next, write the name of the product to focus on,then describe the product, its benefits, and what type of client could need it.

This is an opportunity to really stretch one’s command of sales while receiving the maximum payoff. Do not forget those products that need to be cleared from retail shelves with no plan to reorder. One may discover that certain retail items have failed to sell more as a matter of inattention rather than buyer preference. It is always nice to solve more than one problem at the same time.

Finally, put a checkmark on the tally sheet for every successful sale made, then total the dollar amount at the end of the week. If this works,the spa will see a pleasant bump in income. Celebrate accomplishments and the fact that the spa has grown professionally.

Remember that any improvement in retail performance is a real boost to the spa’s business income and professional confidence. There is no need to win sale awards to be a career advocate, just dedicate the time to do it and then go for it.




douglas preston 2016




Douglas Preston’s career spans 38-plus years in professional aesthetics, spa management, and skin care career mentoring. His business articles appear in many of the top trade journals and magazines. He is past president of the Aesthetics International Association. His recently published book, “An Esthetician’s Guide to Growing A Successful Skin care Career.” It is a top-seller among ambitious working skin care professionals. Preston has taught spa management techniques and professional improvement for spa therapists in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. He also works with product distributors and manufacturers to enhance their sales skills. Preston practices aesthetic skin care in his prestigious Los Gatos, California studio, Preston Skin Center and can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 408-677-6105. 

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October 2021

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