Why is ‘Selling’ Such a Dirty Word? Selling Retail in a Salon

sales cartoonThere’s an old joke my brother tells quite often, because a) it’s at his wife’s expense, and b) it’s not completely untrue.

You see, his wife’s credit card was stolen a few years ago. He didn’t report it for a month because the thief’s rate of spending was less than hers. Ha ha, get it?

But the point of the story is we love buying things. We love to buy. And yet, for some strange reason, we hate to sell. To be seen as a ‘salesperson’. This has always bemused me, since without salespeople, copywriters, marketers, not a single transaction would ever occur. Nobody would buy anything. So, no income would be generated, no taxes paid, therefore no roads built, hospitals staffed, teachers hired. In effect, the world would stop turning.

We love to buy things. Love it. So why do we hate to sell?

We love to buy things. Love it. So why do we hate to sell?

This line of thought was prompted by a heartfelt post from a beauty therapist in an online forum. Obviously articulate, intelligent and passionate about her work, she was nonetheless feeling a bit down-in-the-mouth about the ‘pressure to sell’ from her employer. She was worried she would ‘freak her clients out’ if she tried to sell to them every time they came in.

She’s hardly alone. The common cry among so many in the hair & beauty industry is “I’m not a salesperson…I’m a stylist/therapist!”

Given that, it might be helpful to look at ‘selling’ in a different light. The business of a salon or spa IS selling. A salon is, before anything else, a marketing & sales business. And, in every small business (not just salons), the process of selling is inextricably linked to having a job.

But selling needn’t necessarily be seen as a distasteful chore. At many of our seminars over the years, veteran hair & beauty industry guru John Lees would teach that

“Our knowledge is ours to give, not ours to keep.”

John is right. Selling is the process of informing and educating clients so that you become the ‘trusted, knowledgeable expert’ they instinctively turn to for the solution to their fears, anxieties and insecurities. Once you get over your own anxiety about pitching to your clients, and start to see yourself as being the trusted expert, the selling becomes second nature, like unconsciously changing gears in a car. You don’t even notice you’re doing it.

There’s another common mistake made by those who look down on selling, and that’s pre-judging – by applying your own ‘cringe filter’, deciding on your client’s behalf whether she can afford to buy, or wants to buy what you’re selling. And in many cases, deciding in the negative.

A couple of years ago I conducted a little experiment. I dressed in dirty overalls, scuffed shoes and a battered hat pulled down over my eyes, and walked into a local prestige car dealership. For fully 15 minutes I wandered around looking at the shiny new cars, completely untroubled by even one of the half dozen sharply dressed salesmen standing around drinking coffee and looking down their noses at me.

I left, and returned half an hour later in pressed trousers, blue blazer, white shirt and polished brown shoes. I barely got in the door before two of these guys were fawning over me.

They couldn’t do enough for me, took me for a test drive, made me coffee, buried me in glossy brochures.

I thanked them, drove to a rival dealership, and bought exactly the same car that morning.

Unjustly, selling has a bad name, made worse by salespeople who either regard it as beneath them, or decide for themselves who can and cannot afford to buy. People love to buy.  Let’s not make it hard for them, or play god and decide how people should spend their money. If you fail to educate, fail to inform, fail to offer, it’s a dereliction of duty to both the business, and the client.

“Never enough is sold because never enough is told. Selling is telling – the better you tell a story, the better you sell anything.”

Want to make selling EASY?

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Click here to see what’s in Selling Like Crazy for Beauty Salons

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About The Author

Greg Milner

Greg Milner, CEO & Founder, Worldwide Salon Marketing. Greg is a writer, marketing consultant, direct response advertising expert and former TV producer. Since founding WSM in 2004, he's coached and guided more than 4,000 salons & spas all over the world in all aspects of marketing, both online and offline. The tools and templates he and his team have developed are used by salons & spas on every continent. He is the author of the industry-standard direct response marketing manual, Simple Salon Marketing, and the e-book Rich Salon Owner.