Retail Sales : The Art of Educating to a Buy.
Don't Sell...Educate to a Buy.
ALL retail is about one thing : educating the consumer into a buy. The techniques described in this article will carry over to any retail environment. While is was developed as part of a business building program I developed and teach to the salon industry, with slight adjustments, it can be applied to any industry. I even offer in business classes and program building.
Gone are the days when retail just walked of the shelves in a no action is necessary way. The retail sales of professional salon products (or any products for that matter) has changed tremendously over the past decade or two. More salons, chain salons, beauty outlets and the notorious "beast" known as diversion have dramatically changed the landscape for stylist and salon owners alike. But, all is not lost. Whether you are promoting Color Proof, Paul Brown Hawaii, Aloxxi, OPI or any professional salon product (or food, services or auto upgrades), there are still salons that are growing a lucrative retail business.
The first thing to remember is that your clients ARE purchasing shampoo, conditioner and styling products. The question isn't IF they are purchasing these items, but WHERE? Education is key! It is not my intention to show you how to sell, but to show you how to "educate your clients to a buy". When a client is educated about the proper use and value of a product they will decide to purchase. Good marketing is not about selling. Good marketing is about conveying the need and value of you products and services. Education.
The Process : Steps to Increased Sales WITHOUT "selling"
INITIATION : Finding your audience...
This is not about "finding" the client, as much as it is finding out "about" your client. They are already in your chair. You have already found them (or, in actuality, they have found you). What you need to do is to really get to know them; what makes them tick, what their needs are, what their likes and dislike (about their hair) are etc. We spend plenty of time talking about their friends, family, job and other interesting things like that, but this is not our primary purpose. Our job is to help our client make the best decisions on their own personal style and the maintenance of their hair. Should we talk about those other things? Yes, but not at the exclusion of our real purpose. Find out what their morning routine is. Do they have issues with getting their style right in the hectic rush of their morning rush? Do they keep the same style because it is "what I've always had"? Ask them questions so you know. This is information that will enable you to do your job better. Knowing their likes and dislikes about their hair color, style and cut will enable you to properly suggest the right services and products for them.
EDUCATION : Towing the Line...
When you have decided on which product you are using on a client, determine why you first chose that line of products. Each product line from each manufacturer has a unique point of difference. What sets them apart? Whether it be Color Proof with it's botanical extracts and natural ingredients, Keratin Complex's Keratin Treatment or Moroccan Oil's high grade argan oil...It is all about the cohesion of a unified line. Your clients, like all of us, like a back story. What holds this line together and what sets it apart. Do your homework. Know about the line(s) you carry. Be able to educate you clients as to the benefits of "this" line. Utilize the FEATURE - BRIDGE - BENEFIT format. Explain the FEATURE, which could be either a key ingredient (i.e. Keratin) throughout the line or an overriding principle that the company adheres to (i.e. environmental concerns). Your BRIDGE should focus in on the client themselves, such as stating "for your hair this good because". This personalizes the product line to that specific client. Then finish with the BENEFITor exactly what is the value to your client. This is a quick, general overview of the line itself and not a detailed explanation of the specific product you are using.
SPECIFICATION : Individualized Items...
Now utilize the same FEATURE - BRIDGE - BENEFIT format to energize the client about the specific product(s) you are using on their hair. Help them to understand what this product does for THEM. Statements like "This holds your hair in place" is far less effective than "You know how you like your hair to be pieced out and to have that smooth finish? This Volumizing Foam product by Onesta gets your hair do go the way you like it and stay there." The use of the words "you" and "your" help the client to understand the specific needs of their hair and that you have what they need. Make sure you teach the client the proper way to use each product. Explain how much product to use, placement of product in hair and what tools to use. A misused product is, in the eyes of the client...a bad product. This is also a good time to reiterate the idea of the cohesive line as a whole. Your clients like the idea of a unified line that works together. When a client is properly educated on the correct way to use a product they are more inclined to purchase it and to use it correctly. This enables the client to look better between visits to your salon and therefor to be a better walking advertisement for your salon. They are more apt to be asked where they get their hair done and more likely to hand out your referral cards.
AMPLIFICATION : The Test Drive...
Did you ever go out to "just look" at a new car? or a new flat screen tv? or latest, greatest new "must have" item? We all have. And, we've all been asked to take a "test drive". Whether it is a literal test "drive" as in the car or the offer to see the latest blockbuster in HD on the biggest flat screen in the store, we have all been asked. WHY? Because it works.Plain and simple...it is effective. When you sit behind the wheel or your eyes focus on that "money shot" in the movie...it is yours. Possession is 9/10th of the sale. When you are using a product on your client make sure that they hold the bottle at least once. If half way through the style you usually put the product down on your station and them pick it back up to continue it's use...stop. Ask your client in a matter-of-fact tone, "Could you hold this for a minute, thanks". They will usually either turn the bottle around to read it or ask a question about it. This gives you another opportunity to educate. They will now feel some ownership of the product. They understand it's value and proper use and now they possess it. You may even feel, in some cases, a slight involuntary resistance when you go to retrieve the product from your clients hand.
FINALIZATION : The Walk Up...
This next step is, for some, the hardest, but it will double any increase in retail sales that the previous steps have generated. As you walk your client to the front desk grab the product(s) that you used to give them their final look. Place them on the counter and simply say, "This/These are the products we used to give you your look. We have them available for you to maintain your look between visits. Thank you and have a great day." You don't have to ask for the sale. They will either say "Sure, I'll take them" or "No, I'm good". It is not a hard sell. You are relying on your education to enable them to see the value and purchase the product(s) they see as valuable to them.
What does no often really mean? In the retail environment it usually means one of three things. One..."I've got to use up some of what I've already got at home" Two..."I only brought enough cash to pay for my service and tip" Three..."I don't have enough info on exactly why I should purchase this item." This third answer is not usually verbalized, though often it is the true deterrent. Both answers one and three are corrected the same way. If the education is complete and they have no legitimate unanswered questions, then they won't care what they have at home. If they do not purchase on that visit...education continues when they return. Remember, they are purchasing hair care products somewhere.
Happy Business Building.