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How Salon Owners Can Handle Uncomfortable Conversations with Clients


Successful salon businesses have two very important elements: healthy working relationships and loyal customers. Although these are two very different—but equally important—components to a salon, the path to achieving them is the same: effective communication. All thriving salon environments depend on open communication, but not all discussions are comfortable.

What Salon Conversations Are Uncomfortable?

As a salon owner, you’re bound to participate in a number of uncomfortable conversations. While there can be a wide range of causes, perhaps the most common involves money.

Salon owners need to have numerous conversations with their employees about topics such as compensation, working hours, and time off. While these conversations can be difficult, a positive, open workplace environment usually remedies these uncomfortable situations.

Client conversations on the other hand, are far more unpredictable and require additional skills and purpose to maneuver. Uncomfortable client conversations typically revolve around issues like services pricing and selling products.

In the Hair Goals podcast episode “How to Effortlessly Sell Products to Your Clients,” Jamie Sea, owner and founder of SALT Society hair salon, explores this topic of how to take the awkwardness out of promotional conversations with clients.

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Why Is It Difficult to Sell Products to Clients?

Selling is never easy, especially when pitching products to clients who are already paying for hair services. But many times the biggest obstacle in these conversations about products is the current landscape of the beauty industry.

“Many times a stylist or salon owner is battling convenience,” says Jamie Sea. Places like Marshalls, TJ Maxx, and Amazon have made hair products available with a quick drive to the store or click of a button. These products are readily available and oftentimes have a lower sticker price as well.

Another roadblock to these conversations is the possibility that a client has had a previous bad experience with a sales pitch. Salon owners never want their clients to feel as if products are being pushed on them, but can stylists draw the line between a constructive conversation and one that turns sour?

Here are 6 things salon owners should consider about how conversations around selling salon products should be handled.

How to Effortlessly Sell Products to Clients

Salon owners never want to jeopardize the relationships with their clients through a sales pitch, but must understand the pivotal role that products can play in client results. Remember, stylists can only do so much within their services. So it’s important to figure out ways to leverage product lines without upsetting the client.

1. Leverage Consultations

Opening up the line of communication at the start is crucial when it comes to these types of uncomfortable conversations. SALT Society’s travel ambassador, Paige, offered her wisdom on this topic by suggesting stylists schedule a consultation with clients before booking any coloring sessions. This is a great opportunity to get to know the client’s likes, dislikes, lifestyle, and preferred results, which can better inform the coloring session and product recommendations to follow. “Starting with these conversations right off the bat,” she adds, “is really important.”

Start a conversation about products by asking the client what they are currently using, loving, hating, etc. Beyond that, stylists can even ask how far along clients are in using the products to better understand what recommendations they can make within reason. Clients don’t want to spend a fortune on their hair, so try to phrase the sales pitch as “How about you finish up that product and then maybe we can circle back on a few products that I think your hair would greatly benefit from.”

2. Be Supportive

Don’t be confrontational about where clients are at in their hair care journey. While there are some products that can do major damage to hair, there is no such thing as a “right” and “wrong” hair care line. When stylists say “Oh my god! You’re using that on your hair?,” they’ve immediately lost the trust of their client because this confrontation isn’t supportive to the client and their needs.

“I even hear clients saying to their stylists ‘you know I’ve never heard my stylist talk about products before,’” says Jamie Sea. This gap in information is where a stylist should take the time to educate their clients and be patient with their progress.

3. Educate Clients

Education is everything when it comes to hair care. While stylists should make a habit of catching up on the latest hair health topics, they should also speak up during service sessions to educate their clients. In their podcast episode about selling products, Jamie and Paige discuss different ways that stylists can approach these educational opportunities.

“I always like to approach the discussion of products like this,” says Paige. “I tell my clients ‘In order to ensure you have lasting results from this appointment I do suggest that you use products from our salon and not products that I myself don’t know anything about (ingredient-wise).’” This opens up a discussion on what those harmful ingredients may be and whether the client understands what their specific hair type needs.

4. Don't Be Afraid

Don’t be intimidated by these types of conversations. Clients are usually very receptive to recommended products since they already spent money on a service they want to keep long-term. The client base that tends to frown on these kinds of sales are those who like the convenience of a store they already visit regularly.

Paige has a remedy for these kinds of roadblocks though. “Clients may think it’s more convenient to buy products from Amazon, but I tell them all the time, ‘What is more convenient than purchasing the products from me right now?’”

5. Check In Regularly

It’s important to take a long-term approach when selling products to clients. Don’t just sell the product, try to take the necessary steps to ensure the client is happy with it. After a client has used a newly recommended product for a few weeks, try reaching out to them to hear their initial thoughts and feedback. This shows real concern for their results and desired look.

If a client is unhappy with their results, make sure to apologize and make new suggestions based on their feedback. While some clients might be upset, most will appreciate the extra care.

6. Recommend Favorites

If stylists are afraid to make recommendations to clients, maybe they aren’t suggesting the right products. “Most people genuinely share something that they love,” says Jamie Sea. “This makes the conversation more authentic.” And while some stylists may not love every product used in the salon, they can take some actionable steps to move certain favorites to the front.

For example, stylists should use products before recommending them to clients. This ensures that when they’re raving about the product, it’s also from personal experience rather than a random testimonial. Paige takes this notion one step further by suggesting that “when stylists believe in a product, they put it in their clients’ hands.”


It's Not a Tough Sell

Promoting salon products doesn’t have to be a tough sell. Salon owners need to understand the supplemental role these products play in their clients’ services, rather than a “side hustle” within the business.

If owners are apprehensive about uncomfortable conversations surrounding product pricing and promotional conversations, consider increasing the price of services and marketing it as a “package.” This would include the service as well as the recommended products for that particular session and client’s hair type. This can eliminate any uncomfortable conversations around pricing while also guaranteeing the longevity of the stylists’ work.

Communication with clients is an essential element of your business’s success, so don’t let your fear of selling products hold you back from helping your client achieve healthy hair! 

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