Retail and Sampling

Recently I went to breakfast with a friend of mine. We hadn’t seen each other in a while and were busily catching up on all things personal and professional. I was sharing about how one of my big current projects is educating practitioners on incorporating product sales into their practices. In my coaching practice, I found that very few people sold products and if they did, the sales were minimal. Working one-on-one with practitioners, I’ve helped them make major strides in this arena and dramatically increase their income (and provide support to their clients). I knew I had to find a way to reach more people than one-on-one. Granted, I have some information on product sales in my book, but more depth was needed. So, a couple of years ago I wrote an article on the topic and last year began facilitating workshops and webinars on product sales.

I was talking about how it’s ideal to sell products that can’t be found at your local drugstore although sometimes that’s okay too, as it provides a convenience factor for your clients not needing to make a stop on the way home.  I gave the example of how even selling Epsom Salts could be great – particularly if the therapist tended to recommend that his/her clients take a warm, salted bath. I also said that instead of selling the Epsom Salts, practitioners could put some in a plastic bag, affix a label (e.g., Compliments of Sally Smith, LMT 555-5555) and give it to clients.

My friend’s eyes widened. She is an energy healer and shared that after a particularly intense session, she would often send clients home with a little bag of a specialty mineral salts to put in a bath, although she hadn’t thought about affixing her label. These salts are not easily found. There is one store in town that carries them and, of course, the Internet. She had never considered buying in wholesale and selling it to her clients. She is very excited about another way to assist her clients and make a little extra income!

This is a great example of how Sampling works in retailing: you give clients a sample (in this case enough salts for 1 bath); they try it and if they like it, will most likely purchase more from you in the future.

My quest to reduce the fear about retailing and encourage practitioners to add product sales to their menus had been a lot of fun! In this process I’ve also come to expand my viewpoint on what products are appropriate for therapists to sell. I’ll explore that in my next blog.

Originally published in WIBB (Massage Today‘s Women In Business Blog).