Techniques for Selling Cosmetics

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The cosmetics industry is an $84 billion industry in the United States, which means that there is money to be made if you know how to do it. It also means that there is plenty of competition for consumer dollars, so if you want a piece of the pie, your selling skills and products need to be top notch in order to get ahead. Cosmetics promotion ideas, cosmetics branding knowledge and a firm grasp of the basics can help you get on your way.

Consider Sales Basics

Whether you are talking about selling cars, homes, tools or cosmetics, certain sales basics give you a firm foundation on which to build. Before you go nuts with learning fancy sales techniques or designing marketing plans, get a solid grasp on listening, asking good questions, handling objections, using clear motives, clarifying customer needs and customer budgets. You want to build solid relationships with your customers that keep them coming back.

Listening Skills and Questions

Make eye contact with your customers, practice active listening skills and be fully present in your interactions. Let your customer dominate the conversation and make note about what is important to her and areas of commonality, interest and need. Keep in mind that the secret to talking is listening.

Questions are your friend. Assuming things about your customer's wants and needs can lead to misunderstandings or a break in your connection, so ask clarifying questions. The most respected salespeople are often those who take a genuine interest in meeting customer needs over selling.

Needs, Budgets and Objections

If your customer is on a budget and only has $10 to spend on her next cosmetics purchase, how you serve her will be very different than someone with a budget of $100. Your clarifying questions can help you determine whether your customer is looking for mascara, foundation or the works, as well as how much she has to spend. When you are respectful of her needs without pushing your own agenda, you are more likely to end with a sale.

In addition, it is normal for customers to voice objections and concerns. Be respectful of them and avoid manipulating a customer to ignore her concerns. Instead, answer questions honestly and present product benefits to the best of your ability. When your customers feel good about their purchases long after they leave the shop, they are likely to return.

Customer Care and Service

When you work with customers, is your motive first and foremost to connect with them, or is it to make the sale and bolster your own paycheck? Most people are pretty good at sniffing out when someone is being manipulative or pushy. Check your own motives, and you will likely discover that your sales go up with increased selflessness.

Along with having pure motives, tend to customer care whether or not your customers make a purchase from you today. Find ways to follow up with them and enroll them in a birthday club, loyalty club or other free service. It can take six to eight interactions before a customer buys, so the customer relationship is more important to your long-term sales than getting a sale today.

Products, Products and More Products

In the cosmetics industry, there are products out there to satisfy almost every need, from camera makeup to a night on the town, special occasions, everyday wear and teenagers who are just getting into the fun of makeup. Make product knowledge a top priority and learn which products are good for particular skin concerns, vegans, gluten-free people and those who are concerned about the environment.

Understand each of your product lines and their price points, cosmetics branding strategies, qualities, shade range and target audience. A busy mother of three who wants fast, nontoxic makeup that goes on in five minutes in the morning is likely to be interested in a different cosmetics line than the edgy teen with brightly colored hair and trendy clothes.

Product Benefits, Drawbacks and Use

Understand product benefits, drawbacks and use. Some products are especially good for skin conditions like rosacea and eczema, while others irritate it. Certain lines claim to be green, while others really are green. One lipstick lasts for 30 minutes, while the other stays on for 24 hours. Know your products and research them on websites like the Skin Deep Database and YouTube and in industry publications. Customers can tell when you know your stuff and are more likely to effectively meet their needs, resulting in a sale.

Also, if you do not wear your products, why should your customers? Use the products you recommend most often and design looks that are polished and appealing to your largest target audience. Get makeup application and technique ideas from professionals or big-name cosmetics YouTubers that appeal to lots of people. When you use and enjoy your products, it shows and gives you added perspective to share with your customers.

Skills and Training for Success

Success in selling cosmetics is dependent on more than just excellent customer care experiences. Market leaders like L'Oréal, Ulta and Sephora know that gaining an edge on the competition is about staying ahead of the curve in the little things. Follow their lead to have the best chance at following their success.

Make specialized training a priority. In some states, makeup artists need licenses, so look into cosmetology school and gaining professional training. Even if you are not required to obtain a license in your state, look into specialized makeup application courses, like those offered to employees at Sephora. Make sure to apply customer makeup with the same care that you apply your own and be mindful of wiping off swatches that could stain customer clothing before things get messy.

Atmosphere and Experience

Create an atmosphere and experience for your customers. Beauty giants like Sephora and Ulta know how to create an atmosphere that keeps customers coming back. Walk into one of their stores and notice the flattering lighting, clean lighting, shiny and beautiful surfaces and well-organized products. When people walk into a cosmetics store, they want to feel pampered and special. Your atmosphere and cosmetics branding helps create that feeling.

Everything from your store's signage to customer care, packaging, store organization, employee knowledge, smells, sights, decor and follow-up creates customer experience. Be mindful of the kind of experience you want to create and then remember that success often lies in the details. For instance, adding mints and ice-cold water to the waiting area of your store adds a sense of care and luxury and does not even cost much to execute.

Promotion and Corporate Social Responsibility

Cosmetics promotion ideas that reach outside the box in order to find and acquire new customer relationships help you to grow your customer base and increase sales. Gone are the days when brick-and-mortar mall shoppers wandered in on their own to generate enough sales to sustain a long-term cosmetics business.

Part of what draws new and existing customers to purchase from you is your reputation as a business, brand or salesperson who cares. Choose corporate social responsibility initiatives that make a real difference and connect with your customer base. For instance, Birchbox has created The Future Starts Now Fund, which helps remove obstacles for women, people with disabilities and others who want to achieve a goal that makes a difference in the world.

Social Media and Collaboration

Create a robust social media presence that includes platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Social media professionals can help you design a matrix to grow your brand using helpful tips, trust-building posts, product highlights, questions, quotes and posts that present a call to action. Some professionals like Honeycomb Social even offer freebies like content creation challenges, guides and templates to help you craft a social media presence that converts to sales.

You could also start your own YouTube channel or better yet collaborate with big-name influencers on YouTube like Rachel Claire Levin, NikkieTutorials or Huda Beauty. While it could take you years to gain a large following on YouTube, these professionals have millions of followers, and if they like your products, you will likely see an increase in interested customers ready to make a purchase.

Consider Subscription Services

Cosmetics subscription services like Birchbox and ipsy often feature some smaller cosmetics brands in their bags right alongside bigger-name companies like Tarte and Urban Decay. Including your cosmetics in one of their boxes could be a costly investment, but if customers like the products, you could reach people you would never be able to connect with on your own. Some companies also hook new customers by offering a small exclusive discount to subscribers making a first-time purchase.

If you already offer a wide range of cosmetics products, you might also consider creating your own subscription service. Think about ways to use sample sizes in your box to introduce customers to new products they might purchase in full-size versions. Enrollment quizzes can help you get a good idea of which products and shades they prefer to help ensure the boxes result in as many additional sales as possible.

Three Beauty Product Launch Ideas

When your company is coming out with a new product or line, the success of your product launch influences how long you offer the product, your price point and whether or not customers make a purchase. These three beauty product launch ideas could help generate sales:

  • Marketing: Let marketing specialists craft a comprehensive marketing strategy that fits your budget and includes social media, influencers, mail, email, magazines, websites, television, radio, podcasts and in-person advertising.

  • Follow the experts: While mall sales are declining, Bath and Body Works is maintaining a strong brick-and-mortar presence. Their product launches include advance sampling of new scents, excellent customer service and deals that keep customers coming back.

  • Special customer service: New product launches are a good time to offer loyal customers sneak peeks, special spa nights or hors d'oeuvre events that showcase your products while making customers feel special. 

Direct Sales of Cosmetics

General selling techniques, beauty product launch ideas and marketing basics apply to direct sales of cosmetics, but there are also additional considerations at play. To help your direct selling business succeed, consider the following:

  • Income potential: Ask your company for an income disclosure so you can see how much most consultants make and what your earning potential actually is. This will help in setting realistic goals.

  • Work a daily power hour: Instead of staying glued to your phone 24/7/365 trying to make a sale, implement a power hour where you spend 15 minutes on each of the following topics: booking, recruiting, customer care and hostess coaching.

  • VIP groups: Communicate with your most-valued customers in a VIP group or forum where they can be social with you and with one another and gain access to special promotions and events. 

  • Event tables: To meet people outside of your circle of friends and avoid hitting up old high school friends for sales, consider setting up sales tables at local events.