How to Prep Spa Staff to Make the Retail Sale

Here are the best scenarios to prep your spa staff for selling retail // Photo credit: OksanaZahray/iStock/Getty Images Plus

When it comes to selling your spa’s services, your staff can probably do it with their eyes closed. But are they just as successful when it comes to selling retail? Chances are, probably not. That’s why it’s so important for spa managers and owners to role-play with their spa service providers. Not only will they feel more comfortable with the selling process, but your customers will benefit from being in the hands of capable, knowledgeable staff. Here are several role-playing scenarios you can incorporate into staff trainings.

  1. Scenario: The customer knows they want to buy something, they’re just not sure what
    Goal for staff: Understand that anyone can push product, but when it comes to skincare and beauty products, customers want educators, not salespeople

In this scenario, present yourself as a customer who doesn’t know what they want or need and is looking for guidance. 
Sample questions to ask as the customer:

  • “I had a ton of sun exposure when I was younger and I’m worried about all the damage. Do you have something to help?”
  • “I just turned 35 and I think it’s time to take my skincare regimen to the next level. Where do I start?"

Explain that being able to highlight a product’s purpose and benefits is a natural inroad into a larger conversation about a customer’s skin type, their skincare goals, and what they’re looking for or trying to avoid in a product. When the customer is an active participant in the conversation and are actually learning, they’re more likely to convert to a sale. 

    2. Scenario: The customer has a lot of questions 
    Goal for staff: Learn how to handle intense pressure and answer multiple questions with grace and kindness

For this role-play, you’re going to push your providers’ patience to their limits. Acting as the customer, ask them rapid fire questions to try and throw them off. 
Sample questions to ask as the customer:

  • “Ok, so you’ve told me what the product is supposed to do, but what are the ingredients in the formula? How do they work? How long before I see results?”
  • “Well, why is this product more expensive than that one? What’s the difference between the two? Is it going to work better?"

Remind them that while it can be frustrating, the underlying reason customers ask so many questions is because they want to buy the product that’s going to be the most beneficial. 

In the rare case a staff member doesn’t have the answer to a question readily available, stress the importance of following up with an answer. The spa may not make a sale that day, but a belated sale based on stellar customer service, as well as the probability of creating a return customer, is far more valuable. Additionally, make sure your providers let customers know they can contact them with any follow-up questions.

   3. Scenario: The difference between merely hearing a customer versus practicing active listening
   Goal for staff: Become better at active listening so customers feel heard and understood

This is a two-part scenario in which you’ll act as the spa service provider and your staff will act as the customers. For the first round, have them try to explain to you what they’re looking for and skin or product issues they have, but keep butting in—try to finish their sentences, interrupt them, and be dismissive of their concerns, acting as if you know best. 

In the second round, you will once again be the provider, but you will demonstrate what active listening looks like. Let the customer finish speaking completely, then respond with phrases that show you heard them.
Sample active listening responses:

  • “So, just to make sure I’m getting this right, you’re looking for a product that does XYZ, is that right?”
  • “I’m so sorry you haven’t been able to find the right product yet, that has to be really frustrating. Let’s look together to see what we can find for you.”

Explain to your providers that If they take the time to hear the customer out, not only could they learn something about their needs they weren’t aware of, but they will develop a more genuine relationship with the customer. 

It’s understandable that not everyone is going to be a natural-born salesman. But by role-playing sales situations with your staff, you’ll be able to make them more comfortable with the sales process and, in turn, better at helping your customers. If you've never acted out these scenarios with your staff before, here are a few tips to make your first session easy going:

  • Schedule your training session for a Sunday night so most people can attend.
  • Record the session so those who can’t be there will still benefit from watching the video.
  • Don’t be afraid to add some humor to help break the ice and keep things interesting.
  • Provide dinner and snacks (as well as breaks) for those attending.  
  • Rehearse your part of the role-play before the actual session so you feel prepared and can focus on coaching your staff.

About the Author: Rebecca McCracken, cofounder, Ravensong Creative Group

Rebecca’s obsession with the beauty and wellness industries began in 2007 while working as an editor for a cosmeceuticals publication. From there, she worked in marketing for a national beauty trade association. Today, Rebecca is focused on connecting clients with their customers on a personal level. Her passion for the industry, combined with her agency-level marketing and communications experience, allows her to enable clients to find and develop their voices and tell their authentic stories.


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