TPDTY: On Upselling for Consumers and Salespeople

A month ago, I went for a wax at a popular waxing chain. The first-time service, albeit uncomfortable, went well! Part of how this chain makes money is through selling their in-house line of skincare products for use at home after the service. I generally eschew these things unless the person I’m working with can make an excellent case for them. Most do not.


Afterwards, the esthetician who rendered my services tried (gently, unlike this hair stylist) upselling me on some of their retail line. According to my esthetician, the products contain growth inhibitors and exfoliants. Both are cool, but not enough to sell me on a $27 tub of 45 wipes. She gave me one of the wipes to demonstrate how saturated they were (unlike some wipes that are halfway dry); it was pretty solid. But then again, for $0.60 per wipe, they ought to be.

Know Your Products (or Services)

I asked what its active ingredients were to exfoliate – like an AHA or salicylic acid; she balked. She ultimately went on to tell me that it contained lavender and aloe vera for soothing purposes – great, but not what I asked. The packages did not list that information either which, as a consumer, I find disconcerting.

Needless to say, she didn’t make the sale. I later went to research the products and found that they do have both AHA and BHAs – but no information on what kind or on concentration. Ouch, not worth it to me when I can use any number of products I already own.

As a Consumer

Ask questions! It is always fair game to ask questions – and it’s a good way to weed out BS from a pitch. Even if you’re genuinely interested in a product, a competent salesperson should be able to speak to key features like that. If they can’t, that’s a red flag; it doesn’t mean the product is bad, but between no info on the packaging and no info from the salesperson…why should you buy?

As a Salesperson (Esthetician, Stylist, Nail Tech, what-have-you)

Be prepared to answer questions from your customers about what makes whatever product or service worth it.

In this case, my esthetician could have replied, “These serum wipes contain a proprietary blend of BHAs and AHAs along with soothing ingredients like lavender and aloe vera,” and had a far better chance of making the sale. To be fair, I’m a tough sell to begin with. Tougher because I’m familiar with the ingredients that are commonly used to do those things. But not everyone is.

As another example, if you’re a hairstylist upselling product, you might focus on features like, “This serum decreases drying time and frizz as well as increases shine. Most clients say this $20 bottle lasts them a year!”


The Bottom Line

I’m not unhappy with my waxing experience or with her upselling attempt. It is part of her job, and she should be doing so – but service providers faced with selling product like her would have better sales numbers if they were educated more-thoroughly on the products they had to sell.

The next visit (yesterday), I went to a different location and worked with a different esthetician. Not only was she far more pleasant to work with in general, but she was able to speak to all the things the previous employee could not. What the products were, how they worked and differed from not only each other but similar things on the market. She also candidly shared which products of their line she does not care for and why; this can be a risky move depending on your employer, but as a consumer? Love it – it isn’t realistic for someone to love EVERY product in a line. Taking that risk is a goes a long way towards the crucial relationship-building that the beauty service industry really relies on!

She ended up demonstrating one I was interested in. We were able to, “talk shop,” about skincare in general – she definitely showed that she knows her stuff. Although I didn’t buy the product that day, I left the appointment strongly considering it – and with my next appointment for that esthetician booked.