Wednesday, 19 October 2016 09:49

Improving Sales Through Education

Written by   Rhonda Allison, L.E., founder and CEO of Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals

 For most people, sales is often perceived as being sold something at all costs, whether it is needed or not. As such, most skin care professionals find selling to be one of the biggest challenges in their business.

They become more focused on treatments and less on retail sales.



In general, the nature of most professionals is caring and nurturing. They are often caregivers and use their hands and products to perform amazing changes for their clients. Professionals may become so drawn to the work that they miss a prominent opportunity for growth in their business, as well as support for their clients. Professionals are in a very specialized field and are able to connect and develop relationships with their clients. An important point to remember is that clients see the skin care professional for a reason; they are looking for change and entrust their skin to the professional.

The biggest contributor to a client's success is the ingredients they use on their skin daily. When the professional does not offer the client homecare products, the professional is actually doing the client a great disservice. Keep in mind, retail sales must be one of the most profitable components of the business.

For example, 60 percent of a spa's revenue can come from retail sales. For example, a client can come in for a $95 facial and leave with $300 in skin care products. These situations are a win for both the professional and their client; the skin will make noticeable transformations over the next 30 days and the professional's business has a revenue increase.

Not every client will purchase homecare products, so allow it to flow for each one as they all will have different circumstances. Some of the clients visit the spa monthly and are actively working. They may, however, budget and add one product per month with their treatment. At the end of the year, these clients increase the spa's overall revenue and, more importantly, progress in their skin goals. These revenue increases only require a shift in how professionals perceive sales.

Rather than approaching retail sales as traditional selling, professionals should look at it as offering clients a gift of information and education that will be valuable for them. Though sales may be defined as the art of persuasion, in the skin care industry, it could be stated as the art of education.
Why is the professional in the skin care business? Passion is behind the success of any business and when a person loves what they do and bring their passion to the experience, the client feels it. If a professional states that they are in the industry because they love what they do and want their clients to reach their skin care goals, they are on the path to success. Still, the bottom line is that professionals need to maintain positive revenues to serve their clientele, provide deeper value to them, and fulfill their passion. The idea of value is exactly what professionals need to think about when it comes to retailing homecare products and suggesting add-on services.
When professionals have a client- and value-focused mentality and apply it to every area of their business, including retail sales, they will see financial growth and devoted clients that become even more loyal.

There are opportunities to educate clients throughout the treatment. For instance, at the beginning of the treatment, professionals can ask the client what they are cleansing their skin with and then respond, "As I apply the cleanser today, notice how it feels. This cleanser will be very effective for your skin because it treats X or contains Y." Professionals can also remind the client of proper technique: "Notice how I am removing your cleanser thoroughly. I want you to do this at home." There are endless opportunities to educate clients in the treatment room and point out how they can replicate some of the steps at home.

During the treatment, the professional might point out a feel and aroma of a certain serum they are using prior to a mask or facial massage and tell the client why the serum will be supportive for their skin care challenges or goals. However, remember to keep the talking to a minimum during the treatment. It is generally best to speak during the cleansing phase and finishing applications.
Another treatment room opportunity is to point out some other areas where the skin is vulnerable, such as the décolleté, particularly if their skin is dry, rough, or has some sun damage. If it is an area the client is curious about, recommend the application of a mild solution during the treatment.

Professionals have an opportunity to determine if they want to upsell or offer a complimentary service. If the client comes in often or perhaps purchases a series of treatments, it could be a great time to gift them with the add-on service. If the professional is charging for the service, it is important to tie the cost to the value of what is being offered. Professionals can accomplish this task by educating the client on the outcome; for example, "Your skin will feel much softer and smoother and its appearance will brighten and take on a healthy glow." No client ever wants to feel like the professional just wants them to spend more money. There has to be a real need and a real benefit and, when there is, professionals should be able to convey that.

One important thing to remember is to never assume someone can or cannot afford what is available to offer. When professionals know their services and products inside and out and learn how to read the skin, they can honestly guide a client to a results-driven system. Let the client decide whether or not they can afford it. All the professional can do is suggest the best course of skin care that will get them to their goals.

Skin care professionals have a tremendous advantage when it comes to knowing the clientele because they are in a business that allows them to get to know their clients when they take the time to listen. Knowing clients goes far beyond the client intake form, although that is a great place to start. Knowing the client is about understanding their wants, needs, challenges, and goals.

It is a rarity these days for someone to feel that they are truly listened to and heard. Take the time to stop, look at the client, and calmly and quietly listen to them and their needs. A great place for this practice, again, is in the treatment room. Every time a client comes in, the professional should perform the treatment as if it is the first time they have seen their skin.

When professionals begin with the who (the client) rather than the what (the product or service), they shift from a salesperson to an expert focused on ensuring their client's needs are met. Professionals may then align with how they recommend or talk to clients about products and services in a way that harmonizes with their journey and the stage they are at in life.

Let go of the concern about coming across as an overly aggressive salesperson. A professional is an expert who is honoring their clients' needs first and foremost. Understand that clients are going to get their homecare from somewhere. Why should it not be from their skin care professional? They will get the added benefit of the professional's knowledge and expertise on what will be most effective for their skin.

At the end of a treatment, gather products that will honestly impact the client's skin. Professionals can state to their clients, "We talked about some special products for you to use at home. This full regimen will be great for your skin and will continue what we did in the treatment room today. Whatever you decide, we will put them on your homecare sheet for reference." In some instances, professionals may offer a quick skin assessment and educate the client on specific ingredients, what they do, and why they may or may not be effective for their particular skin type.

Be careful to not oversell. If the client says they can only purchase one product at this time and will buy more products over time, select the product that is going to give them the most value until their next visit. When suggesting skin care products or a series of treatments, or even another service, close with confidence. Finalize the suggestion with a solid statement, such as, "Your total for today is..." Appearing unsure often leads the client to feel insecure about what is being offered. Be direct and clear.

When retailing, avoid confusing or distracting clients with items that take up space and are not related to what the professionals do or why they are there. Offer petite kit systems to initially introduce clients to a regimen and have basic skin care for teenagers and men available. All women know at least one man who has skin care needs. Keep the silent sales tools visible and on point, including marketing counter cards, shelf talkers, and brochures. Furthermore, play videos that show some of the spa's offered treatments.

Aside from the treatment room, another opportunity to provide clients with education and information is prior to their arrival. When making the appointment, ask the client for an e-mail address and, when sending the appointment confirmation, add educational content, such as a new ingredient the spa is highlighting, a recent blog post, or before-and-after pictures.

Professionals know a few things about their clients: they are savvy and they are actively researching answers to their skin care questions; they are in search of change and results and do not want to deal with gimmicks. Armed with that knowledge, why not be the resource they find when they go searching? Professionals can accomplish this goal in a number of ways, but it all comes down to creating the content that addresses their needs. For example, professionals can use informative blog posts, webinars, or e-mail campaigns. They can also contribute educational articles to publications or become a subject matter expert for a local television station.

These solutions serve multiple purposes: they provide value to current and potential clients, build awareness, establish trust, position professionals as an expert, attract new clients, and increase interest in the products and services professionals offer. Achieving this level of expertise requires skin care professionals to stay on top of what is happening within their industry and outside trends that impact it. Knowledge is power when it comes to deepening relationships with clients, remaining relevant in a competitive landscape, and boosting retail sales.

Professionals know, from the initial consultation, their clients' biggest concerns, challenges, and barriers; the professional has the knowledge to educate clients and help them reach their goals.

For skin care professionals that rely heavily on their employees to sell, these suggestions may seem like a slow path to growing retail sales, but it is quite the contrary. In fact, moving to the role of educator and providing value to the client builds trust and removes the automatic wall that tends to go up when clients sense they are being sold to. It also reduces the pressure on both sides of the equation.

Professionals should consider outlining a plan for themselves and their team to educate rather than sell. Put the client at the center of that plan and zero in on addressing the challenges they have when it comes to skin care and the goals they are aiming to achieve. This plan might include creating content for the spa's website and other content marketing materials, thought leadership through contributed articles or speaking at events, and in-person events at the spa. For the internal team, professionals can host workshops focused on ingredient knowledge or advanced techniques or send them to industry conferences so they stay fresh on new trends.

Understanding ingredients, skin issues, and the needs of the client is essential for building a strong retail business. The retail component is not an afterthought or add-on. Good daily skin care is the most important part of the skin rejuvenation process and that fact is important to remember when talking to clients about products.

Rhonda-AllisonRhonda Allison, a pioneer in the skin care industry, is the founder and CEO of Rhonda Allison Cosmeceuticals and RA for Men. Allison is also an author and an internationally-known speaker with more than 30 years of aesthetic experience. and

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