Thursday, 25 February 2016 05:24

Suggestive Selling: How to successfully sell products and services that best serve the client’s needs

Written by  

 Clients do not go to a spa without a reason. While there are walk-in clients that come by just to browse around, refresh their products, book appointments, and look for a new lip color, the majority of clients look up a spa's number, call to schedule an appointment, and drive to the spa to have a service or purchase a product.

If having a service, the client must dress in a gown and lie down in a chair. These clients are not the typical department or drug store cosmetic product consumers in any sense of the word; these clients are special buyers with unique and individual concerns and needs. They are coming for help in solving a problem and to establish a relationship that includes ongoing care with a trusted skin care professional.

As a skin care professional, never lose sight of the fact that the client has come into the spa because they are in search of something. Determining what the client really needs is the professional's job. Listen to what the client says and then translate that information into a product or service that will satisfy, delight, and meet the client's expectations.

whiteblouseIn order to be successful as a skin care professional, it is highly important to care about people. That is why professionals should never oversell the client. Clients will often stop going to a particular aesthetician because they feel like they were being pressured into buying products. Clients can smell a phony, pushy sales person a mile away; they will run from this kind of treatment, never to return again. The professional's authenticity and advocacy is to recommend only those products and services that will best serve the client's needs and help them to gain trust and belief in the professional.

Professionals do not intend to come across as a pushy salesperson. The only reason they do is because they do not know how to connect with their clients and use their listening and speaking skills to engage the client in the purchase of their services and products. Suggestive selling is fun, not pushy, and can yield great financial results once this easy-to-learn sales tool is mastered.

Suggestive selling, however, must be used in the right order. Insights into the world of listening and connecting with clients is essential before the power of suggestive selling can be used in the spa.

The average human can process about 950 words per minute and speak about 150 words per minute. When listening to others talk, in most cases, this leftover space is used to think of other things to say back to the person talking. People seldom have problems filling up the space between people's words because they are so focused on the silent interpretations always going on in their own listening. It is the conversations in the head that often distract from what others are saying. Generally if someone is talking, the person listening is either busy formulating a reply or off in another world.

The point of suggestive selling is to truly satisfy the client's needs. As a result, skin care professionals must hear those needs. In a sales situation, the professional must become an excellent active listener. This means becoming aware of what is being said and actively engaging the mind in order to hear what the client is saying.

Truly believe that every client has the right to the professional's full and undivided attention. This is where active listening comes to play. Practice repeating what the client says while they are talking. At the same time, try to formulate questions that will provide more information about the client's needs. Use those extra 800 words per minute to actively reflect on what the client is saying.

Establishing rapport and an honest connection with the client is the key to successful sales. The best way to create a connection is through the power of open-ended questions, not one question after another. Really reach into the world of the client with a true curiosity about them, just like when meeting someone for the first time. Only this friendship will renew each time the professional meets with the client. No matter how long the client has been going to the spa, the professional should get excited to see them booked because it means that they will learn something new about the client, work, and themselves.

Do not be confused by the suggestion of becoming friends with a client. Crossing professional boundaries is not recommended. This suggestion is meant figuratively in that many things will have changed even in the space of two weeks and who they are now is not who they were two weeks ago. Changes in the client's life and in their skin will affect suggestions for the service and post-treatment product sale. Slipping into an "I already know how this session will go" mindset is dangerous for the skin care professional. They will miss key buying signals if the mind is closed. They will slip into a non-professional mode of operating while in the treatment room.

When establishing the client's need for services and products, all questions are to be open-ended. Open-ended questions are questions that cannot be answered with a 'yes' or 'no' or a one-word answer. Remember, the professional's job in this phase is to learn as much as they can about the client's needs, desires, and expectations. The professional should only talk about 10 percent of the time; the client should be talking the other 90 percent of the time. An open-ended question, such as "What brings you into the spa today?", offers a little something about this client's expectations and why they chose to schedule an ppointment. Another great open-ended questions is, "When you look in the mirror, what do you love about your skin?" This question can really get the conversation going!

Of course, performing a thorough skin analysis and needs assessment gives the professional the opportunity to ask a number of open-ended questions that creates a connection between the professional and the client. Never skip this important phase of the session.

magnifierDeveloping a personal repertoire of questions and memorizing them for immediately-available use is recommended. Asking open-ended questions and active listening will take some practice at first, mostly because of habitual listening and automatically thinking that it is known how the sale is going to go. If commitment to the practice of being present is made, the confidence to ask open-ended questions and actively listening over time when gathering critical information about the client's needs will be acquired.

In short, the more time spent discovering and uncovering the client's needs, the easier it is to make a connection and build trust. Clients buy from professionals that they know, like, and trust. This type of rapport should not be a one-off; this kind of connection must happen with each client visit and from the first client of the day to the last client of the day.

Make a vow to not apply a treatment or recommend a product until enough questions to get the information needed to thoroughly understand the real need of the client and the best solution for them is asked. Making this commitment will ensure that only what the client needs is recommended; this cannot be done unless the time is taken to really uncover and understand the client's needs.

The sales process journey, from the greeting and the needs assessment to the closing of a sale, is a gentle one. Testing the level of financial commitment the client has for the services and products provided in each session is an essential part of suggestive selling.

Think about the process of a buying decision. It may take some time to get used to the idea of making a commitment. This is normal behavior and is why, in the beginning of a new relationship, the prospect can come across as protective or unsure of the right decision.

The client is looking to the experienced professional for reassurance that they are making the right buying decision and that they are going to be more than satisfied with their commitment to take the next step and purchase what is being recommended.

One obstacle that is unique to the sales of spa services is that they are what is called intangible. In other words, these services are not like buying a big screen television or a new outfit. The value of the spa service is left entirely to the interpretation of the client. All of the sales are of an intangible nature. Therefore, the respected professional must create the value or tangibility of their service each and every time.


In order to accomplish this, recommend the optimal, higher-priced treatment and product plan for the client first and then educate them on how this plan will give them the greatest results and benefits, both short-term and long-term. Suggesting the higher priced treatment option that offers the highest level of quality and results is the best way of showing the client that the professional is an advocate of what is in their best interest.

However, when looking to get a hot or cold buying signal from the client in order to learn more about their needs, remember not to be perceived as a pushy or high pressure salesperson; learn what the client is thinking. Finely attune to the client by watching and listening very closely to what they say and do not say. Also, observe their expressions and body language. If a client is frowning after a recommendation is made, that facial expression actually offers more information and speaks for itself. It states that there is an objection coming; be prepared to hear and overcome their objection. Overcoming an objection is what is done after a sales suggestion is made and the client has declined to purchase the recommendation. An objection is not a bad thing! In fact, it is just the opposite. Offer what information is needed in order to provide the very best experience possible for each individual client. Do not take objections personally, but rather as hot and cold buying signals that are easy to see and read. Look at objections as a prompt for asking another open ended question.

A large part of suggestive sales success depends on how well educated the clients are on the services and products being recommended and how the products can help clients achieve results. During the service session, use the three Ws (what, why, and when) method of educating the client. Once the key selling points of each product and service is memorized, this method is an easy-to-follow outline for making sales suggestions. Before suggesting the service and/or the product, state what is being recommended, why it is being recommended, and when the product or service should be used.

Once the professional has uncovered the client's needs and has recommended the right service and product with features and benefits, they should get ready to exceed the client's expectations and suggest additional products that will enhance their purchase.
Suggestive selling is the great art of teaching. Think about suggestive selling as educational-sales. Teaching the client more about what will help them to look and feel better is a lot more fun than just selling something. In order to be a good teacher, believing in what is being taught is a must. When coming from the heart and sharing some knowledge and passion for being helpful, an authentic connection that exceeds the client's expectations is being created. It is often forgotten that clients are not licensed skin care professionals. They do not spend their days studying about how to create healthy skin. Clients are usually rushed and are looking for guidance because the licensed skin care professional has specialized knowledge and valuable informationto share.


It is easy, fun, and financially rewarding to use a system for suggestive selling. The only reason to assume one would not use it is because they have never been taught to use a 'one more' suggestive selling system. By adding just one extra service or take home product, sales and potential income can dramatically increase.

What may be thought of as a small suggestion, such as an eyebrow wax, eyelash dye, eye and décolleté treatment, or just one more retail product, can make a big difference in sales. Make 'one more' the goal with every client and strive to reach it daily. Depending on the size of the business, the potential to generate an additional $20,000 to $100,000, or more, in the next 12 months using a simple suggestive selling approach with every client is possible.

The following example shows how increasing the average service ticket can increase sales if the average service is increased by one add-on valued at $22.

The following example shows how increasing the average retail ticket can increase sales if the average product purchase increased by one add-on valued at $58.

When to Suggest One More
One more can be suggested on the phone when the client is booking their service by simply suggesting another treatment. It can also be suggested during the service by offering another treatment to complement what they are currently scheduled for at a slightly-discounted price. Suggest one more after the service with a series of services at a lower price if they purchase and pay up front for the package.

During the product sale, if a client can buy one, they can buy two. Never sell just one. Create a tiered product bundle (basic, advanced, and transforming). When clients have their wallet out, suggest the special promotion of the week. Remember, clients love to buy things, including more of what is being offered.

The power to help prevent the client from making the wrong buying decision lies with the professional by suggesting an appropriate service and product that is just right for them. If professionals can improve the performance or value of their recommendation by suggesting an enhancement to the service or product, a better experience is being provided and will save the client time, money, and stress.


  • Perform a needs assessment prior to each session and then translate the information gathered into a service or product that will meet the client's need.
  • Use open-ended questions to develop a relationship with the client and also to ensure that the right product for their optimal results and satisfaction has been matched totheir needs.
  • Only talk about 10 percent of the time; the client should be talking about 90 percent of the time, providing information on how to meet their needs.
  • As an ethical professional, make a vow to sell the client only what they need.
  • Be confident but gentle in the approach as clients may sometimes interpret the recommendations as being a pushy or a high-pressure sales technique.
  • Potential clients often need time to adapt to a new idea of the service or product being recommended. Give the client time to process their buying decision.
  • Also, be prepared during the sales process with open-ended questions and service and product knowledge. Most importantly, use the suggestive selling system for every phase of the sale.

Suggestive selling is true client care and can result in happier, more loyal clients. Sometimes those differences are minor and sometimes they are major, but they are always important for both the skin care professional and the client.

LynLyn Ross is a licensed master aesthetics instructor, accredited through the Georgia Board of Cosmetology with over 30 years of experience in the field of professional aesthetics. A true medical spa pioneer, Ross has written numerous articles, co-authored textbooks, and appeared on radio and television shows, highlighting professional aesthetics. She is dedicated to sharing her passion, knowledge, and years of clinical aesthetic experience. Ross provides skin care professionals with clinical and medical treatment protocols, products, and the education that guarantees client results and spa business success.


Want to read more?

Log in or subscribe to continue reading this article.

Login to post comments

November 2020

Business Blogs

Brands of the Month

  • DMK Skin Revision Center
  • Celluma by Biophotas, Inc
  • Skin Blends

Client Care