Ms. Zoba

Spas, Health & Fitness

Who Wears the Sales Hat in Your Spa?

By Holly Zoba, Senior VP of Sales - Hospitality, Signature Worldwide

People hate to be sold, but love to buy. I don't know who said this first, but the concept is brilliant. As a salesperson, it makes perfect sense to me, but for those who are wondering precisely what that statement means, let me explain.

When you walk into a store and the sales clerk follows you around and keeps offering to "help" you, you generally are going to say, no, just browsing thanks. When you walk down the aisles of a trade show, you purposefully avoid making eye contact with the people shilling their wares behind the booth because you don't want them to approach you. When you get a telemarketing call, you want to hang up immediately, regardless of the product or deal they are selling because you are sure you are going to be taken. All of these are examples of that pressure we feel when someone is trying to sell us something, that feeling we intrinsically hate and try to avoid. You might be in that retail store because you must buy a blue shirt before you leave, but rather than face a pushy salesperson, you will look through all the racks yourself. That is how much people hate to be sold.

But how much do people like to buy? Just look at the results of holiday spending every single year - it always exceeds the stated budget of the shoppers. The majority of people do, in fact, love to buy.

So why bother with salespeople then? Aren't they really just getting in the way of a sale? Yes, they kind of are.

Think about the negative connotations associated with the term salesperson - desperate, manipulative, sleazy, pushy, and annoying. Movies like Glengarry Glen Ross and Boiler Room haven't really helped our cause either. They paint salespeople as whiny, dishonest and downright frightening to encounter.

Many companies have done away with the sales title all together and instead call their sellers "consultants" or "business development experts" or "customer advocates." All of those sound a lot better than a salesperson. But, if the "consultant" continues to act like a typical salesperson, the results will be the same. If your motive is judged to be at all self serving, you dramatically lessen your chances of getting that customer to sign on the dotted line.

I have kept the "sales" in my title and my opinion is that everyone who works for a spa ought to have the word "sales" in their title. In most organizations, every customer-facing employee should be working towards increasing the revenues of the property - the definition of a salesperson. If you could create a true sales culture in your frontline employees - one that remembers people love to buy, but hate to be sold, your fortunes could improve.

When you call a spa, the person who answers the phone should be a salesperson, without a doubt. As a caller, you want to buy or else you wouldn't have picked up that phone. If the person who answers the phone doesn't botch things up, you will probably buy - or at least make an appointment. But how much you will buy, hangs in the balance.

Here is a spa experience I recently had. When I called to make an appointment, I knew I wanted a facial. I was staying in a hotel with a spa and probably like most hotel guests, I had never been there before. I have been to about 50 other spas in my lifetime and every spa seems to have a unique menu. Yet, it never fails, whenever I call to inquire about a facial, the person on the other end of the phone always makes me feel foolish for not knowing exactly which one of their facials I want. Not only do I need to know what kind, I need to know their special name for it.

I began the experience with, "I would like to make an appointment for a facial." And the agent of course responded, "What kind of facial?" "What kind of facials do you have?" I timidly asked. "We have a lot of different facials", and then she named about two or three, which really didn't help me because they had words like galvanic, fruit acid and then something like a mountain lion. I don't know what those words mean in terms of a treatment for my face, but none of them sounded very relaxing or appealing. So instead I said, "Gosh, I am just not sure." Her response was, "Well, I need to know what kind of facial you want, so I know how much time to book you for." At this point, I knew I was already beginning to annoy her, so I hesitated to ask any more questions. I just said, "How about something hydrating", because my last facial had been called hydrating something. Sadly, I was tersely informed that they offered several hydrating options, so this was not going to be the easy solution I had hoped for.

We went round and round for a few more minutes and then she finally said, in a fairly exasperated tone, "I will book you for an hour, just come in and the esthetician can suggest what kind of facial you should have." Concerned that this was possibly going to cost me $2,000 dollars, I still agreed because I didn't want to make her any angrier than she already was. So you might think, bottom line, she made the sale so she was a success, right? Please read on.

When I arrived at the spa for my appointment, the person who checked me in informed me that a Blue Water Facial had been reserved for me. I said I hadn't reserved any specific type because the esthetician was supposed to look at my skin and recommend something. The agent said, "Well, I have you down for a Blue Water so if it is supposed to be something else, it would say it here." So clearly, I would be having a Blue Water Facial. At this point, it seemed fine. I assumed since water was in the title there would be some form of hydration and anyway, I felt certain that the esthetician would be more helpful.

Big surprise for me, the esthetician was a woman of few words. She looked over the survey I had filled out which covered what skin care products I currently used and she said, okay, let's go. We had a silent walk to the facial room and when we arrived she shared with me the process, steam, exfoliate, scrub, and hydrate. Or something like that. It seemed fine with me so I said "okay." Those were the last words we spoke for the hour. At the very end, I asked her what that pineapple smelling product was and she told me the name.

When I was at the register to pay, the agent told me the amount and honestly, I was thrilled at what a bargain it was - I had been prepared to pay at least double. And then she told me that the esthetician had suggested I buy this $11 moisturizer. $11 for a moisturizer? That sounded like it had to be made of just water, so I declined.

If there had been a true sales culture in even one part of that spa, they would easily have separated me from much more of my money. That spa easily left $200 on the table. I am not one of those women who spend money on shoes or even clothes, but my philosophy on skincare is that you have your skin forever, so it is worth investing in, right?

At least that is the approach I would train my spa staff to take.

What if the initial agent had simply asked me, "What is bringing you to our spa for a facial?" I would have happily shared with her that I have a lifelong fear of wrinkles. If her next sentence had been, "Oh, do we have the perfect facial for you", I believe I would have spent a ridiculous amount of money on whatever she recommended because she said it was perfect for me and she would know.

And what if the esthetician also knew this tidbit about my fear of wrinkles and while she had me, fully attentive for an entire hour, recommended some products that would help me stave off those wretched fine lines for just a few more years. I am embarrassed to say that I have on occasion, spent several hundred dollars on products at a spa because the "expert" was sure that product would keep me young. Not the "salesperson" but the "expert" - which is the big differentiator in the world of loving to buy, hating to be sold. If your employees can position themselves as valuable contributors, "experts" in whatever area they find themselves, making personal recommendations in order to share their tips with your customers, you can call them whatever you want and they will be salespeople. And I mean that in the very best way.

Take a look at the selling opportunities that are available in each step of your customer facing interactions. Do your employees have the tools to position themselves as valuable enablers of the buying process for your customers, or will they let your sales slip out the door?

Holly Zoba is Senior Vice President of Sales for the Hospitality Division of Signature Worldwide, the leading provider of training solutions for the hospitality industry. Ms. Zoba has more than 20 years of sales and marketing management experience in the hospitality industry and is responsible for managing Signature Worldwide’s sales effort by determining best-fit solutions for hoteliers — helping them improve customer service and increase revenue. Ms. Zoba can be contacted at 614-766-5101 or Please visit for more information. Extended Bio... retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by

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