Looking for mind-blowing retail numbers at your salon? Then take this course in sales psychology!
While sales are rung up at your salon’s counter, they first occur inside your guests’ minds when they decide to make a purchase. Understanding the principles of sales psychology can provide you with a greater means of affecting this process and boosting your sales. Since tanning salons are open all year long, there’s always a need for proven and tested methods of “reaching” your guests. After reading the advanced techniques presented here, you’ll know how to “get inside their heads.”
This month’s cover story marks the first installment of Sales Psychology, an occasional feature in ist Magazine. This month, we’ve picked the brains of three esteemed industry professionals – Scott Eggers of New Sunshine, John Farr of The Power Group and David McFarland of Performance Brands, Inc. – to go beyond basic marketing and promotions advice and enter into a deeper dimension of sales expertise … the dimension of the human mind. As can be expected of such well-respected members of our industry, these sales sages illustrate how any tanning pro can apply simple cerebral concepts quickly, easily and successfully at their salons.
As always, we encourage you to put these concepts to work at your salon and let us know the results!
Newsflash: Tanners don’t really care that much about deep-sea kelp extract or rare, Peruvian Guava-Guava seed oil … they just want to know how quickly a lotion will give them a deep, dark, long-lasting tan.
What’s in it for me? The very essence of human nature is encapsulated in this timeless question. While we all know that the world operates on this premise, some salon professionals forget it when trying to sell tanning products. Thus, instead of telling their guests what the product can do for them, the sales staff often focuses solely on the lotion’s ingredients and hope for the best. After 17 years of teaching tanning pros to sell like this, Scott Eggers, New Sunshine Senior Sales Trainer, now finds himself urging tanning operators to take a new direction. These days, he advises them to sell products based on their benefits rather than their features, and the results are well worth the effort.
“Most of the world’s businesses market a product by selling its benefits,” Scott explained. “Take Nike for example; they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on research and development to produce the latest athletic shoe technology, yet all the company’s marketing campaigns show people jumping higher, running faster and looking better. This is a classic example of marketing and selling a product’s benefits, not features, and we as an industry need to get with the times if we want to make the most of sales opportunities.”
While Scott maintains that ingredients and tanning technologies are extremely important in lotion manufacturing, salon pros need to know how these details should be used to sell lotion. “The average tanner doesn’t know what DHA, Tyrosine, or bronzers are,” he said, “so if your staff tries to explain these features, it can become confusing. A confused mind will always say ‘no’ because nobody wants to look like they don’t know what the other person is saying.” If it sounds like Scott knows something about psychology it’s because he does – he has a Bachelor’s Degree in psychology with a focus on behavioral studies.
Selling a tanning product on its benefits is something every salon pro can do, Eggers says. “Your guests want to know what’s in it for them,” he said. “You can express that by informing them about what the ingredients are designed to do.” For example, if you’re selling a bronzer, Scott recommends informing tanners that they’ll see results immediately after their session. When selling an accelerator, he suggests explaining that the product is designed to make the body work harder to produce a beautiful, natural tan. “Once you change the way you think about selling tanning products, it’s easy,” he added.
Recently, more than 200 Palm Beach Tan facilities were presented with Scott’s new take on lotion sales. “His message resonated with our staff and really got them motivated,” said Adrianna Christian, PBT Retail Support Manager. “Our clients come to Palm Beach Tan to get a tan, and it’s our job as tanning experts to provide them with a product that will deliver the results they desire. I’m very confident that Scott’s training will help us continue to make each tanner’s experience one of the best parts of their day!”
Since some salon operators are also consumers, Scott Eggers wants tanning pros to remember why they made their last big purchase. “If you purchased a high-quality Cardigan sweater,” he said, “you didn’t buy it because it was made from the fur of goats raised in the Himalayan Mountains that are only sheared on a night of the full moon in an odd-numbered year. You probably bought it because it’s warm, soft and you looked good in it. If you apply this same logic to your lotion sales, you’ll have much greater success than you can imagine!”
Senior Sales Trainer
New Sunshine, LLC
Focusing on the benefits your tanning products offer will increase sales. Here’s a breakdown of various tanning product types to show your tanners what’s in it for them:
Accelerators: “This product will help your body work a little harder to give you a beautiful, natural tan, just the way nature intended.”
Bronzers: “This is a professional-level product that will make you noticeably darker before you get out of the tanning unit, and it keeps darkening your skin up to 24 hours after your session.”
Skincare: “This product is like having Photoshop in a bottle – its ingredients will help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and reduce the signs of aging.”
Tingle: “If you need color right away, this is perfect for you! Its ingredients will increase the blood circulation and raise the level of oxygen in your skin to accelerate your tan.”
Pre- and Post-Tan Products: “This is a professional tan-extending product that’s built for your needs. It will help prepare/nourish your skin to help you get darker faster, and make that tan last longer!”
See that young girl with her eyes glued to the latest text message on her cellphone? Get to know her, because she – and many others just like her – is who’s working behind the counter at your salon.
Tanning salons characteristically employ women in the 16-24 age group, and in today’s marketplace, that means you’re dealing with the Millennial generation. Older owners often find members of this demographic difficult to manage and motivate, but many bosses never try to find out why this is so. Millennials are sensitive, idealistic and tend to have a cynical attitude toward business. So how does a mature salon owner manage and motivate such a unique and diverse group of younger employees? By always remembering the “Golden Rule,” says human resources management guru and industry veteran John Farr, President of The Power Group.
Millennials are known as the millions of young Americans who were born after 1980, and they are much different than the generations that came before them. “Those who lived through the Great Depression felt fortunate to have any kind of job,” explained John Farr, “and they passed this work ethic on to their children, the Baby Boomers.” Farr explained that the Baby Boomer generation extended upon its parents’ love for work, often putting in long hours and sacrificing time with their kids in the process. This dynamic changed with their children – Generation X – many of whom were raised by grandparents, babysitters or grew up as latchkey kids. “Generation X grew up to place less importance on their jobs and more on their families,” Farr said, “especially their children. They spent a lot of time with them and showered them with attention and praise.” Those children grew up to become the Millennials who are entering the workforce today.
Growing up in the digital age and having been exposed to many counter-culture ideals has shaped the Millennial Generation. “This is the first generation to have always had computers in their lives,” Farr explained, “so they tend to love their cellphones, iPads, tablets and similar devices. They’re also very inquisitive and they need to know the ‘why’ behind everything they’re asked to do, perhaps because they’ve been educated in a system that heavily favors the humanities. This would also explain their attraction to various social and political causes and their somewhat anti-business/anti-corporate outlook.”
With so many Millennials in the workforce today, the philosophy on how to manage and motivate them is an important one. “A Statement such as ‘it’s my way or the highway’ is not the best approach to take with this generation,” Farr said. “They know that there are many other minimum-wage jobs out there, so they’ll probably quit if you use a heavy-handed management style with them. Because of their upbringing, this generation thrives on praise, so the more encouragement you provide, the harder they’ll work to please you. They also like to feel like they belong to something, so utilize team-building skills to communicate how they’re a big part of your salon’s success.”
At 63, James Todd has no problem managing his 18-24 year-old staff members at Sun Rayz Tan Centers in Somerset, KY. “I’ve worked with people my entire life and have learned that success in business is about relationships,” said James. “I build these relationships by explaining what I expect from my staff and what they can expect from working here. I instruct them on the ‘why’ behind everything they do to show them how important each person’s role is in the company. I also empower them to handle customer issues because they usually know exactly what needs to be done in these situations, and my trust in them makes them feel a part of the business.” The majority of James’ salon employees have been with the company three to five years.
When it comes right down to it, John Farr says properly managing Millennials is all about the Golden Rule: treat others the way you would want to be treated. This will motivate a younger workforce to provide better customer service and sales, and it can provide the salon owner with a host of benefits, as well. “It takes plenty of patience and team-building skills to manage a younger workforce,” he said. “By doing this, you’ll also notice your personal relationships with clients, friends and family improving, so it’s worth the time and effort to master these skills.”
The Power Group
To manage and motivate your Millennials, try these tips from John Farr:
Being able to accurately predict a guest’s wants and needs is the essence of sales psychology, and the “Mental Epic” is an exercise that will train you to become that kind of “mind-reader.”
Every salon owner prides herself on the “customer service” she and her staff provides. They’ll tell anyone who will listen that their staff is on a first-name basis with every client who walks through the door; but despite this so-called bond with her tanners, some of these salon owners and their staff recognize their need to improve their retail sales numbers. If this sounds like you, maybe it’s time to put your customer service to the test with an exercise that Performance Brand’s David McFarland calls the “Mental Epic.” With just a dry erase board, some markers and three simple questions, you can find out just how good your customer service really is … or isn’t.
Take yourself out of your role as business owner for a moment and think back to a time when you dealt with an effective salesperson in the retail world. You know, the kind of sales professional who seemed to know who you were and exactly what type of product or service you wanted, and they provided that for you. David McFarland’s Mental Epic can train your staff to be just like that salesperson. “This exercise is really about learning to profile your clients,” said McFarland, “in order to accurately predict the type of lotion products that will best suit them. This is what effective retail salespeople do in order to make the most of their sales opportunities. It’s easy to do and very beneficial, which is why your staff needs to learn it, too!”
To conduct the Mental Epic, David uses a dry-erase board, some markers and a group of salon professionals. Before he begins, he’s already conversing with them, all the while drawing up a mental profile of each employee he plans to put to the test. As he’s talking, he begins writing things on the dry erase board, which he keeps hidden from their view. “These notes are my predictions as to how each staff member will answer the questions I ask during the presentation,” McFarland said. “Once my predictions are written down, I’ll ask the group a question, such as, ‘What is the most important aspect of interacting with salon guests?’ and I’ll write down their actual answers on the dry-erase board in front of them. Once I have their answers, I reveal the predictions I made before the exercise started. Many of them are surprised at how accurately I was able to anticipate the types of answers they gave.”
An act from a magic show is how Jamie Carlson, Suntan Supply Vice-President, describes the Mental Epic. Carlson recently experienced the McFarland’s exercise during a breakout session at the distribution company’s recent expo event in St. Cloud, MN. “When he first came in,” said Carlson, “he started talking with everyone and asking them questions, and all while you could see that he was paying close attention to what they were saying. At the end, he blew everyone away with how accurately he anticipated their answers.” Carlson says he believes the Mental Epic is a great way to teach salon pros about the importance of listening in order to make the most of their sales opportunities.
Conducting the Mental Epic is easy, while mastering it takes time; but either way, its real-world application should be apparent to anyone who sells sunshine for a living. “The more you engage your clients in real talk, the more you’ll get to know them as people,” McFarland said. “The better you know them, the better you’ll be able to recommend the perfect lotion and skincare products for them. This is called creating a ‘Great Service Experience’ and it’s what keeps guests coming back to your salon!” If a client feels comfortable with a salon’s staff, she might feel comfortable enough to share her concerns, such as mentioning that she wishes her face would develop more color. A smart staff member would introduce that tanner to a facial bronzing lotion, which would lead to additional product sales.
National Sales Trainer
Performance Brands, Inc.
The tools it takes to conduct a “Mental Epic” are a dry-erase board, markers and your team. How to conduct the exercise is fairly straightforward, as well. Apply the lessons to help you and your staff make perfect product sales predictions each time someone walks through your doors.
Observe: Who tans at your salon? Are they male or female? Young or old? Tingle or bronzer? Look at who’s walking through your door to get a better idea of who you’re attracting to your business.
Ask questions: Drop the script and start asking questions that help you get to know them as people.
Listen: Listening is a skill, and it’s one that can be developed. Take an active interest in what your guests tell you, because it will help you help them have an awesome experience at your salon.
Take notes: Make mental notes on your guests’ answers and your impressions of them as individuals. This will help you in the future.
Use your intuition: Once you developed your “guest profile,” you can feel confident about recommending products that will be a good match for their personality, taste and tanning goals. Follow up with them after a couple sessions to see how they like it.
A 14-year industry veteran, John "Ribby" Ribner has written hundreds of
articles for IST Magazine and, as Director of Editorial Content, has also
helped guide the publication's evolution. Ribby is a graduate of Central
Michigan University's journalism program and has brought many years of newspaper reporting experience to his position of Head Writer. He is also the author of three novels, "Legacy of the Bear," "Prophecy of the Bear" and "World So Dark."
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