Selling Retail in a Salon,
for New Hair Stylists
(and links for seasoned stylists)

Selling retail in a salon is now part of your job.  Like it or not, it is in your job description.

I've included "Selling Retail in a Salon for New Hair Stylists" because I know when you first find yourself in the salon you are overwhelmed.  Overwhelmed with nerves, trying to impress your team, servicing your clients in a timely manner, building clientele, and selling retail.

I can't help you very much with the nerves. The only way to get through it is to GO through it.

 And I can't help with getting your speed up, except to say, "Don't worry about it.  You will be there very soon and everyone goes through the same thing." 

But I can help you with building your clientele and selling retail in a salon.

First Know Why Selling Retail in a Salon is sooooo Frickin Important

1.  Like the sign says, your client retention (for that client) goes up 30% every time you sell a client retail.  So that alone is a client building technique.

2.  Retail has a much higher profit margin to the salon than service sales do.  Selling retail in a salon increases the salon's bottom line.  This means you are helping grow the salon and helping it succeed.  This is job security.

Did you know that 85% of Salons FAIL?!

3. Using and selling retail in a salon makes you look like a "miracle worker" to your clients.  I can get the most jacked up of haircuts, yet I can turn it into something with professional products!  Doing this for your clients makes you the Genius.

4.  Selling retail in a salon is part of the service.  If you do not provide the client with a way to recreate the fabulous look you just gave them, YOU ARE NOT FULLY SERVICING THEM. Selling them retail for style maintenance is doing them a favor.  You are the professional and know what is best for their hair.  Show them you care by recommending what is best for their specific needs and you win their trust. Win their trust and you have a fan. And fans pay your bills.

5.  I mentioned job security, right?  Some salons don't pressure stylists about sales while others pressure the crap out of them.  Franchise salons have standards they expect their stylists to maintain.  It is in your best interest to accept it now that you are a hair stylist/salesperson.  Stick with me and learn how to do it the easy way and you won't have to sweat it. 

 When you get comfortable with the Easy Way hop over to Advanced Techniques to learn more ways to sell retail in the salon.

Now You Have the Why,
Let's Learn the HOW's to Selling Retail in the Salon

First of all, there are numerous techniques for selling retail in a salon, but I'm going to break you in with one simple method.

Most stylists do not like this part of the business.  I call it the ugly step sister of the beauty industry!  However, I believe in making things easy on ourselves.

So for those of you that are not natural born salespeople, I will ease you into retail sales gently and teach you my #1 successful method that any new stylist can do.

The 4-1-1 Method,
developed by Yours Truly

Oh, you are going to love this!

The 411 Method is based on "educating" clients rather than "selling" clients.  This method makes them ask you if you carry the product.

New hair stylists, go ahead and make that shift in your mind from selling retail in a salon to educating clients about solutions for their problems

 Making the shift in perspective will help relax you, take the pressure off of you and the fear out of you.

We are going to "educate" our client all along the service.  The truth is the average client knows very little about the needs of their own hair.  But they know what they DON'T like about their hair.  Everyone has a challenge that you can meet.

You are not a salesperson, you are a problem solver!

1.  Get Your GO-TO Products

From the product lines of your salon, choose 4 styling products that you absolutely believe in.  These are your go-to products, the ones you can't live without. Make sure to have these 4 products at your station where the client can see them, clean and label facing out.  Why are we doing this?

Because you have to be SOLD to Sell

Also pick out your go-to shampoo, conditioner and treatment.

Enthusiasm is contagious!  And passion shows through your body language and speech. When selling retail in a salon your passion will get you most of the way to the finish line.

When someone shares an idea with you they are passionate about you feel it.  It's very easy to get you on board with their idea, isn't it? 

THAT is why we are choosing the 4 products that you firmly believe in.  Because these magic 4 will be easy for you to talk about.

My suggestions? Get a product for each need. Like don't get 2 different hairsprays because you can't decide.  Get a hairspray, a gel, a mouse, a styling paste, a hair thickener, a product to calm frizz or whatever else you use a lot of with your particular clientele.

There is nothing magical about having 4 products as opposed to 7.  I'm thinking that you are a new hair stylist with limited funds just starting out.  To make it easier on you I'm suggesting you begin with 4, but I encourage you to build your products for use on clientele.  My take away is get a few products that you absolutely LOVE.

2. Begin with the consultation.      Selling retail in a salon begins with a quality consultation.  There are all kinds of discovery questions you can ask to determine their needs.

What do you like most about your hair?

What do you like least about your hair?

Do you have any specific concerns about your hair?

Is there anything about your hair that I can help you with?


Doing a quality consultation is valuable in so many ways. They will come right out and give you problems to fix.  THEY WANT SOLUTIONS!  Don't you?  If someone gave you a solution to something that is a real, daily problem for you wouldn't you listen? So will your client. You are the professional they are paying. You are building a relationship.  Don't be afraid to speak up.

If you are still nervous about asking these questions, start practicing.  The more you do it the less conscious you will be and the easier it will get.  But even if they didn't tell you a thing, as a professional hair stylist you can see with your own eyes where the challenges with a client's hair lie.  If you can spot it, I promise it is a concern to them.

For Example:

Is the hair thin?   They need volume.

Is the hair too thick?  They may need a heavy product.

Is the hair dull?   They need condition and shine.

Is the hair frizzy?  They need frizz control.

Is the hair too dry?  They need moisture.

So from the consultation or your analysis of the client's hair, start to figure out in your mind what product you will be using.  Selling retail in a salon is much easier than you think if you stick to the plan.

Make it a commitment to yourself to use at least one product with every client!

3.  Educate your client

Educate your client every step of the way.  Communication is a common weakness in the salon.  Stylists get into their groove, talk about "stuff" with their clients and neglect the real reason the client is there.  Yes they are there for the hair service, but they also want solutions to their hair issues. 

Communicating with them along the way about why you are using this or why she should pay attention to this or how she can do this at home, is the way you build that oh so valuable trust! And trust is essential to selling retail in a salon.

During the consultation you find out an issue and repeat it back to her.  This way she knows you are listening and have "heard" her.

ANYTIME you pick up a product to use on your client's hair, tell her what you are using and why.


"Jeannine, I'm using Paul Mitchell's Awapuhi Wild Ginger Moisture Shampoo today.  Your hair feels dry and needs some added moisture.  It has an intoxicating fragrance and is sulphite free so it won't strip your color. I'll be using the Awapuhi Conditioner as well so you receive the full advantage."

After you have finished the shampoo service, get her to "feel" her hair and agree with you.  "Doesn't your hair feel so much better?'  You are smiling and she is running her hands through her hair.  She has every reason to agree with you. Ta-da, you are a genius! And you got a yes.

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4.  The 4-1-1 Method!

It's been my experience that people get in ruts with their hairstyle.  Especially older clients.  

I had a 70 year old lady recently that had a buzz cut. Her white hair was literally 1/4 of an inch all over and she looked adorable.  She wanted to purchase hair spray!  I asked her why.  She told me that her hair is fine and she needed the hold.

  I said, "Does it do anything different........ ever??  Sweetheart, you don't need hairspray, you are just addicted to hairspray!  You have been using it for so long you can't put it down." 

 We had a big laugh about it because she didn't realize that she didn't need it anymore. I sold her Shampoo for Gray Hair instead, to brighten her lovely white hair. Do you think I built trust with her? You bet I did.  She said I would see her and her sister next month and we set a date. Bam, 2 new clients because I met her needs and she now trusts me.

Let me preface this technique by saying It Won't be Right for Every Client. However, you can use it often enough to see the difference in your sales.

The 411 stands for 4 Hairstyles from 1 Haircut and 1 Product.

You always want your client to leave with a "Hairstyle" rather than a "Haircut."

If you give them just a haircut you are not fully servicing them.

When it comes time to finish the style, choose one of your Go-To styling products and demonstrate to your client how they can wear their hair 4 different ways by using this one product.

You will blow their minds! (I love blowing minds when I'm selling retail in a salon.  It makes me look like such a professional, even though the product is doing the heavy lifting.) 

Few experiment with different looks.  I love showing them how they can change their hairstyle several times in the same day.

  • Ask them what types of product they usually use.
  • Choose a different type of product for today's style.
  • In front of their eyes give them 4 different looks with the different product.

Example:  Jeannine is 30 years old with a mid-neck bob cut. She has fringy bangs and usually uses mouse in the morning. She blow drys her hair and does nothing else to it.

"Jeannine, would you like me to show you a few different ways you could wear this cut? Ok, great! I know you usually use mouse for volume.  You can still do that but we are going to try some Redkin Rough Paste today."

(Get the Rough Paste and demonstrate how much you are using. Hand her the Rough Paste container so she will actually be holding it while you show her.  This helps her take mental ownership of the product.  It's called Touch Marketing.  Educate her throughout the demonstration.  Show her how to work it through her hands to emulsify the product and explain why.  Work the product into the parts of hair needed and start styling.)

"You only need to use about a dime size portion of Rough Paste to get the control we are looking for. Since you usually wear your hair with a center part we will start there.  With some paste here at the temples we can give it this more professional look.  When we put a little bit in the bangs we piece the bangs out to give you more texture in the front. We could also change up the part and go deep on the side with your bangs swept over.  Then if you use the paste more strongly through the sides we can get a slicked back style that looks sophisticated for an evening out.  You can also use it in the crown to give you increased volume and hold.  All of these looks out of one product. If you used it every day it would last a couple of months. What do you think?"

And she will say, "Wow, I never knew my hair would do all that!"  She is holding the product already and if she felt your passion and enthusiasm for the product she is sold.

5.  Close the Sale

At this point, asking for the sale is EASY.  She is a fan!  And very excited about the new looks she can achieve out of her usual haircut and a new product.

"Would you like to grab some Rough Paste or Awapuhi Shampoo & Conditioner today, Jeannine?"

She will most likely say yes, to at least one of them.  But if she doesn't, it doesn't mean you have failed. It's probably only because she doesn't have the money today. 

So tell her this:

"Ok. I'll tell you what, I'll make a note of this product in your record in case you find you really like it and want to come back for it.  That way we won't have to guess what it was I used!"

Easy Way to Selling Retail in a Salon:  RECAP

1.  Get 4 Go-To Styling Products, plus Go-To Shampoo/Conditioner

2.  Consultation with Discovery Questions

3.  Educate Client with Every Step

4.  Use the 411 Method, 4 Hairstyles from 1 Haircut and 1 Product

5.  Close the Sale 

Do You Feel the HOPE?

You CAN be successful at retail sales!  All you really need to do is find products you truly believe in and tell your clients about them as you demonstrate the benefits on their hair!  Easy, breezy.

Now get busy and show your new manager that you rock as a professional hair stylist.

Selling retail in a salon isn't the boogie monster it used to be. You got this.

Do you have an awesome salon retailing tip?


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