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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!

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How To Boost Salon Retail Product Sales

Boost Salon Retail Sales With The 3 Ps!

Whether you’re a booth renter or multi-location salon business owner, knowing how to effectively sell retail products is vital to your success. It’s not just about increasing revenue, it’s an opportunity to build trust with your clientele and ensure their needs are met. 

In this video training, Rebecca Gregory and Tracy Olson will teach you the 3 Pillars of Salon Retail Success and what has and hasn’t worked in their own salons. Spoiler Alert: they also deep dive into an Oway Product Knowledge Session (one of the main factors that will determine your ability to sell salon retail products).

3 Pillars of a Successful Salon Retail Strategy

Promotional Planning

Proper promotional planning is vital component to your salon retail strategy. Not only does it set expectations for your team, it can also help purchasing decisions and your ability to maximize retail product profit. In this training, you’ll learn innovative promotion strategies, and how to effectively plan and implement them.

Psychology & Perception

Communication is both spoken and unspoken. Your client’s perception of you and your business begins the moment they wall in the door. Neglecting sensory details like scent and visual merchandising can be detrimental to your salon’s retail sales without you even knowing it. In this section of our training, you’ll learn how to implement experience merchandising, and how to make sure your salon and staff are speaking the same language.

Product Knowledge

It’s vital for those actively selling salon retail products to exactly what and why they’re selling a specific product, and most importantly, how to use it. In this section, we give our best tips for selecting your ideal retail product line and even a little bonus product knowledge session on our Oway product line.

Can’t get enough retail sales knowledge for your salon? Check out these 8 salon retail sales tips!

Need help implementing your salon’s retail strategy? Customers can give us a call M-F 9a-7p EST at 888-213-4744

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8 “Tried and True” Retailing Tips for Salons


1. Your Attitude Will Determine Your Altitude.

Many Hair Stylists and Salon Owners ask “how can I increase salon retail sales?” Meanwhile, you cringe at the word “selling,” and repeatedly tell yourself, “I’m not a salesperson.”

This is mistake #1.

First, the phrase “to sell,” is clearly in need of a definition makeover, so here it goes:

Selling is the identification and fulfillment of a need – nothing less, nothing more.

Many of you have the same clients for years, even decades. You do their hair (maybe even their kids’ hair). You know secrets about them you’ll take to the grave, and you’re the only person they trust to come near them with a pair of scissors.

What does this tell you?

You’re trusted, and for good reasons!

Remind yourself, you’re not a scammy used car salesman, who will do ‘whatever it takes’ to get someone into a Ford Pinto, today – you are a consummate beauty professional. You know the wants and needs of your clients’ hair better than anyone.

Have confidence in yourself and your position of power, and use it to send your clients home with products you know they’ll need and love. You’re more than qualified to make these recommendations, so don’t feel guilty or scared to do so!

Which brings us to our next tip for a successful salon retail strategy.


2. Product Selection

Choose products you believe in!

Once you choose to only sell products you personally believe in, the idea of retailing in your salon becomes a lot easier. You will no longer feel like you’re selling anything – you’re just simply recommending products you know will fulfill your clients’ hair needs.

Before taking on an entire line in your salon, have every stylist try the products and give an in-depth review. That way, you’ll know if it’s a line that you want to fully commit to and you’ll have different talking points. Hair Stylists with very good client relationships are even encouraged to give their clients a sample to test.

Mauricio of Mauricio’s Hair Studio in New York says, “I give my most loyal clients the opportunity to test and try any new products I am considering. That way, I hear it straight from the source of my sales – they also appreciate the fact that they have a say in which products I carry.”

Say no to salon product diversion!

All of your friendly retail suggestions will come to a screeching halt as soon as your client says, “I can buy it cheaper at Ulta or online.”

Too many companies exploit the expert knowledge and influence of Hair Stylists to gain brand affinity with their clients, then once it becomes profitable enough, they divert their products to large retail stores.

Can you think of a brand that was once salon exclusive, but are now sold directly to consumers?

We can.

So, when selecting the right products for your salon we suggest asking yourself these 3 questions:

  • Do I believe in these products?
  • Are these products unique enough to set my salon apart?
  • Are these products diverted?
retail tips for salons

3. Educate Yourself on Your Products

While it’s great to have an aesthetically pleasing retail shelf, you shouldn’t rely on just the look of your products to make a sale.

There’s a lot of great information to share about the products you carry that goes beyond, “it smells good.”

Hair products at Wal-Mart smell good. Tell them why they’re really investing the money in high-quality salon products.

For example, explain to them the importance of pH, and how your products work at the optimal level to prolong color and improve the health of their hair. If you’re one of our Holistic Hair Stylists, there are a multitude of talking points that help your products stand out – not just from a beauty perspective, but also from a health and eco-conscious standpoint.

Once you’re able to make well-educated recommendations, you’ll start building a trusting retail relationship with your clients. Which brings to our next retail tip for salons.

 4. Consultation is Key: Press for the Yes

A solid, honest consultation is vital for not just retailing products, but for fully understanding your client’s wants, needs, and lifestyle. As a stylist, it is our job to lead the conversation and make sure the client will be happy with their service.

Be sure to listen closely and help your client decide why they want a certain look. Do they keep bringing in a picture of a certain celebrity because they like the hair or because they like the idea of being that celebrity? Do they bring in a picture of them at a wedding because they actually liked their hair, or the nostalgia of happy times?

There’s a reason why Hair Stylists often get the reputation of being therapists or psychologists. Our job is to listen and translate our clients’ thoughts and ideas into a look that radiates beauty from the inside out.

Here are a few basic guidelines for conducting a good consultation:

Ask questions!

  • How often do you plan on returning to the salon?
  • What is your styling routine like?
  • What do you like and dislike about your hair?
  • What challenges do you have when styling it?
  • Are you looking to try out a new look or style? Or do you want to enhance what you already have?

Do the Wet Stretch Test!

The Wet Stretch Test will determine the integrity of your client’s hair, and more importantly, tell you what is missing from the healthy hair equation. Not to mention, it keeps your client engaged with you during the service, as you are educating them on what their hair truly needs and why.

However, understand the consultation does not stop just before your service.

After you’ve completed your cut and/or color, you should have accurate insight into what kind of hair your client has and where their issues lie.


This is where we tell you to softly press for the yes.

Getting a person to say, “yes” a few times before a purchase, is a proven technique to increase the likelihood of a sale.

Here’s an example of some dialogue between a Hair Stylist and her client in salon retail sale situation:

Hair Stylist: You said you use a flat iron and blow dryer almost every day, right?
Client: Yes, I need to or my hair is a mess.
Hair Stylist: I understand, but you are also trying to grow your hair out and hate all of the split ends from your flat iron?
Client: Yes, it’s so annoying.
Hair Stylist: You should try this heat protectant and gloss serum. It will protect your hair from intense heat, and the gloss serum will help smooth down any split ends or frizz. It also contains no plastics, so you won’t have to worry about artificial waxes and petrochemicals that only make the hair appear healthy.

This is just one example. The more you know about your products, the easier it will be to make recommendations that will help build trust between you and your salon clientele!

This brings us to our next tip for selling salon retail.

5. Build Trust

tips for selling salon retail
Trust is at the heart of every successful relationship.

Many of you already know that special connection between a Hair Stylist and his/her client is more of a friendship than anything else. Moreover, most true friendships do not occur over night, and must be steadily earned in time.

It is very important in the beginning stages of your friendship with your clients to focus on earning their trust.

Instead of pushing multiple products on a new client, start with just the basics to enhance and maintain their service. If it’s color, shampoo and conditioner; if it’s a hair cut, just a styling product. If they still show uncertainty, perhaps extend to them a discount they are able to use during their next visit (that is only redeemable with you).

You gain trust through listening to your clients’ problems, you keep trust by solving them!

Once you solve one hair problem, that opens the doors of opportunity to solve more. So, build that trust and be a good friend to your client!

6. Back Bowl/Styling Opportunity

salon retail tips
The time at the shampoo bowl is the perfect opportunity to acquaint your client with the products you are using. Tell them what the products will do to help their hair.

Once you’ve done the Wet Stretch Test, your client should be aware of what their hair is lacking. So, while giving them a nice head massage, explain that this shampoo and conditioner/treatment will add moisture/protein and will heal the hair from the inside out.

Washing your client’s hair should be a relaxing experience, and is an opportune time to stimulate the senses.

Paint a picture for your clients – you are the artist, after all.

For example, if you’re using a lightly floral scented shampoo, try to relax the client further and say, “I love this shampoo – not only does it make the hair shiny, it makes you feel like your lying in a bed of roses.”

The same opportunity that exists at the bowl also exists when you style their hair. So, show off your styling products!

Instead of just jumping in and styling your client’s hair, let them know what you’re using and why. Teach them how to properly use the product and style their hair – they’ll appreciate the tip and be more apt to purchase the product you used!

Another great place to expose your clients to your amazing products is at your retail display.

7. Retail Display Optimization and Visual Merchandising

Bloom Hair Design - Canton, GA

Whether your retail display is large or small, shopping and browsing for products should be an experience!

Try following these guidelines for a successful salon retail display:

  • We always suggest having a few shelf talkers – little labels that highlight the ingredients and benefits of your products. If you’re having a sale on certain items, have a tasteful sale label on your shelf, as well.
  • Keep your retail shelf organized and clean! No one wants to buy a product that is dusty – not only is it visually unappealing, it also looks like no one else liked the product enough to buy it. Try not to have a cluttered retail display, and try organizing the products by color, shape, or brand.
  • If you want to encourage clients to test products, make sure that they are between 22 and 66 inches; these are proven heights for easy accessibility. Also, try an inviting “try me!” label.
  • If space and design allows, try creating an “arena effect.” Having the products surround your clients can give them the opportunity to browse (if they are waiting) from any angle.
  • If your salon allows, try moving your reception desk away from the front door. This forces walk-ins and clients to look at the products before talking to the receptionist.
  • Make your retail area inviting. Having a simple tea and coffee area by your retail area is a perfect opportunity to incentivize clients to rise out of their chairs and to your retail shelves! Notice we said shelves, not cupboards or bookcases – people tend to not like to reach into to these types of displays.

If you only have one wall for retail (not a big deal), try making it stand out with a nice wall color or art that compliments the bottles. Also, be sure your products are well lit – if they can’t see or read your products and shelf talkers, then what’s the point?

8. Retail Training – Practice Makes Sales

If you’re still uncomfortable retailing, we suggest starting off by trying to sell a product to your friend or another stylist in the salon. Have them give you objections to the products, so when a client actually does this, you’re prepared with an insightful and professional response.

Try product flashcards! Other than using the product, the best way to educate yourself is to put your knowledge to the test. Try remembering unique facts about each item you sell. The more you know about your products, the better able you are to make recommendations based on client concerns and needs.

Do you have any tips for selling salon retail? If so, feel free to comment below!

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