Back in 1978, I met a diminutive and remarkable woman who has turned out to be a sales powerhouse and one of America’s most successful entrepreneurs and has built the modern cosmetic beauty industry of today – Estee Lauder. This meeting happened at the launch of the perfume Cinnabar, which held at The Plaza Hotel in the big apple; New York City.
At the time, I was a young new department store manager, just 21, having just completed my Executive Training course at Bloomingdale’s and she was showing us her newest fragrance creation, Cinnabar. Which coincidently has been relaunched last year much to the delight of many its many fans.
When I finally got to meet her, she shook hands, looked deep into my eyes and told me I needed ‘Crème Pack’ – a facial mask!
I was crushed. Obviously, I still had teenage acne.
But I didn’t dwell on that for too long, I focused on learning from her, and I did learn quite a lot!
Not just on that day but and during my years as an Estee Lauder department manager, I learned some great sales lessons from Estee Lauder.
I have decided to share some sales and marketing tips I learned from Mrs. Estee Lauder herself which launched me as an entrepreneur to start my own business.
One thing I found out from Estee Lauder is she never stops thinking about selling products, not even when she met me; a young, eager employee, she pitched to get me to buy a product!
My mind was opened to understand that everywhere, any meeting, any situation is an opportunity to sell. Never cease to take the chance to market your product and convert sales.
Hold Their Hands
Another sales secret I learned is “holding their hands.” When pitching a product sale, hold your buyer’s hands. For instance, when talking to them about products such as creams which we would apply to their hands.
The Lauders also showed us how to give the potential buyer the product to hold in their hands, this way, they felt a sense of ownership and are compelled to purchase it.
Give a Demonstration Right Away!
When trying to convert sales, never say “can I help you?”
This is one sure way to turn off a customer. Instead lean in and apply some blush to their cheeks and say “doesn’t that make you look beautiful?”.
Thus compelling a potential customer to become a certified buyer of the product.
Estee Lauder pioneered the use of a gift, i.e., a collection of sample sized products that was a reward bonus when the customer bought a certain dollar amount of items.
The freebie was worth about $5 but the sales generated were quite dramatic. We had long queues of ladies who wanted to buy lots of items to get the free $5.00 worth of samples. Now, this sales strategy is a standard for all department stores and cosmetic brands.
Starting and Building Up the Brand
Born Josephine Esther Mentzer, Estee Lauder was a young and determined salesperson who founded Estee Lauder Cosmetics back in 1946, in New York, a company which has grown over the years and currently controls over 45% of the cosmetics market in the United States.
Estee Lauder Cos. has over 46,000 employees (June 2016 stat) recorded revenue of 11.26 billion in 2016.
It is easy to assume that the cosmetics industry is an easy one to navigate and get success in, but nope, it is not!
The general belief is that women are suckers for products, any product, that makes them look beautiful, younger and more attractive. However, selling cosmetics is quite tricky, primarily because you would be selling a product that your target market doesn’t need.
And as such, Estee Lauder Cosmetics’ marketing performances are all the more much remarkable.
They have over the years managed to persuade women to spend, and keep spending on products that are virtually unnecessary.
In the cosmetics market, you don’t only sell products; you sell a phenomenon, a compelling abstract art that attracts your target audience and converts sales.