The Stigma of Sales


Editor’s note: This column is based on Jamie Scalise’s presentation “Upgrade Your Spa Income Without Selling,” which took place at Face & Body® Midwest in Chicago, March 27–29, 2010.

Ask any spa owner, manager or trainer to list some of the most pervasive problems faced by the industry, and it’s a good bet that retail sales will be in the top three.

Granted, the spa industry is a feel-good industry, but it is here that your responsibilities begin, not end. When you finally come to grips with this fact, your career will never again be the same.

Let’s dissect the emotions that arise when the term “sales” is used. Negative experiences on the selling or buying end of the sales spectrum probably have occurred to you at some point in the past, but should that alone hinder selling and stand in the way of financial success? At least on a subconscious level, many still use this as an excuse. Who hasn’t had a less-than-stellar dating experience? Did it make you quit dating? Heck no, and with this, it is obvious how frivolous, maybe even ridiculous, the excuse to not sell due to a negative sales experience seems.

So why is sales resisted so vehemently in the spa industry? Does it feel as if you are taking advantage of clients? Are you rebelling against management pressure to produce? Perhaps you are uncomfortable in your role as an expert, or maybe you do not believe sales should be a part of your job description because you work in a feel-good industry. The answer may be “all of the above,” along with many more. But are these valid reasons, or are they excuses? Having recited and used every one of them personally—some verbally and some in my head—I can tell you that although they may start out as reasons, they end up as excuses.

Why sales is important

Let’s take a look at a few cop outs and reveal them as the myths they really are.

Myth. “If I sell to my clients, I’m taking advantage of them.”

Fact. Clients expect you to step up and provide professional guidance for both service and product options.

Myth. “I feel pressure when management assigns sales goals or runs sales contests.”

Fact. Sales goals and contests, if contemplated from a different perspective, can be a win-win-win proposition for all. This includes increased sales volume and profit for owners, more income from commission, bonuses and contest perks for providers, and great product and service recommendations for clients as you grow into the leader and expert that you are capable of becoming.

Myth. “I feel uncomfortable in the expert role.”

Fact. A tough love approach to this would be to just get over it. A more toned down version is, if you don’t become the expert, the client will find someone else to fill that role. So find a way to gain more confidence, perhaps through additional training, and grow into that expert.

Myth. “Clients come to me for services, not products. This is a feel-good industry; we’re nurturers, not sales people.

Fact. Clients come to you for both services and products. Nurturing and selling are not mutually exclusive, so get used to doing both.

For another unique perspective, let’s play devil’s advocate and operate from the standpoint that somehow therapists who actively sell products and services are not client-focused. How does this approach affect the very clients that you are supposed to be serving?

First, if you don’t sell, clients will pick their treatments without help, and most likely will end up undervaluing themselves and their needs. In addition, they will buy department store products or even worse, drug store or infomercial brands. These products may not be suited to your client’s specific skin type or issues. Also, because your clients are getting their products elsewhere, they will not have any reason to visit your spa between treatments; in fact, if they have to make all their service and product decisions without assistance, you give them no real reason to return, period.

Second, for every product and service that isn’t recommended—even though you know in your heart that the client would benefit in multiple ways—that client is cheated out of a possible positive experience and result.

So please, explain to me again how selling is not client-centered?

Building positive momentum

Selling—with client needs as the only impetus—is client-centered, because:

  • Clients obtain the desired experiences and results they are seeking based on your recommendations;
  • Selling increases provider self-esteem because you feel more in control of your professional career, and it adds to your checkbook balance and helps develop client loyalty; and
  • Selling successfully and with client focus both boosts the spa’s bottom line and growth, and creates repeat clients and referrals.

As clients glow from their heightened experiences and results, telling their friends along the way, the positive momentum builds. You can earn more money and gain confidence, growing into the professional that you can and should be. Re-invest in yourself through training, industry magazine subscriptions and trade shows.

Together with the help of spa owners, who may be able to subsidize growth-based educational trips and in-spa seminars, providers can continue to fuel their expert statuses. With the extra profit generated from sales efforts, owners may be able to invest in new equipment and technologies, further perpetuating the growth cycle. With all of this new investment from owners and providers, trade magazines and conferences, equipment manufacturers and product vendors, all flourish as the beauty industry grows exponentially.

Become part of the solution

It’s time to get out of your cave of safety, where reasons become excuses and nothing ever gets done or changes. Growth does not occur inside your comfort zone, so get comfortable with being uncomfortable. All successful people get to this point in their lives, one way or another. Also, look beyond the tiny box labeled “you” and embrace your personal responsibility to those who employ you, those who teach and train you, and those whose entire fortunes and businesses depend on you.

It’s time to quit hiding behind your fears and to start becoming part of the solution, instead of adding to the problem. And selling successfully with client focus is the solution.

More in Retail