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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 3 of 5

“ ‘Zero’ is when we go back to the beginning. Of course, once something has a beginning, it also has a history, and what we know about history is that it often repeats itself. For example: An actor reaches the end of a scene and it hasn’t worked, so she starts over. But these beginnings can be riddled with holdover moments of, say, tears or anger from the just-finished last scene. The old emotions sabotage the intent to begin anew, and unhappily confirm the actor’s insecurities about worth and skill.”

Let’s turn to the skin care professional who tries this month for a sale with last month’s client—the one who said “no” to products. Being turned down is akin to personal rejection, because sales can feel as though you’re really asking if clients want to buy your talent and vision along with that cream. This gives birth to other feelings, such as embarrassment or failure, paralyzing your intentions to let go of the past, approach the client anew and sell now.

It’s no different for estheticians than for millions of others throughout the world: No matter the sales technique, it winnows down to taking a breath, opening your mouth and being willing to put yourself on the spot by asking, “Will you buy this?” It’s called “making the ask,” and requires courage.

This is where Tobolowsky locates the moment before zero: It’s before any history, before your experiences and feelings about sales. He explains, “When you change the starting point, you change the story, so that you can tell a different story.” After this moment, you can start fresh in three ways, according to Tobolowsky: imagination, matters of the heart or just magic.

Imagination. In that place of the imagination, you envision sales as part of service ... but then ambivalence ambushes you. Ambivalence is an issue of commitment, located in “opposing extremes of conviction,” as psychologist Sigmund Freud called it, when you are strongly drawn to one way of thinking and acting—that of nurturing the client—while being pulled in the diametrically opposed direction of sustainability and sales. Just how do you navigate this true ambivalence?