How to sell in your salon during the COVID-19 pandemic

Selling salon retail products

Safety regulations concerning the hair and beauty industry are subject to constant change, which impedes on the work of countless stylists, beauty technicians and holistic treatment specialists all over the UK, and beyond. COVID-19 is not only a biological threat, but one that can endanger your business as well. In fact, it has impacted almost all aspects of how a salon is run, forcing many owners to close their doors for good. As for those who are unwavering and continue taking in clients, they look for the most effective ways for making a profit – and that’s where active selling makes its debut. So, how exactly has selling been impacted by COVID-19?

Tip: stay up to date with the latest salon safety guidelines for UK businesses here!

Why your selling methods need to change, but not marketing

It’s a common misconception that sales and marketing are the same – although they work hand in hand, they differ significantly from one another. Marketing is an action that promotes your business, treatments and products, in order to get the word out about what it is that you do and to spark interest. Selling, on the other hand, is the activity of getting an audience to purchase a product or service. Simply put, marketing is outward promotion, meant to draw potential buyers to your business, whereas selling is the inward promotion of goods and services to people who are already familiar with what you have to offer.

You market your salon in a number of ways – from sharing posts on social media fan pages, to handing out business cards and even speaking to someone about your salon who hasn’t paid you a visit yet. If these are effective at attracting customers to your salon, keep at it! When it comes to sales, you might have to implement some changes, as the inner workings of your salon are constantly being affected by ever-changing regulations.

I don’t have time to sell”

You’re probably not blurting this out, but it’s definitely in the back of your head. You’re on a strict schedule and there’s no time to chit-chat long hours about trivial matters with the client in your chair. You’re halfway through putting in hair extensions and you need to pick up your pace, as the next customer is already peeking through your front door from the queue outside. You could encourage the client to purchase a bottle of your miraculous shampoo, but explaining all of its benefits while rushing the treatment and not sounding too salesy wouldn’t be easy. Your client loves their new look, pays, and is on their way out, while you check the product levels on your cart, disinfect the workstation and get ready for the next client.

Now you do!

Time is a valuable asset in this new normality. Having to operate in an appointment-only system, collecting health screening surveys and constantly reminding clients to abide by safety protocols (wearing face coverings, taking part in Test and Trace, and many others) will definitely impede on your work time. And that’s where you might need a helping hand.

Versum salon software provides a number of features that will take much of the weight off of your shoulders, thus significantly saving you time and allowing you to work your sales magic! Currently, the most popular tools for doing so include:

  • The digital Health Screening Questionnaire – this mandatory questionnaire is sent with the automatic appointment reminder, directly to clients who booked a visit at your salon. They are required to fill it out prior to being treated, and can do so even from home. Upon doing so, you are instantly informed whether or not they pose a health risk.
  • SMS Bulk messaging – this feature allows you to send a bulk message to all or a select group of clients, informing them of the necessary protocols that need to be upheld upon arriving in your salon. This saves you time from explaining your regulations to each client individually.
  • Online Booking – as mentioned previously, UK salons are required to operate in an appointment-only system, and the most practical way of doing so is by introducing an online booking option. Not only does this save you time from having to answer texts and calls throughout the day (and risking cross-contamination from your phone), but also,  everything pertaining to the appointment-taking sequence is automated – your client books their visit and they receive an appointment reminder along with a screening questionnaire.

“I’m not selling as much as I’d like” 

This sentence has gone past the lips of countless distraught hair and beauty specialists, even prior to COVID-19. Selling in and of itself is a demanding activity that requires a calm tone of voice, confidence in one’s product or services and perfect timing for presenting the pitch – and add the current pandemic to the mix, and selling has become a whole lot more difficult.

Before the outbreak, selling was usually done in a laid-back setting – you took your time getting to know a first-time client, without rushing through the treatment process. You casually learned about their hair and beauty insecurities and knew right away which product or treatment would help them – you presented your pitch, shared the benefits and completed all the steps to making a sale without breaking a sweat. During COVID-19 pandemic, it’s no surprise that you’re not selling as much as you used to – after all, there’s less time to do so, but you can change that with a bit of planning.

Here’s how to change that

First off, focus on your client and what steps they must take in order to get serviced. They book a treatment, fill out the screening questionnaire, arrive at your salon and are prompted to wait in the queue outside (if they’re early or late). After that arduous journey, they make their way into your chair, get treated, pay and leave. Throughout this process, there are a number of times where clients can be pitched to – let’s divide them into three sections:

  • Before entering the salon – the client books their treatment online or over the phone. During this time, you can cross-sell (sell another product or service) them a discounted complementary product or treatment. Doing so at this point gives the client time to think it over. Once they arrive at your queue, ask if they’ve decided on the additional product or treatment.
  • In your chair – when treating the customer, you have the perfect opportunity to score a sale, that is, if you keep things short and to the point. Getting into a discussion with the client is important, as it shows that you care about them and improves their experience in your business, but in most cases, you’re limited timewise, and chit-chatting away can make time fly by in an instant. Instead, ask the client what they want to do with their look, recommend an additional product or treatment and leave that topic – giving them time to think it over. When you get closer to finishing the treatment, make sure to ask them again if they’d like to make the purchase.
  • After being treated – upon leaving the workstation, you can still encourage the client to make a purchase before paying and going about their day. At the register, customers are more likely to book another visit – especially if you have a special offer.

The best selling techniques and mediums to use

Now that you know how the sales process has been affected by COVID-19 regulations, it’s time to evolve your selling techniques. Direct selling in the salon isn’t very time-effective in this new reality, however, there are a number of mediums you can use to better promote your product and treatments, including:

  • SMS – this form of communication is the most direct and time-saving. If you use Versum’s messaging option, you can schedule the text message to go out immediately, or at a certain time. Best of all, these notifications have a 98% open rate.
  • Phone calls – although calling a client might seem like an archaic form of communication, it is still highly practical, as it’s a direct form of contact with the client. However, it isn’t the most time-effective medium.
  • Social media – by far one of the more creativity-inducing mediums, social media allows you to sell your products and services in a number of formats – be it videos, pictures and even live events.

With these mediums in mind, here are some of the most effective sales techniques you just have to try in order to start selling in a COVID-19 reality:

  • Educational posts – teaching clients about the benefits of a particular product or service is a great way to increase its sales. Creating stories on Instagram or an in-depth post on Facebook will definitely encourage clients to make a purchase.
  • Cross-selling – this is a universal selling technique that can be used with almost all mediums, however, it is most effective when utilised with Versum’s customer search criteria options. This method requires you to promote a complementary product or treatment to clients who would be most interested in making an additional purchase. Use Versum’s filter option to find customers that have made similar purchases in the past.
  • Upselling – encouraging customers to upgrade their booking is a great way to make more profit. Although all mediums work well with this method, this is one of the best selling techniques over the phone. Giving your booked client a call and recommending that they upgrade their service grabs their attention, as you force them to give you an answer right on the spot.

A final word of advice

Selling in a post-pandemic world requires moving to the Internet. We’re all guilty of online shopping, even more so after COVID-19’s debut. With that being said, introducing an online store would be beneficial for selling retail products from your salon. If you have an online store, make sure to share a link to it on your social media fan pages, website and even direct messages. You not only target customers who enjoy the convenience of ordering online from their favourite salon, you also make a profit from clients who would love to book a visit, but are too fearful of catching the coronavirus.

If you don’t have an online store and would be interested to see how it works, you can learn more about the Versum Online Store feature – or simply sign up for your free, fully-featured account. Aside from improving your sales, the system is ideal for taking care of managerial tasks and even includes advanced marketing tools to help attract new clients and bring back long-absent ones. There’s a reason why over 46,000 hair and beauty specialists choose Versum – sign up today and see how to better run your salon in the new normality!

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