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Retail: Turn Ideas into Action

By: Carol and Rob Trow
Posted: May 29, 2008, from the June 2008 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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Next, move into establishing a clear retail strategy. If you need assistance, look to a consultant or vendor who acts as a strategic partner to help. Also, check out professional journals and magazines such as Skin Inc. magazine regularly to get ideas, and find ways to network with your colleagues. Make sure you set aside time for the ongoing training of your staff, as well, so they can develop selling skills and product and protocol knowledge. One way to do this is to have vendors conduct monthly product knowledge sessions for your team.

Establish job expectations

Hire for success. By making sure everyone on your staff—from front desk personnel to skin care professionals to nurses and even the office manager—understands that selling retail products is part of their job, you can easily grow the power of your retail business. If you don’t reinforce this notion regularly, however, you will likely have a very limited chance of succeeding. To ensure your team members keep up with their selling duties, you need to continually clarify job responsibilities, driving home the obligation of all staff to participate in the retail selling process. This must be done with enthusiasm and passion, as it is an important part of seeing to it that everyone gets the best possible results from their skin care program.

Teach your staff to create a short dialogue with clients, relating the services a client is signing up to receive or is receiving with your home care products. In effect, have your team members become treatment tour guides. They should be mindful that less is more—conversations should be short and to the point, and any conversation with a client needs to focus on what the client wants to improve upon, not what the skin care professional initially thinks is wrong with an individual’s skin. Ask questions, don’t tell. Find ways to suggest how a client can obtain their skin care goals. Listening to their thoughts makes the sales process focus on what the client wants to address and helps to building a trusting relationship between staff members and clients. After that relationship is established, there will be ample opportunity for further recommendations.

Also, do not underestimate the importance of front desk personnel to the sales process. Those team members need to be rewarded for success, as well. All too often, the front desk staffers are the first ones to gain a client’s trust, beginning by answering the phone, making an appointment, greeting the individual at her first service and speaking with that person as she exits the spa. Simple etiquette goes a long way. After a treatment, the service provider should walk the client to the front desk, ensuring all is well and letting her know what products are recommended for at-home use. The front desk personnel should then aid in closing the sale.

Top training

Selling is a learned skill. You must assume your staff members are coming to you with little—if any—sales training. Establish a structured program to teach them how to recommend products and upgrades, and include in this training such basic principles as where to stand, what to say and how to say it, and the importance of always maintaining eye contact. At the risk of being repetitive, look to your key suppliers or a consultant to help you in this task if necessary.