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Navigating the Obstacles Between Services, Sales and Self

By: Anne Martin
Posted: June 1, 2012, from the June 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.
a skin care professional nurturing a client

page 2 of 5

Commitment to sustainability involves realizing, deciding and believing. Realizing that your work provides necessary, healing, even transformative services. Deciding that charging money for the value given is OK, that you are valuable for your skills, and that being well paid for those skills is not only appropriate, it’s justly earned. Believing that you deserve the reciprocity of respect for your work and for your time.

The selling dilemma

Ah, but here’s the rub—you are also one who sells products, which can feel as though you’ve crossed the line from compassionate nurturer to used car salesperson, and that you’re taking advantage of the tender trust that forms the foundation of your relationship with the client.

It can be ambiguous, this relationship, because you both nurture and sell. But the counters at Nordstrom or Sephora? Crystal clear. Everyone expects the salesperson will try to up-sell. Inevitably, what begins with eye liner ends with gold-smudged red-lip bronze cheek thingys, with eyes pinwheels of desire and hands clutching the “free” samples that made it a monetary triumph. With skin care professionals, though, the shopper becomes the client, who, not expecting a sales pitch, raises her defenses and triggers your discomfort.

Alternatively, skin care professionals often view sales with a condescending eye as in: “Selling is beneath me; I’m a professional.” Although this is understandable, here’s the reality: That stance actually undermines true commitment to service. As much as they need your listening ability, clients also need your expertise to design a customized routine. Just as with care, sales are an inevitable and integral part of esthetics, which realize the commitment you’ve made to the sustainability of your work, and to the well-being of the client’s skin.

The moment before zero

So how do you manifest this integral part of esthetics without feeling as though you’re a fraud who promised a restful experience, only to spring the sales trap? In an episode of the podcast The Tobolowsky Files, the character actor Stephen Tobolowsky discusses this idea in relation to acting in “The Moment Before Zero.”