Education: Berklee School of Music, Boston MA, two-year course. Sawyer College of Business, diploma in Instrumental Performance. University of Vermont, diploma in Photography. Trinity College of Vermont, graduated from Women's Small Business Program.
Whether you're a hairstylist, clothing designer or cosmetic sales rep, working in the world of beauty and fashion is all about helping people to look and feel good. For those who work at department stores, helping customers first-hand can be fun, but also challenging – and working at the cosmetics counter can be an especially demanding job. With many people passing through, a cosmetic salesperson manages a high volume of clients. Plus, a cosmetics line regularly introduces new products and discontinues others, and competition is just a few feet away.
In this Salary Story, Julie Sartin describes her salesperson job description and gives some insight on how to sell cosmetics in retail stores. Among her selling techniques, and perhaps the most important of her tips, is to keep customers happy.
PayScale: How did you begin your career in cosmetic sales?
Do You Know What You're Worth?
Julie: A job at Nordstrom, through a friend, who recommended me for the position. I started out looking to advance in the retail cosmetics field. However, most people are not hiring.
PayScale: What do you love about your career in cosmetic sales?
Julie: I love talking to the customers and finding out what they what, what they have tried, what works for them and what they need – once I become familiar with the new products and services. I also love working day after day with people I like and have fun with.
PayScale: What are the biggest challenges you face with a career in cosmetic sales?
Julie: The biggest challenge is to get the name of the product line known. It’s very hard to do when they have never heard of you. At one point, word-of-mouth was our only way of getting new customers. We also tried pulling from customers walking by, but they wanted new tester units and more up-to-date colors.
PayScale: What advice would you give on how to sell cosmetics in retail stores? What tips or selling techniques can you share?
Julie: Go to work for the cosmetic company itself, not in department stores and outlets. But if you can’t avoid working in retail stores, avoid working solely for commission. Avoid cosmetic companies that do not advertise (a recipe for disaster these days). Know your products, and their ingredients. Learn which products go together for a full regimen for the kind of skin you have. Advise your customers on all of the “gift with purchase” events, the “special treatment” days and demos. Keep track of your regular customers in a book. Do everything you can (within reason) to make them happy. Then, send everyone a hand written thank you note.
PayScale: What is the most amazing or interesting part of having a career in cosmetic sales?
Julie: I guess I’m glad I haven’t had crazy or weird things happening when I was in this job. Every day I’ve encountered new people, new products and co-workers. I’ve enjoyed being with my co-workers the most.