Chances are you got into the beauty industry because you love the opportunity to meet new people day after day — and help them feel more beautiful than they did when they first walked in your door. “Sales” probably wasn’t high on your list of pros.


But for better or for worse, selling products or services to clients that they did not initially come in for is an important part of your business. No, this doesn’t mean offering a bombshell blowout to a client with fine, thinning hair. Today you’re going to learn how up-selling and cross-selling can be less faux-pas and more moo-lah — and why salon owners already have a head start.


First, let’s define our terms


Upselling is the practice of encouraging customers to purchase a more expensive or higher-end version of the product or service they came in for. Example: your client is scheduled for a regular mani/pedi and check-in staff offers the option of a deluxe spa pedicure.


Cross-selling is the practice of encouraging customers to purchase products or services that complement the original sale. Example: your dark-haired client has decided to go blonde, so you offer a conditioning treatment to help offset the drying effect of harsh chemicals.


So why does this matter anyway?


Bottom line, up- and cross- selling are critical to your bottom line. By not focusing on cross-sales of high-margin products in your salon, or up-selling services that don’t add on too much time for your stylists, you’re leaving profit on the table. The probability of selling to a new customer is 5-20%. The probability of selling to an existing one is 60-70%.


But even more importantly, up- and cross-selling are opportunities for you to bring more value to your customers, which should always be your goal! When determining if a particular moment is a good opportunity to up- or cross-sell, ask yourself – will this make my customer’s life easier? Will it help them feel more beautiful? If the answer is yes, then you know what to do.


So you said I already had a “head start.” Cute pun, but how??


As a salon owner, you know better than anyone the unique relationship your clients have with their stylists. They don’t just know their names, but details about their lives and families. Your clients entrust their hairdresser with their lif- well, hair. 


Never forget that your stylists have a special ability to influence your customer in a way most salespeople do not. If they trust them enough to take sharp blades very close to their head and alter their appearance in irreversible ways (well, at least for a few months) then they will trust their recommendation on products and special services. Remind your stylists and staff that they have this super power! It’s critical to you success and theirs.


Ok, I’m convinced. How can I get started?


So now that you are a firm believer in up- and cross-selling, here are three tips you can implement in your salon or spa immediately:


1. Create a beautiful display area that is…

– highly visible from the window or waiting area

– well organized and always well stocked

– easily browsable area – no one wants to ask if they can step behind your check out station to browse products

– eye level – because eye level is buy level!


2. Make sure your staff is actually using the products for sale!

In the beauty biz, you’re in a unique position to introduce new products to customers in a risk-free way where they can see the results in real time on their own hair or skin. Giving customers an opportunity to purchase salon-quality products that your stylists trust is like giving away a little trade secret – in the best way possible – making your customers feel like they have a leg up with their own beauty routine.


3. Equip your staff to make the sale!

At a minimum, everyone in your salon should be able to explain every item you have available for purchase. Beyond that, some basic sales training can make a big difference. Start by teaching your staff to ask themselves a few simple questions when considering an up- or cross-sell:


– Does this complement your client’s service?

– Could your client actually benefit from this additional product or service?

– Is your client in a hurry or have they made it clear they’re on a tight budget?


Remember, you may not see the result of your up- and cross-selling efforts immediately. But lucky for you, and if you’re doing things right, you know you’ll have another shot with your customer when they come in for their next service.