Taking the Fear Out of Retailing

Reprinted with permission from the September, 2006 issue of Massage Today. Complete issue archives and other resources available at www.massagetoday.com

Retailing products to your clients need not be intimidating or frightening. Many massage professionals have learned the benefits of offering follow-through products for their clients, and you can too.

It's not as difficult as you might think, even if you're just not a "salesperson" type.

The truth is you don't have to be a professional salesperson to be able to fluidly offer and explain information about a product. When it's done with honesty, integrity and with the intention always on the client's well- being, it will feel natural. When your heart is in the right place, and your intention is to provide health and wellness for your client, it will come through. People can feel when someone truly is sincere and has good intentions.

Here are a few ways you can make the word "sales" less scary. When a client is discussing issues of concern about their health, chances are, in addition to the proper treatment methods to pursue, you also might know of a product that will help them. After all, you are the professional, and shouldn't you feel compelled to offer the client relief when you know of something that can help? You are a healer, first and foremost. And as a healer, it's natural to want to provide solutions to problems causing pain and discomfort. Thinking of sales as something extra you do outside of treatment really is not accurate. Providing solutions for your client's issue is part of the treatment and should come as a natural progression in your assessment of the client.

Speak about products of which you have firsthand knowledge. Perhaps you have used a brand of topical analgesic that has assisted you in relieving muscle pain. Maybe you have found relief in using a hot or cold pack on a joint that caused you trouble. You might have used exercise balls or resistance bands to help stretch your muscles and tone problem areas. Your recommendation of a product, relaying your own personal knowledge and experience reads as truthful and competent; not pushy or money-driven. As a professional, your clients look to you to be knowledgeable and make recommendations about their self-care, as well as the care you provide in your treatment. Be sure you share with them ways they can benefit from some of the products you can provide to them.

The same can be said of "pampering" products you can retail as well. It's far easier to describe the benefits of a sugar scrub when you have experienced one for yourself. This philosophy can apply to virtually any product you will want to offer as retail goods. For instance, if you want to offer pillows, be sure you have had the experience of sleeping on them as well. When you speak of a product using descriptive words outlining what the product does, as well as its benefits, it will make the customer feel more comfortable with their decision to try it. Typically, people make buying decisions based on how a product or service will make them feel. If you can relay this information from personal experience, you inevitably will see a rise in your retail revenue. You also will feel good about the recommendations because you are certain about the quality and result of the products you offer.

Pricing is another part of retailing that strikes fear in the hearts of those just starting out. What should you charge for your products? This question has kept many therapists awake at night trying to dial in to just the right number. Of course, you don't want to charge too much for a product and have it sit on your shelf indefinitely, but conversely, you certainly don't want to charge too little. You should keep in mind that your professional advice and recommendation also accompany the products you offer, so to underprice your goods could send the wrong message. So where do you set your bar? The best advice I can offer is to take all of the factors into consideration; your initial investment into the product, shipping costs of the goods, your space allocation and time. These add up to your basic cost. From this point, you will need to make a determination regarding at what price you can sell this item and make it worth your while. Competitive pricing is important, so check out other offices in your area to see what the average might be. Keep in mind, you aren't the local drugstore, nor are you the super-huge, mega-chain store. You are a massage professional offering specific items you feel are appropriate to your client care regimen.

For some, it can feel awkward to discuss price with a client who might be interested in your products. Taking the guesswork out of the pricing by clearly labeling shelving and products can simplify the whole process for both you and your client. By clearly defining the price of your goods with appropriate and professional signage, you are allowing the client to make decisions based on their own economic situation. This will alleviate the uncomfortable questions about price and allow your client to make the choices appropriate for their financial circumstance.

When you look at retailing as part of the natural progression of your treatment, it makes offering peripheral products far less intimidating. When you can relay positive and truthful information about your products, how they work and the results you have experienced, you aren't "selling." You are sharing useful information about products to fulfill a need in the daily life of your client. When you feel confident about your product offering, you will find your ability to share comes more naturally. Your customers will certainly appreciate it and so will your bottom line!

would love to hear about your retailing success stories. For comments about this article, or to learn more about how you can begin your own retailing adventure, you can contact me at [email protected].