Hair products are essential to every aspect of doing hair – in the hair salon and at home – and hairdressers are essential to matching the right product with the right person. Hairdressers are, in fact, are the original ‘influencers’ and have been long before the term embodied digital marketing strategies.
So, the next time you fear slipping into a sales mode when selling hair products to clients at your salon, remember that the number one shift in perspective to help you shed the stigma and sell without ‘selling’ is this: You are not a salesperson. You are the ultimate influencer.
To quote Mauricio Bellora, President of the emergent brand Hairstory and who has been tracking a revolution in professional retail, “What a hair stylist does with clients all the time is build trust… so, when you say, ‘You need to use this for your hair,’ it's not just an advertisement. You’re putting your work, your knowledge in play. And the clients trust you. So, why shouldn't you participate in the profit?”
By reframing your strategy for selling hair products as an expert’s recommendation, or even prescription, you elevate yourself and boost not only your self-esteem but also your bottom line – and that means earning enough money for amazing vacations, education, and a downpayment on a home – without selling your soul. (Repeat: I am the ultimate influencer. See it’s working already.)
1. Listen before you leap.
The more information you have about a client’s relationship with products and with their hair care, the better. Ask as many questions as you can. And, the more you demonstrate that you actually heard what you’ve been told, the more trust you build at your salon. For example, summarizing a consultation by repeating the client’s wishes, fears, likes, and peeves is likely to let them relax and feel they’re in good hands.
When you recommend a product that fulfills those wishes, allays those fears, caters to those likes, and quashes those peeves, it’s a natural fit and an authentic exchange that feels like you are being of service rather than making a sale.
However, that recommendation may fall on deaf ears if you don’t take the time to explain why you made the hair product choice, why it will work for your client, and how to best use it to achieve their unique goals with their unique hair.
2. Tailor your approach.
Rather than making a hair product sale, solve a hair problem. As you well know, no two heads of hair are identical, and neither are its wearers – and digging into how their brains work and how they and their hair behave is half the fun of being behind the chair.
Once you’ve heard their hair concerns, you’ll know how to approach your prescription. For example, strictly “wash-and-go” types – those lucky souls whose hair does that fabulous thing it does with no effort at all with a good cut – will be tough to lead into styling product territory; so don’t even try. There’s no sense in trying to persuade a minimalist to be high-maintenance. Instead, focus your advice on proper washing products, techniques, scalp care, and ways to ensure proper moisture. Emphasize haircare that’s effective yet efficient – while in, not out of the shower.
The other extreme is those who suffer from what could be called PDD, or Product Deficit Disorder – often members of the curl community with more concoctions on the haircare menu than a bartender. They feel there’s no such thing as too many products, or believe there’s always a more perfect match; their shower caddies look like recycling bins – and under the sink? Ouch.
In this case, your task may be to help them find a happy medium between fantasy and reality – what they dream of and what they can actually achieve with salon products. Or it may be to enlighten them to the possibility of hybrid products to replace complex regimens that eat up time and money. Appeal to their eco-conscience and help them get on the road to less packaging waste… you get the idea. The discussion becomes about their lifestyles, not their shopping lists.
3. Sell knowledge, not bottles.
When a doctor hands you a prescription to cure what ails you, you don’t go to the pharmacy and ask what else they might have. No, you make sure you get exactly what was prescribed because you trust your doctor’s knowledge. Hairdressing is no different, except you are a doctor and pharmacist in one, and you have the power to both prescribe and provide what works for any hair type.
Use your natural affinity for education as a sales tool. Share your knowledge of hair in general, and of your clients’ hair, in particular, as a seamless technique to influence an outcome. While most people have an intimate knowledge of their own hair through experience, surprisingly few know why their hair does or doesn’t behave a certain way, or why it lacks whatever they feel falls short. Recommending the right product can be transformative when it reveals something they didn’t know about themselves – but that you knew all along.
4. Time, not space = money.
With so many ways for people to shop today, investing in months of inventory no longer makes much sense. Mr. Bellora goes into detail here, but tries to avoid tying up cash in hair care products that languish on shelves or in closets.
Aligning with companies that offer ways to participate in e-commerce lessens the need for physical inventory. Hairstory, for example, supplies hairdressers who represent the brand with a unique direct link that clients can use to shop on the company’s website, thus ensuring that their hairdresser receives a commission on sales for the life of that client relationship.
If you envision a salon retail area that rivals the beauty counter at Bloomingdale’s, you might want to reel in your imagination. Many salon owners have taken a second look at that beautifully merchandised wall only to see it represent stacks of cash they can’t touch. Putting in an extra chair or two instead could be a better return on investment.
5. Use social media.
Scaling down the store might mean scaling up what you post on your favorite social media platforms, most likely Instagram. Stories about your favorite products, why you love them, and how they work can translate to salon retail gold, especially if you can back up your recommendations with an affiliate program.
Do what comes naturally: Do your own hair or work on a model – but capture it on film and master the video selfie. Far from being an ad, you’re sharing your knowledge and helping people make good choices. Okay, it is an ad, but one for your expertise and not merely a product, and the kind of ad that’s worth paying attention to.
Staying in touch with your clientele and keeping them up-to-date is always a good idea, but posting about a product’s effectiveness will take some of the pressure off of you in person. When clients already know which products excite you, they’re primed to buy and require less persuasion.
6. Less is more!
It is impossible for every hairdresser to master every product a salon may carry. Don’t even try. (Many products have no reason for being besides giving product companies something new to talk about. Don’t encourage them).
Instead, trust your gut. You know which products you need when – hold, moisture, shine... You know your aesthetic lane and the effects you gravitate toward. Bottom line: You know your clients and you know what works. Choose the products you love to use and that you can confidently demonstrate.
By sharing your knowledge, putting your passion to work, and prescribing rather than selling, your authentic enthusiasm will earn you both trust and cash. So go forth and influence!