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Business Talk with Liz McKeon: The Psychology of Retail

by laurahusband / last updated August 19, 2019

business liz mckeon retail

Selling retail products in the salon is a technique that anyone can learn if you follow these basic principles, explains business expert Liz McKeon.

Retail selling is quite simply an interaction between people.  It is a profession and like all professions it requires skills and techniques that need to be learned and understood.  There is one magic ingredient and that is the desire to be successful at retail sales.

With desire comes belief – the belief that you can achieve targets and goals that are set for you. “I can do it” is a powerful way of thinking and should be combined with your professionalism and knowledge.

As a trained professional stylist with excellent retail brands and products in your salon, you are the true expert. Why don’t you encourage clients to buy from you? Clients love to buy products and if they don’t buy from you – they will buy from someone else.

Understanding your client’s needs

It is important to identify what people want and to partner this with the products that will suit their needs and concerns. You have this knowledge already so the first thing to remember is that people buy into you and your personality.  People who identify with you, like you and feel grateful because you have gone that extra mile  and provided free advice, will remember your name, will be polite and will be delighted to give you the extra sale.

As a salon owner or stylist, you probably don’t have a degree in psychology. In saying this, successful retailers use psychology to appeal to clients and sometimes without realising.

At a basic level, all humans want to avoid pain and seek pleasure.  For example, the pain could come in the form of a high price, while the pleasure could be a must-have item to make sure they can recreate the look you’ve created for them at home.

Your job as a salon retailer is to figure out what pleasure drives your clients and how to get the best response. If you combine these persuasive psychological triggers with clever and effective marketing you will master the art of successful retail selling.

Playing to your strengths

Clients generally like people who are like themselves in some way. For example, if you are assertive and strong with a client who is timid, this could lose you the sale. Instead, you need to lower your tone and move at the client’s pace. The same goes for someone who is assertive and not submissive – this person will have more respect for someone who is like them.

Clients are also highly intuitive and can sense fear and nerves. Fear and anxiety will make your client feel uncomfortable in your company, resulting in them not wanting to buy any products from you.

If you want to become successful at helping clients choose the correct home care items for their hair type and needs, you will have to forget the fear. Treat clients as individuals – each one is different to the next so just go for the retail sale with all of them.

5 ways to win at the psychology of retail

  1. High pressure tactics are off putting so don’t become too friendly or monopolise the conversation.
  2. Look and listen for the buying signals from your client and don’t forget to ask for the sale.
  3. Understand how to identify your client’s concern and adapt your communication and personality to match the client.
  4. Lack of confidence in yourself or the brands you stock is a no-no. Keep the team up-to-date on the latest product knowledge.
  5. Preparation is an all-important factor towards achieving retail success. Plan your day and how you will approach each client in a bespoke and individual way.

Liz McKeon is a business coach who specialises in the hair industry. For details about business seminars and industry workshops go to her website.

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