There is no doubt the retail environment is tough and has a tremendous impact on the beauty business. However, there is a cause and effect on why this is happening. Mr. Leonard Lauder always said that beauty advisors (BAs) are the frontline of the business because BAs have the first-hand experience with consumers. While it is true, it is important to add that BAs or demonstrators are also responsible for pushing products to the finish line—SALES.
If the BAs are not properly trained, it has an impact to your bottom line. In this article, I want to share some recent personal experiences with beauty advisors and demonstrators and some suggestions on how to PREVENT lost sales. We all have our role in the beauty eco-system. Product Developers like me spend a lot of time researching and creating innovative products. Marketers invest massive budgets promoting the brand and products. The BA’s role is to take it to the finish line and close the sale. Sales cure-all.
Recently, I was at a department store in NYC to do competitive shopping, and sadly below was the ACTUAL treatment I received from beauty associates representing top beauty brands.
Me: Do you have touch-up powder?
Beauty Associate: Over there [she pointed].
I followed her directions only to find there were no applicators at the tester unit, so I had to walk back and ask for a sponge.
The PREVENTION: The beauty associate should have acknowledged me, walked me over to the counter, helped me choose the right type of powder (loose or pressed), the right shade, and guided me in the application. Additionally, a good beauty associate may have added a little lip gloss or blush to complete the touch-up and build the potential sale. She had the opportunity to sell me three items or at least one powder. Instead, she lost the battle. It didn’t matter how beautiful the product was or how many marketing dollars were spent by the brand to gain my attention—the sale was lost.
Me: Do you have anything new from this brand?
Beauty Associate: Nothing is new.
I was absolutely stunned. End of the conversation. I walked away.
The PREVENTION: The salesperson could have asked me if I had any concerns that I was looking to solve. Granted the brand may not have new launches, but everything in the line was potentially new to me. By engaging me in conversation she could have easily made a sale.
Me: What is the difference between the eye complex and eye concentrate?
Beauty Associate: The concentrate has twice more of the active.
Me: So, the price difference is only $7, why would anyone want the eye complex?
Beauty Associate: Not sure.
The PREVENTION: Know your products. Beauty associates need to know the features, benefits and how it can transform their customers. When a product contains twice as many actives, does it mean it works twice as fast or twice in clinical effect? One thing I have observed is a lot of salespeople either have no understanding of the product or spit out the ingredient list like a robot (yes, they studied!). However, most consumers have no idea what the ingredients do. I believe this is one of the reasons consumers gravitate toward natural ingredients they can recognize. Make sure your frontline understands your unique selling proposition and, more importantly, what transformation a consumer can expect after using the products.
SCENARIO FOR CEW PRODUCT DEMO:
Sales training is not necessary only important at the counter level. At the recent Cosmetic Executive Women Product Demo, a lot of demonstrators were not engaging with the attendees. Many were looking at their phones. Some didn’t even acknowledge my interest in learning about the brand as I stood in front of them—it was just blank stares. The object of the evening was for demonstrators to “sell” their product to garner votes and potentially future sales. The CEW demo event pulls brands together for attendees to experience the innovation of our great industry. It should be treated as a once-a-year opportunity to impress competitors and the industry. For brands that were not engaging, that was an opportunity lost!
Remember, the beauty advisors or demonstrators are the frontline to consumers and the power players carrying the product to the finish line—SALES. Beauty companies should make sales training for their brand ambassadors as important as their focus on courting beauty influencers or bloggers. After all, a crew of company-trained beauty ambassadors is the one who will take your brand through the finish line. I started my career as a beauty advisor behind the counter achieving 7-figure sales—I know how to take an opportunity and push it across the finish line.
Photo: Charisse Kenion via Unsplash