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Beauty Adviser Confidential: The Art of Selling Fragrance

An anonymous salesperson compares the art of selling fragrance to selling wine.

Appeared In
Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 05/20/2011

I’ve been selling fragrance for seven years and have worked with many different brands. Because fragrance is a luxury, not a necessity, and due to the recession, we have definitely seen a dip in sales. Customers that would come in and buy three or four fragrances at a time now buy one, and much less often.

I compare the art of selling fragrance to selling wine. It is a bit psychological— gauging a customer’s mood, tastes, personality, likes and dislikes. I’ve learned that people don’t generally know what they want when they come to the counter. My job is to get them to trust me.

Our customers don’t like to be bombarded by blotters or salespeople spraying things on them. I like to make eye contact, smile, ask them how their day is and if they’d like to try a new scent. Often, I will, with permission, spray a scent onto customers’ wrists, tell them to continue shopping and return if they like it after it blends with their body chemistry. Ninety-eight percent of the time they come back to me.

I generally spend about 20 minutes with a customer and my average sale is $300. Our shoppers are savvy, and when they smell something they want to know the notes, the quality of the oils and the history of the brand. I can always tell which scent a customer loves by the one that puts a smile on her face.

My usual clientele is comprised of successful, sophisticated women from New York and the Tristate area. We have a good amount of tourists also, but not many male shoppers. Men tend to ask for the newest fragrance from a particular brand or for our top-selling scent. Women are more about finding something special, something that no one else has.

[Editor’s Note: This was written by a fragrance salesperson at a specialty store chain in the Northeast.]