I’ve worked in a lot of salons full-time over the past decades…. And I mean a lot!
I got my start at a salon specializing in wigs and extensions. Next, I worked in barber shops for four years. After that, I focused on women’s haircuts, hair color, and makeup.
Finally, I spent four years working exclusively with children and their parents.
Each salon was completely different from the one before. But there’s one thing they all had in common:
At every salon, my coworkers asked me for “the magic formula” to sell more salon retail.
You see, even during my first month at each salon, my product sales were top of the chart by leaps and bounds. But that’s not to say my coworkers weren’t trying! Every one of them truly tried their hardest to sell more salon retail.
They also understood the value of selling retail. Jeff Mason, president of STX Salon Management Software, found that a customer is 30% more likely to book with you again if they buy one salon retail product.
Their salon retail percentages weren’t abysmal… five to seven percent of their average ticket total was salon retail (certainly nothing to sneeze at!).
And yet… every month, without fail, 17 to 25 percent of my average ticket total was salon retail. Every month, without fail, I sat at the top of the rankings.
So, what set us apart? If my colleagues were truly putting in the effort, just like me, why did I always come out on top?
I was asked this question—every month—by my coworkers. And—every month—jaws dropped when I laid out the secret formula to sell more salon retail… especially when they discovered there’s no sliminess, seediness, or car salesman tricks involved.
1. Sow the seeds during your consultation. Whether you’ve known your client for years or you just met them, you’ll still need to use this step!
And no, you’re not already pushing product onto your client… You see, this step is all about establishing trust and your client’s opinion.
In addition to technical questions about the service you’re providing, you need to put yourself in their shoes. Ask personal, open-ended questions which also prove that you know your stuff, like:
What challenges or problems are you having with your hair?
Has the weather lately caused any new issues, like oily scalp, tangles?
What do you really like about your hair?
If you’re already asking these questions, great! But it’s about how you use their answers…
2. It’s all about the benefits. Your client has just given you a treasure trove of info you’ll use to recommend retail. But that’s hard to do if you aren’t familiar with it.
Am I saying you need to buy one of everything your salon sells to use at home? No! All you need to do is know the benefits of the products you stock.
This can be done by reading the bottles, visiting the brand’s website for salon professionals, and even making flash cards to study with the product name on one side and benefits on the other.
“Benefits” is an important word here. You do NOT want to think of product in terms of features.
Why? Think of it this way: features TELL, but benefits SELL. If I tell you the features of my new favorite serum are:
As a hairstylist, you’ve probably already thought of the benefits these features will give you… But guess what?
Most likely, your client is not a hairdresser!
They have no idea what dimethicone is, nor why they should care about how concentrated the serum is. If you only describe the features, they are thinking “So what?” Features will not help you sell more salon retail.
Imagine if, instead, I told you my new favorite serum:
Isn’t that way more exciting for the average client? Isn’t it obvious how their daily life would improve just from buying this one product?
And now that you know exactly what your client loves and hates about their hair… can you see how easy it is to match their challenges with a product they’ll be excited to buy?
3. Show and tell. So now you’ve got the major pieces of the puzzle: You know what complaints your client has, and you know all the benefits of your salon retail. You’ve asked the right questions to earn your client’s trust.
Now it’s time for show and tell!
Whenever you add any product to your client’s hair, show it to them and explain why you’re using it… again, speak in terms of the benefits.
“You mentioned you’re dealing with a lot of tangles lately. I agree, I noticed your hair’s tendency to knot up while I washed/sectioned/combed it. But I have a secret weapon for knots and tangles… and this stuff even works all day and night to keep your hair from tangling as much.
This is Paul Mitchell’s Super Skinny Serum. It smells delicious—and makes your hair smell delicious too! You add in three pumps if your hair is wet, one pump if your hair is dry. Rub it in your hands like conditioner, then apply to your hair, starting at the bottom. You need hardly any on the roots.
Now, your hair will dry faster—so you aren’t using that heavy, loud blow-dryer nearly as long—and, it works all day to keep each strand silky and untangled. I love this stuff! I use it every day and I go through about one bottle every 18 months.”
Remember to show AND tell! During the entire conversation, you are pumping the product into your hands, letting your client smell it, handing them the bottle, and putting the product in their hair.
All of this creates a connection so that, when it’s time to check-out, the product is not some foreign add-on you’re trying to sell at the last minute. Instead, it’s a big piece of the service they just received… and a crucial ingredient if they want their hair to look good every day. Show and tell makes it so much easier to sell more salon retail.
Best of all, you’ve already explained exactly why and how to use this product. By the time the service is done, you aren’t “selling” anything: you are purely a professional, ensuring your clients always look their best.
And if they didn’t want to look their best, trust me, they never would have sat in your chair to begin with!
4. Be honest. Now, if you’re anything like me, you’ve been tempted to bend the truth for a sale. Someone is keen on a product, and even though you know it isn’t right for them… you see those dollar signs in their eyes!
It is absolutely your job (and in your best interest) to be honest with all clients. This is best proven by one of my favorite clients….
While I worked in a children’s salon, the mother of one of my clients came in to buy hair gel for her son. She grabbed the same product as always: Banana Spike Molding Putty by Glop & Glam
But she’d just bought the same product two months prior… This stuff usually lasts me six months even when I use it multiple times a day! This purchase started setting off alarm bells.
Was I tempted to ring her up, collect my commission, and never look back? Yes. But… I just couldn’t. I asked her, what happened to the container she bought at her toddler’s last haircut?
She said she used it all up! I was floored. So I dug a little deeper.
It turned out her son’s hair had drastically changed since his last visit. This is quite common for toddlers. Suddenly, there’s hair everywhere!
Her son’s hair had gotten drastically thicker, and the Banana Spike Molding Putty is a very light-hold product. It’s best for fine-haired toddlers who want spiky hair sometimes.
Her son was no longer in that category! Instead, I showed her a product better geared towards her son’s age and hair type.
She was so grateful. She even admitted, a bit embarrassed, that she’d been wondering if I cut her son’s hair “wrong…” and maybe that was the reason she couldn’t spike his hair anymore.
She didn’t say this next part… but I would bet she and her son wouldn’t have come back for another haircut, had I not been honest.
This is a perfect example of why you need to be honest… and how it could help you! My honesty turned a disappointed client into a “client for life.” Her little boy is seven years old now, and we always talk to make sure his at-home products are still doing their job.
5. Put everything in their hands… literally and figuratively. You’ve now built trust with your client, explained the awesome benefits of your recommendations, done some show and tell, and you’ve made sure your recommendations are honest.
Now, it’s all in their hands!
When you’ve completed the service, walk your client to the retail section. Keep your tone light, and remember, you aren’t selling. You’re a licensed professional, and they chose to come to you. Just like a doctor recommends medicines and prescribes them, you are the hair doctor.
Select the product you feel is the absolute best fit. It’s great if you recommend two products or more, but it’s hard to hand someone that many bottles at once!
Say something like, “Before you go, I want to review the secret for making your hair look this good every day. Here, this is the Super Skinny Serum, the one you said smells delicious.”
And… hand them the bottle!
Point out the benefits you mentioned. Whether it’s the cruelty-free stamp on the back, the date showing how long the product is good for, or the ingredients list… just pick one or two key benefits to point out.
The longer they’re holding that bottle, the better. This makes them feel like it’s “theirs.” It creates a feeling of possession, of ownership. Believe me, many people find it hard to say no and put the bottle back on the shelf!
Once you’ve reviewed the benefits, explained again how to use it and how much to use… it’s time to figuratively put in all in their hands.
It’s so simple. Just say…
“So, what are your thoughts? Would you like to take this home with you today?”
And then… say nothing.
Do not backpedal.
Do not take the bottle back without an answer.
Just let that question sink into their psyche.
It’s true, sometimes the answer will be no… in fact, a lot of the time. Even in my best months, my retail sales were only 25% of my total sales.
But you will hear “Yes” more often than you are now.
…And that’s it! These 5 steps truly are my secret formula to sell more salon retail.
It’s way easier than you thought, right? And you didn’t have to read a single bit of psychology or sales tactics.
I’ve used these 5 steps in every salon environment: from wigs and extensions… to barber shops… to high-end salons… to children’s salons! And it works everywhere.
There’s also plenty of reasons to push yourself to sell more salon retail, like:
That said, customers can smell a nervous sales pitch like a shark can smell blood in the water. If you apply these 5 steps and strike out a few times, don’t despair! Perseverance is key.
Every “no” you hear will strengthen you. Every time you’re turned down and you don’t spontaneously combust, you’ll be less scared… and less nervous… about making these recommendations.
Just like you couldn’t execute a perfect bridal hairstyle with no practice/experience, you can’t expect to hear “yes” a lot of the time without practice/experience.
Whether you’re told “yes” or “no,” every recommendation is you strengthening that muscle and getting more comfortable. The more you practice and put yourself out there, the better you’ll get at it.
Soon, clients and coworkers will see (and feel!) that you have no qualms about making a professional recommendation… that just so happens to earn you a commission or a high ranking.
They’ll see and feel that you are comfortable, an expert in your field, and that you know what’s best for them.
And they’ll want to spend money on your recommendation.
It’s a win-win-win… for your client… for your salon… and, of course, for you!
Rooting for you,
Your freelance beauty copywriter
P.S. Want to read more of my B2B copywriting samples or beauty copywriting samples? Click here to check out my writing portfolio.