In 1999, I decided to change careers from manager of corporate training to esthetician because I loved the serenity of a spa atmosphere. It was quiet and peaceful, well-suited to my introverted nature. I could turn the lights and music down low and bring my clients, getting facials, into my own little world. After years of swimming with corporate sharks, it was exactly what I needed to get myself back in balance, or so I thought.

I found a position only 20 minutes from my home. The spa was brand new, and I was lucky enough to be the first esthetician hired. It was very upscale and located in the most affluent section of Philadelphia. But what I didn’t anticipate was that I would have to sell the products as well. They were pricey, ranging from $75 for a small bottle of toner to $500 for a night crème. And, as I was the sole employee, the attention was completely on me.

I was never a big talker. However, I didn’t find it difficult to share what I knew about skincare with my clients. My training background helped a lot. In other social situations, I might second-guess myself or become tongue-tied. But in my little treatment room, all self-doubt went away.

Except when it came to selling products. Then, it was impossible for me to get the words “seventy-five dollars” past my lips. I felt certain that soon I would be fired for my inability to sell.

After a few weeks, my husband, a digital marketer, asked me what was wrong. He said I’d been so happy to get the job, but every evening when I came home, I looked so unhappy.

When I told him what the problem was, his response was, “So what? Sell the product.”

I told him that he didn’t understand. The lowest price was $75.

Again his response was, “So what?”

I knew this was a guy thing and wondered why I had tried to talk to him. By this time, I was irritated.

And then he said, “Linda, have you used the product? ”

“Yes, it’s upstairs in the bathroom…”

“Do you like the product?”

“I love it!”

“Then that’s all you have to say to your clients. Stop spending their money for them.”

The next day, I went to work and did what he’d suggested with my first client. She purchased two of the toners. I felt for sure it was a fluke, but my next client also bought a toner. That day I sold five.

The next day I sold six. By the following month, I was also selling the $200 moisturizers and working my way up to the $500 one.

As the year progressed, eight more estheticians came on board. I was the top seller, averaging $5,000 per month. Everyone else’s sales hovered around $2,000. I was pretty quiet outside of my treatment room, but I was booked solid. Co-workers wondered what my secret was.

As an introvert, I was a very good listener. By asking the right questions, I was able to hone in on the exact product for my client’s needs. I began to win awards, which lead to invitations to teach and share my knowledge. When I received invitations to train overseas, I began documenting my methods and tracking my results.

Most recently, I’ve developed an online course for spa managers. It’s based on best practices for teaching retail selling to introverts. As a significant percentage of spa therapists are introverts, my hope is that it will help not only them but the spa industry as a whole.

What a dream to think that my work, which was once confined to my treatment room, has only just begun.

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