The ability and willingness of your team members to sell to their clients impacts significantly on your salon’s bottom line and can mean the difference between being a struggling or successful business. Therefore, getting them on-board with sales is essential.
Most salon owners would agree that therapists are often reluctant to sell; whether it is retail products, additional services or upgrades to packages. When asked, therapists will often say that they see their role primarily as service providers who care for their clients, and not pushy salespeople. In many instances, they see selling as something that will damage their relationship with clients and therefore should be avoided at all costs.
Also, it’s not unusual for therapists to believe that their clients have the same financial restrictions as they do. I have often heard the comment “I just don’t feel comfortable asking my client to buy products or additional services because they have already spent quite a lot of money on their service”. The sad thing is that by doing this, they are often depriving their clients of the very things they want to achieve; better, longer lasting results.
There are many training courses available aimed at teaching therapists the technical aspects of selling. They generally focus on rapport building, using open and closed questions, selling the benefits and delivering a strong close. These techniques are all valuable when learning how to improve sales, however, they must take second place to something much more important, and that is developing a positive mindset around the selling process.
So before you send your team members off to their next sales training course, consider these six important areas that need to be addressed first.
Step 1 – Rethink
In order to overcome therapists’ resistance to selling, it’s essential to change the negative mindset they have around it, and get them to rethink their professional role. Instead of seeing it as a way to simply get more dollars out of each client, and therefore the boss off their back, they need to be able to see the process as a way of helping their clients to achieve their desired outcome. This is the first, and I believe the most important part of getting your therapists to sell, without ongoing pressure from management.
One of the biggest barriers for therapists generally lies in their need to not feel pushy. They do not want to jeopardise the relationship they feel they have created with their clients. They also often believe that if a client does not purchase a suggested service or product, that they have been personally rejected. To avoid this, many therapists simply avoid the sales process altogether, in the hope of preserving what they believe is more important – their friendship with the client.
Instead, therapists must come to realise that their clients come to them for professional services and guidance, and while clients are friendly and regularly ask personal questions, their true goal is to achieve a positive outcome from their treatments.
It is possible to teach your team members all the technical skills around selling but unless they firmly believe that selling is genuinely helping their clients, they will continue to resist it. Also, they must learn to keep their conversation professional at all times to avoid falling into the trap of thinking that their clients are actually their friends.
The solution lies in teaching your therapists how to maintain a professional relationship with their clients so that they can give the best advice to help them get the most from their services. They need to understand that sending a client home without the right maintenance products is unprofessional on their part, and has deprived their client of the opportunity to get the best possible outcome. As their professional mentor, this job lies with you.
Step 2 – Retrain
Sending your team to a retail training seminar is a good thing, but the enthusiasm normally fades quickly after they return to the salon. Their new found enthusiasm and motivation seem to quietly slide back to where it was initially, and before long you are back to pushing them for increased sales. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t train your team members; it means that you must train, motivate and guide them continuously in your salon.
Make time each week for a short product knowledge training session. To keep it interesting for everyone, ask one of your staff to be the trainer and to teach the others everything they need to know about a particular product.
Give them an outline of what you want them to research and present to the group to ensure quality training is delivered. Encourage your team members to ask questions and share information. When you are not the one doing all the talking, your team members will be more involved and motivated and this will result in much more information being absorbed during the training session.
Step 3 – Realistic Goals
After dealing with the mindset and the knowledge component of increasing salon sales, it’s then essential to put some realistic goals for your individual team members into place. Everyone who is expected to improve their performance needs a goal to strive for. Goal setting for team members is not a one size fits all process – that is of course unless each member of your team has precisely the same knowledge, mindset, experience and capabilities.
There is very little chance that your therapist, who is only 6 months out of college, will have the same skill set as your head therapist with 15 years of experience under her belt. Therefore each individual needs to be set goals that they have a least some chance of achieving. If you don’t do this, and set goals that cannot be achieved, you are setting that person up for failure which in turn will lead to loss of motivation altogether.
To set each person’s individual goals, look at their current performance and their capabilities, and then put a goal in front of them that they can reach with a stretch. Success breeds success, and once your team members know how good it feels to achieve their goals, they will be more motivated to continue to do so.
Step 4 – Review Performance
Every team member benefits from a quality performance review with their team leader on a regular basis; communication that not only focuses on what could have been done better and how, but also on what was done well. It helps them to maintain personal motivation, learn whether or not their performance is acceptable, but also find ways to improve it.
It’s important for each team member to understand how their contribution to the business impacts not only on themselves but you and the rest of your team. The fact is that if your team members don’t think you care about their performance (which they will if you never discuss it with them) then why should they? Show them you do care and are prepared to help them improve in every way possible.
Make your one-on-one time something your team members look forward to rather than something to dread. You can do this by ensuring that they also have the opportunity to discuss any problems they may be having and get the support they need to do better. Be generous in your praise and offer only constructive criticism that will help them to improve.
Step 5 – Recognise Effort
Positive re-enforcement works just as effectively with adults as it does with children. A pat on the back and a “job well done” when your team members have tried their best to achieve a goal, helps to re-enforce desirable behaviour. When you see a genuine effort to improve being made, make a point of recognising it as quickly as possible – even if the attempt was not successful. Any attempt to sell is a move in the right direction and should always be acknowledged.
With every attempt, your team members move closer to achieving a sale, and this, in turn, will boost their confidence and motivation to continue. Don’t let a few unsuccessful attempts dampen their spirits; make sure you give them the recognition they need to keep trying.
Step 6 – Reward Success
While not everyone is motivated solely by money, I don’t think I’ve ever met an employee who did not enjoy taking home some extra dollars in their pay each week. Being financially rewarded for success can be a real motivator for some people.
Combined with the other motivational factors discussed in this article, bonus payments can help answer the question “what’s in for me”. Many salon owners have made the statement that they have tried bonus systems without much success and the reason for this is that it cannot be a standalone motivator. Having said all of that, I do believe that it is an important component to achieving higher performance for team members if done correctly. Bonus payments should result from achieving realistic sales targets.
So as you can see, no one thing can totally change the way your team member’s feel about selling. To get positive results that last for more than just a few days, you must tackle the resistance to selling from many angles. Changing the negative mindset around selling, providing ongoing training, setting realistic goals, regularly reviewing performance with quality feedback and support, praising effort and rewarding success, all contribute to improving your team’s sales performance and will help them to fall in love with sales.