The Art of Suggestive Selling: Tips & Tricks to a Painless Salon Retail Experience

Not all hairstylists are salespersons – and if we’re truly honest about it, most would prefer not doing it if it won’t affect their income. It’s true: we’re in the service business, but selling retail provides more benefits than simply additional profit.

Apart from helping build our bottom line, sending our clients home with stylist-recommended products helps them maintain and re-create their new salon ‘do at home, which in turn improves our reputation and credibility as a professional in our community. Yes, hair care products are readily available online but according to a study, 71% of consumers actually still prefer speaking to a professional when making purchasing decisions.

So how can we overcome our sales phobia? While there’s nothing we can do about nerves, there are certain techniques we can do to increase our retail sales, especially this holiday season.

Salon Retail Tips & Tricks

Make the most of your consultation.

Start talking about the products as early as the consultation. Asking the client how they maintain their hair at home will tell you right off the bat if they are a product person or not. If they don’t spend much time getting ready then you can suggest a multi-use product that offers many benefits.

For example, Oway Glossy Nectar not only hydrates the hair, it also protects from heat damage, speeds up blow-drying time, increases shine, and maintains frizz. Or the Oway Boho Pomade or Sea Salt Spray, which help give hair some added texture without adding heat.

Selling your client multiple products at the same time will overwhelm them, and more likely discourage them from purchasing anything. Start with one product at a time, letting them know that in order to maintain the look they want to achieve requires the use of a professional product.

Know your products.

The more you know, the more you grow. Make sure you know the benefits of each product by heart, as well as a unique feature that your client might identify with.

For instance, Original & Mineral hair care and styling products are vegan and gluten free. If your client loves essential oils, she would be thrilled to know that Oway hair care and styling products only uses pure, organic essential oils as fragrance.


“When you have clean, non-toxic products that smell amazing, there’s no need to push the products! They truly sell themselves,” says Bridgette D’Angelo, owner and master stylist at Head Rush Salon in Enfield, CT. “I like to ask the client while walking them to the front desk if they are out of any products at home. This gives them the opportunity to say what they need so you can recommend the perfect product!”


“I simply try to stay genuinely excited about the products. If I’m excited, clients are too. If I ooh and ah over the extra shine or volume, they take notice. Especially because oftentimes it’s hard for them to believe a natural line can achieve such amazing results,” suggests Kaila Ward, stylist extraordinaire from Burlington, VT.

PRO TIP: Teach your front desk staff about your products so they can help close the sale at the end of the service when you don’t have time. If you can spare a moment, be sure to remind them about the product they showed interest in. “This is the serum that I used on your damp hair that smelled really good. A dime size is all you need to maintain your hair like this.” Suggestions like this, especially when it comes to products that don’t run out quickly, will usually entice them to purchase.

Educate the client.

Most people have a ton of products under their bathroom sink, but do they know what exactly they are for?

When washing and styling the client, let them know what you are using, how much to use, and how to use the product. When they know exactly what the product does, they will feel like they’ve had a lesson and that they are able to achieve that “salon look” when they go home to do it.

“I love asking the clients about their hair, what they love, what they hate, how they style, what products they are using now. This is your chance to just simply talk about the products you have to help them with these issues or suggest cleaner products to use in replace of!” adds Bridgette.

However, some clients will say: “Oh I have something just like that at home!” As the stylist, respond positively but be sure to let them know that it may not have the “ingredient” or “benefit” of what you just used on them. This will make them think twice and possibly earn you a sale.

“When I’ve noticed a client has become more intrigued it’s a segue to go a bit deeper and educate them about where the ingredients come from and how it’s all made. I try to be mindful about where the conversation is heading, and I tend to let the clients ask the questions. I think the mindset is shifting and people are appreciating things that are not only high quality, high performance and natural but more importantly, ethically made. So educating clients and allowing them to be part of the process and become the deciders has really worked. It’s great when they realize they are voting for cleaner beauty with their dollars and in the end it’s beneficial for all.” And we totally agree with Kaila.

“If the conversation naturally goes in that direction, I’ll explain what I’m using and why but clients notice such a difference in their hair without me having to push it on them, they just have to have it for themselves. Also, picking the right products for their hair needs is what being a professional is all about. And that builds trust.”

Keep a record of your client’s past purchases.

Knowing what your clients purchased in the past and what their favorites are gives you an opportunity to introduce the other products you have.

Our clients’ hair needs depend on a lot of factors. Is the season changing? Is she experiencing scalp issues? Use these cues to recommend products that they might need. Sometimes they might even thank you for doing so.


“I also like to point out things I notice, such as dry scalp, thinning hair, or dry ends. I suggest some retail and normally they take the bait!  Once they use a product they are hooked to the line and re-selling is super easy,” shares Bridgette.

For the lower maintenance clients, you can recommend a shampoo, conditioner, and one styling product. While clients who spend more time on their hair give you more styling products to recommend.

PRO TIP: When recommending, always suggest at least 3 products you used during the service since they already have an idea what the products feel and smell like. Go an extra mile by letting them hold, smell or touch the product. Involving the senses is a tried-and-tested strategy on how to boost salon retail product sales.


Create eye-catching packages for every occasion.

Bundle slow-moving products with hot sellers. During the holidays, people typically buy more in packages so including a discontinued product or a product that does not sell well with a crowd favorite, such as a color protection shampoo or a purple shampoo, is an easy way to increase your revenue while making space for new inventory.

Having pretty displays and packaging also plays a huge role in the sale. When done perfectly, you don’t even have to say anything. Clients will be naturally drawn to the products.

PRO TIP: Throw in a free gift like an organic lip balm or wrap it in a pretty packaging that they can re-use. According to a study, 90% of customers are more likely to purchase after receiving a gift, and even more likely to refer your business to their friends and family.

Pre-order our Salon Holiday Kits!