I am a stylist not a salesperson

Many people are terrified of sales and this is largely due to the fact that nobody likes rejection. The thought of pushing a product onto someone who may not need or want is something that is not for us but rather those who are born sales people with very thick skin.

Many of us have the stereotypical impression of the untrustworthy used car salesman burned into our minds or the infomercials on TV that are always telling us to “wait, there’s more …” and we never want the world to view us that way as it is beneath us.

Other characters that do much in the way of diminishing the view of sales and salespeople are the cold-callers who phone you after hours to inform you that you have been pre-qualified for one of their new cell phones or insurance policies. You have no idea how they got your number as you have never dealt with them in your life before. As soon as I hear the words “Good day is that Mr Christopher Parker,” I know it is a cold call. I quickly confirm the fact and politely inform them that I am not interested and thank them for their call.

On one occasion I actually had the same sales representative call my house three times in a row, without even realising it, trying to sell gym contracts to myself and then to two of my housemates. How many calls must you have made in a day to not realise you are phoning the same number three times in a row?!?

The resulting negative perception of sales goes hand in hand with the thinking that sales is an art, a viewpoint I held about sales before I ever tried it. I recall the first time that I heard sales described as a science rather than an art and it made complete sense as sales was something you could learn rather than something you were born with.

With peoples (and stylists) perception of sales shaped with such negativity – how will any retail ever get sold in the salon?

You are already a salesperson

Whether you like it or not you are sales person (we all are) and most of the time the product that you are selling is yourself. For example, as a stylist, when you do a job interview you present yourself in as positive a light as possible. You put forward your skills (features and benefits) and convince the interviewer why they should buy your product (you).

When you enter into a personal relationship you make yourself look and sound as attractive as possible so that the other person will take an interest in you.

When you see a client you do a very similar thing as you want them to return to you. You sell yourself as a person and your skill as a hairdresser. You may even boast a little about how much you love the salon where you work and how much better it is than other salons.

However, only time will tell whether your product (you) is able to deliver on the promises you have made as the salesperson.

What are you selling?

Obviously the end goal of this article is to focus on retail sales but you should not just be selling the product on the shelf you should be selling everything about the salon so that the client buys into the whole business and not just the product, which they can most likely buy elsewhere.

Every little thing you do in the salon makes a difference to the client. From the way you answer the phone to the refreshments that are served. Every little bit counts when it comes to winning the client over.

If you are complaining about the owner or the other stylists then you are making it harder for yourself and everyone else at the salon to achieve their goals.

Once you have realised that you are always selling everything about your salon then retail sales just fall in to your sales mix and the results will take care of themselves.

Where to start?

The very reason that your hair salon exists is because there is a need in the market place that the salon is satisfying – people need their hair cut and styled, they need advice and they also need the right products to use on their hair. Once they arrive at the salon you as the stylist are there to fulfil this need and part of that fulfilment is to ensure that they have the right products.

Before you can begin satisfying the clients needs on an individual basis you need to know what they are, which means that you need to engage the client on a professional level. Sure, it is important to build personal relationship with the client but within the salon your duty is to do business. You need to always be selling to them, with sincerity and with a long term (business) relationship in mind. Therefore if after you have had a client in the chair for 60 minutes or more and the end result of the conversation is that they know all about your private life and what you did on the weekend, in my mind you have neglected your professional duty. You should be able to not only walk away from the appointment with a clear knowledge of what the client is currently using, the problems they experience, the desires they have (for their hair) but this should also be noted in their client record card so that the next time they visit you don’t have to ask them all the same questions but rather you simply pick up where you left off, once step closer to closing the sale.

On a practical note avoid asking the client dead-end questions to which they can answer “Yes” or “No” as these are conversation killers. For example asking them “do you need any shampoo?’ gives them a choice of two answers “Yes” or “No” and ends the conversation. Psychologically it also gives them an opportunity to reject you and would possibly cause you to not ask the question at all.

Rather ask them “what are you currently using, how long have you used it, what do you like about it” and so on. Once you taken the time to evaluate and understand their needs only then are you entitled to promote and alternative solution.

Know your product

I can remember working in a restaurant while studying and the manageress springing a question on one of the waiters about what was in the chicken salad. When he replied that he did not know her response was that he find out very quickly, or else! When she sprang the question on him later that day and his response was “chicken” she promptly sent him packing. As funny as this is the point is that when selling a product you need to know what’s in it and more importantly why the ingredients are beneficial else you will be simply reciting a lot of boring facts that are meaningless to the client, always think “feature – benefit”.

Jerry Seinfeld in one of his stand-ups jokes about how TV commercials often advertise a special ingredient but nobody has any clue what the product is or does. The example that he used was one that was advertised as now having an extra drop of Retsyn®. His comment was “great, it’s about time we were all getting some more retsyn® around here!” He is obviously making the point that no-one has any clue what retsyn® is and why it is beneficial.

So don’t just rattle off meaningless technical information about your products but explain very clearly how these will benefit your client.

Another important point is that you are “prescribing” a treatment for your clients hair needs. If you don’t understand your product then you will often get your prescription wrong and the client may complain that the product does not work. Therefore you need to see yourself in higher esteem as the hair care professional that is prescribing solutions for your client’s hair requirements.

Believe in your product

If you use your own salon products then you will be in a stronger position to believe in them with conviction. My wife often asks the waiter, when we go out for dinner, what they recommend or what they think of a particular dish and in most cases they admit that they have never tried it. How can they ever sell it if they have never tried it? All they can do is say that other people like it or whether it is popular or not but they cannot speak from personal experience.

You also need to be able to explain, with a clarity and conviction, why they should buy from your salon and not the supermarket? If you believe that there is not much difference then why not stock the salon with the same products that are on the shelf in the supermarket. If they are going to be paying more for their professional product they need to be convinced that there is a good reason. How can they ever be convinced if you are not convinced?


To use an analogy from the world cup, get into a good position to score. If you have been watching any of the soccer you’ll notice that at the start of the game the team kicking off does not just go straight fro goal, rather they build up and until they are in a good position from which to score. There immediate objective is to retain the ball, string good passes together until they are in a strong position to score and if they have a good enough build up all they have to do is tap the ball over the line, the goal almost scores itself.

So it is with sales. You can’t simply jump straight to the closing question. Rather you need to build to a point where you are ready to close the deal. Your immediate objective is to do a good needs analysis and then once you are in a good position the deal should close itself.

By the way Retsyn ® is apparently “a combination of Partially Hydrogenated Cottonseed Oil, Copper Gluconate and Flavouring”