learn to sell

Retailing Creams and Other Topicals Isn’t as Difficult as You Think

How sharp are your sales skills?

When it comes to selling creams and other topical products in your massage practice, maybe you have a natural knack for closing retail deals—or, like many massage therapists, you feel nervous or morally conflicted by the idea of pushing products onto your clients.

Because retail sales are grounded in client education and home-care, it’s a given that sales are ethical. When you don’t offer products for sale you miss out on a potential income stream and do clients a disservice. To learn to sell like a pro, start with these six steps.


Step 1: Realize That Selling Helps Your Clients

Often, “massage therapists see sales as sinful,” said Melinda Minton, executive director of SPAA-The Spa Association and a 30-year veteran of the spa industry. But, she added, once therapists overcome their aversion to selling, they might find clients are thankful for the expert advice.

“One way a massage therapist can manage the inner struggle [regarding selling] is to try the creams, oils, ointments, salves, bath salts and body tools offered in the retail area,” Minton said. “Once they zero in on those items that they personally enjoy, it is much easier to truthfully share their passion for a product or two for the client’s home use.”


Step 2: Create a Natural Progression

“During the massage is an ideal time for the massage therapist to speak about tension points, a regular massage or personal care schedule,” Minton said. “The therapist is the expert in creating a helpful bridge for the client, both considering spa treatments and ongoing personal care throughout the client’s week.”

After the session is over, attractive product displays in the relaxation room, locker room or inside a closed case in the treatment room could naturally prompt clients to purchase your retail items.

“However, the best way to sell a product is to let the client experience it,” Minton said. “Offering samples is a great idea as well.” After a session using a particular topical product, remind the client that she can purchase some to take home, or give her a free sample size of the product.


Step 3: Develop a Basic Script

In some situations, spas might try to script their entire retail sales pitch, but Minton emphasized that “the result can be a disaster.” However, having a basic script you can use to start the sales process can help ease the transition from the session room to the sales floor.

“One’s general script should include a favorite product or two. Start clients off with a couple of core products, not the entire line,” Minton said. “Buyer’s remorse can be devastating to the client-therapist relationship.”


Step 4: Suggest Other Products

If a client is already purchasing a product, you can always try to upsell. or suggest a complementary product. For example, Minton said, “When selling a gift certificate, it is thoughtful to also suggest a tangible gift, like a bath salt sampler kit or a relaxing body balm.”


Step 5: Ask for the Sale

Once you’ve explained the benefits of a product in detail, said Steve Capellini, author of The Complete Spa Book for Massage Therapists, close the sale by verbally asking the client if she’d like to purchase the product now. Sometimes it pays to just ask.


Step 6: Practice

To achieve a suitable comfort level when pitching products, role-playing among you and other staff or colleagues could be an effective way to see what works for the individual therapist, according to Minton. You may also want to pursue continuing education that specifically addresses retailing—Minton’s association, SPAA, among others, offers an online course on the subject.


Make More Money Ethically: Learn to Sell

Sales skills are, for the most part, about educating clients and listening to their needs, Minton said.

“Furthermore, retail is given profit. The trick is to find and sell high-quality products that are a good value. You cannot sell something that you don’t believe in,” she said. “Products clients will take home and enjoy will bring them back for more services and wonderful products.”


About the Author

Phyllis Hanlon has written nonfiction articles and book reviews as well as human-interest stories, profiles and award-winning essays. Her specialty areas include health and medicine, religion, education and business. She regularly delights in the joys of massage. Hanlon has written several articles for MASSAGE Magazine and massagemag.com, including “Sell Small: How to Build Business with Samples.”