‘Sales’ is a dirty word
When our clients are asked about what they struggle with when it comes to running their aesthetic businesses one of the most common response is ‘selling’. It fills them with dread. You’re envisaging double-glazing sales-men sat in your living room refusing to leave until you’ve signed your life away; the second-hand car salesman; the cliché Del Boy; the cold-caller; the ‘chuggers’. And every time you’ve come away feeling like you’ve been ‘had’.
So when it comes to you dealing with ‘selling’ your services, time and again you recoil in horror at the very thought. The thing is… I get it. I really do. Whenever my phone rings, I look at the number trying to guess if I’m about to get another PPI call. The funny thing is – my own background is one in sales. I graduated from university with a degree in French and Publishing, which was about as useful as a degree in Creative Technologies (ask Richard what his degree is in). So, quite naturally, the career path open to me was sales.
And the thing is… it didn’t feel like ‘sales’. I was working at a large, electronic publishing company selling academic journal collections to university libraries. This wasn’t me unveiling my briefcase of knock-off gold-looking chains and winking conspiratorially at the university librarians and academics I was selling to. This was a consultative approach. We met our targets by listening to what it was our clients needed, matching those needs with the products we had and provided packages according to their budgets. The sales process was long; often months long (and occasionally we’d be talking to the same library for years before they’d proceed). Throughout the process we’d keep in touch, working out solutions for how they’d access the resources we were proposing to sell to them, giving them strategies for rolling it out to their student-body and training their staff and the academics on how to use the systems. We did ‘consultative selling’.
And guess what. This is what you guys do. This what you’ve been doing all your medical career. You meet your patient, you listen to their problems, you provide them with a solution, you make them feel better. Job done!
So why is it so hard?
The big difference for the aesthetic entrepreneur (especially for UK-based, NHS-trained practitioners) is that you have to ask them for money. With the need to exchange cold hard cash (or plastic), there’s this rush of fear that it’s all too ‘sales-y’. You’ve commoditised the years of training in the caring professions and I suspect that for a lot of you that feels very alien. It feels wrong to you to reduce your care, professionalism, training and need to nurture and heal, into a financial transaction.
Why you need to stop worrying
- Your clients expect to pay. They really, honestly do. They recognise that you are offering a service that they want and are willing to pay. This doesn’t mean they won’t haggle or shop around but, ultimately, they understand that they are entering a transactional process where they will pay for your care, training, professionalism and skill.
- If you’ve done your groundwork properly, you needn’t fear coming across as sales-y. Build that relationship between yourself and your clients (present and future). Build trust from contact – through conversation, interaction and just making sure they ‘see’ you. You might achieve this through a call, or through amazing Instagram before and after pictures, a Facebook Live broadcast, or recommendation from another client. You might need to have a consultation, and for them to go away and reflect on their next steps, after having carried out all of the other elements first.
- You need to share YOU but you also need to get them to share themselves too – understand what it is they’re looking for. They need to feel that, when they come to see you, they are in safe hands and even then it may take them a little while to make that decision. The connection that you make with them will also help you to work out whether they are actually a suitable prospective client that you want to work with. This is a two-way street and you too get to choose who you work with.
- When you build that interaction and trust, the ‘sell’ will become a natural progression if it’s right for them and for you. When you’ve gone through their questions, reassured them, and covered all the bases, finish off with a “shall we get you booked in?” (the presumptive close) and it will feel seamless.
- It’s ok if they say no! Sometimes if, after you’ve put in the groundwork, someone has made the decision that what you’re offering isn’t for them, then that is ok too! In fact, it’s more than ok because it means that you can move onto the next prospect. Sometimes a hard and fast ‘no, this isn’t for me’ is the best thing! You don’t need to waste any sleep worrying about why they’ve not bought – it’s not personal and it certainly isn’t something you need to fear. Best of all, you get the clients that are right for you and your business.
Why you need to stop being scared of selling
Ultimately – and this is the main message I want you to take away from the above – when people get in touch with you regarding your business, it’s because they are interested in buying. They are there to pay you money in exchange for your expertise. Oblige!