Below is an excerpt from the Idiot's Guide to Beautiful Skin. I thought I would share it with you all:
Many of us look to sales reps for guidance about skin care products. How well informed are they? Just listen to the experience of my friend Alice, who sold cosmetics and toiletries one holiday season in a department store in the St. Louis area.
First off, when Alice applied for the job, the interviewer made no attempt to probe the extent of her knowledge about skin care or cosmetics. She looked presentable, spoke well, and was willing to take a minimum-wage job with odd hours. Apparently this was enough, because she was hired. There was no formal training; she was simply told when and where to show up.
Her first day, she was placed behind a counter to sell products she had never heard of, let alone used. Despite her lack of experience, though, she enjoyed chatting with customers and helping them choose makeup and perfume.
Her favorite customer, she recalls, was a bewildered man searching for a birthday gift for his wife. I know she's into this stuff, he told Alice, but I have no idea how to pick out something she'll like. Alice spent a lot of time with him and they investigated a number of products, both in her area and in other brands. Finally he selected a foundation with sunscreen and a scented body lotion, neither of which came from Alice's line.
When he left he was delighted with his purchases, and Alice thought her supervisor would be delighted with her. After all, she'd made a sale, right? Wrong! The supervisor crisply pointed out her mistakes. For starters, she had sold him items from other salespersons' lines; this lowered sales for her brand while depriving them of commissions.
Even worse, she took him at his word when he mentioned his budget and only showed him products in a certain price range. Always start with your most expensive products, said the supervisor. Never say you have anything less expensive unless they ask for it specifically.
Alice's major crime was to sell the man exactly what he wanted, without trying to talk him into buying more.
You had the chance to sell him powder, sunscreen, under-eye cream, and moisturizer, but you didn't, the supervisor pointed out.
But, Alice protested, the foundation he bought had an SPF of 15, and the sunscreen in my line only has an SPF of 8. Isn't the 15 better? That doesn't matter, snapped her boss. It's all part of the product line. We are here to sell customers a complete line of skin care products.
By recounting this tale, I certainly don't mean to criticize all salespeople. Some cosmetics companies do an excellent job of training their sales representatives, and there are skilled professionals who make a genuine effort to learn their product lines and help customers. There are several whose advice I value, and they have helped me find products I like and have used for years.
However, many salespeople are like Alice was: hired and sent to the sales floor with minimal training. When
you ask for advice at the cosmetics counter, you could be speaking with a well-informed representative, or you could be dealing with someone who knows less about skin care than you do.
I really do think that training of Sales People in India needs to be done at a more rigorous level. Just providing them with branded uniforms hardly instills professionalism in them.
Once in a while, you will run into a SA who really knows her products well, but most of the time we are left grappling with people who insist on showing up the wrong foundation shade, the wrong blush for your skin type or simply lack customer etiquette.