Esthetician: “What are you using on your skin?”
Client: “Well I’m using this stuff that my sister-in-law sold me that is suppose to get rid of all lines, spots, and acne in one month! Have you heard of it?”
We’ve all been there. The moment where we look into our clients glittery eyes and tell them the candy bar they were given is actually dirt, toxins, (insert the adjective you really want to say here ____). It’s not their fault, they are genuinely excited about their new product. Maybe they’ve already been using it for months, maybe they’ve been talked into “sitting down to chat about a great opportunity”, and even worse maybe they are trying to get us to sell it too. Throughout my experience with this, there is one thing I know for sure and it’s that the situation can and should be handled quickly, but with care. Our clients are on a skincare journey. We may be an attraction stop, or their tour guide. That answer lies in how we handle situations, such as this one. Below are a few scenarios and what I find to be the best way to handle them.
Switching a client off of an MLM product
The key here is to show them what is and isn’t working. How long have they been using the product? Have they been delivered the results they were promised? Ask them these questions. If they’ve been using something for acne for months and they are coming to you with acne, point out that it clearly doesn’t seem like a compatible match for their specific concerns. Be sure not to make any grandiose claims when trying to switch them to your product line, their quality of trust has already been dented that way. Instead let them know that you have taken the time while working hands on with their skin to make a thoughtful, educated, and customized home care plan for them. Remind them that you don’t know everything about what they are using, but you do know about what you’re recommending.
You can go the extra mile a few different ways. I’ve seen some strong opposition to offering any kind of discount for switching, but these ideas are food for thought. You can order pH testing strips and have them bring the products in to be tested. This way if the product is a strong acid or base, you can use proof to explain the issues with their skin from product use. You could also offer them a discount for dropping off their old products with you and switching to someone you carry. The old products can be donated to a women’s shelter.
When a client tries to sell you on MLM
There is no need to pull out your hair over how to handle this with a client. No matter how irritating, remember to remain professional, give a thoughtful response, and be mindful of their feelings! For some clients it may be very hard to get up the courage to ask, and we all know how “rejection” can feel. The right response may even get them purchasing your products anyway.
“I’m very happy with lines I carry as they were developed specifically for my profession. As a matter of fact the treatments that give you such wonderful results when you see me are thanks to their backbar line available to professionals only and compliment the retail I carry. I can’t see myself switching out of that realm of product lines but thank you for thinking of me!”
When an MLM rep reaches out to you that you don’t know or isn’t your client.
First try the response above meant for clients. But… More than likely, they will be persistent. And aggressive. Do not feel like you need to expend all this time and energy defending your education and career. I’ve made this mistake. These people don’t care. At the end of the day they are on a mission to sell their product and cannot see where we are coming from no matter how you slice it. So, I would then copy and paste the response into Google Translate and send it again in any language you chose. Switch up the language per request. Comprende? Capisci?
Being the clean up crew
It sucks that dealing with the PTSD of buying bad products has become part of our jobs, but it is our job. It was our job long before the trend of MLM skincare. To even touch someone is a great privilege and we learn that we must build initial trust to gain a clientele. We retain our clientele because of our professionalism, our knowledge, and our compassion. Our clients already know our worth so they should never have to hear a snarky tone when they ask us a question, even if it is the most aggravating question in the world to us!
If it helps, help them understand the difference between us and them. We sell based on education, experience, and professional customization. It is complimentary to their treatment. They sell blindly based on incentive, regurgitation, and from the inaccurate self evaluation of a customer’s skin type and condition. I’ve heard the argument many times from MLM sellers that what they are doing is no different than a person getting their products from the pharmacy. FALSE. At most, an employee at a pharmacy may tell someone what they use themselves when prompted. No one is standing there telling them what is best for their specific skin. Commercials? Ads? Yes, sure they are making persuasive claims but they are not personal because no one is looking at a person’s skin directly and telling them so. MLM sellers can look you in the eye, tell you your skin is dry and you need retinol, and make a bad and sometimes dangerous sale.
It’s been argued they are no different from counters in department stores. PARTIALLY TRUE. Yes, just like MLM, a large number of people working these counters have no skincare, microbiology, or chemistry background. But do you know what these employees do have that set them apart? A professionalism bar to uphold and customer service skills. They also probably work there because they love beauty products and have a strong personal experience background, and I mean a lifetime of using various products, not just waking up one day and selling products on a whim for a buck because your cousin is. And the biggest, most important difference of all between them is that in their job, the customer finds them. Not the other way around.
Fellow estheticians, we are everything. Fads will come and go but our services are forever so remember to be true to our intent and practice the upmost patience and respect to our clients as they travel on their skincare journeys. Be the tour guide!
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